Happy Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

I had an intense weekend in which I absorbed quite a bit of amazing contemporary art. I’m still processing it all at the moment, but expect a big segment on December 1st that will kick off a new monthly post. However in preparation for Thanksgiving shenanigans, I thought I’d share my favorite dessert that I have incorporated into my traditions for this holiday.

It all began with pumpkin pie. I used to adore it when I first discovered it as a school aged child, but after several years I grew tired of it and absolutely hated the texture. Maybe it fell into the “your taste buds change every seven years” category. Thanksgiving again became a meal where I would pray that there would be a picky kid friendly dessert. Until one year when I was a teenager, my Auntie Megs (baker extraordinaire) made the game changing dessert… PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIE!

For years I DEMANDED that dessert at Thanksgiving meals from my aunt as it was the best way to get that glorious pumpkin flavor without the horrible texture of the traditional pie. This went on until I moved to California and hosted my own Thanksgiving. What was a girl to do?! Make her own damn pumpkin chiffon pie, THAT’S WHAT!

I’ve modified the recipe from The Joy of Cooking (a veritable cooking bible for those looking to have an all around basic cookbook) to exclude the use of cane sugar, but then again I modify EVERY recipe I can to remove this. I’ve also found a nice pie crust recipe that uses butter and coconut oil instead of vegetable shortening. I’m a gal that’s long been working many processed foods OUT of my culinary “vocabulary”. Also key is USING your own roasted pumpkin.

The best way that I can say to do this is to break it up into FOUR parts.

A) Pumpkin
Cut a small, pie pumpkin in half (around the Equator, not Prime Meridian). Take out the seeds and save them for making pumpkin seeds later. Never waste pumpkin seeds. EVER. Plop the halves on a baking tray insides face down. Put it in an oven at… oh… say 350? Roast that gourd until it’s done and the skin wants to come off easily. Let it cool and then reserve it in a container or covered bowl in the fridge until filling time. You could do this Tuesday and be super prepped!

B) Pecan Crust
Ok this gets a bit fancy, but you’re gonna roast some more. Take, oh say, 1 C of pecans, scatter on a pan and roast at 350/375 until they’re nice and toasty! Take them out of the oven and drizzle some Maple Syrup (the REAL stuff… not that “Maple Flavored Syrup”) to add some sweet flavor! Let them cool.

I’ve amended this part from The Joyful Pantry Blog… found the recipe on Pinterest.
Take 2C AP Flour and add
1 T salt
Work in:
½ C Butter (maybe use frozen butter and grate it in. Works great for scone making)
¼ C Coconut Oil (solid). Best way I’ve found is to work it subtly through your fingers until it’s pea sized
Stir in 5-7 T Ice Water (And really… ICE that water!) and mix until it gets doughy. This will get you either one thick crust or two thinner ones. Flour your surface and roll it flat and round. Flip it a few times to evenly get it flattened. You want it over hang from the pan about 1” or so. Fancy up that crust with a nice edging then press the pecans into the bottom of the crust. Add some small holes with a fork for ventilation then trim the edging with foil for good measure. Bake the crust at 400 for 15 minutes, remove edging foil and bake another 5 minutes or until it’s nice and golden brown. Let cool before adding Part C.

C) Filling
3 Egg Yolks
1 ¼ C Cooked Pumpkin (or canned if you’re in a bind, but TRY for your own)
½ Milk
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp of each of these spices: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Ginger
½ C of Agave Syrup (I like agave because it’s doesn’t have as distinct a flavor as honey or maple syrup… use what you prefer though, even if it’s… cane sugar).
Beat the egg yolks then add the rest of these ingredients. Cook over boiling water (you’ll need a double boiler or a good rig for this) until it thickens up.
Add 1 T gelatin soaked in ¼ C cold water until it dissolves
CHILL THIS until it sets properly… this will take longer than the next step, so maybe work on a different task, like cleaning dishes or something.
Next task is the fun part! Use an electric egg beater to save your arms. I have video proof somewhere (courtesy of my lovely roommate in California) of how frustrating it is to beat egg whites with just a whisk.
Take 3 Egg Whites and whip em until they are stiff but NOT DRY! The JoC would have you add ½ C of sugar at this point, but I don’t. Maybe last year I added a bit of maple syrup at this point? FOLD this into our chilled, set pumpkin mixture then fill the pie shell. Let this refrigerate for quite a few hours to properly set.

D) Whipped Cream
This gets done wherever you are eating dinner. Take some good ol’ fashioned whipping cream (a small carton) and whip that up and garnish your pie! Serve up the deliciousness!

It sounds labor intensive, but it’s doable! Even in writing this all out just how much this recipe entails, I’m still committed to making this. It’s only once a year I endeavor to make this after all. Mind you I tripled the recipe last year, sort of fell into a time trap, however I still came out triumphant! This is not a recipe to fear!

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