Black-Bottom Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icebox Pie

We celebrated Hunter’s first birthday this weekend. This time last year, the last thing I thought I’d be festooning with birthday decorations was the interior of a 30-ft travel trailer. Then again, this time last year I was so gripped by the shock of delivering an actual infant (not sure what else I thought was going to happen after 9 months!) that I wasn’t anticipating much of anything about my existence from that point forward, let alone the specifics of Hunter’s first birthday!

As we moved to the Okanagan just a few months ago, Hunter doesn’t have baby friends here as of yet, so the three of us threw a little birthday party of our own. In the morning we had breakfast and opened presents, which Hunter quickly ditched in favour of chasing a helium balloon around the trailer and chewing on wrapping paper (his favourite past time). Later on we visited with my mum, who happened to have a short layover at the Kelowna airport, then made our way to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. The food and wine were predictably sub-par (don’t order the wine on special at a family restaurant; lesson learned) , but it was the ideal place to dine as Hunter was able to make random screaming noises, and throw bread and cutlery on the floor – which is basically what all babies go there to do – with impunity. The servers even brought him a little bowl of ice cream with a sparkler in it and serenaded him with a fairly enthusiastic rendition of Happy Birthday. He loved it!

Earlier in the afternoon I presented Hunter his single-candled birthday cake – or icebox pie, I should say. Last Summer I made the original version of this icebox pie recipe – a too-good-to-be-true melding of peanut butter, cream cheese and whipped cream on a graham cracker crust  – and it was so mind-bogglingly delicious I was dying for an opportunity to make it again. Then pumpkin season rolled around, and a new incarnation of the recipe popped into my dessert-obsessed brain. I’d keep the cream cheese and whipped cream in the filling, but replace the peanut butter with pumpkin puree and spices, and swap out the graham cracker crust for a chocolate wafer one. Then finish the whole thing with more whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup. Hell ya!

Hunter’s birthday was coming up so I held on to the idea, and after much suspense put it into action over the weekend. The results were well worth the wait! Hunter might disagree – he’s been slow taking to solid foods and only sucked back a couple teaspoons worth – but Mike and I attacked the pie full-throttle and had to refrain ourselves from polishing the entire thing off in one go. I’m not sure what I like best about this recipe: the interplay of spicy pumpkin, smooth cream cheese and cool, fluffy whipped cream, or the crunchy texture of the chocolate wafer crust. I suppose there’s no real need to play favourites! Try this recipe as a quick, no-oven alternative to pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving (for all you Americans out there) or Christmas 🙂

Recipe: Black-Bottom Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icebox Pie (adapted from this Ezra Pound Cake recipe)

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs + a couple tablespoons more for top of pie
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup + more to serve (optional)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup cream cheese (I used the reduced fat kind), softened
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon clove

Method:

Prepare whipped cream: Combine heavy cream and maple syrup in a medium mixing bowl and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until medium-stiff peaks form. Place in fridge until needed.

Prepare chocolate wafer crust: Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan (or an 8″ diameter circular pan). Combine chocolate wafter crumbs and melted butter in a small mixing bowl and stir until combined. Press mixture into the bottom of your pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Place in fridge to set.

Prepare filling: In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add confectioners sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla and spices and beat until everything is combined. Take 2 1/2 cups of whipped cream from the bowl in fridge and fold into pumpkin cream cheese mixture until well blended.

Finish pie: Pour the mixture into your chocolate wafer crust, then top with remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of chocolate wafer crumbs on top of whipped cream, then place pie in fridge to set for at least an hour before serving.

When serving, drizzle each portion with maple syrup. Eat!

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