Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Ina Garten on tradition: “Every family has traditions–events that they repeat year after year. These traditions give us all a sense of place and community…. Traditions reassure us that we belong together, and for me, that’s so grounding. I love them all.”
One of my family’s traditions at Thanksgiving is that I make dessert. This is mostly because I volunteered, because for a lot of years, dessert was the only kind of food I really liked. As you know from a few posts ago, I made pecan pie for my family and co-workers this year. But I was still left with another Thanksgiving dessert-making opportunity at my monthly cooking group, Gourmet Friends. We have a Thanksgiving-themed get-together every November, and it’s a great chance to test-run the recipes we might be considering for our families.
This pie is a really nice subtle, elegant twist on classic pumpkin pie, which let’s face it, is a bit pedestrian. My palate is a bit too snobby nowadays for plain ol’ pumpkin pie.
The crust is a basic graham cracker crust, though, to which I can only say, why mess with a good thing? All that’s involved here is graham crackers, butter, sugar, and cinnamon. If you have a food processor, it takes about 5 seconds to break up the crackers, and another two minutes to blend it all together.
The filling is a bit more complicated, but not impossible. The most important thing to know about it is to make it in advance. You’ll need to heat half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a double-boiler, then add in egg yolks (being careful to temper them so they don’t scramble), then a mixture of dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest. The orange zest was one of the things that really attracted me to this recipe!
After that mixture has cooled, you will fold in a whipped cream mixture, pour it into the baked crust, and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
Finally, the last step is to cover the pie with a whipped cream topping and chill again. Ina suggests sprinkling the top with orange zest, which I think is a classy idea.
I don’t have a picture of a cut slice because I was too busy noshing on it… always a difficulty for me when pie or cake is concerned! But inside this looks very similar to a traditional pumpkin pie. Actually – it’s kinda like this picture I’m shamelessly stealing from a Google search:
Ina’s recipe doesn’t call for a pecan-caramel topping, but now that I’m looking at it, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea! I guess I’ll just have to make this again… pity…
RECIPE – Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart
I wrote this recipe for my entertaining series for California magazine. It was inspired by a pumpkin mousse that my mother had made for years for Thanksgiving. It’s lighter and much more flavorful than that cloying old pumpkin pie. People really do go nuts for it.
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange zest, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.
For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.
Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.
Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.