Harvest Throwdown Winner: Hooray for the Pumpkin!

This past Sunday, the Foodie Collective Throwdowners gathered once more to present their take on harvest inspired treats. This challenge was a tough one. How does one put a twist on butternut squash soup or pumpkin pie? Well, there’s one particular dish that stood out as the clear winner: guest chef Camille’s Bourbon Pumpkin Chiffon Pie topped with candied ginger. Pie oh my!!! No doubt, this dessert is  a classic. However, the delicate way in which the flavors were brought together, like the colorful touches of Bourbon and candied ginger, set this dish apart! Congratulations sistah!!! Now here’s how she did it…

“Fall is my favourite time of the year. With the crisp smells, beautiful colors and warm comforting foods, the season sets the stage for one of the best throwdown themes to date: Harvest Goods. Autumnal ingredients, in particular the squashes, are packed with flavors and nutrients that lend themselves to a variety of dishes, from desserts to curried dishes. I am generally known for cooking with seasonal ingredients, but for such an occasion as a throwdown, I had to step up my game and make something truly novel.

Most of the previous winners have been lauded for their savory dishes and it was time for the dessert to take the coveted blue ribbon. Pumpkin pie is a crowd favorite, but can easily be overlooked because of its simplicity. Aided by one of my favorite cookbooks, The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichel, I set out to make the Bourbon Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, substituting the ginger snap crust for a traditional pie crust. This book collates some of the most interesting recipes that were highlighted throughout the Gourmet Magazine‘s six decades in issue and as such, showcases exciting, versatile dishes that are worthy of any competition.” Camille



3 ½ tsp unflavored gelatine
¼ cup bourbon or brandy
6 large eggs, separated
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2¼ cups of solid pack pumpkin
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ginger
¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp salt
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cup heavy cream

Baking Directions
Pie dough is not my forte and seeing as Montréal is home to some truly exceptional bakeries, I bought a pie crust from Première Moisson at the Atwater market.

  1. Roll out the pie dough and prebake until the edges are golden brown. This process is called blind baking and there are easy indications on how to make your own basic pie dough and prebake the shells in the Gourmet Cookbook.

Filling Directions

  1. Sprinkle the gelatine over the bourbon in a small bowl and let soften (Leave to the side until further use). Beat together yolks and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce speed to medium and mix in pumpkin, spices, and salt.
  2. Transfer pumpkin mixture to a heavy saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it registers 160F on a thermometer, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the gelatine mixture, and stir until dissolved.
  3. Transfer to a large metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and cold water, stirring occasionally until the mixture is the consistency of raw egg whites, about 15 minutes. Remove from ice bath.
  4. Beat egg whites in another clean, cool bowl with cleaned beaters at high speed until frothy. Gradually add granulated sugar and beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Gently but thoroughly fold into the pumpkin mixture.
  5. Beat cream in another large bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks. Gently, but thoroughly fold into the pumpkin mixture.
  6. Pour filling into pie shell and smooth the top. Refrigerate, uncovered for 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate until the pie is set (at least 3 hours).
  7. Before serving, garnish with fresh whipped cream and crystallized ginger.

This variation on a thanksgiving classic is light and spicy and best of all, will impress even your more scrupulous judges! There are basic baking techniques and specific terminology (such as blind baking and “folding in” eggs and whipped cream) that can deter any novice baker from attempting this recipe, but there are instructions within the cookbook and online that I find very useful.

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