My beta-carotene levels should be sky high by now. It’s pumpkin season and I just can’t seem to get enough. Since the weather has chilled and autumn is officially here, the roasted pumpkin (calabaza asada) that is found in the Spanish markets has become a regular purchase on our shopping trips.
The pumpkins most commonly seen here are sweet pumpkins (calabaza dulce) that are pale shades of greens and yellows on the outside with bright orange flesh on the inside. A slice of roasted pumpkin is sweet enough to enjoy on its own and makes a healthy dessert with no added sugar needed.
Thanksgiving was the perfect excuse to fancy it up by making this dreamy spiced pumpkin mousse. The roasted pumpkin adds a depth of flavor and velvety texture that you just can’t get with canned pumpkin.
We based this recipe on a 1 kg (2.2 lb) portion of a roasted pumpkin (like the calabaza asada in the photo) which is the size we usually get from our favorite vendor at our local market. We scooped the flesh of the pumpkin into a measuring cup first to portion the correct amount. We then transferred it to a bowl and whipped it into a puree with an immersion blender to break up the fibers. You could also give it a whirl in a food processor. This one extra step makes for a lighter, silkier mousse.
Roasting the pumpkin concentrates and caramelizes the natural sugars, so we reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe. You can use canned pumpkin puree instead of roasted pumpkin, but you will probably want to increase the amount of sugar. If you are roasting your own pumpkin in the United States, make sure you use a variety of pumpkin meant for baking, like pie pumpkin, and test the sweetness of the puree.
Once started, there are no good stopping points, so get all of the ingredients for the mousse out and ready. Set up an ice-bath in a large bowl filled halfway with ice water.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract and spiced rum. We take a short cut with the vanilla and rum by making our own vanilla-infused rum extract, which we use in any recipe calling for vanilla extract. It’s easy – just split open a few vanilla beans and soak them in a small bottle of rum for a few weeks. For this recipe, we added 3 tablespoons of the vanilla-infused rum.
Now for the trickiest part of the recipe – making the custard. Separate the yolks of 7 eggs (save the whites for tomorrow mornings egg white omelet) and combine in a small sauce pan with the granulated sugar and 1 cup of heavy cream. Cook slowly over low heat (this is a “3” on my stovetop) with constant stirring until the cream thickens enough to cover the surface of the spatula, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil or it will curdle and you’ll need to start over again. Therefore, try not to get distracted unless you have another 7 eggs and cream ready to go! The first time we made this, I walked away from the pan for two seconds and ended up making an emergency run to the grocery store. Cooking wisdom says to cook custards in a water bath and use a thermometer to make sure it doesn’t exceed 180 degrees. We don’t have such technologies in our little rental kitchen, so it takes some extra care.
Did I mention to stir constantly?
Transfer the custard to a heatproof bowl, set it in the ice-bath and stir until it is cool. Stir the custard into the pumpkin mixture until well combined.
In a separate bowl, whip the remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream until it roughly doubles in volume and stiff peaks are formed. Fold half of the whipped cream into the pumpkin to lighten the mixture. Then add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold until completely incorporated.
Divide mousse into cups for individual servings, or spoon into a serving bowl. Now, lick the mixing bowl clean – you know you want to.
Chill for several hours or overnight.
Before serving, whip 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla-infused rum until soft peaks form. Top mousse with vanilla rum whipped cream. We garnished with dark chocolate shavings, but you could also top with crumbled gingersnaps, chopped nuts or crystalized ginger.
*Note that this recipe was adapted from Country Living’s Pumpkin Mousse recipe.
Roasted Pumpkin Mousse
Roasted pumpkin, 21 ounces
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp spiced rum
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 tsp salt
7 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar (if using canned pumpkin, increase sugar to 1 1/3 cup)1 3/4 cup heavy cream (1 cup for custard, 3/4 cup for whipping)
Vanilla Rum Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla-infused rum
Shaved dark chocolate for garnish
- If using roasted pumpkin, scoop and measure pumpkin flesh. Puree pumpkin in a food processor, or in a large bowl with an immersion blender and blend until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract and spiced rum. Mix well.
- Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl filled halfway with ice water.
- Separate the yolks of 7 eggs (save the whites for another purpose) and combine in a small sauce pan with the granulated sugar and 1 cup of heavy cream. Cook slowly over low heat while constantly stirring until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the custard to a heatproof bowl, set it in an ice-bath and stir until it is cool.
- Stir the custard into the pumpkin mixture until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat 3/4 cup heavy cream until it roughly doubles in volume and stiff peaks are formed.
- Fold half of the whipped cream into the pumpkin to lighten the mixture. Then add remaining whipped cream and gently fold until completely incorporated.
- Spoon mousse into cups for individual servings, or into a serving bowl or terrine. Chill until set – several hours or overnight.
- Before serving, whip 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla rum until soft peaks form. Top mousse with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.