The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word deconstruct as the process where you "take apart or examine in order to reveal the basis or composition" of something. of course their definition references Literary works but in the cooking world the meaning of the word has taken on a whole new dimension and given rise to a highly popular trend. Spanish Chef Ferran Adria of worldwide fame first introduced the creative concept in the early 90's.
My first introduction to this concept was while watching a televised cooking competition (My favorite thing to do) where a contestant put together a deconstructed dessert as she had very limited time to create something. The concept sparked my interest and I have been hooked since then, finding this an easy, creative and fun way to make and serve desserts as the possibilities are limitless.
The key is to retain the essence of the dish you are recreating, so in this case I'm keeping the pumpkin filling as that is the key component but am presenting it in a different form, with a few new elements. I love a good pie crust but baking one takes a bit of time, even if you use a store bought dough so I decided to swap that out with a ginger snap cookie (which I absolutely love).
By keeping something crunchy in my dessert I'm staying close to the the original concept but presenting it with a twist. Whereas the crust is on the bottom, my cookie sits atop. It adds the texture that the crust would have but with a slightly different flavor. A crust is buttery and flaky with a mild taste, whereas gingersnaps are thin and crunchy with a sharper taste.
We do want the filling to remain the star of the show so a small sized cookie like this is enough to tease us into thinking we're eating a pie and the ginger flavor helps by gently enhancing the flavor of all the spices in the filling. As whipped cream is often eaten on a pie, adding some to our creation helps us stay close to the desserts origins and also assists in blending the flavors of the filling and gingersnaps.
A sweet drizzle of Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel carries and elevates the tones of the brown sugar in our pie filling and the crushed toasted hazelnuts contain hints of the same sweet and earthy fall flavors that the pumpkin does. Everything combines into a beautiful blend that contains the best of fall flavors and colors in just a few minutes.
Now on to the super easy instructions along with some options to make this even easier!
2 Cups Pumpkin Pie Filling
½ Cup Whipped Cream Topping*
Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel Sauce
4 Tablespoons Roasted Crushed Hazelnuts
4 Gingersnap Cookies
*WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING:
½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1. For the pumpkin custard filling I used my super easy recipe for the Mini Pumpkin Pies on this blog but feel free to use your favorite recipe or make it even easier and buy store bought filling.
2. For the Whipped Topping, just mix the cream and sugar in your electric mixer till it's lightly fluffy and holds its own shape and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before using. Remember whenever making your own whipped cream it's very easy to over mix and get a buttery texture. Once you chill it, the cream firms up and holds up perfectly. Of course you're always welcome to use cool Whip or Reddi Wip but homemade whipped cream tastes amazing and is so easy to do I would highly recommend it.
3. Lightly toast the hazelnuts and crush by putting them in a ziplock bag and beating them gently with a rolling pin. You want odd sized pieces to really get the right texture in your dessert and this is the best way to achieve that. You don't have hazelnuts on hand? swap for Pecans. You can really opt for any nut but I do think one of the two will work best with the particular flavors here. But since you'll be the artist of your own masterpiece Â feel free to experiment and please do share your ideas in the comments!
4. I used plain white ramekins but clear dessert cups or glasses will work well too. Sometimes you can get mini sized disposable clear cups in different shapes and sizes and it makes for cute presentation. Just portion the pumpkin filling in 4 containers, top with your chilled cream, drizzle some caramel sauce and top with a sprinkle of the nuts and a cookie.
Easy! Pretty! (and in these COVID times) Safe!
Everyone just picks up their cup and then it's tossed or washed so no cross contamination!
Set up a small dessert table and have these deconstructed pies, some of my Coconut Pecan Bread Pudding With Praline Sauce in individual serving cups, the more traditional Mini Pumpkin Pies and anything else you're cooking all set up and you'll wow your guests! I'd love to get some feedback and see some pictures when you try this recipe!