The most memorable Thanksgiving dessert ever.
I periodically flip through Julia Child’s classic cookbooks, looking for gems I might have missed. I was performing this ritual in preparation for Thanksgiving and stumbled across her Fluffy Pumpkin Pie in her 1989 classic, The Way to Cook. I’d never heard the word fluffy used to describe pumpkin pie, so I was intrigued!
The short headnote really drew me in: “It’s creamy, it’s even light; it’s a pumpkin soufflé in a pie crust.” Say less! I ran to the store and grabbed the ingredients.
You might hear the word soufflé (a classic French dessert that becomes tall and fluffy when baked) and think “Yum!” followed quickly by “I can’t make that.” Soufflé is the kind of thing you leave to the restaurant professionals, putting in your chocolate soufflé dessert order before the entreés because the kitchen needs to make it special just for you. Sounds complicated!
After skimming the recipe, making the filling for this recipe didn’t seem that difficult. And you know what? It wasn’t. It just has a very clever trick.
Julia Child’s Game-Changing Trick for Better Pumpkin Pie
To give the pie filling a light, airy quality, Julia has you separate the eggs and fold in whipped egg whites just before baking. That, plus starting on a hot oven and cranking it down periodically, gives the pumpkin pie a dreamy texture. It is indeed fluffy, but still creamy and satisfying. It’s the perfect foil for a crisp, flaky crust.
In addition to a superior texture, the filling is flavorful thanks to the brown sugar, abundant spices, and booze, while still tasting like pumpkin. Other than folding in the egg whites (use a light touch!) and remembering to change the oven temperature, it’s also straightforward to make.
And while my pie didn’t turn out especially pretty, it was delicious and I will be making it again and again. Everyone I fed it to raved about it.
How To Make Julia Child’s Fluffy Pumpkin Pie
Note: This makes an 11-inch pie (who owns an 11-inch pie pan?) OR two 9-inch pies. I went the 9-inch route and it worked great. Serves 16.
2 prepared pie crusts, chilled
2 (15-ounce) or 1 (29-ounce) can(s) pumpkin purée
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons spiced rum or bourbon
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
5 large egg whites
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F (yes, that high!). Lightly grease two 9-inch pie pans.
If you’re using homemade pie dough, roll it out to line the two pie pans, trimming and tucking the edges under before crimping. The edge of the crust should extend about 1/2 inch above the pan. Place in the fridge while you make the filling.
Combine all of the ingredients except for the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk together until well mixed. Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat for a few minutes on medium-low speed until foamy, then increase the speed and beat until stiff peaks form. Don’t over-beat or the whites will become grainy.
Add a quarter of the whites to the pumpkin mixture and mix. Add the rest and carefully fold in the egg whites. Immediately divide the mixture between the two prepared pie pans and smooth the top. Place in the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.
The crust should have taken on a bit of color around the edge. Without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 375°F and bake for 15 more minutes. Then lower the temperature one more time to 350°F and set a timer for 15 minutes. Check the pie—a thin skewer inserted two inches from the edge of the pie should come out clean. If not, cook in 5-minute increments until done.
Turn off the oven but leave the pie inside. Use a wooden spoon or something similar to prop the oven door open slightly and let cool slowly in the oven for 30 minutes. Move to a cooling rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or chilled.
Tips for Making Julia Child’s Fluffy Pumpkin Pie
You’ll want to bake the pie in the center of the oven for the best filling, but that’s not the best location for browning the bottom crust. If you have the time and the willingness, par-bake the crust a bit in the bottom of the oven to give the bottom crust a headstart. Let it cool slightly before adding the filling.
My filling separated from the crust a bit, making it less than perfect looking. The solution? A pretty dusting of powdered sugar or a pile of whipped cream on top.
Read the original article on Simply Recipes.