Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits: Layers of no-cook pumpkin mousse and gingersnaps make for a super simple yet elegant dessert.

Welcome to Project Food Blog Challenge #7! Back in August, when the challenges were announced and I saw that a video was one of them, I literally lol’d because I was happy that I’d never have do this challenge.  I truly didn’t think I’d get to this challenge.  I’m floored that I’m still in this competition and I thank each and every one of you for voting and supporting me.

I also want to thank you for the support you’ve been showing the other bloggers in Project Food Blog.  Our readers have been the driving force behind this competition and personally speaking, you have instilled in me a level of confidence about blogging that I never would have achieved had it not been for these challenges.  I’ve pushed myself further than I ever dreamed I would as a blogger and this video is a testament to that.

For the Video 411 challenge, the peeps at FoodBuzz asked us to: “Channel your inner Julia Child and put one of your favorite recipes on film.” The original challenge said to choose a favorite from our blog’s archive but it was later changed to allow us to choose a new recipe…and that’s what I did.  For the past few years, I’ve been dying to make Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits and I took this opportunity to make them for the first time on camera for all of you to see.

This video isn’t fancy.  It isn’t flashy.  But it’s me.  It’s true to who I am and how I work in the kitchen. And it’s recipe-driven, just as Smells Like Home is.  Kyle and I aren’t filmmakers and in fact, this was the first time we had used the video function on my camera.  The editing was done by two college undergrads, one of whom edited the reality-TV-style videos for the research project I coordinate at work.

They worked on it between classes and their part-time jobs.  I’m proud to say this is my video and I’m thrilled with how it turned out, considering the butterflies that swarmed my stomach before Kyle and I started filming.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

As I mentioned in the video, these pumpkin mousse parfaits are perfect recipe for your Thanksgiving dessert if you’re looking to get away from regular ol’ pumpkin pie.  The longer the mousse sits with the gingersnaps (the parfaits can refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving!), the more the cookies take on a cake-like texture so you actually feel like you’re eating gingerbread cake between the pumpkin mousse layers.

This no-cook dessert screams fall and the holidays and if I had any say about what kind of pumpkin dessert would be served at my Thanksgiving dinner this year (which I don’t because my mother-in-law always makes a pumpkin pie which I’m not allowed to compete with), these parfaits would be on my menu.  I think you should put them on yours!

Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits


¼ cup dark rum
1 packet (2 tsp) unflavored gelatin powder
1 (15-ounce can) pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
1 – 2 tsp grated orange zest
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ cups cold heavy cream
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Sweetened whipped cream, for layers or topping, optional
2 dozen chopped gingersnap cookies
Crystallized ginger, for garnish, optional


  • 01

    Place the rum in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 10 minutes for the gelatin to soften.

  • 02

    In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set the bowl of gelatin over a pan of simmering water and cook until the gelatin is dissolved. Immediately whisk the hot gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

  • 03

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.

  • 04

    To assemble, spoon some of the pumpkin mixture into parfait glasses and then some chopped cookies. Repeat, ending with a third layer of pumpkin. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. To serve, decorate with chopped cookies and whipped cream and slivered crystallized ginger, if desired.

adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

You Might Also Like:

Leave a Comment

  • November 14, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    I think it looks great! Congrats on getting so far, and good luck in the next round – you have my vote! 🙂

  • November 14, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    You did an amazing job! And the parfaits look delicious!

  • November 14, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    Great job, loved the video!

  • November 14, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    OMG I’m so hungry now! You did a great job on the video…totally a natural! I’d be a stumbling mess, for sure!

  • Hot Polka Dot Mom
    November 14, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Albeit I am a fan of pumpkin pie, your parfaits look absolutely delicious. Well done!

  • November 14, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    Tara: love this dessert! I can see it fit perfectly on my Thanksgiving table, with a little orange bow 🙂 The instructions were super clear: thank you!

  • November 14, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    Lovely recipe video. I’d eat this dessert over pumpkin pie any day!

  • November 14, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    I love the video! You’re so cute 🙂 The parfaits look SO good…and I agree, way better than pumpkin pie!

  • November 14, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Your video is so cute! I love the graphics and the introduction was so great. Congrats for making it so far, and I wish you continued sucess. You did so well 🙂 The recipe is one I have to try it very soon., looks so mouthwatering.

  • November 14, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Nicely done video! Love that you were true to yourself. Ina is one of the best and I am sure she is flattered you chose her recipe to demonstrate. I wish I had one right now. Good luck with challenge #7!!

  • November 14, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    I’m so impressed – love it!

  • November 14, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    Yum – very good looking dessert (nice video too!).

  • ann
    November 14, 2010 at 9:08 PM

    The pumpkin parfaits look so good. Good luck with the competition.

  • November 14, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    Lovely video — I’ll definitely vote for you. The parfaits look delicious.

  • November 14, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    I LOVE this recipe. What a great twist on a holiday treat. Fabulous video! Good luck!

  • November 14, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    What a great addition to the Thanksgiving/Fall dessert repertoire, cool and creamy… love it!

  • November 15, 2010 at 7:43 AM

    Awesome job Tara! I would never have been able to do this challenge, I am way too shy! I loooove that you chose this recipe, I was actually planning to make it really soon. I have seen Ina make them before and now I want to do it even more. Way to go!

  • November 15, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    These look fabulous! Beautiful job.

  • November 15, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    These look terrific. The video is so nicely and I am sure that fact will help this seasonal dessert make it to a lot of folks Thanksgiving tables. GREG

  • November 15, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    The parfaits look delicious.

  • November 15, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Tara, you’re adorable! Video looks great!

  • November 15, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Terrific substitute of pumpkin pie. They would definitely be a big hit around here! Good luck!

  • November 16, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    I love the sweet homey feel of your video, and your parfaits look delicious. Great job!

  • November 17, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    Such a great job Tara! You rocked your video and what a great recipe pick!

  • November 18, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Thanksgiving in a cup! I love it! Great video Tara and I loved your measurement animations! Good luck in the challenge!

  • November 18, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Voted! Pie without crust. So fun and simple!

  • November 18, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    Oh my! YUM!!!! These look sooooo tasty!!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  • phoebe
    November 19, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    wow~ love ur video tutorial.
    the whole process of making pumpkin mousse seemed so easy
    gonna try making this for sure =)

  • November 26, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    Great video! you did fantastic and your mousse looks super delicious.