Pumpkin pie, sort of

Pumpkin pie, sort of

Paris Pastry Club
Helen Cathcart

I remember the first pumpkin pie I ever had. I must have been six or seven, and back then, I didn’t realise that this simple tarte would one day make it to a restaurant menu.

And yet, this is a dessert I’ve made countless times now. When I feel like it, I’ll add a pumpkin sorbet. Or replace the sugar in the foam with maple syrup.

I’ve changed the shortbread recipe pretty much every time too (and trust me, it’s a killer with a cup of tea, any day, anytime).

Sometimes I add gels and pulled sugar and all sorts of fancies. Above all I love to accompany it with smooth cream cheese foam. You’ll need a nitrogen canister to make this, but I think it’s well worth it.

For the cinnamon wholewheat shortbread


Quantity Ingredient
1 hard-boiled egg, thinly grated, yolk
520g butter
180g icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
300g wholewheat flour
150g plain flour
100g rolled oats
50g cornflour

For the caramelised white chocolate ganache

Quantity Ingredient
300g white chocolate, chopped
200g whipping cream

For the pumpkin confit

Quantity Ingredient
125g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 cinnamon stick
220g water
1 butternut squash
or 1/2 pumpkin

For the cream cheese foam

Quantity Ingredient
400g cream cheese
220g water
120g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the pumpkin curd

Quantity Ingredient
300g pumpkin flesh, diced
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
60g muscovado sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds
2 gelatine leaves
100g butter, softened


  1. The shortbread

    Cream the yolk, butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flours and oats and mix until just combined. Spread the mixture between two sheets of baking paper and roll until it is 4 mm thick. Transfer to a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  3. Remove the shortbread from the freezer and bake for around 18 minutes or until golden brown. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container when cooled down.
  4. The caramelised white chocolate ganache

    Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  5. Place the chopped white chocolate onto a baking tray and bake for around 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. In a small pan, bring the whipping cream to the boil. Off the heat, add the caramelised white chocolate, and stir until smooth. Transfer to a small container and chill for a few hours or overnight.
  7. The pumpkin confit

    Put the sugar in a pan set over medium heat and cook to a dark, amberbrown caramel. Slice the vanilla pod lengthwise and add to the caramel along with the cinnamon stick. Briefly mix, then tip the water in. The caramel will seize – do not worry. Just keep heating and slowly bring to the boil, then remove from the heat to cool down slightly while you prepare the pumpkin
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Peel the squash or pumpkin and use different sizes of Parisian scoops (melon ballers) to scoop out little spheres of the flesh and place into a 20 cm cake tin.
  10. Pour the syrup over the balls and bake for an hour, turning and basting regularly. Allow to cool at room temperature and keep covered in the fridge.
  11. The cream cheese foam

    To make the cream cheese foam, whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth, around 1 or 2 minutes. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and transfer to a nitrogen foam canister. Charge with one cartridge of nitrogen and shake well. Keep in the fridge.
  12. The pumpkin curd

    Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Spread the diced pumpkin flesh onto a baking tray and roast for approximately 30 minutes until tender. Blend the roasted pumpkin in a mixer. Then leave it to cool down slightly.
  13. Mix the eggs and egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and seeds in a heatproof bowl, and add the pumpkin purée, whisking as you go. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook the mixture, stirring every now and then, until it reaches 84°C.
  14. Soak the gelatine in ice-cold water. When the curd is cooked, take the bowl off the heat and add the squeezed gelatine leaves. Add the butter and stir well for 5 minutes.Transfer to a container, cover the surface with clingfilm, and chill for a few hours in the fridge, or until set.
  15. Once the curd has set, whisk to loosen it and scrape into a piping bag fitted with a 12 mm nozzle.
  16. To serve

    Spoon a dollop of caramelised ganache onto the side of each dessert plate and smear it roughly with a spoon.
  17. Pipe a big mound of pumpkin curd next to the ganache and arrange a few small spheres of confit pumpkin around it. Pipe on the foam – I usually go for a small amount, but you could definitely go wild here without any regrets.
  18. Break the shortbread into bite-sized pieces and scatter here and there. Finally, drizzle a spoonful of the confit pumpkin syrup around the edge of the plate.
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