Pumpkin Plethora

I am one of those who believes that there is no such thing as too much pumpkin and so it was pretty much a no-brainer as to what I would include in a recent dinner party dessert.

As an aside, I am extremely saddened to acknowledge that Gourmet magazine published its final issue in November. For years I collected editions and would regularly pull them out and thumb through them for inspiration. The writing was first rate, especially in the early days, the photography, legendary and thoughtfully stylish.

In a tribute to the end of an era, I was compelled to create Pumpkin Parfaits, Gourmet’s Dessert of the Month featured on-line in October. The parfait is a pumpkin mousse–which couldn’t be easier (if you have a can of pumpkin puree on hand) layered with homemade gingersnaps (if time allows) and dreamy whipped cream. 

When the dessert has firmed up, the moisture from the whipped cream and mousse will have nicely softened the snaps and provide an additional dimension of texture.  It has all the earmarks for a perfect party dessert:

  •  no stress preparation
  • made and assembled a day ahead
  • visually stunning individual servings
My gingersnaps are the crunchy old-fashioned variety designed for dipping in coffee, tea, or milk–with just enough ginger and spice for that edgy bite. The recipe, a Joy of Cooking standby, is easy to make and does not require special handling. It makes enough cookies for snacking, or the extra dough can be chilled or frozen and freshly baked later.

Pumpkin Parfaits
Inspired by Gourmet magazine’s on-line tempting recipe

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup cold water
1 can pure pumpkin (15-oz)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
pinch salt
2 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
20 gingersnap cookies, broken up (recipe follows)
For garnish: ¼ cup candied or spiced nuts, lightly chopped
6 parfait glasses

Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small saucepan and let soften 1 minute. Bring to a bare simmer, stirring until gelatin has dissolved. In a medium bowl combine pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, salt and gelatin mixture.

Beat whipped cup cream until it begins to thicken, sprinkle in sugar and continue whisking until soft peaks form, and add vanilla. Fold about 2 cups of whipped cream into pumpkin mixture.

Spoon about 1/4 cup pumpkin mixture into the bottom of each glass, then sprinkle with some of cookies and top with about 2 Tbsp whipped cream. Repeat layers once, ending with cream.

Chill until set, at least 2 hours. Before serving, sprinkle a few chopped nuts on top of each. Serves 6~~

These cookies improve with age; inspired by a Joy of Cooking recipe

3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar (can be part brown sugar)
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vinegar
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup demerra sugar for dipping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and 1 or 2 cookie sheets. Sift dry ingredients: the flour, soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

In mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Mix in eggs, molasses, and vinegar. Stir in dry ingredients to blend.

Form dough into 1″ balls. Roll in sugar. Bake approximately 14 minutes, until surface crinkles. Let stand briefly and move to rack to cool.. Store airtight.  Makes approximately 48 -3” cookies~~

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