Monday, November 05, 2007

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie


Every once in a while someone shares a recipe with me hoping that I will make it. I'm more than happy to do so because sometimes it's tough for me to decide what to bake. When there are too many recipes to choose from I can become paralyzed by indecision and end up baking nothing at all. So I'm more than happy when the decision is made for me. This is especially true when it's a recipe I would normally not pick by myself. Like with the Daring Bakers challenges, it's a nice break from my usual M.O. and a great opportunity to break out of my baking box. I always enjoy the experience and always learn something new.

My coworker WW mentioned that he saw a pumpkin chiffon pie in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living and was taken by the jewel like strands of candied pumpkin atop the pie. He searched Martha's website for the pie recipe but came up empty handed. So he purchased the magazine and asked if I would try my hand at making the pies. I was definitely up for the challenge.

I've made many pumpkin pies before but never a pumpkin chiffon pie. Just like a chiffon cake is supposed to be light and airy, I guessed that a chiffon pie should have a light and airy filling. In this case, the filling is a pumpkin pastry cream which is lightened with a meringue (basically egg whites beaten with sugar) and set with the help of some gelatin. The filling was pretty delicious and very different from the usual pumpkin pie filling, but I found it a tad on the sweet side and not particularly pumpkiny. I would probably decrease the amount of sugar in the filling if I make it again.

The crust was simply commercial gingersnaps blitzed in a food processor with some sugar and butter to hold it all together. This was the first time I've ever bought Nabisco brand gingersnaps. I tried one straight from the box and didn't really like it. I expected the gingersnap to be crisp but it just seemed hard. I hoped that the crust would taste better than the gingersnap itself. The crust did taste pretty good when filled. The gingersnap crust provided textural contrast to the fluffy filling but maybe too much of a contrast. In the future I might try using those thin ginger cookies that you can buy at Ikea instead.


The garnish was fun to make. I didn't have a sugar pie pumpkin but I did have a sweet dumpling squash. It was pretty easy to shave thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler and it was just as easy to candy them in the syrup. I only had a black and white copy of the recipe and photos from the magazine and I thought I messed up since my candied squash ribbons didn't turn out bright orange like I imagined they would be. Mine were more like a greenish tinged yellow. But when I presented my finished pies to WW he said that they looked just like in the magazine. The garnish was a nice finishing touch. Before laying the candied squash ribbons on my chiffon pie, I dabbed the ribbons with a clean towel to take of any excess syrup.

Even though I love the Martha, my success rate with her recipes has been 50/50. But despite the tiny issues I mentioned, I still must count this pumpkin chiffon pie in the win column. So thank you Martha and thank you WW for your wonderful suggestion.


Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
(adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine October 2007)
(makes six 5-inch pies)

34 gingersnaps*, coarsely broken
(*I used Nabisco brand gingersnaps)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 envelope (1 scant tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin puree
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/4 small sugar pumpkin or another sweet hard squash*, peeled
(*I used a sweet dumpling squash)
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 piece (2 inches long by 1 inch wide) peeled fresh ginger, sliced 1/4 inch thick

To make the crust

Preheat oven to 350F. Grind gingersnaps, sugar and salt in the food processor until finely ground. Add melted butter and process until combined.

Divide crumbs among six 5-inch pie plates, pressing into the bottom and up the sides. Bake until slightly darkened and firm, about 11 to 13 minutes.

Let cool 5 minutes. Using an offset spatula, carefully remove crusts from pie plates and cool completely before filling. (Since I had to transport my pies to the office, I kept my pie shells in the pie plate.) Crusts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

To make the filling

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

Combine pumpkin, egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, milk, salt and spices in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin mixture until completely dissolved. (At this point I strained my pumpkin mixture to catch any lumps. Apparently my strainer's mesh was too fine and it took a while for the mixture to make its way through the mesh. But I wanted to make sure it was lump free.) Let mixture cool completely.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat 3 egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Whisk one-third of beaten egg whites into cooled pumpkin mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Spoon into pie shells and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. (I refrigerated my pies overnight and they seemed okay.)

To make the garnish

Using a vegetable peeler, shave pumpkin into thin, wide ribbons. Bring water, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and ginger to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add pumpkin ribbons and reduce heat. Simmer gently until tender and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cool completely. Garnish can stand at room temperature for up to 3 hours. (I put mine in the refrigerator overnight before garnishing the pies.)


TBTAM said...

Now THAT is one gorgeous little pie.

Thanks for the recipe!

Gretchen Noelle said...

This looks delicious! I have seen many a recipe with gingersnaps as the base but have yet to try one. Inspiring. Beautiful pictures!

Dana said...

Hooray, a Martha recipe that works! I find that so many of her recipes don't come out. But I'm glad to hear this one is a winner -- it looks great!

musicalchef said...

