Last week, the internet was abuzz with talk of a clear pumpkin pie. The fall favorite, it seemed, had gotten a transparent treatment—and people couldn’t look away.
An image of the pie first appeared on Instagram in late September when Simon Davies, the chef de cuisine at Alinea in Chicago, posted a video of the tiny slice. His succinct caption—“Pumpkin pie for the fall menu. #surrealism”—left much to the imagination. It wasn’t until last week, when Alinea’s founder Grant Achatz shared an image of the pie on his Instagram account, that word of the clear creation really started to spread.
In the midst of all the attention, we contacted Davies to figure out what was really going on with this internet sensation. As it turns out, pumpkin pie’s clear counterpart tastes just like the original. In regards to the pie contents, Davies had this to say: “The crust and whip cream are both traditional: pate brisée and whipped heavy cream with a little bit of sugar and vanilla. The filling is made from a distillation of cooked pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, clove, and ginger…We distilled the base in a rotary-evaporator. This process boils the liquid at a low temperature under pressure and creates a clear distillate…We have always used distillations on the menu at Alinea. In this case, we were talking about distilling pumpkin for the fall menu and this presentation came to mind. It takes something very familiar but challenges one’s perception of it.”
The tiny slice of pie is currently on the menu at Alinea and will stay there for as long as pumpkin is in season. Though it may be far from traditional, mini clear pumpkin pie is a break from convention I’d love to try.