Monday, November 19, 2012

Pumpkin Mousse for How Many?

The phone rang a couple of weeks ago and it was a friend from church.  Specifically the lady who was in charge of the dinner for our annual Fund Raiser Auction (which happened to be last night).

"Hello" she said.  "Hi, Donna, what's up?" I replied.

"Well you know that this year's auction has a comic book theme.  For dinner, we're having "Garfield's Lasagna", "Popeye's Spinach Salad" and "Blondies Gourmet Garlic Bread" - We thought it would be great if we could have a pumpkin dessert - you know, like Linus's Great Pumpkin?"

Hmm - I could see where this was going.. "What did you have in mind?"  I asked, "Some kind of a pumpkin pudding," she said.

"Well let me look up some recipes and see what I can come up with."

(Originally she wanted something that could be combined with angel food cake, but after I found this Pumpkin Mousse recipe, I convinced her to ditch the angel food cake and just go with a bowl of mousse accompanied by a ginger snap cookie.)

I called her - "Hi Donna, I found a great recipe - it needs a little tweaking, but I think everyone will like it.  How many are we expecting?"

"Forty people" she said.  I started adding up ingredients in my head.  "OK," I said, and committed myself to making this dessert.

I had looked at a WHOLE lot of recipes before I finally found one that sounded like it would be good - Keep in mind that I was using fresh/frozen pumpkin puree from our own pumpkins.  The first try at this pudding yield a large (filled my Pampered Chef two quart batter bowl almost to the top) bowl of mousse.  I thought it was pretty good.  The Shepherd thought it was way too rich.  So I did what I always do when I'm trying out a new recipe.  I filled two freezer containers & took them in to the office, knowing that I would get some pretty honest comments.  I thought my co-worker Kay would like it - she didn't like it at all - 'tasted raw' she said.  Yes, I had noticed that - pumpkin has kind of an "edgy" quality to it - especially with the pumpkin pie spice - the cinnamon and cloves were pretty pronounced.  Another co-worker thought it was good, but again, the richness kind of put her off -

Well, it did have two cups of whipped cream in it - maybe if I used half vanilla yogurt - back to the proverbial drawing board.

Side story - I used to sell Pampered Chef products and one of the things that I really liked was that I earned LOTS of free stuff - kitchen gadgets, stoneware, cookware.  I LOVE my Pampered Chef stuff!  In fact, I still have the original Classic Kitchen Scraper , the first PC product that that I bought almost 18 years ago - it still looks new, and they are still just $12.  TWELVE DOLLARS for a kitchen scraper you say?  But when you take into account that it is one piece silicone so the head doesn't come off and get icky stuff inside it, and after 18 years, I still have it (plus three other regular ones, two skinny scrapers, two large mix-n-scrapers and one small mix-n-scraper - I use one or more of them almost every day), I'd say $12 was a real bargain.  But I digress...

One of the things I earned was a double boiler pan.  Mine is not exactly like the new ones, but the premise is the same - a nice stainless steel pan that fit right on top of my Revere ware pan.  And now, many years later, I was getting a chance to use it!  Because I knew that my fresh pumpkin had to be cooked again before I could use it for the mousse (canned pumpkin has been double cooked in the canning process) and I didn't want to have to stand over a pan watching it every minute so it didn't burn.  The double boiler just fit the bill.  And it worked like a champ.  I mixed my pumpkin, milk and spices with my immersion blender and cooked it in my double boiler pan for about 45 minutes (until it "tasted done" if you know what I mean) let it cool and made the mousse recipe again.  It was much better -

I was ready to go - had my ingredients all lined up - and got a message on the answering machine from Donna last Thursday.  She sounded a small bit hysterical. - "The Auction committee has just told me that they think we might have 60 people - so you need to make your mousse for 60 instead of 40"    Yikes...that's a LOT of pudding!  Re think my ingredient list, - all in all,  it took 9-10 cups of fresh pumpkin puree, 4 1/2 cups of milk, three pkgs of Philly lite cream cheese, three large pkgs. of instant vanilla pudding, a whole lot of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon, some sugar and 9 cups of whipped chream - filled up my BIG Tupperware bowl plus another large stainless steel bowl -that much pudding is kind of daunting - 

Long story short - we ended up only having 38 people show up for dinner - so my original amount would have been just fine.  The left over bowl worked just fine for dessert for the left over lasagna at church today - one young fellow liked it so well he had three bowls full!

This version makes enough for 8-10 people

  • ½ package (4 ounces) Light cream cheese, softened (I used Philadelphia brand)
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin   ***or 2 cups of fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice  (Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus, of course!)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup cold 2% milk + ½ cup if you are using the fresh pumpkin
  • 1 cup whipping cream (makes two cups whipped)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 24 gingersnaps, divided
***if you are using home grown pumpkin puree, you need to cook your 2 cups of puree & a cup milk plus your spices in a double boiler on medium heat for about 30-45 minutes until it loses that “raw” taste.  Cool before combining with the cream cheese & pudding mix.  I added another ½ cup of milk when I added the pudding mix.    
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth; add pumpkin, pudding mix, spices and milk. 
  • Whip your cream with the powdered sugar to a fairly stiff peak.  Fold whipped cream into the pumpkin/pudding mixture,  Chill until ready to serve.  
  • Serving suggestion:  Spoon 1/4 cup mousse into each of eight serving dishes. Crumble 16 gingersnaps; sprinkle a spoonful over mousse. Top with remaining mousse. Serve with a Gingersnap cookie. 
  • Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 8-10 servings. 

    It tastes like a creamy pumpkin cheesecake, but not so strong on the cream cheese flavor,  I know that I'll be making this recipe again - probably for my spinner guild's Christmas party. 

    I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did. 

1 comment:

Michelle said...

The PC scrapers (I call them spatulas) ARE the best! I have four of them (two regular and two skinny); the others aren't worth a red cent.

The recipe sounds yummy, but probably not heart-healthy enough to serve to Rick. :-( But I'm taking away a good tip on the pumpkin: to cook it again. I still have at least one more large kettleful of pumpkins to cook up and puree . . . as soon as I puree and store the cooked pumpkin that is in that kettle in the frig!