This may surprise 100% of you, but I am not already planning my Thanksgiving menu. I know, I know… but we’re only eight weeks away!! And this is the first year I am cooking Thanksgiving in forever (aka five years). This would usually send me into red-alert planning/ulcer status, but Thanksgiving gives you framework, so it’s really not that stressful, even for obsessive food planners. There will be turkey. Some form of tuber. And there should definitely be something pumpkin.
Ugh. Not pie.
I am not a lover of pie, and although I want this to not be the case every fourth Thursday in November, it is. I want to love pumpkin pie, I really do- I love winter squash, I love the warm spices, and I love the opportunity to coat something in homemade whipped cream at the end of a gargantuan meal and call it appropriate. And while I would never call it ‘nasty,’ I will definitely call it one of the consistent let-downs of a Thanksgiving table. Especially if it’s made with fresh pumpkin. No one wants that.
But again, I wasn’t thinking of Thanksgiving potential when I saw this mousse in an old Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I was looking for something that straddled the blurry line of dessert vs. fun dinner treat to have with eggs while the hubs travels, and helllooooo, it has pumpkin and banana in it. Clearly healthy. Bonus points for being easy to make with the ‘help’ of the Little One. Triple Crown Mommy Victory because it also involved the mastery of crucial math and science skills via the measuring and whipping of cream. #FTW!!
And now… all I need to eat, for the rest of time, is this mousse.
I went through my binder of recipes and tossed every single one that was a spin-off of pumpkin pie trying to appeal to those of us who are less than enamored with it. This mousse is the alpha and omega of pumpkin pie-like desserts.
(See what I did there? I still left the door wide open for plenty of Pumpkin Spice Latte, Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake and Pumpkin Ice Cream love, because they are my faves. All of them. But for all your pie needs… THIS MOUSSE.)
What makes this mousse so unbelievably fabulous (grab a cup of coffee, this is a long discussion) is first and foremost, the flavor. Big pumpkin flavor, which is oddly complemented by the banana, which I did not expect but LOVE. A hint of orange from the zest, too- it all works together. The banana also adds texture, which I think makes this even more fun to serve out of a crust because I think of tarts in crust as very smooth. This mousse is definitely sweet, but it’s a balance of sweet (from the sugar and banana) and rich (from the eggs and whipped cream). It’s enough of both but not too much of either, which is why it will be named Thanksgiving Pumpkin Dessert of 2014. And probably every year after that for the rest of my life. Future guests, you have been warned.
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
- 1 ripe banana, finely mashed
- 1 tsp grated orange zest
- ½ cup cold heavy cream
- 2 T sugar
- Heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot 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 temper them (aka heat the eggs gently so they don't scramble!), then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the heatproof bowl 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 ¼ 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.
Want to eat this for breakfast? Um, of course you do. I don't think it's too sweet for breakfast, but maybe a little sweeter than I can feel good about, so I think you can easily cut down on some of the brown sugar. I will try and report back! And if you try, I want to know!