I still haven't found a GF pie crust that I really like. Most of them have been closer to a shortbread texture than the light and flaky crust that my mom's gluten recipe makes. So, instead of trying to make a gluten-free pie this year, I decided that our Thanksgiving dinner would be capped off with a trifle.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE trifles.
What is a trifle? Think giant parfait. It is a beautiful layered dessert usually made with custard, fruit and cake. The cake is usually soaked or coated with alcohol or juice. I have skipped this step without consequence if my cake-y layer is moist enough. I love the different layers of goodness that provide the mouth with a variety of flavors and textures. Trifles are incredibly flexible and can be adapted to suit just about any occasion. And they aren't particularly fussy about proportions either. Just use some of all the ingredients and make layers. You can use pre-made puddings, pre-made cakes or cookies, boxed mixes, or make everything from scratch. It doesn't matter, the blend of the ingredients is simply heaven in a dish.
I have never made a Thanksgiving or fall themed trifle. I immediately decided to use spice cake (I used The Gluten-Free Pantry Spice Cake & Gingerbread Mix). I also contemplated making Jill's Molasses Softies because they were so good when I reviewed them. For the custard layer I waffled between a cream cheese vanilla pudding or some sort of pumpkin pie inspired layer. I ended up making a vanilla pudding recipe from scratch and adding pumpkin pie filling. It needed a but more ummph so I added a little spice and brown sugar. Now, you don't have to stand over the stove, a slave to your slow-cooking pudding. My mother always told me to stir the milk and sugar constantly while heating, but I think that was just so that I was occupied for a precious few minutes. I find that I can be a bit neglectful and just stir frequently. I have time to tend to the upcoming ingredients. But, be careful, once milk is scalded, it is done.
The resulting trifle was simply divine. All of my guests loved it and ate it for remainder of their visit.
Pumpkin Spice Cake Trifle
1 box Gluten-Free Pantry Spice Cake & Gingerbread Mix prepared according to package directions, or you can use soft ginger molasses cookies or your own spice cake recipe.
Prep this cake ahead of time so that it has enough time to cool to room temperature or colder. I like to make mine well in advance and freeze it.
- Fussy vanilla pudding/custard base from scratch:
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1/4 tsp Salt
2 cups Milk
2 Slightly beaten egg yolks or 1 well-beaten egg
2 tbsp Butter or margarine
1 tsp Vanilla
1 large (5oz?) package Jello cook and eat Vanilla pudding (I suppose you can used instant, but I don't like the texture as well)
1 30 oz can pumpkin pie filling (not plain pumpkin)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
To prepare fussy custard from scratch: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt; add milk. Cook and stir constantly/frequently (see above) until it is thick and bubbly. At this point you want to cook and stir constantly (this time I mean it) for a couple more minutes to ensure that your cornstarch is cooked. Otherwise your pudding can taste pasty. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
Add the warm mixture into the eggs by tempering; add a small amount of hot mixture into eggs stirring constantly then add this mixture to the remaining hot milk and sugar. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla.
-or-make the Jello pudding and follow the directions
To your pudding add the pumpkin, spices and brown sugar. Mix well. Set aside.
1 pint whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs powdered sugar
Pamela's gingersnap cookies, crumbled.
In a chilled bowl mix the whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar. Whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. It is important that the cream is fairly stiff (but not made into butter) so that it will not separate or collapse when layered in the trifle.
Put it all together:
I have a beautiful glass trifle bowl that has deep, upright sides and a pedestal, but you can make this in any larger bowl.
Cut the cake or break the cookies into 1-2 inch pieces. Put half of the pieces into the bottom of your bowl. If you wanted to add alcohol, I would suggest sprinkling the spice cake with 2-3 Tbs dark rum at this point. Next, add half of the custard mixture right on top of the cake, then cover that layer with half of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers: cake, custard, whipped cream. Cover and allow to rest/marry/soak, whatever as long as you can, even overnight is fine.
Just before serving, sprinkle with crumbled gingersnap cookies. Serve with a very large spoon and try to dig all the way down to the bottom layer.
In saucepan, blend sugar, cornstarch, and salt; add milk. Cook and stir over medium heat til thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Stir small amount of hot mixture into yolks (or beaten egg); return to hot mixture; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla.