I know what you’re thinking. What kind of confused, disloyal American would argue against having pumpkin pie—a Thanksgiving staple—on the table this year? Well, this pilgrim-descendant can think of three reasons.
# 1 – Pie wasn’t part of that first Thanksgiving spread.
Pumpkin pie as we know it—that allspice, custardy mixture baked into a crust with a healthy (or not so healthy) helping of whipped cream on top—might be thoroughly American, but it wasn’t what the pilgrims were eatin’. Sure, they had pumpkins, but they didn’t really have ovens. Instead, they had hearths, which were essentially fireplaces where early American cooks would set their pans either in front of or down onto the embers to cook their meals. In fact, the notion of “pie” wouldn’t work its way into recipe books until the 1790s, after the American Revolution. It’s true that colonists used pumpkins for pie, but only in the sense that the crusts of early pies served mainly as vessels to hold other fillings, such as soup, and weren’t intended to be eaten themselves. So, technically, the hollowed-out pumpkin was really just a big serving dish.
#2 – That pumpkin filling you’re using isn’t really pumpkin!
You may have heard this one before. The canned pie filling brought to us by the Libby’s brand isn’t pumpkin, but pumpkin’s less attractive cousin, a winter squash by the name of Dickinson (sounds a little pretentious, doesn’t it?). Maybe this isn’t a deal breaker for you, but don’t you feel just a little let down? Libby’s developed the Dickinson “pumpkin” specifically for its canned purees, and the hard truth is that about 90% of pumpkin products sold in the United States are, in reality, not pumpkin. But who are we to say the Dickinson doesn’t deserve our sympathies, when botanists have admitted there’s really no true definition for pumpkins? Are they simply a squash, or something a bit more special?
#3 – What you really need is chocolate.
This is true for 99% of situations. Pumpkin is predictable. Chocolate is delicious. And we’ve got a recipe to prove it, courtesy of Becky at Love to Be in the Kitchen. (Welcome back, Becky!) If you haven’t seen her recipe for an Easy Slow Cooker Turkey, you should definitely do so. But first, a lighter version of…
Frozen Chocolate Mousse Pie
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup (or regular)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder (found at craft stores in the baking section)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 8 oz. fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed
- semi-sweet or dark chocolate grated or curled for topping
- 1 pie crust, Oreo crust or graham cracker crust- baked and cooled
Directions: Melt both chocolates and the milk in a double boiler over low heat. Remove from heat and add the corn syrup and vanilla extract. Mix to combine and allow to completely cool.
With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the meringue powder with the water in a medium bowl until glossy peaks form 2-3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten meringue and the whipped topping into the cooled chocolate mixture until no streaks of white remain. Spoon into the prepared crust and spread evenly. Freeze until frozen, for a couple of hours. Garnish with grated chocolate or chocolate curls and serve.
There you have it. Three carefully thought out reasons why chocolate pie is the better choice for your Thanksgiving table.
Who am I kidding? Pumpkin pie is the best! So just have both, and while you’re eating, think of the pilgrims and their poor lack of either!