Recipe Review

I Tried Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Mousse Parfait Recipe and It Changed the Way I Feel About Parfaits

published Nov 22, 2022
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I Tried Ina Garten's Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits
Credit: Nathan Hutsenpiller

When I was growing up, I was a very picky eater. After being burned one time too many by  unsuspecting ingredients hidden in my meals, I quickly developed a distaste for a lot of foods based on texture alone. When it came to desserts and other sweets, I found myself straying away from anything that was cream-filled, yogurt-based, or predominantly whipped cream-based, simply because I didn’t like the way it felt when I ate it. Weird? Maybe, but that’s the way the cookie crumbled for me.

That all changed recently, however, when I came across Ina Garten’s Instagram post about her favorite Thanksgiving desserts — specifically her pumpkin mousse parfaits — and I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Because I’ve been on a path of trying new things, I figured this would be a great addition in broadening my palate and continuing to put those residual picky eating habits behind me. And I’ve got to be honest, these parfaits are no joke.

How to Make Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits

Start by grabbing a heatproof bowl and pouring dark rum inside. Sprinkle in a packet of unflavored gelatin powder and set that aside for 10 minutes, allowing for the gelatin to soften. In a separate large bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, extra-large egg yolks, grated orange zest, ground cinnamon, and kosher salt. Set aside. 

Bring a pot of water to a simmer and set the bowl of gelatin over it. Let it cook until the gelatin is clear, then whisk the hot gelatin into the pumpkin mixture immediately. Fit an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, and add cold heavy cream and pure vanilla extract to the bowl. Whip on high speed until soft peaks form, then fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture. 

Credit: Nathan Hutsenpiller

For assembly, I used deep, narrow-ish glass cups, but you can most definitely get creative here. Spoon in some of the pumpkin mixture, then add a layer of whipped cream, followed by some chopped ginger cookies. Repeat these steps, finishing with a third layer of the pumpkin mixture. Put your perfectly assembled parfaits in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for a minimum of four hours to overnight.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream on top, which is made just as before but with the addition of 1 tablespoon of sugar, and decorate with crystalized ginger. I wasn’t able to find crystalized ginger, so I opted for a cinnamon granola mixture that worked out amazingly as an alternative. 

My Honest Opinion of Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits

I feel like I’m learning time and time again to go into a recipe with an open mind, and Ina’s parfait recipe has proven to be no exception to the rule. Seeing that I’ve never really been a fan of parfaits, I kind of made trying this recipe more about showing myself what I’ve been missing out on, and boy have I been missing out!

Ina’s pumpkin mousse parfaits are simply perfect. Yes, I’m saying in my limited experience that this recipe will activate your taste buds in a way you didn’t know was possible. I will definitely be making these again for Thanksgiving this year, as I am confident they will be an utter showstopper. And I absolutely urge you to give it a shot as well!

Credit: Nathan Hutsenpiller

3 Tips for Making Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits 

  1. Check your glassware before starting. This recipe will yield a surprising amount of pumpkin mixture and whipped cream. Ina’s recipe says that it serves 8 to 10, which means you’ll need quite a few small glasses or dessert dishes. I made larger parfaits, and if you choose to go that route, you’ll need three or four tall glasses.
  2. Get creative. While I feel it’s not totally necessary to stray from Ina’s directions and ingredient list, I do recognize that this is the perfect recipe to modify to your liking. The best part about learning something new is putting your own spin on it. 
  3. Let them sit overnight. After a full night of being covered and in the refrigerator, my parfaits had a perfectly fluffy texture that paired amazingly with the soft crunch of the ginger cookies. Keep them refrigerated for at least four hours, but if you can, leave them overnight and the reward the next day will be oh-so sweet.