Why This Recipe Works: When we set out to develop a recipe for a make-ahead pumpkin pie—one that we could fully bake and then freeze for up to two weeks with no negative effects—we knew a steep challenge lay ahead of us. Custard pies typically don’t survive freezing because the eggs in the custard contain a lot of water and tend to split into weepy mush once frozen.
During the course of testing, we discovered that substituting gelatin for the eggs was the answer. The gelatin suspended excess water in a flexible network, so the filling remained smooth and retained its structure after being frozen and thawed. Cream replaced the richness that we lost when we ditched the eggs. Since gelatin sets up in a cool environment, it also made the luscious stir-together filling no-cook.
Serves 8 to 10
For the pie:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 fully baked 9-inch pie crust, completely cool
For the topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (for the best flavor, use a good-quality maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
For the pie: Whisk cream and gelatin in microwave-safe bowl until all gelatin looks wet (mixture will be slightly lumpy). Let mixture sit until it looks like loose cottage cheese, about 5 minutes.
Microwave gelatin mixture until gelatin has melted, about 1 minute, whisking halfway through microwaving. Whisk until smooth and syrupy and no lumps remain. (If lumps persist, microwave in 10-second intervals, whisking after each, until smooth.)
Whisk pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in large microwave-safe bowl until combined. Microwave pumpkin mixture until heated to 110 degrees F, about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving. Immediately add gelatin mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to thoroughly combine.
Pour filling into crust. Gently shake pie so filling spreads to edges of crust; let cool for 10 minutes. Spray sheet of plastic wrap with vegetable oil spray and gently press onto filling. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
For the topping: Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip all ingredients on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1–3 minutes. (Topping can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
Spread topping evenly over pie. Serve.
To make ahead: At the end of step 4, the pie can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 2 weeks. To serve, completely unwrap pie and let thaw at room temperature for 5 hours. Make topping while pie thaws and spread over pie just before serving.
Recipes courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen