Here’s a variation of a dessert I made for Thanksgiving years ago.  I was tired of the same old pumpkin pie and wanted to make something that still conveyed the spirit of the holiday, yet didn’t require valuable oven real estate, which was at a premium. This dessert did the trick, and was a big hit with my family. To make the parfait, the spiced pumpkin mousse is layered with crumbled ginger cookies (homemade or store-bought – I used store-bought Swedish ginger thins this time around) and sweetened whipped cream. I garnished each dessert with a white-chocolate dipped ginger cookie, but you can use a plain cookie or opt for white chocolate curls instead. No matter how you present it, you don’t have to wait till Thanksgiving to enjoy this fall-themed parfait – the beauty of using canned pumpkin puree is that it’s available year-round!

Makes 6 servings


Pumpkin Mousse:

  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling; I used Libby’s)
  • 2 cups (464 grams) heavy cream, divided
  • 2/3 cup (144 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) dark rum (optional; I used Mount Gay)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks
  • 2 large (36 grams) egg yolks

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  • 1 ½ cups (348 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/3 cup (38 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  • 18 homemade or store-bought gingersnaps or Swedish ginger thins (pepparkaka)


6 gingersnaps or Swedish ginger thins


Make the Pumpkin Mousse:

  1. Place the pumpkin purée in the bowl of a food processor and process as you gradually add ¾ cup (174 grams) of the cream. Process just until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and stir in the sugars, the spices and the salt. Add the rum, vanilla and butter pieces. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts and the mixture is heated through. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks until blended. Whisk about ½ cup of the hot pumpkin mixture into the yolks. Return this to the remaining pumpkin mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened and reaches 185˚F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and place the bowl in another bowl of ice water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 15 minutes.
  1. Whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups (290 grams) of cream to soft peaks and then gently fold it, one-third at a time, into the pumpkin mixture. Set the bowl of mousse back into the ice bath and cover loosely with plastic wrap while you make the Sweetened Whipped Cream.

Make the whipped cream:

  1. Wipe out the bowl you whipped the cream in and clean the whisk attachment. Pour the cream and vanilla into the cleaned bowl and whip with the whisk attachment at medium speed until soft mounds just begin to form. Gradually add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and whip at medium-high speed until medium-firm peaks form.

Assemble the parfaits:

  1. Assemble the parfaits up to 6 hours before serving. Spoon a generous layer (about 1/3 cup, but this may be more or less, depending on what type of serving glass you use) of the Pumpkin Mousse into a serving glass, smoothing the top. Break up 2 to 3 cookies into small to medium pieces and sprinkle them on top of the pumpkin mousse layer (a generous ¼ cup of cookie pieces). Top with a layer of whipped cream (about ¼ cup) and smooth the top. Top with another layer of the pumpkin mousse and smooth the top. Garnish with a small dollop of the whipped cream, and a ginger cookie. Repeat to make a total of 6 parfaits and refrigerate until ready to serve.


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Tish Boyle
Tish Boylehttps://pastryathome.com
Tish Boyle is the Managing Editor of Pastry Arts Magazine, a food writer and cookbook author with expertise in baking, desserts and chocolate. A graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, Tish has written several dessert and baking books including Chocolate Passion, Diner Desserts, The Good Cookie, The Cake Book and Flavorful. Co-writing credits include Payard Desserts and the Grand Finales series of books.

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