Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Torte

I have no idea why this is called a torte. It is not a torte, which is a type of cake that has lots of eggs and nuts, like almonds. While this contains some eggs, it has no nuts and is more like messy bar cookies than a cake. Possibly a better name may be Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars or Layered Pumpkin Bars or Goodness. Or the best name may be the Dessert that Won the Pumpkin Dessert Contest at our church's fall festival.

These are wonderful. They are full of all sorts of goodness and eating just one is close to impossible. The texture is dreamy and it is even a great Thanksgiving dessert (or before meal snack). Eating these are a bit of risk though: it contains raw egg whites (sorry to all those people I've served this to and have never disclosed this information before). You also get to use gelatin in this. Look for plain gelatin (under the brand of Knox) in the baking aisle next to the flavored Jello type gelatin. (Pictured is the graham cracker and cream cheese layer of the dessert).

This recipe is from my maternal Grandmother who claims she never made these. I know she did because she gave me this recipe after she made these for us one Thanksgiving. Make sure you move quickly when you get to the gelatin step--mix it quickly into the cold water and then quickly stir it into the hot pumpkin. If you take too long, it will congeal and get rather funky and inedible.

Best Pumpkin Dessert Bars

2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c butter
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c sugar
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

2 c pumpkin
1/2 c milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 t salt
1/2 c sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 T plain gelatin (Knox brand is what I've found)
1/4 c cold water
3 egg whites, beaten
1/4 c sugar
whipped topping

In a food processor (or by hand), mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 c sugar, and butter. Press into a greased 9 x 13" pan (I've found lining the bottom with tin foil makes it easier to dish--you can't lift it out of the pan, but it isn't as apt to stick to the bottom). Mix the eggs, sugar, and cream cheese in a blender until smooth and pour over the graham cracker crust mixture. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Cook the pumpkin, milk, egg yolks, salt, 1/2 c sugar, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan until thickened. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, dissolve gelatin in cold water in a small bowl. Stir into hot pumpkin mixture. Set aside and let pumpkin cool to room temperature (if you continue before it is cool enough, the heat will deflate the egg whites).

Beat the egg whites and 1/4 c sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. Pour pumpkin onto cream cheese/graham cracker crust. Allow to chill in refrigerator for several hours. Just before serving, top with whipped topping. Cut into bars and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers (but there probably won't be many).

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