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PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIE

FROM THE KITCHEN OF RUTH H. ROBERTS

AND [UPDATE 11-15-15] PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIE FROM THE KITCHEN OF PAULA ANN ROBERTS ABBOTT

Rona's mother's favorite pumpkin pie, spicy, cool, light, and lightly jelled—like delicious pumpkin mousse in a buttery graham cracker shell. Rona's niece Hannah Ruth Roberts Parmley now makes this pie for winter family gatherings.

That said, this recipe, as written, depends on cooks to figure out a few things on their own. See Rona's notes below the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups canned or fresh-cooked pumpkin or squash
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon unflavored gelatin sprinkled over 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (again)
  • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 1 9-inch pie pan lined with a good graham cracker crust, or a regular pie crust, pre-baked

Steps

  1. Beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until very thick. Add milk, pumpkin, salt and spices.
  2. Cook in top of double boiler until mixture thickens.
  3. Add [softened] gelatin and mix thoroughly. {Gelatin mixture will melt and disappear.]
  4. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar. [There's a question about this. It works well to add this 1/2 cup sugar to the egg whites in step 6, in my view, and in my sister Paula's recipe, way below.]
  5. Cool [in refrigerator] until almost set.
  6. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.
  7. Pour into 9" pie shell. Serve with whipped cream.

Notes

Gelatin management: It would make sense to soften the gelatin in the cold water about five minutes before the cooked pumpkin mixture thickens—but detecting that point could be a problem for a new cook. So perhaps after the pumpkin mixture has cooked for about five minutes -- that would be a good time to sprinkle the gelatin over the cool water in a little measuring cup or dish.

Egg white management: The egg whites, which should be at room temperature before beating, should NOT be beaten until just before adding to the "almost set" cooked pumpkin mixture. That will most likely be 45–60 minutes after the cooked pumpkin mixture goes into the refrigerator. So start beating the egg whites right as you can tell the gelatin is starting to do its magic and thicken the pie filling.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie as Birthday Cake

At least three generations of Ruth Roberts's family have requested this pie for their birthday celebrations, preferring it to cake. There's something marvelous about the cool, light, sweet-spicy dessert that makes it welcome after a heavy celebratory meal.

Update: Paula's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie Recipe, Discovered!

Gratitude to niece Melanie, who located her mother's recipe in the family recipe box. My sister Paula made the pumpkin chiffon pies for many occasions. Once, for Dad's 94th birthday, she brought pumpkin chiffon as well as lemon chess pies. Dad ate slices of each. Afterward he said, "Poddie, each of your pies was better than the other one."

Paula (aka Poddie at times) apparently made her pumpkin chiffon pie with brown sugar, which seems like a fantastic idea.


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