Culinary arts class creates perfect holiday dessert

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By Greg Summers

Sometimes, the best recipes go through a lot of hands before making it to the table.

This version of Pumpkin Mousse is a good example of that.

Kimberly Gulledge of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life sent me a Thanksgiving card that included the recipe.

Suddenly, the light bulb above my head went off.

It seems that Wal-Mart had donated some leftover pumpkins to the culinary arts class at Lancaster High School.

Gregg Shipston, a fellow “foodie,” who teaches the class, incorporated the pumpkins into his lesson plan. Facing a tight budget, Shipston is always looking for ways to stretch his food dollars.

“We roasted them, cleaned them, pureed them and put them into the freezer,” Shipston said. “Pumpkin will keep for about six months and I figure we could get use out it several times.”

It didn’t take very long for that first time, either.

I e-mailed a copy of the Pumpkin Mousse recipe to Shipston. Given the timing of the holiday and his recent pumpkin bounty, I thought it was something he’d be interested in sharing with his class.

I was right.

“This is a pretty foolproof recipe,” he said. “It’s one of those you wouldn’t want to tweak very much at all.”

The dish you see above was prepared by students in the culinary arts class at LHS.

“It was easy to make,” said Janie Parker, 16.

However, Shipston added a couple of touches to it in keeping with the spirit of what he instills in his students.

Instead of using pudding mix and whipped topping, the students’ version uses pastry cream. Canned pumpkin was replaced by fresh pumpkin processed by the culinary arts class.

Shipston was so impressed that he took the Pumpkin Mousse to a monthly birthday party held by the LHS staff.

The response was overwhelming; Shipston has already e-mailed the recipe to others about a dozen times.

“It was liked very much,” he said.

Not only is it easy, it makes the perfect Thanksgiving dessert that’s light and flavorful after a heavy holiday meal.

Another plus to this pumpkin pie alternative is that it can be prepared ahead of time and keep chilled until you are ready to serve it.

Pair Pumpkin Mousse with a cup of coffee and your dinner guests will be clamoring for this recipe, just like the LHS faculty. This recipe is a winner.

Pumpkin tips

Canned pumpkin is fast, easy and has all the nutrients of fresh pumpkin, but doesn’t compare when it comes to taste.

The best varieties of cooking pumpkins are milk, cheese and sugar. You can cook a small “jack-o-lantern” but it won’t have as much flesh as a cooking pumpkin. Never cook a pumpkin that’s been carved; the cut flesh is ideal for growing bacteria.

– First, select a pumpkin with a tough skin. To test it, apply gentle pressure with your fingernail. If you can make a mark, the pumpkin isn’t ready for cooking.

– Follow this simple rule of thumb; a 5-pound pumpkin with yield about 4 1/2 cups of mashed, cooked pumpkin. Smaller pumpkins are better for cooking. They yield a sweeter flavor and more tender flesh.

To puree a pumpkin:

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

– Place whole, uncut pumpkin on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 90 minutes or until tender, occasionally turning baking sheet. Remove from oven and cool.

– Next, peel the pumpkin. After it’s been baked and cooled, the peel can be removed with little effort.

– To clean, remove the seeds and string pulp with a large spoon.

– Process the flesh in a food procession or by hand (using a potato masher) until smooth. It can be stored in the refrigerator up to five days or in the freezer for up to six months.

– Tips compiled from various sources, including puree tips from “Spooked by Pumpkin” by www.cookinglight.com


Pumpkin Mousse


2 15-ounce cans unsweetened pumpkin

2 5.1-ounce packages instant pudding mix

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

5 cups fat-free whipped topping

17 Graham cracker squares, broken into small pieces


– In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin, pudding mix, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.

– Fold in 4 cups of whipped topping until well blended.

– To assemble, place Graham cracker pieces in a large glass trifle bowl.

– Top pumpkin mixture with remaining whipped topping. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon.

– Chill for a least 3 hours before serving. Serves 8.

– Recipe courtesy of “Celebrate! Healthy Entertaining for Any Occassion” by the American Cancer Society