Impossibly Creamy Pumpkin Mousse

published Sep 13, 2023
Pumpkin Mousse Recipe

This easy pumpkin mousse has silky whipped canned pumpkin, mascarpone cream cheese, and crunchy graham cracker crumbs.

Makes6

Prep30 minutes

Cook5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Front view of two jars with pumpkin cheesecake mousse topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

The emergence of pumpkin pie spice signals the beginning of fall. Besides using the sweet, spiced blend in lattes and pie, let me introduce you to pumpkin mousse, an easy yet elegant dessert. Each serving is filled with crunchy graham crackers, silky pumpkin mousse, and fluffy mascarpone whipped cream — all in an elegant glass. This dessert requires zero baking and comes together really quickly. 

The Ingredients You’ll Need for Pumpkin Mousse

  • Graham crackers. You can use whole graham crackers that you crush or start with store-bought crumbs. Gingersnaps are a wonderful substitution if you want something spicier; just crush them until you have one cup of crumbs first.
  • Butter. Melted butter helps toast up the graham cracker crumbs and adds a buttery flavor like a graham cracker crust.
  • Heavy cream. Cream is used in both the pumpkin mousse and in the mascarpone whipped cream.
  • Mascarpone cheese. This rich Italian soft cheese makes the mousse silky-smooth and keeps the whipped cream stable (meaning it won’t deflate or weep). You’ll need one 8-ounce tub.
  • Brown sugar. The sweetener here is brown sugar — light or dark will work.
  • Pumpkin purée. You can use store-bought or make your own, just don’t use sweetened pumpkin pie mix.
  • Pumpkin pie spice. Make your own blend or just use store-bought.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Pumpkin Mousse

  1. Toast the crumbs. Crush graham crackers into crumbs, then toast in a skillet with some butter until crunchy. This makes the crumbs extra-crunchy and they’ll stay crunchy longer after being topped with the pumpkin mousse.
  2. Make the whipped cream. Beat mascarpone, heavy cream, and some brown sugar together until soft peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip.
  3. Make the pumpkin filling. Use the same mixer to beat the pumpkin purée, mascarpone, brown sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice together until smooth. Then, add in the cream and vanilla, and beat again until soft peaks form.
  4. Layer in a glass. Divide the graham crackers crumbs between six glasses. Top with the pumpkin filling, and then the mascarpone whipped cream. Finish with a little sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

If You’re Making Pumpkin Mousse, a Few Tips

  • Start with cold heavy cream. To achieve the perfect texture in the filling and whipped cream, using cold cream will help it whip up faster and fluffier. Once you get to whipping, however, be careful not to overwhip or the texture will get too stiff and grainy. Stop when soft peaks that gently curl back on themselves form, and err on the side of underwhipping.
  • Pipe the filling. You can spoon the filling into the glasses, but that can be tricky to do without smearing the filling against the rim and sides of the glass. Transfer the filling into a piping or zip-top bag and pipe it into the glasses instead.
  • Refrigerate the mousses for a few hours before serving. This lets the spices meld together and allows the layers set up a little bit. It’s a great make-ahead dessert, especially for a dinner party, since all you have to do to serve is to hand out some spoons. 

May I recommend the best way to enjoy pumpkin mousse? Do it the way I do — slide your spoon straight down to the bottom so you get a little of all the sweet layers in each and every bite.

Pumpkin Mousse Recipe

This easy pumpkin mousse has silky whipped canned pumpkin, mascarpone cream cheese, and crunchy graham cracker crumbs.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 5 minutes

Makes 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 6

    whole graham cracker sheets (3 to 3 1/2 ounces), or 1 cup graham cracker crumbs

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1

    pinch kosher salt

For the filling and topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups

    cold heavy cream, divided

  • 8 ounces

    cold mascarpone cheese, divided

  • 2/3 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar, divided

  • 1 cup

    pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix, about 8 ounces)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    pumpkin pie spice, plus more for dusting

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the crust:

  1. If using whole graham crackers, place 6 whole graham cracker sheets in a large zip-top bag. Seal the bag and crush with a rolling pin into fine crumbs (about 1 cup).

  2. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the graham cracker crumbs and 1 pinch kosher salt, and cook until fragrant and the crumbs are toasted and crunchy, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool while you make the filling and topping.

Make the filling and topping:

  1. Place 1/2 cup of the cold heavy cream, 2 ounces of the cold mascarpone cheese (about 1/4 cup), and 2 tablespoons of the packed brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or medium bowl if using an electric hand mixer or making by hand). Beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Transfer to another bowl (or leave in the bowl if using a hand mixer or making by hand).

  2. Place the remaining 6 ounces cold mascarpone cheese (generous 3/4 cup), remaining 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup pumpkin purée, 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in the now-empty bowl (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer or whisking by hand). Beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed, scraping the bowl down about halfway through with a flexible spatula, until smooth, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes total. Scrape down the bowl again.

  3. Add the remaining 1 cup cold heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

Assemble the mousses:

  1. Divide the graham cracker crumbs between 6 (6 to 8-ounce) glasses, jars, or ramekins (about 3 tablespoons per glass). Transfer the filling into a large zip-top bag and snip off one bottom corner; pipe the filling over the crumbs (generous 1/2 cup per glass); use the back of a small spoon to smooth the top in each glass.

  2. Spoon the whipped cream over the filling (about 3 tablespoons per glass). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Dust lightly with more pumpkin pie spice before serving.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: 1 cup gingersnap crumbs (from about 15 gingersnaps) can be used in place of the graham cracker crumbs.

Make ahead: The mousses can be assembled, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.

Storage: Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days — the crumbs will soften over time.