Pumpkin pie and soufflé are opposites. Pumpkin pie is usually dense and heavy while soufflé is light and airy. So I did what seemed obvious: I combined the two to make pumpkin pie soufflé. The marriage of these two seems unconventional but makes brings the best of both dishes into one, light yet filling dish.
Making soufflé is intimidating. You have to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form, take care not to deflate them while folding them into the rest of the batter. If you do it all right, you’ll have a perfectly risen, light, airy soufflé. But you have to act fast because it falls pretty quickly- it still tastes delicious- it just tends to fall and deflate and that’s not so great when you’re taking pictures. But that’s not the story of this pumpkin pie soufflé. One day, a couple of my college girlfriends came over for lunch. I carefully chose to serve shrimp po boys, my caramelized onion and pepper salad with chickpeas, and a crustless pumpkin pie. I didn’t have enough filling so I had to stretch it a little and improvise. I set to work, adding the leftover waffle batter from that morning, praying it wouldn’t be an utter disaster. Thirty minutes later, out came this beautiful, perfectly fluffy crustless pie. Except it was too light to be called pie and to heavy to be called soufflé. It was a pumpkin pie soufflé and I realized it can be breakfast or dessert!
It all starts with roasting a pumpkin and making puree. And as luck would have it, I had one, last pumpkin left in the collection of winter squashes. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Cut a pumpkin lengthwise, scoop out the seeds in both halves, and place face down on a baking sheet, and rub with a little bit of oil (or cooking spray). Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the flesh is fork tender. Scoop out the flesh from the skin and puree it in a blender. See, easy peasy stuff!
Probably the hardest part of this recipe is beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form. And for that, get out that electric hand mixer. I use my Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment. Make sure the bowl is completely clean and dry or your egg whites will not get the right consistency. I cheat a little bit and a little bit of cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites and help them stiffen up. I’m all about making life easier for myself. This recipe calls for a milk product of some kind. I usually end up using fat-free half and half because it’s usually what I have on hand but the first time I made it, I made it with heavy whipping cream and it was so decadent. The cream will give it richness but if you’re looking to cut calories, I suggest you stick with either half and half or at least 2% milk (I haven’t tried it with skim milk so I can’t speak to its success). I’ve also been able to use a low calorie butter substitute and still have the soufflé come out fine, though not as rich.When you add the beaten egg whites to the flour batter and pumpkin batter, you must use a gentle hand. That means using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon and gently picking up batter from the bottom of the bowl, and making a motion like you’re folding it over onto the rest of the batter. Continue this method until the batter is fully mixed. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes once it’s out of the oven. Dust liberally with powdered sugar and serve drizzled with warm, real maple syrup, and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ⅔ half and half (fat-free or full fat) or heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 4 tablespoons butter or butter substitute
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ cup pecan halves (or nut of choice)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 4 eggs, separated
- ¼ tsp salt
- maple syrup, for serving
- confectioner's sugar, for dusting
- whipped cream for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a heavy-bottomed, 10-inch pan, heat 1 tbsp butter on medium heat. Add 2 tbsp brown sugar. Melt the sugar and add the nuts. Stir to coat and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until golden brown, taking care not to burn. Transfer to another dish and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, brown sugar.
- Melt remaining butter. Once room temperature, add to large bowl with egg yolks. Whisk together with brown sugar, pumpkin puree and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Set aside.
- In a large, clean bowl, combine egg whites with cream of tartar and beat with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. To do this, start at a low speed for 30 seconds, gradually increase speed setting every 30 seconds, until at the highest setting. Beat until stiff peaks form, when the beaters or whisk are turned up, the egg whites retain their shape.
- Slowly fold in the egg whites into the flour mixture, taking care not to deflate the egg whites. Continue folding in until mixed well.
- Pour into the reserved pan. Top with the reserved candied nuts.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
- Dust with confectioner's sugar, cut, top with maple syrup and whipped cream.