Grandma’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
One 9-inch pie shell, baked and cooled
1/4 cold water
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
1-1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves (optional)
1 cup granulated sugar, separated
3 eggs, separated*
*The egg yolks are cooked into a sort of custard but the egg whites are whipped and incorporated into the pie filling raw. If you’re like me and feel squicky about eating raw eggs, separate your yolks and save the egg whites for an omelette. You can buy pasteurized egg whites in a carton near where the eggs are sold in most grocery stores (make sure you buy egg whites specifically and not whole eggs). If you go this route, there’s a tiny bit of math involved because you’ll need to multiple however many tablespoons of pasteurized egg white you’d sub for one egg by three for this recipe.
You need a double-boiler for this recipe but the good news is that if you don’t have one, you can easily fake it. Fill a pot with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a heat-safe mixing bowl that’s big enough so the sides are wider than the mouth of the pot. You want your bowl to sit in the mouth of the pot and hang down into the pot but not be submerged in your water. I like to use a glass Pyrex bowl so I can easily check that my water is still boiling by scraping the bottom of my bowl (so I don’t have to lift the side of the bowl and let my precious heat escape).
Soften gelatin by sprinkling it over the cold water and letting it sit for at least 10 minutes. You don’t need to stir it into the water.
In the top of your double-boiler (or mixing bowl) combine pumpkin, milk, spices, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and egg yolks. Whisk together and continue stirring until thick. You want the water in the bottom of the double-boiler to remain at a gentle boil so your mixture will cook. Cook and whisk occasionally until your mixture thickens to pudding consistency (about 10 - 15 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture.
Cool. I usually pop my pumpkin mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes to bring the temperature down. If you mix your egg whites in while it’s still too hot it will kind of curdle and break. This pie sounds a bit high maintenance, I know, but trust me; it’s worth it.
In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stuff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cooled pumpkin mixture until well combined. Pour into baked (cooled) pie shell and chill.
Serve with oodles of fresh whipped cream and the smug knowledge that you win Thanksgiving, you devilish Pie Master.