Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Pie

So it has begun, the holiday season. Now that the Halloween decorations are packed away and costumes are dismantled, cleaned and stored, it's time to start planning for Thanksgiving. That glorious holiday of glorious food. Some of my favorite foods appear this time of year. Pies, stuffing, potatoes, gravy. Oh my! Laden with fats and starches, sugar and cream and such goodness. And calories. . . calories schmalories. Who cares! We're just about as far away from swimsuit season as we can get. So live a little. Now if calories, fat, cream, sugar, starch, more starch, more sugar, more cream and calories (did I already say calories?) scare you then you've been warned. For the next two months this blog is going to be all about holiday indulgences. So jog an extra lap around the track or do 20 more minutes on the exercise bike, what ever you need to do (Me? I just wear bigger pants.), just don't miss out on these treats!

To kick it off, I selected one of my favorites: Pumpkin Cream Pie. If you love all things pumpkin, as I do, then you are going to love this pie. It's a lighter version of the traditional pumpkin pie. And when I say "lighter" I mean texture and flavor, certainly not calories. I don't even dare to guestimate that. I love it because first of all it tastes great. It freezes really well so you can make it well in advance of Thanksgiving, saving mucho time. Lastly, it's a great way to introduce Pumpkin Pie to kids. I really don't know many kids who like pumpkin pie, I didn't. It's just so squashy, kinda dense. This is much less overwhelming both in taste and texture. More akin to Chocolate Cream or Banana Cream. Take a slight departure from tradition this year and give it a whirl.

The players: An 8-inch graham cracker crust (you can make your own if you want, but these pre-made store-bought ones are just so convenient and seriously, who can tell?), unflavored gelatin, a can of cream cheese or vanilla frosting (I like the cream cheese. DO NOT use a "whipped" frosting.), sour cream, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and an 8 oz. tub of non-dairy whipped topping (i.e. Cool Whip).

Here is the most complicated part of this recipe. Ya ready for it? OK! Dissolve 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons water. You can either stir the gelatin into hot water or stir the water and gelatin together and microwave on high for 15-30 seconds. WATCH IT CLOSE. It will boil over very quickly. The main idea is to get the gelatin totally dissolved, no grainy bits. Set this aside and let it cool to room temperature. You don't want to add it to your filling if its warm.

Next dump the rest of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, using just 1 cup of the whipped topping.

Here is where most people go wrong with this recipe. Even though the recipe says 1 CUP of pumpkin it's often misread as 1 CAN. Then their pie is totally runny and doesn't hold together. So remember it's 1 CUP of pumpkin. ONE CUP. O-N-E C-U-P! Don't forget it!

Using a hand mixer or just a whisk, get it all blended together. You're not really trying to whip air into it, just get it all smooth and blended. Once it's well blended whisk in the gelatin mixture and again mix well. Do this fast, I suggest using a hand mixer. If your ingredients are cold and you don't whisk fast enough you'll get little gummy bits of gelatin in your pie.

Pour the filling into the pie crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate for a couple of hours for the filling to set up.

Top the pie with the remaining whipped topping and serve. If you want to be clever you could sprinkle the top with a little pumpkin pie spice or just leave it as it. I'm going to freeze this pie until Thanksgiving (and yes, you can do that, this pie is perfect to make ahead.).

Ahhh, Pumpkin Cream Pie. A delicious, light and creamy alternative to traditional Pumpkin Pie. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cream Pie

1 8-inch graham cracker pie crust
1 t. unflavored gelatin
1 16 oz. can vanilla or cream cheese frosting (not the whipped variety)
1 C. sour cream
1 C. canned pumpkin
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 8oz. tub frozen non-dairy whipped topping (divided)

Dissolve unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons water. Watching carefully, heat in microwave on high for 15-30 seconds until it just starts to bubble and no grains of gelatin remain. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Add frosting, sour cream, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and 1 cup whipped topping to a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on medium speed until well combined. With the mixer on low, and working quickly, stream in the gelatin mixture and mix well.

Pour filling into crust and top with remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving. Pie can be frozen.

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