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President’s Day Weekend Dinner Party and the Fail-turned-Win Vegan Pumpkin Spice Trifle

by Marissa on February 20, 2012

I love 3-day weekends (which I DO oblige in even as an entrepreneur) but come Sunday night, I’m usually already wiped out and the thought of a third night in a row on the town is hard to swallow even though I want to take advantage of my extra day off.

Fortunately, we had the perfect solution as our friends Karen and Iain had invited us over for a low key dinner party.

Iain and Karen took care of the cooking and put me in charge of dessert, more on that later.

On the menu:

  • salmon en croute
  • green beans
  • ratatouille
  • potatoes dauphinoise
  • And lots of wine!

Everything was delicious, as always.

I had planned my dessert carefully and by Saturday had gathered all the ingredients for its three components: pumpkin spice cake, butterscotch pudding and coconut cream.

But what had started as a well-planned dream-dessert slowly neared kitchen disaster.

On Saturday afternoon, I made the butterscotch pudding, deemed it a success and moved on to the pumpkin spice cake. I made a few substitutions and didn’t exactly measure everything precisely (fine for cooking, but not so much for baking).

Don’t let the picture fool you, although very moist, the cake turned out slightly bland and tasting too strongly of orange and nutmeg. (Later, I learned this was actually a good thing).

By the time I went to sleep on Saturday night, I had pretty much second-guessed this dessert. By Sunday morning I talked myself into following through to plan but when I checked on the pudding, it had turned lumpy. After scouring the internet for a possible fix, I decided to give it a run through the blender which did the trick nicely. Dessert was back on even though I was still a little concerned about the cake.

So I did what any panicked self-respecting cook would do and got started on Plan B: vegan Peppermint Patties just in case. 

Even if a little annoyed at this point, I’m not a quitter so I pressed on with the coconut cream topping which I had read about on (where else?) but my new favorite hangout, Pinterest. Once I had every part of the trifle ready to go, I put a cube of cake in a small bowl with a scoop of pudding and a dollop of topping. THE TASTE TEST  …. 

I. could. not. believe. it. It was actually delicious! The flavors complemented each other so well  that I couldn’t believe there was ever a doubt in my mind.

What I had almost written off as a fail, had become a win! Where the cake was bland the sweet pudding made up for it and the vanilla extract in the coconut cream topping balanced out the orange flavor of the cake.

Call it intuition, a stroke of luck or kitchen confidence but my trifle had been saved.

I assembled the dessert in my new trifle bowl and stepped back to admire my work.

In the end I realized that we don’t always get to where we’re going exactly as planned and being willing to let go of the plan is all part of the journey, an important practice in allowing everything to unfold exactly as it should. 

Have you ever saved a near kitchen disaster? How did it turn out?  What did you learn from it? 


Vegan Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Butterscotch Pudding

  • 3 T. kudzu root (dissolved in 2-3 Tbsps cold water)
  • ¾ cups coconut sugar, packed
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 2 ¼ cups unsweetened plain almond milk, divided
  • 1 T. coconut oil softened
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
Note: Most vegan pudding recipes call for cornstarch, which doesn’t offer any nutrition. I used kudzu root instead which aids in digestion and strengthens the intestines. 

1. In a small saucepan, combine the dissolved kudzu,  coconut sugar and salt until well mixed. Add ¼ cup of almond milk and place the saucepan over medium-low heat, mixing well.

3. Add the remaining almond milk, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla until completely incorporated. Transfer pudding to a heatproof dish, place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Pumpkin Spice Cake (adapted from The Urban Vegan cookbook)

  • 3/4 brown sugar or coconut sugar, packed (if you’re using coconut sugar, you may want to increase the amount by 1/4 c to enhance the sweetness)
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 5 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Drop or 2 of orange oil (optional, be careful not to overdo it)
  • 1 15-oz can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 c flour (1/2 spelt, 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 heaping Tbsps garbanzo bean flour (coconut or almond flour would work too)
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsps ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

1. Grease a loaf pan and heat oven to 400.

2. In a large bowl, mix sugar, banana, oil, vanilla, orange oil, pumpkin and maple syrup until smooth.

3. Using low speed, mix in flours a half cup at a time and then add cocoa powder, baking powder, spices, soda and salt.

4. Pour into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Coconut Cream Whipped Topping

  • 2 cans full fat, organic coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tbsps powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, to taste (optional)

1. Store the cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

2. Remove the cans from the refrigerator without shaking, open and scoop the thick white cream out into a bowl.

3. Add 2-3 Tbsps of powdered sugar (I added 1-2), vanilla extract, cinnamon (optional).

4. Mix with a hand blender until light and fluffy.

 

 

 

 

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