How to Make Pumpkin Mousse

When the airs turns cooler, a pumpkin mousse the perfect dessert for fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

best pumpkin mousse recipe
Steven Randazzo

When it comes to fall desserts, there are never enough pumpkin ideas. From pies and cookies to cakes and brownies, the possibilities are endless (and oh-so sweet!). Break up the baking day with this easy-to-assemble trifle, a tower of pumpkin mousse layered with whipped cream and sprinkled with a chic chocolate curl topping.

New to the world of mousse desserts? Here’s everything you need to know before starting to whip things up.

What is the difference between mousse and pudding?

Here’s the deal on mousse and pudding: While they are in the same family of desserts, you should note a few key differences if you’re considering either for your next seasonal treat. Pudding employs the sweet combination of milk and sugar found in many desserts, but its consistency is on the thicker side. Another key difference: the main thickening agent in pudding is typically cornstarch, which must be activated with heat, and therefore puddings are cooked thoroughly before serving.

Mousse, our dessert of choice in this particular case, also uses milk and sugar, but it achieves its fluffy texture simply with air (or sometimes egg whites) rather than cornstarch. The ingredients for mousse do not need to be cooked, so it is most commonly served cold.

Can you blend pumpkin mousse and pumpkin pudding?

If you were to blend pumpkin mousse with pumpkin pudding, the two things to keep in mind are texture and temperature. Because mousse is served chilled, you should bring your pudding (which can be served warm, room temperature, or cold) to the same temperature, so as not to mix hot with cold. Secondly, the texture of both substances would be altered if you were to combine them, so be prepared for a hybrid experience if you plan to actually stir them together.

The safest plan is to layer the two in a parfait-like dessert concoction—that way, the pudding and mousse can maintain their original consistencies, but you as the consumer are able to enjoy the best of both worlds. (Pro tip: Sprinkle with crushed graham crackers or chocolate curls for a sophisticated crunch.)

Can I make mousse with pumpkin pie filling?

Nope. Homemade pumpkin pie filling typically contains raw eggs, so you’d need to cook it first, which defeats the idea of mousse. If you're using canned pumpkin pie filling that does not require cooking, you're free to make mousse with that however you wish—just be wary of texture and consistency. Our recommendation? If you’re looking for a shortcut to pumpkin mousse, it’s easy to incorporate instant pudding mix (yes, really!) to cut down on from-scratch prep time.

How to do I make a lighter, healthier version of pumpkin mousse?

Common substitutions include avocado, coconut oil, and other vegan ingredients, which cut calories and add nutritional value. Pumpkin itself has a relatively high nutritional value when it comes to desserts, so if you ask us, you should go for the real deal. Recipe below.

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Cal/Serv: 531
Yields: 16
Total Time: 8 hours 30 mins
Ingredients
5

large egg yolks

1 c.

sugar

3 1/2 c.

heavy cream

15 oz.

Canned pumpkin

2 tsp.

vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp.

ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp.

ground ginger

1/4 tsp.

ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp.

salt

2 tbsp.

dark rum

1 tsp.

powdered gelatin

3 oz.

shaved dark chocolate

Directions
  1. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water and set aside.
  2. Whisk the yolks, 3/4 cup 2 tablespoons sugar, and 3/4 cup cream together in a medium saucepan. Heat while stirring continuously with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon over medium-low heat, until thickened and the mixture coats the spatula -- about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set over the ice bath. Stir to cool.
  3. Add pumpkin, vanilla, spices, and salt to the egg mixture. Stir 1 tablespoon rum and 1 teaspoon gelatin together in a small bowl. Heat the remaining tablespoon rum, and stir in to the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Gently whisk into the pumpkin mixture. Beat 1/2 cup cream to stiff peaks, and fold into pumpkin mixture. Pour into a shallow dish, cover and chill until cold and thick enough to fall from a spoon in heavy dollops -- about 8 hours or up to overnight.
  4. Beat the remaining cream and sugar to stiff peaks. Alternately layer the pumpkin mousse and whipped cream in a glass serving dish. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings between top two layers. Serve chilled.
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