I know, I know, I know. How can I be posting another recipe for a pumpkin-based dessert when I made such a big deal about being anti-pumpkin? It’s hypocritical, I get it. But here’s the thing: my feelings about pumpkin put me solidly in the minority. I am basically surrounded by pumpkin lovers, and it was just Thanksgiving after all. Wouldn’t it have been weird if the person put in charge of desserts (aka: me) neglected to make something with pumpkin? (fyi: I feel the same way about apple pie. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without one).
And there’s something else I have to share with you: Not unlike my pumpkin whoopie pies, this pumpkin mousse tart is a dessert for those of us who are not remotely interested in pumpkin pie. It is light and fluffy, pumpkin-y, yes, but in a remarkably understated way. The crust is made of gingersnaps and the topping is a thick layer of billowy cinnamon whipped cream. It’s basically a pudding pie, peeps, in absolutely the best way.
Two thanksgivings ago (my first time “hosting”), at my cousin’s suggestion, I made a pumpkin chiffon pie from a recipe she sent me — a recipe very similar to this Martha Stewart recipe, actually. I tweaked it just a tad, making it in a tart pan with a cookie crust, but mostly stuck closely to the original. It was delish and I made it again last year. This year, however, I threw caution to the wind and made the sucker my own. I looked to my cookbooks and the internet for just the tiniest bit of guidance, and not unlike with my whoopie pies, discovered that the recipe from my cousin was very much like every other recipe for pumpkin chiffon pie I stumbled upon.
And so I ventured forward, taking a little bit from one recipe, and a little bit from another. I added an extra white, for lightness, amped up all the spices (for, duh, spiciness), used sheet gelatin (I always did so in the bakery, but you can sub powered, if you so desire). I also added heavy cream — rather than milk — to my filling (for richness), and cinnamon to my whipped cream topping for a zing and for color. And peeps. This is probably the best dessert I made this Thanksgiving (and there was apple sour cherry pie, pecan chocolate bourbon pie, and a chai ginger caramel icebox cake on offer). Thanksgiving is behind us, yes, but the holiday season is just beginning and I know this is crazy for a pumpkin-neutral girl like me, but I see pumpkin on the table at an occasion or two more, at the very least.
Pumpkin Mousse Tart
For the Gingersnap Crust
- 8 ounces of gingersnap cookies ground in a food processor (or placed in a zip lock bag and smashed with a rolling pin)
- 4 Tbsp salted butter melted (if using unsalted butter, add 1/8 tsp salt)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Pumpkin Mousse Filling
- 3 sheets of leaf gelatin or 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp powdered)
- 1 1/2 cups water if using powdered gelatin, 1/4 cup water
- 3 large eggs separated
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 can of pumpkin 1 1/4 cups, 15 ounces (i like libby's)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- one egg white
for the whipped cream topping
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
To Make The Crust
- Combine the ground crumbs, melted butter, and vanilla until a dough of sorts forms (if using a food processor, just add the melted butter and vanilla after grinding the crumbs, and pulse til a dough forms, if not using a food processor, place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, and using a rubber spatula, mix to combine).
- Dump the dough into a nine-inch tart pan, with a removable bottom, and using your fingers, press the dough up the sides of the tart, first, forming a nice, even crust. then spread and evenly flatten the remaining crumbs on the bottom of the tin, using the bottom of a measuring cup if necessary. place in the freezer for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
- Once frozen, bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is fragrant and darkens slightly. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
To Make The Filling
- Combine the gelatin and the water, and set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the yolks, brown sugar, pumpkin, salt, spices, and heavy cream until combined. Place in a small to medium-sized sauce pan, and whisking constantly cook the filling for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. remove from the heat.
- If using leaf gelatin, wring out the sheets, and stir them into the sauce pan with the filling ingredients (if using powered gelatin, add the gelatin plus the 1/4 cup water it has bloomed in). Transfer the filling to a medium-sized bowl and set aside to cool to room temp (you can speed this up by placing the filling over a bowl of icy water and stirring frequently).
- Once the filling has cooled, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the (4) whites until frothy, gradually add the granulated sugar, and continue beating until the whites form stiff peaks. gently fold the whites into the cooled filling.
- Transfer the filling to the tart shell, smoothing out the top with an offset spatula. the filling should be in a generous pile (not flat). You will have extra filling — I put the extra in a ramekin or two and save it to eat later.
- Place the tart in the fridge to set up, about an hour or two. Once set, make the whipped cream.
To make the Whipped Cream Topping
- Place the cream, cinnamon, and confectioners' sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whisk the cream until medium to stiff peaks form. generously spread the cream over the filling, and place back in the fridge until ready to eat.