From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Several years ago, Christopher Kimball publicly confessed that his favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner was dessert. I've never viewed myself as a slavish follower, and like to think that my opinions are my own, but when it comes to holiday meals, and desserts in particular, I think I'm channeling him. I love most of the old favorites associated with Thanksgiving, and, in any given year, a ridiculous number of them appear on my holiday table I do, however, try to expand our horizons, so each year I make an effort to come up with a new dessert to add to the collection. The results are not always successful. When I am good I am very, very good, but when I m bad I am horrid. Fortunately, I have a winner to share with you this year. My goal was to create a dessert that could be made several days ahead of time and plucked from the freezer for serving. Cheesecake came to mind, but I wanted to create a version that would be light enough to serve following a holiday meal. I think I was able to accomplish that with this recipe. The cake, which relies on pumpkin, mascarpone cheese and orange liqueur for flavor, is really easy to make, but it has to go through a freeze and thaw cycle before it can be served. Once you've mastered its timing you've mastered the cake. It can be made and frozen a week before you need it. If you thaw it at room temperature, the cake will become too soft to serve neatly and you'll have a hot, albeit delicious, mess on your hands. If you thaw it as suggested in the recipe below, you won't have any problems. I really think you'll like this cake. I made it as part of the early holiday dinner we shared with friends and it was really well received. The Silver Fox has requested it for our "real" Thanksgiving holiday and I'm delighted to oblige. Here's the recipe for your consideration.
Pumpkin Freezer Cake with Mascarpone Cheese and Orange Liqueur...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
3-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
1 quart whole milk, divided use
1 ( 15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1 box cinnamon graham crackers
1) Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2) Mix yolks, cornstarch, salt, 1-1/2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of milk and in a large bowl until ingredients are combined.
3) Heat remaining 3 cups of milk in a large saucepan large saucepan, just until it beginsto steam. Whisk 1 cup of hot milk into the yolk mixture. Pour mixture into milk in saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until boiling and thick, about 5 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin puree and cook for 1 minute. If gelatin has set, microwave it for about 30 seconds. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in gelatin, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Add mascarpone and whisk until blended.
4) Place orange liqueur in a custard cup. Add reserved 1 tablespoon sugar and microwave at high power for 10 seconds, or until sugar is dissolved.
5) Crush 3 whole graham crackers into crumbs and set aside. Place one-third of remaining graham crackers in bottom of a 10 x 10-inch or an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Lightly brush them with orange liqueur and top with one-third of pumpkin custard. Repeat layering of crackers, liqueur and custard two more times, ending with a top layer of custard. Sprinkle reserved crushed graham crackers on top of custard. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of cake and freeze overnight. Transfer cake to refrigerator about 6 hours before serving. When ready to proceed, remove cake from refrigerator and cut into squares. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Yield: 12 servings.
Cook's Note: Cake can be made and frozen for up to 1 week before serving.
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