As much as I love pumpkin pie and my recipe for Perfect Pumpkin Pie, I don’t always like to make the exact same pie recipe year-in and year-out because I start to get a bit bored. I’m always looking for different ways to enjoy pumpkin in my desserts and that spirit of adventure has led me to treats like Pumpkin Pie Pudding Cake and Chocolate Pumpkin Pie. This year, I was inspired to come up with a version of pumpkin pie that is a little bit lighter than most and I spent a lot of working on the recipe for my fabulous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. This pie has a mousse-like quality to it that makes it a great dessert after you’ve had a big, filling holiday meal. Though it has a light-as-air texture to it, it still delivers plenty of that classic pumpkin pie flavor, so even the most traditional pie fan will still ask for a second serving.
The filling for this pie is prepared on the stovetop and does not require any baking. The pumpkin puree is combined with egg,s brown sugar, milk and spices and cooked until the mixture is thickened. Gelatin is added to the mixture and will later help the pie filling to set in the refrigerator. The light texture of the pie comes from a meringue that is folded into the pumpkin base, creating a very airy filling. Since this pie has a no-bake filling, I felt that it needed a no-bake pie crust. You can use a store-bought graham cracker crust if you want to save a bit of time or prepare your own no bake crust. Since it is pumpkin season, I made a crust using pumpkin spice sandwich cookies. Not only will they give you a crust with a great texture, but they will add an extra layer of spice to each bite of pie. You can find the recipe for the crust below.
Another advantage to this pie recipe is that it can and should be prepared in advance, so you won’t need to do any last-minute work before serving it. It needs several hours to set up in the refrigerator and tastes better the day after it is made. The pie filling will not “over set” if it is prepared a day or two in advance and will retain its melt-in-your-mouth quality up until you decide to serve it. The only caution I would give you is that the pie could pick up flavors from your refrigerator (for instance, garlic from a stuffing recipe), so I recommend covering it loosely or storing it in a separate drawer (such as a crisper drawer) away from other foods, just to be on the safe side.
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
1 9-inch pie crust (recipe below)
1 envelope gelatin
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar + 2 tbsp water
Prepare a pre-baked 9-inch graham cracker crust or the no-bake crust recipe below.
In a small bowl, combine gelatin, water and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine pumpkin puree, egg yolks, brown sugar, milk and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and add in soaked gelatin . Allow gelatin to melt into the pumpkin mixture, stirring until it is completely incorporated.
Fill a large bowl with ice and fill with a little bit of water, creating an ice bath. Transfer pumpkin mixture to a metal or glass bowl. Set inside the ice bath and allow mixture to cool, stirring regularly, until it is just cooler than room temperature. Whisk if any lumps form in the gelatin.
While the pumpkin mixture cools, prepare a meringue: In a small saucepan, bring the white sugar to a boil with additional 2 tbsp of water. Boil for 1 minute. While the sugar cooks, beat egg whites until foamy. After the sugar has boiled, slowly stream the sugar syrup into the egg whites while beating them on medium speed with a mixer. When all the sugar has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high and beat until the egg whites reach stiff peaks and the meringue has cooled to room temperature.
Fold the meringue into the cooled pumpkin mixture.
Pour chiffon mixture into prepared pie pan and spread into an even layer using a spatula. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Pie Crust
16 pumpkin spice sandwich cookies (such as Joe Joe’s or seasonal Oreos)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Pulse until cookies are finely ground and mixture begins to clump together. Press evenly into a 9-inch pie plate and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.