My Pumpkin Mousse Pie is made with a crunchy graham cracker-pecan crust filled with light and luscious pumpkin mousse. You can add optional bourbon for a kick or use water for alcohol-free version. The pie is topped with a mountain of luscious toasted brown sugar meringue.
Before we get full-swing into the next season, let’s get one more pumpkin recipe under our belt, shall-we?
Pumpkin custard pie is great and all, but I will admit that I think the best thing about pumpkin pie is the mountain of whipped cream on top. Don’t you agree?
Well, let’s just cut to the chase and fold a mountain of whipped cream into the pie. While we’re at it, let’s top it with a mountain of….wait for it….toasted brown sugar meringue!!
This thing just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
This pie is a riff on my ultra-creamy, untra-light and ultra-delish Peanut Butter Mousse Pie. I set out to make a regular Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving but decided to make it a mousse pie instead. I intended to just replace the peanut butter in the original recipe with pumpkin and leave it at that.
Well, first I had to switch out the peanuts in the crust for pecans. Next I added a little bourbon and spice because, well, just because I wanted to.
I tasted the mousse and it was pretty good, but something was missing. The flavor was super subtle, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But what was missing was a little sugar. I’m honestly not a fan of super-sweet, cloying desserts. But I do want a minimal level of sweetness in a dessert.
I was contemplating remaking the mousse again with a little more sugar when I had one of those light-bulb moments. Rather than topping the pie with cream I would top the pie with meringue instead.
Because meringue needs a certain amount of sugar to stabilize, it is sweeter than whipped cream. It’s also much lighter and leaner. I wanted that extra sweetness to balance out the mousse filling. While I was at it, I added brown sugar, molasses and ginger to the meringue to amp up the flavor even more.
I absolutely love the result. I love that the subtle and not too sweet filling is in perfect balance with the toasted meringue topping. This will be my new go-to pumpkin pie recipe. Give it a try and I think it might be your’s too.
Graham Cracker/Pecan Crust
- 1 1/4 cup (5 oz, 140g) graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup (2.5 oz, 70g) pecans, ground in a food processor
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 oz (6 tablespoons, 85g) butter, melted
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60ml) bourbon (use cool water for alcohol-free version)
- 2 teaspoons gelatin powder
- 2 cups (16 oz, 500 ml) heavy cream
- 5 large eggs, separated (reserve 3 whites for meringue. Save remaining 2 for another use)
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 115 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 336g) pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120 ml) cool water, divided in half
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons (1.5 oz, 42g) light brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine the cracker crumbs with the ground pecans, sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle the melted butter over the crumbs and toss to combine. Press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of a pie plate. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Take the pan out of the oven and press down any puffy spots and press to close any gaps in the crust. Cool to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble the pie.
Make the Mousse
- Place the bourbon (or water) into a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid, whisk briefly to combine and set aside to bloom.
- Whip the cream to soft peak and set in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Combine the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a mixer bowl.
- Set the bowl with the yolks over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water). Whisk until the mixture is warm to the touch. Move the bowl to the mixer (or use a hand mixer) and whisk until the yolks are completely cooled and have lightened in color and texture.
- Whisk the pumpkin into the yolk mixture until smooth. Whisk 1/2 the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture. Whisk in the remaining cream until it's about 1/2 way incorporated.
- Heat the bloomed gelatin in the microwave in 10 second increments until it's hot to the touch (just 20 seconds in my microwave). Working quickly, add a cup of the mousse to the warmed gelatin
- Whisk immediately until completely combined. Pour the gelatin mixture back into the mousse. Immediately whisk until the mousse is smooth and the gelatin is evenly incorporated.
- Pour the pumpkin mousse into the chilled crust. Spread to an even layer. Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours to set the mousse.
- In a small saucepan, bring the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency and becomes translucent. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
- Combine the other 1/4 cup water with the granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Cook the sugar syrup on medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is melted. Once the syrup begins to boil do not stir. Allow it to cook to 235°-240°F (soft ball stage).
- While the syrup is boiling, whip 3 egg whites with cream of tartar on medium high speed. When the whites are at soft peak reduce the mixer to medium low and slowly add the brown sugar and the salt. Increase the speed to medium high and whip to full peak.
- As soon as the syrup is at the correct temperature, remove the pan from the heat. With the mixer running on medium low, pour the hot syrup in a steady stream between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Add the cornstarch mixture, molasses and ginger and whip to full peak.
- Gently dollop the meringue onto the chilled pie. Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to make attractive swirls and peaks in the meringue.
- Use a blow torch or the broiler in your oven to toast the meringue until it's golden brown. (Don't bake the pie with the meringue or you will melt the mousse filling.)
- Chill the pie until serving.
You can make the crust and mousse filling several days in advance. Pour the mousse into the shell and spread until smooth. Refrigerate until the mousse is set, then cover with plastic wrap up to 3-4 days. Make the meringue and top the cake up to 12 hours in advance.
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