Friday, September 20, 2013


Spiced Pumpkin Mousse

With the arrival of fall and Thanksgiving around the corner, pumpkin dishes are back on our menus. Say “pumpkin” and most people say “pie”. But pumpkin is not just for pie. Some of my favorite pumpkin recipes include pumpkin breakfast muffins, pumpkin and black bean soup, and the sublime pumpkin mousse.
Having planned pumpkin mousse for dessert for a catered party I set out to pick up some canned pumpkin. I had to go to four grocery stores to find it! Then just this past week the newspaper announced that there was a shortage of canned pumpkin. Hard to imagine. We are so spoiled being able to walk into a market and buy just about anything we need without thinking about it.
I’ve made this pumpkin mousse many times to the delight of family, guests and clients alike. The best thing is it can be made a day ahead (or first thing in the morning) of the party. Being able to get something done and “off your checklist” in advance is always welcome.
Pumpkin mousse is versatile. I’ve piped it into pastry puffs, white chocolate cups, pretty stemmed wine glasses, or just glass dessert dishes. Garnish with a bit of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, maybe a ginger  or amaretti cookie, and you’ll have a hit on your hands guaranteed.
To get dessert ready quickly at the end of dinner, I place the mousse in a disposable piping bag with a star piping tip in the end, ready to go.  When you are ready for dessert, slice off the tip of the plastic bag to expose the tip, twist the top of the bag to squeeze the contents down into the tip and pipe. As I am right-handed, I twist and gently squeeze with my right hand and guide the bag with my left.
Mousse and other soft fillings, either sweet or savory, are easy to store and transport in a disposable piping bag. I often use a star piping tip in the size of #865 – #867. These are larger tips than what you usually find at typical stores. They can be purchased at a restaurant supply, pastry supply, or on the web.
The disposable piping bags are 18” and available in a roll. One box will last a long time. I use them not only for piping mousse, but deviled egg filling and even fancy mashed potatoes. They come in handy and are clean and sanitary compared to the old cloth style.
One more note – to reduce fat you could replace the heavy cream with a vegan product called Healthy Top from the folks at MimicCreme. It comes in a shelf stable box and whips up like cream after chilling. It’s a bit heavier than whipped cream in texture. Tastes great. You may need to order if from their website. I’ll be testing this version soon and will make additional notes. 
I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie but I do love the lightness and flavor of this pumpkin mousse. I’ve made notes along side the recipe to help you. I hope that you will try it. Please let me know how it worked for you.

Spiced Pumpkin Mousse

Creamy, rich and light with a soft spiced pumpkin flavor. Make it a day ahead and have dessert taken care of during a busy Thanksgiving celebration.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine – November 1998
Note on spices – you can use the individual spices below as the recipe was written. I like to use a blend from Penzeys called Cake Spice. I keep it on hand for baking, making granola, and in oatmeal or cookies. It’s an aromatic blend of China cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and clove. I also love Penzeys Double Vanilla. Visit www.penzeys.com if you are not familiar with their site and all of the wonderful herbs and spices they have to offer.
Serves 6
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (less than 1 envelope)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plain canned solid-pack pumpkin, not pumpkin pie base (a 15 ounce can)
  • 1 to 1/2 teaspoons Penzeys Cake Spice blend (or blend 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon groudn ginger and a good pinch of clove)
  • 1 1/2 cups well-chilled heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons good quality vanilla (I use Penzeys double vanilla)
  • 6 Gingersnaps, Gingerman, or Amaretti cookies for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium metal bowl sprinkle gelatin over cold water to soften 1 minute. Whisk in yolks and sugar and set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook egg mixture, whisking constantly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into mixture registers 160°F with a kitchen thermometer ( I use a digital one for easy reading). (Tilt bowl to facilitate measuring temperature.)
  2. Remove bowl from pan and with an electric mixer (or a hand mixer or standing mixer with the whisk attachment) beat egg mixture until cool and thickened, about 5 minutes. Mixture will be very sticky. Beat in pumpkin and spices. Chill pumpkin mixture, covered, until thickened and cool but not completely set, about 1 hour.
  3. In a bowl with clean beaters beat cream with vanilla until it just holds stiff peaks and fold into pumpkin mixture gently but thoroughly.
  4. Transfer mousse to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain or star tip and pipe into stemmed glasses. Cover with plastic film and chill until firmed up, about 3 hours, and up to 1 day. If you have piped it into white chocolate shells where the mousse is not protected by a glass rim, you can leave uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours or cover loosely with plastic film, taking care not to mess up your piping.
  5. Just before serving, garnish with whole cookies.
Note - It’s equally as good freshly made if you have not had time to make it ahead but will pipe easier after sitting in the fridge for a few hours.

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