Even people who aren’t big pumpkin pie fans will like this genteel version. Light, delicate, and sweet, it is a recipe from a kinder, gentler time. Its very name—“chiffon”—evokes a sheer and floaty fabric, a long way from today’s sturdy Spandex. Even after a hearty holiday meal, we find there’s always room for a small slice of this lovely pie.
For the crust
For the filling
For the crust, preheat the oven to 350°. Put the crumbled cookies into a large resealable plastic bag and seal, pressing out the air. Roll back and forth over the bag with a rolling pin until the cookies are ground into fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and stir to combine. Pat the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
For the filling, soak the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Put the egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, the pumpkin, milk, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the softened gelatin, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Beat the reserved egg whites in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until foamy. Continue beating, gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until egg whites are thick, glossy, and stiff. Fold the whites into the filling and pour into the baked pie crust. Chill until set, about 2 hours. Serve with freshly whipped cream, if you like.
Canal House Cooks Every Day by Hamilton & Hirsheimer, Andrews McMeel 2012.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.