Monday, October 01, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Trifle

This is a recipe that does not fit into my plan of quick and easy, but it was worth the extra effort.

Seth turned 18 this past week. He wanted something pumpkiny, creamy and chocolately. Noelle piped up and said, "You should make a trifle!" So trifle it was. We are big trifle fans around here. It started years ago when friends from Ireland taught us how to make it. In those days, we were using cake and jello and fruit. Since then, we've expanded into many different flavors.

My favorite was the one  I made for my father-in-law many years ago. He loves lime, so I decided to make him a lime bundt cake for his birthday. I don't make those often, and soon remembered why. I can never get the things to come out of the pan without breaking! Sure enough, it broke, and I was left with lime bundt chunks. Appetizing.

So I did the only reasonable thing, and decided to turn it into a trifle! (I'm sure this is how trifle was born. Fixing cooking screw-ups.) I whipped up some vanilla pudding and whipped cream, and made a big bowl of trifle, with about an hour to spare before everyone arrived for the birthday dinner. As I was placing it in the fridge, breathing a sigh of relief, I knocked a can of biscuits into the top of it! Grrr! Took it out, patched it up again, and told my kids, "If anyone asks, this was the plan all along! And nothing fell into it!"

For today's recipe, I didn't have quite so many adventures, but it was a two-day process. I was creating this one from scratch, and getting all of the elements the way I wanted took a while. The results were just what I had hoped for, and everyone gave it a thumbs up. If I make it again, I would try it with a milk chocolate ganache, just to see if we like that flavor better.

The birthday boy was pleased with it, so I'm happy! (Said birthday boy just walked in and asked me if I'd make it again for Christmas. ;o)

Leni's Notes:
~If you don't have a trifle bowl, any clear dish will do. I've even used a large punch bowl when I was making trifle for a crowd. Part of the fun is seeing the layers.
~Most of my trifles are not so elaborate, and really do lend themselves to a quick throw-together. 
~Really is best to make this a two day process so you can let your cake cubes dry out a bit. Then they absorb the flavors better.
~I made the whole thing from scratch. You can shorten up the process a LOT with pudding mix, cake mix and jarred syrup. I don't guarantee it will be as good, but you can do it. ;o)

Simple Ingredient List:
Pumpkin Cake
Vanilla Pudding
Chocolate Ganache

Detailed Ingredient and Instruction List:
3 C flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 C raw sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each of salt, baking soda and fresh ground nutmeg
2 C pumpkin puree
1 C milk
4 eggs
2/3 C coconut or vegetable oil

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add wet ingredients, combine, then mix on high for a couple of minutes. 

Pour batter into a greased 13 x 9 pan. (or larger, but cook for less time if it's a larger pan.)
Bake for 1 hour at 350, test to be sure it's baked through. 
Set aside to cool.
When cool, cut into squares and spread out on a cookie sheet to dry out a bit. 
(You'll have extras, so feel free to let the kids snack a bit!)

While cake is baking, you can get started on the pudding.

1 C raw sugar
2/3 C flour
6 C whole milk
4 beaten eggs
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Whisk together sugar and flour in a large pan.
Slowly whisk in milk until well combined, no lumps of flour left.
Turn pan on to medium, and stir until mixture begins to bubble and thicken.
I must admit, I am ridiculously impatient at this point, and always end up bumping up the heat to move things along. Unless you are right there watching every minute, DON'T DO IT! You will scorch your pudding and have a mess to clean up.
Remove the pudding from the heat, and ladle a cup or so into the beaten eggs, mixing continuously to temper the eggs. 
If you add the eggs directly to the mixture, you'll be sifting scrambled eggs out of your runny pudding. DON'T DO IT!
Take the egg/pudding mixture, and incorporate back into the pudding pan.
Place back on medium heat, and stir constantly just until it begins to bubble.
Turn the heat down a bit and cook for a couple minutes more, but do not let it boil. 
What happens if I let it boil? See note above about scrambled eggs.
Remove from heat, add butter and extract. 
When everything is melted in and stirred together, place saran wrap directly on the surface of the hot pudding and let cool without stirring. 
Refrigerate until ready to use.

Ganache (Make when you are ready to assemble the trifle)
13 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate (Spring for baker's chocolate and resist the urge to buy chocolate chips)
1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream (again, no substitutes)

Place the cream in a pan with a good heavy bottom. 
Turn burner on to low, stir occasionally. 
Chop up the chocolate and place in a glass bowl. (I feel that glass holds the heat better. Use what you have, but if you have glass, that's what I prefer.)
When cream is hot, pour over the chocolate and stir until everything is melted and evenly mixed. 

Trifle Assembly
This is where you can get artsy, or you can just throw the whole thing together and not worry about being fancy. Once it's on the plate, it's not too pretty anyways! ;o) I like to layer the sides so that you see all the ingredients in a beautiful pattern.

I did three layers, each starting with cake, then pudding, then ganache. You will end with ganache, and you can spread it right up to the rim of the dish, which seals it and eliminates the need for saran wrap, unless you're traveling with it. 

If you want to decorate the top for an occasion, it's best to wait until you get where you're going so it doesn't get smooshed. 

Blessings from my kitchen to yours,


  1. Looks awesomely delish! Trifle is not an elaborate enough word to callcsomething this time conduming