That looks great! I can't wait to try it. And thanks for telling us exactly how much gelatin to use. I use a vegetarian gelatin that doesn't come in envelopes and I've always had trouble figuring out how much an envelope is!

Deborah said...

These are gorgeous!! And probably a nice change up from pumpkin pie. I love the candied squash on top!

Meeta said...

Lovely and smooth - love it.

Cheryl said...

How beautiful. I would be afraid to let people suggest recipes for me to make. They would never leave me alone.

veron said...

Oh wow what a nice spin on pumpkin pie. And I do love fluffy , pumpkin fillings!

clumsy said...

It seems that most people are about 50/50 on Martha's recipes... but this one certainly looks like a winner.

VeggieGirl said...

wow, this Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is stunning!! I like your idea of using/making a gingersnap pie crust - yum!!

Brittany said...

Like you, I'm ony happy with Martha's recipes about half of the time. My success stories range from a recipe of her's that I love so much that I bake it 3 or 4 times a year, to complete and total disasters where I am cursing her name and wishing I had a Martha voodoo doll. Most of the time though, it seems like the ideas are good, but the recipe needs tweaking. This looks like a prime example. I would definantly like to try this using your suggestions of reducing the sugar and high quality gingersnaps (maybe even homemade?)
My favorite part is the candied squash. I have never seen that before and I am quite intrigued. They look so yummy!

Mimi said...

I was very intrigued by this recipe when I saw it in the magazine, but didn't feel motivated to make it. Thanks for trying it so that I could enjoy it vicariously

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Marvelous! That pie looks so cute and extremely delicious!



Annemarie said...

I'm quite taken by the look of this thing, too. It does give me ideas about making my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie in little bite-sized portions with some pretty little ribboning on top...

Peabody said...

That garnish is such a cool idea. Look wonderufl.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well, Mary I all over that photo of the crust edge. That looks totally WOW to me. I like the chiffon but the crust really got me on this one.

breadchick said...

OH OH OH! I bought that exact magazine for exactly this recipe!! I'm glad you did a test run for me because now I'll incorporate your comments and see how she comes out.

Like you my track record with Martha's recipes is about 40/60 but I have found that the recipes in her Baking Book are better than most of the others I've tried I have about an 80% success rate there.

Cynthia said...

Maryann, I consider you to be a baking goddess.

Half Baked said...

I have the same problem with deciding what to make next. So many recipes... This one looks good, so pretty. Very Martha good to know the recipe works:)

Judy said...

Wow, so pretty, and delicious sounding too. I just love Martha.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

That is a very pretty pie. I have a recipe for a pumpkin tart that I have been wanting to make that also uses gingersnaps for the crust. It sounds like your gingersnaps might have been a little stale. I often have that problem with cookies and crackers. Those markets keep things forever in their warehouses before they put them on the shelves. It drives me crazy!

Brilynn said...

I love the idea of candied pumpkin as a garnish, very nice! And I certainly know the feeling of indecision, story of my life!

Rachel said...

Now that looks very tempting despite my non fondness for pumpkins.. great blog!

Chris said...

Wow! This is awesome. I love the gingersnap crust - what perfect companion with the pumpkin!

JEP said...

My late MIL use to make a pie very similar to this---thanks for the memories of her :)

Tartelette said...

Martha has good recipes for crusts, and some basics like brownies and cookies..and I am glad to see this little pies added to the list. The candied squash ribbons are very cool! Gorgeous creation!

kellypea said...

I completely agree with having too many decisions and then not baking at all. That's why I enjoy the DB challenges. They encourage me to think about it all. The chiffon sounds tasty! I'm getting ready to make the apple cake featured in the November Living issue. Wish me luck.

lynmatich said...

I've been making this as a whole pie for at least 30 years! The only difference is that before serving I whip cream, sweeten with a little sugar and rum extract, and spread that over the pie, Then,I garnish with crushed peanut brittle. (I make my own brittle in the microwave.) The pie is wonderful!

A scientist in the kitchen said...

That looks yummy!!!

rebekka said...

Wow! Gorgeous and very unique recipe. I imagine it would be more difficult shaving off a thin slice of pumpkin? I don't know.

Rachel said...

Ha, I feel a little better that my Martha recipes don't always come out now... even with all that extra cream/sugar/butter she uses!

I agree with the author--- I used "Anna's Ginger thins" that are from Sweden, I'm guessing these are the ones she found at Ikea. They taste much better than regular ol' gingersnaps. Careful to watch the crust being made, b/c I've burned it a number of times.

A great little pie, always a delight at parties. I'm more of a traditionalist baker myself, but since I don't really care for pumpkin pie, this is a wonderful alternative!