If you’re looking for a pumpkin pie with a lighter texture and milder pumpkin flavor than the classic baked version, this recipe is for you. The graham cracker crust is the only thing that needs baking here, a big plus when oven space is at a premium. The base of the filling is a sabayon-like custard which is flavored with pumpkin and spices and lightened with a Swiss meringue. I also add a shot of either dark rum or bourbon to accentuate the warm fall flavors, but this is optional.
Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8 to 10
- 1 3/4 cups (210 grams) graham cracker crumbs (13 ½ whole crackers)
- 3 tablespoons (40 grams) light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
Pumpkin Chiffon Filling:
- ¼ cup (59 grams) water
- 2 3/4 teaspoons (8.5 grams) unflavored powdered gelatin (a little more than 1 envelope)
- 3 large (150 grams) eggs, separated
- ½ cup (108 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup (121 grams) heavy cream or half-and-half
- One 15-ounce (425 grams) can pumpkin puree (preferably Libby’s)
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) dark rum, bourbon or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (232 grams) heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 3 tablespoons (21 grams) confectioners’ sugar
Make the crust:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter until combined. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the crumb mixture to garnish the pie. Pat the remaining mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, or until it is lightly browned around the edges. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the filling:
- Put the water in a small cup and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over it; set aside to soften.
- Fill a saucepan one-third of the way with water and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the light brown sugar until light. Whisk in the cream. Place the bowl over the simmering water and, whisking constantly, heat until the mixture is slightly thickened and reaches 160˚F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Keeping the bowl over the simmering water, whisk in the softened gelatin, whisking constantly until it is completely dissolved. Remove the bowl from over the pan and whisk in the pumpkin puree, rum, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Set aside while you whip the egg whites. Add more water to the saucepan if necessary, and return it to a low simmer.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites and the granulated sugar by hand until blended. Place the bowl over the simmering water and continue to whisk lightly until the mixture is hot to the touch and registers 160˚F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bowl from over the saucepan and place it on the mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites at high speed until stiff and glossy. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the pumpkin mixture. Scrape the filling into the pie crust, spreading it into an even layer (there will be a lot of filling, so just pile it up high). Refrigerate until very cold and set, at least 6 hours (you can make the pie up to this point up to a day ahead of serving).
Make the topping:
- Make the topping the day you plan to serve the pie. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and vanilla at medium-high speed until soft mounds just start to form. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whip at medium-high speed until firm peaks form. Spoon or pipe the cream on top of the pie and sprinkle with the reserved crumbs. Serve chilled.