RED LOBSTER PUMPKIN PIE IN A JAR

After the success of the chain’s Strawberry Cheesecake in a Jar, Red Lobster introduced the Pumpkin Pie in a Jar for the 2013 fall holidays. The dessert, which the menu describes as “layered pumpkin and cream cheese mousse with a graham-cracker crust, topped with sugared pecans,” quickly became a hit with customers and the online cooking blog community. I found a few interesting recipes posted online but none got it all right, so I thought it was time to break down my own Pumpkin Pie in a Jar to find out exactly what’s going on in there. After getting the dessert back to the lab and separating all of the components, I hacked each layer, one at a time, so that I could now present you with this, the ultimate clone. You’ll have to make several parts for this recipe, but they are each pretty easy and you can make them several hours or even a day ahead of when you plan to serve this. Once you’ve got all the parts whipped up, it’s just a matter of layering everything into six 6-ounce canning jars (or drinking glasses if you don’t have jars) for an impressive dinner party dessert or holiday meal finisher.

PUMPKIN LAYER
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
¾ cup half-and-half
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

CREAM CHEESE MOUSSE LAYER
1½ cups heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup marshmallow crème
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
1½ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted

SUGARED PECANS
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup chopped pecans

YOU WILL ALSO NEED
6 6-ounce canning jars (or 6 6-ounce glasses)


Cooking method

1-Make the pumpkin layer by combining all of the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and blending everything together with a mixer on high speed for 30 seconds. Heat the mixture in your microwave for 5 minutes on high or until very hot. Stir halfway through the cooking time. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

2-Make the cream cheese mousse layer by whipping the cream with an electric mixer on high speed until it forms stiff peaks (about 2 minutes). In a separate bowl, whip together the cream cheese, marshmallow crème, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the cream cheese mixture with the whipped cream and beat until smooth and fluffy. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

3-Make the whipped cream topping by combining all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and whipping with an electric mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Cover and chill this too.

4-Now for the crust: first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and ginger in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter until all of the crumbs are moistened by the butter. Pour the graham cracker mixture into an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and press it down flat in an even layer that coats the entire bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 minutes, or just until it starts to brown around the edges, then remove it to cool. When the crust is entirely cool, it will be crispy. Break the crust into tiny pieces.

5-Make the sugared pecans by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan (a pan that is NOT nonstick, such as stainless steel, works best). Set the pan over medium heat and, as soon as the water begins to bubble, add the pecans. Stir constantly until all of the water has evaporated and the sugar has become a glaze. Once you begin to see a little sugar crystallize on the nuts—it should take 2 to 3 minute —remove the pan from the heat and stir rapidly. The sugar will then crystallize onto the nuts as they cool.

6-Now you can build your desserts: Spoon about 3 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of a 6-ounce jar (or 6-ounce glass). Spoon about 3 tablespoons of cream cheese mousse into the jar, followed by 3 tablespoons of pumpkin. Add another layer of crumbs, pumpkin, and cream cheese mousse and then top off the dessert with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and some sugared pecans sprinkled on top.

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