In my house, it was never a question of will there be pie on the turkey table, it was more a question of "should that side table be for the kids, or the 12 pies?"
This year though, my routine has radically changed. In September I moved to tropical Singapore—about as far away from cornucopias and pilgrim hats as you can get. Without a gourd in sight, I sulked for a week from having missed a proper Halloween pumpkin carving, so I've been determined to not let pumpkin pie season pass me by too. After locating a grocery store that specializes in ingredients for displaced expats such as myself, I snatched up the last few cans of pumpkin puree and got to work.
Living near the equator forces you to do a reality check when it comes to the whole pie-baking thing. It's hot. Really hot. You have to stop and ask yourself a few questions. Do you really want to turn on the oven for an hour or more? Can you really be bothered with the stove? Nope.
So I realized this could be no ordinary pumpkin pie. In addition to adding some chocolate (because chocolate makes everything better), this pie would grace neither an oven nor a stove. To start, that meant forgetting about any kind of pie dough or cookie dough crust. A graham cracker style pie shell was the only option—I used chocolate wafers. The crumbs are moistened with melted butter and then pressed into the pie plate. Easy as, well, you know.
For the filling, I skipped over the classic baked custard, as well as a stove top pudding. Instead, this pie is filled with a creamy pumpkin mousse that's happy to chill out in the fridge until you're ready to serve it. Flavored with a generous sprinkling of spices, it also has rich cream cheese (pumpkin's best friend), to help thicken and bind the mousse. Billowed on top is a light but flavorful cocoa whipped cream.
I could have ended it there with a final dusting of cocoa, but I decided that for real holiday showstopper appeal, a dramatic scattering of chocolate shavings would be the perfect final touch. In every cool, luscious bite you get a melange of buttery chocolate cookie, satiny spiced pumpkin, and feathery cocoa cream. The pumpkin may have cost me three times as much as back in the States, but this pie was worth every penny.
About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".