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Pumpkin mousse a holiday dessert

For a change from the traditional pumpkin pie, this recipe for a pumpkin mousse would make an attractive dessert for Christmas eve or Christmas day dinner. It must be made well ahead of serving time, as it initially needs 41/2 hours to set in the refrigerator, then another 2 hours after it is completed. This recipe will serve about 16 people. Pumpkin Mousse 1 cup milk 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin 1 20-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin 11/2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon ginger 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 6 eggs, separated 1 cup sugar 2 cups heavy or whipping cream 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In heavy, 3-quart saucepan, mix milk and gelatin; let stand 1 minute. Cook over medium heat until gelatin is completely dissolved, stirring constantly. Stir in pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, egg yolks, and 3/4 cup sugar. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture is very thick, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly (do not boil or mixture will curdle).

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Refrigerate until mixture is well chilled, but not set, about 41/2 hours, stirring occasionally. If pumpkin mixture is not well chilled, cream will curdle when folded in.

Meanwhile, prepare collar for 11/2 quart souffle dish, by tearing off a 24 -inch strip of waxed paper, then folding it in half lengthwise. Wrap outside of dish so collar stands 3 inches above rim. Secure with cellophane tape; set aside.

When pumpkin mixture is chilled, in large bowl with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beating at high speed, gradually sprinkle in 1 /4 cup sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved. Whites should stand in stiff, glossy peaks.

Reserve 1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream for garnish later. In small bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat remaining 11/2 cups heavy cream.

With wire whisk or rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream and chilled pumpkin mixture into beaten egg whites. Spoon mixture into souffle dish; refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

To serve, in small bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat reserved heavy or whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Garnish mousse with whipped cream and chopped walnuts. Makes 16 servings.