This past weekend was Thanksgiving and oh boy, did we eat! It was a meal of firsts. I brined a turkey and it seriously was the best turkey ever. I’m sure it helped that we used a free-run organic beast, but I think everyone that ate dinner with us agreed that brining is the bomb. Another first was that I made a chiffon pie from a cookbook that I received from a publicity firm. Before you knock my cred, please note that I pretty much turn down all freebies and opportunities to review products. But I actually wanted this cookbook, so I decided to take them up on their offer of In the Kitchen with Anna: New Ways with the Classics by Food Network star Anna Olson. I had interviewed Anna last spring and she was super nice, so I was curious to try one of her recipes.
The book is filled with comfort foods, great photos and the recipes seem simple, straight-forward and made with everyday ingredients. However, it was a recipe for pumpkin chiffon pie that caught my eye. It’s a bit more fuss than any other pie I’ve made and certainly takes more steps than the traditional pumpkin pie. But I’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men – Season One lately, and the idea of a billowy retro dessert really appealed.
I am the first to admit that I stray away from most recipes, adding a bit more of this or adding in something completely different. But I decided to err on the side of caution and follow the recipe exactly-ish. The crust seemed to come together well and I really liked Anna’s tip of grating the frozen shorting and butter on a box grater for instantly small bits of fat. As for making the chiffon, the recipe called for 4 large egg yolks and I only had tiny medium sized yolks and I threw in an extra one for good measure. The directions also called for the yolks to cook up to a ribbony stage. I don’t think I got there. After whisking for the recommended 5 minutes, no ribbons appeared…even after 8 minutes. So I just figured to move on with the rest of the recipe.
Once I piled the filling into the crust, the pie did look pretty spectacular. It was voluminous as a 1950s party dress and definitely impressive to serve. The chiffon didn’t completely set but I think it was because I didn’t cook the yolks long enough…get to the ribbon stage and I’m sure you’d have better luck. But how did it taste? While it was generally liked, I found the filling a bit too sweet and would recommend to cut down the sugar from 1 cup to just a scant 3/4 cups or less. Don’t want to go through the fuss of making a crust, Anna suggests that the filling would work well as a mousse…just skip the pie dough and spoon the filling into dessert glasses and top with toasted pecans for a pretty garnish.
pumpkin chiffon pie
for the pastry:
6 T unsalted butter
6 T vegetable shortening
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 T sugar
1/2 t fine salt
4-5 T ice water
for the chiffon:
2 T gelatin powder
4 large egg yolks
1 c sugar (next time I’d reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup or a bit less)
2 c pumpkin puree
2 T brandy
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
2 c whipping cream (35%)
1 T vanilla extract
For the pastry, freeze the butter & shortening for 30 minutes. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the chilled butter and shortening into the flour. Toss this mixture with your fingers to coat the fats, breaking up lumps with your fingers as you go. The dough should be a rough, crumbly texture and take on a slight yellow tone. Add 3 T of the water, and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon to bring the dough together, adding a little more water if needed. Shape the dough into a disc and chill for an hour before rolling.
Preheat oven to 375F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle just less than 1/4-inch thick. Gently life the dough and line a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the edges and cinch into a fluted pattern. Chill the dough in the pie plate for 15 minutes. Line the pastry with foil and weigh down the dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake the shell for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake 10 minutes more, or until the bottom centre of the pie shell is dry. Cool completely before serving.
For the pumpkin chiffon, soften gelatin in 2 T of cold water. In a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg yolks and sugar plus 2 T water until the mixture doubles in volume and holds a ribbon when the whisk is lifted (about 5 minutes). Fold in the pumpkin, brandy and spices and chill until cool but not set, about half an hour.
While it’s chilling, whip the cream to soft peaks and add the vanilla. Fold into mousse in 2 additions and then scrape into cooled pie shell. Refrigerate the pie for at least 4 hours before serving. Makes one 9-inch pie. Serves 6 to 8.