After all of the prep and cooking involved for the recently passed Thanksgiving dinner, I had zero desire to get back into the kitchen this weekend to cook something else. So instead of creating something new, I repurposed something I already had: leftover pumpkin pie. Using a simple reverse spherification cooking technique, I used sodium alginate and calcium lactate to transform shapeless leftover pumpkin pie filling into a sturdy, yolk-like ravioli. I’ve used this technique before to create a deconstructed taro root bubble tea dessert, and especially enjoyed morphing something so traditional and classic into something creative and new.
Many molecular cooking techniques require perfect measurements in weight, but I find reverse spherification to be a little more forgiving than other methods out there. Pumpkin pie filling offers the perfect viscosity to start with, so it makes the few other required steps very easy and almost foolproof. To make the original pumpkin pie filling, I used two cans of pureed pumpkin, a package of Tofutti cream cheese, a few splashes of soy nog mixed with two tablespoons of cornstarch, raw agave to taste—and cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice—all pureed in a blender for a minute or two, then baked for about 45 minutes in a vegan pie crust.
for the gelling solution
3 cups cold water
1 tsp sodium alginate
for the ravioli spheres
6 ounces of leftover pumpkin pie filling
1 tsp calcium lactate (yes, it’s vegan)
a few dollops of non-dairy whipped cream (I used SoyaToo)
an inch or two of the pie rind, crushed into a powder with your fingers
Pour three cups of cold water into a large measuring glass cup. Add in the sodium alginate and, using an immersion blender at its highest speed, blend for a full two minutes. Set aside for about 30 minutes to allow the air bubbles to settle.
Combine the pumpkin filling with the calcium lactate and stir well by hand. Set aside.
Find a drinking glass with a circular base, no more than 2-3 inches in diameter. Pour a very small amount of the sodium alginate mixture into the bottom of the glass. Then spoon about two tablespoons into the glass. It has to be dropped carefully and in one shot to achieve a perfect spherical shape. Now, tip the glass to a 45-degree angle, then very slowly pour more solution over the top until it’s covered, then slowly raise it back up to a 90-degree level (sort of like pouring a beer carefully into a glass). Now swirl the sphere around in a circular motion for about 30 seconds to create the spherical shape. Set it down and leave it undisturbed for about two minutes.
By now, the sphere should be very sturdy. Rinse it off under cold water or place it into a bowl of cold water while you make the rest of the spheres. To serve, squirt or spoon a generous amount of vegan whipped cream into the bottom of a serving spoon, then place the ravioli sphere on top. Dust with a little of the pie crust crumbs on top, then serve.