As if on cue fall has settled into Colorado. I published a selection of late summer recipes Monday, inspired by temperatures in the high 90’s over last weekend, and the feeling that fall might pop in at any time. That time turned out to be Monday arriving with a 35 degree drop in the mercury and rain fit for launching Noah’s Ark.
The weather change dovetailed perfectly into a passion project of mine. I keep a list of dishes I’ve never made. My personal culinary Bucket List. Making a Trifle is in the top 10. I love the look of a big glass trifle bowl layered with delicious sponge cake, custard and whipped cream. It has the look of a party starting any minute. For my family however individual trifles would work better. Both for portioning out the dessert, as well as there is just something about having your ‘very own’. Plus who doesn’t love eating a dessert like this out of a Mason jar? Perfect for the season.
Another plus about making a trifle for me would be knocking out a second ‘haven’t made that’ dish; pudding from scratch. I’m a DIY’er at heart and if I can make something myself I like to (though time doesn’t always permit). I could think of no more perfect a flavor than pumpkin, feeling it to be the flavor herald of the cool weather season.
After making the pudding I was kicking myself over not having tried it before! It’s effortless with an outcome calling into question the common name with the pudding from a box. It is creamy, smooth and beautifully pumpkin-y without being overbearing to the rest of the dessert.
The trifle is a layering of Spice Cake, Pumpkin Pudding and Chai Whipped Cream pulling together a sumptuous bite of fall. As you can see, it has a rustic appearance potentially looking haphazard in its construction but I assure you that’s not the case. Each ingredient is layered on the prior, free to wind its way in the jar to land where it may. The pint size Mason jar lends a relaxed feel to this clearly approachable dessert! It’s a ‘snuggle up with a blanket and fire’ type of dessert. And based on the the reception in my house, I think you’ll love it!
Spice Cake Pumpkin-Chai Trifles
- 6-7 cups Spice Cake (gluten-free or with gluten depending on your preference), cut into ¾ inch cubes
Ingredients for Pumpkin Pudding:
- 1/3 cup granulated Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Cornstartch
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 2 cups Whole Milk
- 3 large egg yolks , beaten lightly
- 3 tablespoons unsalted Butter; each tablespoon cut roughly into 4 pieces (does not need to be precise)
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup Pumpkin Puree (canned or fresh), lightly whisked for smoothness
- ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg , preferably freshly grated
Ingredients for Chai Whipped Cream:
- 1 ½ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons granulated Sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons prepared Chai Tea (can be purchased prepared in most grocery stores), chilled
Ingredients for Whipping Cream:
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Ground Cinnamon for garnish
Instructions for Pumpkin Pudding:
- Before starting place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt; whisk to combine fully.
- Pour ¼ cup of the milk into the dry mixture and whisk to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Add the remaining milk and lightly beaten egg yolks to the mixture, whisking to fully combine.
- Heat saucepan over medium heat until the mixture comes almost to a simmer and begins to show bubbles, stirring often using a heatproof spatula. Reduce heat to low, continuing to stir constantly, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan while stirring, until the pudding thickens (5-10 minutes).
- Continue to stir the pudding constantly. When the pudding can be spooned onto the top of the pudding mixture and it holds its form, rather than melting back into the mixture, it should be removed from the heat (approximately 5 additional minutes).
- Add the butter to the pudding mixture; stir until butter is fully dissolved.
- Add the pumpkin, nutmeg and vanilla extract to the pudding; whisk briskly to fully combine.
- Pour pudding mixture through strainer, using the stirring spatula to press the mixture through the strainer, as well as scraping the outside of the strainer into the bowl.
- Pour pudding into a quart size Mason jar or an alternative container with a sealable top/lid. Seal and place in the refrigerator until fully set (approximately 1-2 hours).
Instructions for Chai Whipped Cream:
- In a chilled mixing bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer), combine 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons and prepared Chai tea. Note: most varieties of Chai are very sweet. I recommend stirring the mixture before whipping and tasting it to ensure it is sweet enough for your preference, remembering it will be combined with sweet spice cake and the pudding. You can add more sugar if the flavor is not sweet enough to your taste before beating.
- Mix on high to form semi-soft peaks.
Instructions for Whipping Cream:
- In a chilled mixing bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer), combine 1 cups heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Whip to form soft peaks.
Instructions for assembling the Trifles:
- Divide spice cake into 6 equal portions. Remove the pudding from the refrigerator and gently stir to soften.
- In pint size Mason jars (or other equivalent sized serving container) place roughly 1/3 of a spice cake portion in the bottom of the jar.
- Spoon approximately 2- 2 ½ tablespoons of the pumpkin pudding over the layer of spice cake. Followed by the same amount of Chai Whipped cream.
- Add the second layer of spice cake repeating the layering of pumpkin pudding and Chai whipped cream.
- Top with remaining spice cake, a dollop of the regular whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Repeat for remaining 5 trifles. Serve. Note: the prepared trifles, without the topping of whipped cream, can be sealed and refrigerated for a few hours before serving. When ready to serve add the whipped cream topping and cinnamon. The whipped cream is best prepared just before serving.
do you have a favorite spice cake recipe, that is altitude-adjusted for Denver, that you recommend with this recipe? Many thanks.
Toni Dash says
Hi Esther! Lastly if you are feeling a bit lazy, I used Namaste brand Spice Cake mix for the trifles. The recipes is completely delicious, moist, easy to make (just add eggs, oil and water) and avoids many allergens (gluten included). But you’d never be able to tell it apart from a mainstream cake recipe or mix. Hope that helps! I’ve baked all of these in Boulder (5,500 feet) successfully as you see in the blog post photos for each recipe. Hope that helps!
Hope you are safe from flood damage.
I am so making this pudding!!!!!
Toni Dash says
Sorry for my delayed response Debra. We are safe and dry fortunately. On the last day of rain and then we’ll see how things look out there.
This pudding is so good! It’s creamy, smooth, rich but not overly so. The pumpkin flavor is just right too!
Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style says
I love the presentation, Toni! Seeing all those layers is making me want to take a bite!
Toni Dash says
Thank you Viviane! It is so good. It certainly has a rustic presentation, inviting to dive in! Hope you are well and enjoying early fall!
Jenn Every says
I love Colorado in the fall (except for right now with all the flooding :/)! We are planning on driving up to Aspen next weekend to see Maroon Bells and the leaves. I also just love anything pumpkin and anything in a mason jar!!!!
Toni Dash says
Hi Jenn! Certainly things have changed markedly from when you left your comment. I’m wondering if anyone will be able to get into the mountains and if this rain will force a bypass of the fall color? I saw reports of snow in the mountains. They are calling this a 1000 year storm and certainly in our time living here this is an extreme oddity.
Regardless of the leaves, this dessert will put you in a fall mood; promise! Stay safe and dry.
How lovely! And don’t those Mason jars show it off to the very best effect. Puddings and trifles are comfrot food from way back. I love them, and this sounds fab.