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Chef Bakes Crystal Clear Jello-Like Pumpkin Pie That Tastes Like the Real Thing

People have been losing their minds over the pumpkin pie created by Simon Davies, the chef at Chicago’s Alinea restaurant, and for good reason. It looks like jell-o on a pie crust, but he insists that it’s an actual pumpkin pie, just not the kind we’re all used to.

Davies posted the first photo of his bizarre crystal-clear pumpkin pie in late September, and people have been talking about it ever since. The general reaction can be described as a mix of surprise, confusion and anger, as people try to wrap their hands around this pumpkin pie that sort of looks like the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but is totally different, at the same time. Most of them just can’t accept that it’s not simple jell-o on a buttery pie crust, but a condensed distillation of actual pumpkin pie filling that tastes like the real thing.

Photo: Grant Achatz

So if it’s not jell-o or pumpkin pie consommé (pumpkin pie broth) then what is that see-through stuff on the pie crust? Davies explains that its a “distillation of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and clove” created with a rotary evaporator machine, or ‘rotovap’, an advanced device that can make a liquid distillate out of whatever ingredients you put in it. So unlike a pumpkin-flavored jell-o, this stuff is supposed to taste just like pumpkin pie filling, because that’s what it is, essentially.

Photo: Rodrigo Bravo

One thing that Davies hasn’t been able to recreate is the texture of traditional pumpkin pie, which is why he relies on the classic crust to create that nostalgia associated with eating the delicious autumn treat.

Photo: Ashlan Strait

“Texture is very important to us. This melts away. If it were over-gelled it would not be worth serving. The main texture that brings on nostalgia is from the pâte brisée,” the Alinea chef said.

 

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Believe it or not, the crystal clear pumpkin pie is not just an experiment to show the wonders of molecular gastronomy, but an actual item on the menu of the Chicago restaurant. No word on its price just yet, but considering that Alinea is a three-Michelin-star restaurant, it’s probably pretty pricey for the average person.