Chiffon Pumpkin Pie

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

If you are looking for a special pie for the holidays, this is it – a light pumpkin pie with beaten egg whites folded into the pumpkin custard, spiked with rum, set in a gingersnap cookie crust, and covered with whipped cream.

The recipe is adapted from one from my friend Heidi who pulled a recipe from the Boston Globe a few years ago. And as they say in New England, it’s wicked good.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Chiffon Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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  • Yield: Makes one deep 9-inch pie

Use a food processor to finely grind the gingersnap cookies, or put in a large freezer bag and roll over several times with a rolling pin.

If you want to make pumpkin purée from scratch, instead of using a can, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, lie face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour.

Cool, scoop out the flesh and run through a food processor or blender to purée. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.

You'll need a 9-inch deep dish (about 1 3/4 inch high) pie plate for this pie. A 10-inch pie dish may also work.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 cups finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs (from about 10 ounces of gingersnaps)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 envelope gelatin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, separated (or 3 egg yolks and enough egg white substitute for 3 egg whites)
  • 2 Tbsp rum (note original recipe called for 1/2 cup of rum, but I and several others think it's a bit much)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin purée (one 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, softly whipped (for topping)
  • Extra crushed gingersnaps (for garnish)

Method

1 Pre-bake the crust: Set the oven at 325°F. Have on hand a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Butter it lightly.

In a bowl, combine the crushed gingersnaps, sugar, and butter. Press the mixture into the pie plate with the back of a spoon or metal measuring cup, making the top edge even all around.

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Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 325°F. Remove from oven and let cool.

2 Make the custard base: In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the gelatin, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, milk, and egg yolks. Stir thoroughly.

Set the pan over medium heat and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to thicken, then immediately remove it from the heat.

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Do not let it boil! If the mixture comes close to boiling the egg yolks will curdle. (If this happens strain the mixture through a sieve or purée in a blender.)

Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool.

3 Add pumpkin purée, rum, then refrigerate: Add the pumpkin purée and the rum. Refrigerate the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it thickens enough to form mounds.

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4 Beat egg whites and fold into filling mixture: In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until the form stiff peaks. Stir a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

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(If you are concerned about eating raw egg whites, use egg white substitute, dried egg whites, that you can find in the grocery store.)

5 Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for several hours. Refrigerate the pie for several hours for the gelatin to set.

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6 Top with whipped cream and gingersnap crumbs: Just before serving, spoon the whipped cream onto the filling and sprinkle with crushed gingersnaps. Cut the pie into wedges to serve.

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Recipe adapted from the Boston Globe, which got it originally from the granddaughter of Sarah Mazick of Newton, Mass.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Showing 4 of 38 Comments

  • Kass

    How far in advance can you make the pie?

  • SJ

    I made this for Thanksgiving dinner for a potluck. While the filling was good, it tasted more like a pudding than pie filling.
    Also, since I used Nabisco gingersnaps (very hard out of the box) the crust was also very hard – sort of like ginger brittle.
    I think a different brand of gingersnaps would work better.

  • Beth

    I made this pie for Thanksgiving. It was delicious. I found pasturized (real) egg whites at the grocery store (near the egg beaters.) I have a question though…can I freeze the pie?

    I wanted to make one for Christmas Eve dinner. I thought if I could freeze it , I could add the whip cream topping after it is defrosted. I am concerned about texture if I freeze it.

  • Suzy_Q

    In response to the spice question: ALlSPICE! That is the “secret” ingredient in my grandmothers famous Pumpkn Chiffon Pie recipe that sets it apart from the average P.C.P. recipe. It is divine. You can find the recipe @ Food.com. Its called “Grandma Joans Pumpkin Chiffon Pie”.
    In regards to the agar/gelatin substitute question, I have made my grandmothers recipe several times using agar very successfully when I was vegetarian. You can find this recipe as well on Food.com if you search Vegetarian Pumpkin Chiffon Pie (Gelatin free). It’s the vegetarian version of my grandmothers recipe.

  • David

    After recently making a pie with a ginger snap crust that tasted great but was too dense and hard to easily cut or chew, I found this webpage with the discussion about it. I experimented by remaking the same pie with a shorter prebake time and it came out perfectly. My mistake with the first pie was prebaking 10-15 minutes until the crust began to brown slightly and had firmed up for filling. It seemed correct after prebaking but made the final crust too dense.

    What worked for me on the second pie was grinding Nabisco Ginger Snaps to a fine powder in a food processor (for a 9″ pie: about 40, which is about 3/4 of a 1 lb. box), mixing in 1 Tb of melted butter per 7 cookies used, and prebaking EXACTLY 8 minutes in a preheated 325 F oven. Allow the crust and pan to cool to room temperature before filling. The prebaked crust will still be fragile, so fill gently. I then finish-baked the filled pie for 40 minutes at 350 F, but my fill recipe was different than this one. The crust tasted great AND the texture was perfect, IMO.

    By the way, I’ve also found through trial and error that I prefer Nabisco Ginger Snaps for these crusts. Archway Reduced Fat is a passable substitute, but Salerno Ginger Snaps make a crust that tastes too bland to me, so I avoid those. Some grocery stores run out of Nabisco Ginger Snaps in November and December!

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