Mamie Eisenhower’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

An old clipping from the Washington Post was in my mother’s recipe box for this pie—that she used to make every Thanksgiving back in the 60s and 70s. I looked up several other recipes for the same pie—and frankly don’t find too many differences—the main one being that some dissolve their gelatin in either rum, bourbon, or Cointreau instead of in water. I may give those a try, but I opted for “the way Mom did it” which was the original recipe.

I’ve paired it with a simple Gingersnap crust which is a nice contrast and very easy to do since I used a bag of cookies that I picked up at Publix. This is a delicious pie, worthy of any Thanksgiving or autumn festivity.

Mamie Eisenhower’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Makes a nine-inch pie (8 servings)


3 large eggs, divided into yolks and whites
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree
½ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup cold water
1 envelope (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
¼ cup sugar
1 Gingersnap pie crust (see below)
Freshly whipped cream for serving

Prepare the piecrust:


1 cup crumbled ginger snaps
½ cup walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place the ginger snaps, walnuts, sugar, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds until the mixture is in fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse about 20 times until the butter is incorporated.

Put the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and use your fingers to press in evenly into and up the sides of the pan. Set aside while you make the filling.

Prepare the filling:

Heat water in a saucepan (or a double boiler) to a slow boil. Put the egg yolks in a medium metal mixing bowl and beat them until smooth. Stir in the brown sugar, pumpkin, milk, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Put the bowl over the hot water and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Put the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let it soak for 5 minutes and then add it to the pumpkin mixture and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Put the pumpkin mixture in the refrigerator to chill until it is partially set (it will seem like a pudding).

To assemble the pie, beat the egg whites in a stand mixer or with a hand beater on low until they foam, raising the speed to high to form soft peaks. Add the ¼ cup sugar and continue to beat on high speed until they form stiff peaks.

Gently fold the whites into the pumpkin mixture until there are no streaks. Pour the filling into the pie shell and chill until set (ideally for about six hours).

Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top. (Which you can make by beating together one cup of heavy whipping cream with 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar)

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