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Pumpkin Mousse Cake

To make fresh pumpkin puree, choose a firm-fleshed cooking pumpkin. (Avoid large field pumpkins used for jack-o'-lanterns as they are too watery.) Cut in half through the stem end and place, cut sides down, on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until a skewer pierces the flesh, about 25 minutes. Scoop out the seeds, scrape the flesh from the skin and puree in a food processor. The puree should be the consistency of canned pumpkin. If it is too thin, cook over low heat until thickened. Freeze leftover puree for up to 3 months.

Ingredients:

  • Génoise (see related recipe at left)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 Tbs. cold water
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh pumpkin puree or
     canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. dark rum
  • 1 2/3 cups plus 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Make the génoise as directed, let cool completely and place the cake, right side up, on a work surface. Cut the cake into 2 equal layers.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water, stir and let soften until opaque, about 3 minutes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin puree, the granulated sugar and salt and heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the softened gelatin and let cool to room temperature. In a bowl, stir the pumpkin mixture into the remaining pumpkin puree. Whisk in the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and rum.

Using a stand mixer or by hand, whip the 1 2/3 cups cream to soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the whipped cream into the puree, then fold in the remaining cream, making a mousse.

Peel off the paper from the bottom cake layer. Put the layer, cut side up, into the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan. Spread half of the mousse evenly over the cake. Trim 1/2 inch from the outside edge of the remaining layer. Center it, cut side down, on top of the mousse. Top with the remaining mousse, pushing it between the cake and the pan and smoothing the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Warm the sides of the pan with a kitchen towel soaked in hot water and wrung out. Remove the pan sides and smooth the sides of the mousse with a frosting spatula.

Whip the 1/2 cup cream and the confectioners' sugar to medium peaks. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip (see related tip at left). Pipe shells around the top edge and a few in the center of the cake. Run a thin knife under the cake to free it from the bottom of the springform pan and transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cake, by Fran Gage (Simon & Schuster, 2003).