pumpkin pie makeover

Okay, so I'm a sucker for food photography. Our Fresh Fields/Whole Foods Market started a food magazine with a very tempting cover shot and put lots of copies around the store. And of course waiting at the checkout is the most vulnerable time for recipe mag addicts like the bobmeister. A quick leaf through didn't reveal that many ideas which would have a realistic chance of seeing action in our kitchen except for one, but one is all it takes to sink the hook: pumpkin pumpkin pie. Since the usual guests at the annual T-day event had long ago nixed the elegant pumpkin cheesecake in favor of ordinary pumpkin pie, much to bob's chagrin, this seemed to be a way to improve the usual bland delivery of the mandatory dish. Pumpkin pies are pretty much all the same, whether you buy them at the supermarket or slave over every detail at home. But adding a second level to the usual single strata classic offered promise—a pumpkin mousse to contrast the pumpkin pie, also eliminating the need for slapping vanilla icecream on each serving. The bigger than life size photo was a strong motivator.

The pumpkin pie layer, though hyped as a dense spicy custard...

"Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie. Created by former team member Ann Clark, this dramatic-looking pie is composed of two layers—a dense, spicy custard on the bottom with a light, silken mousse on top. It tastes even better than it looks! "

turned out to be the standard recipe on the back of nearly every can of canned pumpkin pulp except somehow they got the evaporated milk can size wrong (13oz in a country whose hotels never have 13th floors?—it's 12oz across all brands). Rather than labor over a real pie crust that wouldn't be noticed anyway, we use a Pillsbury frozen pie crust circle to get the job done without stooping to a store bought pie shell which seems kind of cheesy. The pie layer is a no brainer—mix the glop and dump it in, jam it into the oven, bake and cool. And the second layer is a no-bake add-on you can do the next day in a snap, making the whole package pretty painless to produce. So little effort, such a big improvement.

After shelling out hard cash for the magazine, ironically the pumpkin pumpkin pie recipe arrived free by e-mail as part of their new electronic food hype program.


Pumpkin Custard:
1 1/2 c cooked (or canned) pumpkin
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
13 oz can evaporated milk
(1) 10-inch pie shell
1 1/4 tsp gelatin
2 T water
1 c cooked (or canned) pumpkin
1/2 c sugar
1 egg yolk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 T vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 c whipping cream
1/2 cup whipped cream
1 tablespoon toasted pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. Whisk together pumpkin and eggs, then add sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and evaporated milk, mixing all ingredients thoroughly. [Or make any standard pumpkin pie recipe.]
  3. Gently fold into pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to 350º and bake for 35 minutes or until custard is set.
  5. Make sure the pie is cool before before topping with mousse (this step can be done a day in advance).
  6. To make mousse, sprinkle gelatin over the water in a small heat-proof cup. Let soften several minutes while you combine the pumpkin, sugar, egg yolk, and seasonings in a large bowl.
  7. Set the cup with the gelatin in a pan of gently simmering water; stir until dissolved. While gelatin is still hot, whisk it into the pumpkin mixture.
  8. Whip the cream into soft peaks and carefully but thoroughly fold it into the pumpkin mixture.
  9. Mound the mousse onto the custard pie. If it is too soft, mound on as much as you can and chill the pie and remaining mousse. After 15-20 minutes it should be set enough to mound on the entire amount for a truly dramatic effect.
  10. Chill for another 4 hours (or overnight).
  11. Before serving, garnish with additional whipped cream and a sprinkling of nuts.


  1. Prep time: 30 minutes - Cook time: 50 minutes - Chill time: 4 hours
  2. Serving size: 1 slice, 450 calories, 25 g fat (12 g saturated), 135 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein
  3. Illustration available.

pumpkin pie makeover makeover

Not only do we have food magazines and catalogs pillaring us in the regular mail, but somehow bob succombed to the temptation of subscribing to various food site email lists. And every time a Dan-Mail arrives, bob's automatic association with the email sender address is with his baby brother (now pushing middle-age). But the "dan" in Dan-Mail is short for Dannon yogurt. Interesting enough to not unsubscribe.

A few Thanksgiving seasons later announced in a Dan-Mail, Alton Brown teams up with these yogurt people to makeover the traditional pumpkin pie custard ingredient lineup with yogurt substituting the usual dairy item. Alton is the Einstein of FoodTV, therefore naturally a dr bob favorite, so the recipe grab's bob's attention. If we ever get to do a pumpkin pie again, we'll try it. The trouble is, they are so easy to buy ready-to-eat, and the homemade version is not that much better for the effort involved.

Alton Brown and Dannon Serve Up Holiday Favorites 2002

Celebrity Chef Alton Brown has teamed with Dannon to create a variety of delicious holiday recipes. Check out one of his mouth-watering recipes:

Alton Brown's Yogurt Pumpkin Pie

1 1/2 cups of DANNON® Plain Yogurt
15 oz can of Pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
5 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
One 9 inch frozen pie shell

1. Heat oven to 350ºF.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour this batter into the pie shell and place on a sheet pan.
3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.
4. Remove and cool for one hour.
5. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours before cutting.

Read the nutritional information for this recipe.

ppmkover.htm: 30-nov-2002 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]