Pumpkin Chiffon Dessert

Yikes, this “pie” is not photogenic at all. I don’t even know what to call this dessert. I initially intended on making a pumpkin chiffon pie, but a few things got in the way. As usual, let me throw out a bunch of excuses to explain myself.

Excuse #1: I couldn’t make a proper pie because I couldn’t find my pie pan. Last time I baked a pie was fall 2003. I’ve moved 7 times among 3 states since then, so is it any wonder it’s missing?

Excuse #2: I tried to make mini-pies in my mini-muffin pan, but the shells didn’t hold up. Note below in step 2 where it says “Let cool 5 minutes.” I let them cool for something like 30 minutes. They cooled completely and stuck to the pan, so I had to crush them to get them out. That’s when I decided to use some nut cups and make individual trifle-like desserts.

Excuse #3: I didn’t photograph this until this morning, so the filling had all week to dry out while turning the crust into mush. No one will be eating this dessert.

With that out of the way, let me say that these still tasted pretty good. An added benefit was that it was so easy to serve! This makes a great pumpkin pie alternative, and had it been in pie form, I’m sure it would photograph lovely.

Pumpkin Chiffon Dessert
adapted from Martha Stewart

Crust Ingredients:
32 gingersnaps, coarsely broken
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling Ingredients:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Process gingersnaps, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter, and process until combined.
2. Divide mixture among mini-muffin pan, pressing into bottom and up sides. Place on a baking sheet, and bake until darkened and firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Using an offset spatula, carefully unmold crusts, and return to sheet to cool.
3. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a bowl. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Combine pumpkin, egg yolks, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, milk, salt, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Let cool completely.
5. Beat egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
6. Whisk one-third of beaten egg whites into cooled pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites. (Filling can be refrigerated, covered, overnight.) Spoon into pie shells, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.

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