As soon as I finish writing this post I intend to wiki "trick or treating" to figure out how this bizarre tradition began. Over the years, my affection for the Halloween holiday has ebbed and flowed. In the early early years there was the enormous candy stash, the miserable attempt at getting costumes on our dog Impie (…named after the African warrior tribe...see the About tab), and the exhausting night of marathon trick-or-treating laps around the neighborhood. And once the hurdle of adolescence was cleared and my true obsession with cooking and all things sweet began, Halloween became the best kind of holiday there is. No awkward family dinners, no religious significance (apologies for the oversight on my Pagan readers) and lots of delicious fun to be had. This week, although I will be participating in the usual hooplah (costume hint: Chilean Miner) I still wanted to make something with a touch more “young professional food blogger” and a hint less of “hungover Halloween hooker”. So this recipe is not just a celebration of the holiday and one of my most favorite traditions (pumpkin carving!) but also a warm welcome to the fall season and an affectionate nod to the winter treats to come.
I love pie. But I’ve learnt in the worst of ways that no one likes bad pie, and when you accidently swap the sugar for the salt in a crust recipe you’re headed down a windy and dangerous road to bad pie. The problem with pie baking is that you cant quite tell how its going to taste until it’s all finished and baked and you might (I speak from experience) be left with something used to melt the snow outside rather than warm your friends indoors. Admittedly I tried to salvage this disaster by dusting the pieces with sugar before serving, to no avail. So this recipe solves just that predicament. You can taste the crust before serving anything and you can make the quantities much smaller so as not to be left with a half a leftover pie sitting in your fridge for days on end, past its prime and hiding the vegetables.
These are perfect for a cozy afternoon, a pumpkin carving party or a sweet dessert anytime in autumn.
Flaky Pie Crust
1 ¼ cups of flour
¼ cup of sugar
½ cup of butter
1 egg yolk
3 tblsp. heavy cream
1 (15-ounce) can of pure pumpkin
3 cups of heavy whipping cream
¾ cups of icing sugar
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Combine the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Use a whisk to make sure all of the dry ingredients are well incorporated. Cut the butter into small cubes and then use your fingers or a fork to combine it with the flour mixture. Make sure to just use the tips of your fingers to break up the butter and mix it in. When the mixture looks like the size of small peas you’re finished.
Then you can begin to add the ice-cold heavy cream whisked with the egg yolk, pouring just a little in at a time until you can form a round ball of dough with the mixture. If the dough is crumbling apart just add a bit more cream, and if it’s too sticky, dust a little more flour on it. When you’ve formed it into a ball wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour.
The dough must be very cold when you put it in the oven because the heat hitting the butter causes that delicious flaky texture. Flour your board and really work the dough with your hands, kneading it and increasing its elasticity before you begin to roll it out. When it’s easy to work with use your rolling pin to create a flat crust. Place it on a greased and floured baking sheet and just bake it like a cookie. The trick here is to make sure to turn the oven down to 350°F right before you place the crust inside. This way it gets the high heat right at first and then a cooler baking temperature to finish it off. The crust will take about 20 minutes to bake but keep an eye on it because it might take less time if you rolled it very thin.
Take it out just as it turns golden brown. Transfer it to a wire rack to cool and don’t worry if it breaks apart, it doesn’t need to stay together.
For the pumpkin mouse combine the pumpkin, one cup of the cream, sugar and spice in a saucepan. Simmer and stir the mixture over medium heat for about five minutes. Cool fully in the refrigerator. Then whip 1 ½ cups of the remaining cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Then fold the cream into the cooled pumpkin mixture.
Things to Note:
-It's important for the dough to be cold when you put it in the oven, so if it becomes warm while rolling it out, place it on the baking sheet and then into the refrigerator for a few minutes before baking.
-Pumpkin Pie Spice is just a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, so feel free to concoct your own spice mixture with whatever you have within this side of the flavor wheel.
-Gently folding the whipped cream into the mousse is important because you don't want to over mix it and lose all the whipped air you've just created.
-Icing or confectioner's sugar is the best choice to use in a mousse because it's necessary for it to combine smoothly.
-The longer the mousse sets for, the better the flavors blend and the more delicious it tastes. So feel free to make these a day or more in advance of serving.
Take some small wine glasses, or any small cups that you like and crumble some of the crust into the bottom, then spoon the mousse on top and use the extra whipped cream to put a dollop on top and then sprinkle some extra sugar and spice on top for decoration.