Pumpkin Pie Parfait with Coconut Whipped Cream
A creamy, decadent no-bake fall dessert. All the delicious flavor of a pumpkin pie, without the stress of a fussy crust! Layers of smooth pumpkin, fluffy coconut whipped cream, and crunchy ginger cookies. Vegan. <jump to recipe>
Two dessert recipes in one week. I know what you're thinking, but I just couldn't help myself. I recently re-discovered the local library, and after settling a 7 year fine for overdue cookbooks (some things never change), I'm back in the business of consuming cookbooks – for free! They're my favorite form of night-time stories. Earlier this week, I stumbled upon a fittingly festive recipe from Ina Garten that I just had to try. A creamy pumpkin mousse layered with whipped cream? Heck yes. And as if this recipe wasn't already a match made in heaven, it called for crumbled ginger molasses cookies – which I'd already baked up the day prior! The situation was too perfect – I just had to make this.
But, if any of you are familiar with Ina's recipes, you'll probably know two things. First, her recipes are delicious, obviously. And second, in usual Ina fashion, almost every recipe starts with either a stick of butter, several heaping scoops of sugar, or a generous jug of heavy cream (see point #1). This recipe was a double whammy: a hefty dose of sugar (two types!) and over half a liter of whipping cream. So I did what I usually do when I see a recipe idea I like: look at the picture, scan the ingredients, and then close the book and put it away. Sadly, our kitchen counter is much too small to safely accommodate a cookbook while baking – especially one that's on loan from the library.
I'm really pleased with the final results. This version is a whole heck of a lot healthier, while still tasting super indulgent. And I can feel good about going back for seconds. That's the ultimate goal anyways, right?
There are three components to this recipe that come together in a pinch. Smooth pumpkin pudding, creamy coconut whipped cream and sweet crumbled ginger cookies. I'll warn you now, this is an overnight recipe. So if you've already got your spoon ready to dig in, you'll need to put it down and wait until tomorrow. But don't worry, it's totally worth it! And, in case you were wondering, the long lead time doesn't actually translate to a lot of time in the kitchen. There's no actual baking involved. We just need the fridge to do its thing overnight. You can thank it later.
The pumpkin base is made from pumpkin puree, spices, maple syrup, orange zest, and get this – chia. For those of you who aren't familiar with chia seeds, they're tiny white / black seeds that are jam-packed with good stuff, like omega-3s. Chia seeds are known for their water retention properties – when set in water they absorb a significant amount of liquid and create a gel-like consistency. In this recipe, I use ground chia seeds as the thickening agent to replace gelatin. Why grind the seeds? This is simply a personal preference for this recipe. Unlike flax seeds, you don't need to grind chia to access most of its nutrients. However, I sometimes find that full chia seeds can get caught in your teeth – which is a situation I figured I'd try to avoid for both myself and dinner guests! Now if only someone could come up with the magic fix for broccoli…
While the pumpkin layer is setting in the fridge overnight, the canned coconut milk will also need to chill (ideally 24 hours, if possible). You'll need to give enough time for the thick coconut flesh to separate from the thinner liquid. Pro tip: store a couple extra cans in the fridge at all times. Once you taste how delicious coconut whipped cream is, I bet you're going to get a craving for it sometime soon. And nobody likes to wait 24 hours when they're craving whipped cream. When buying canned coconut for this recipe, make sure you're buying a high quality coconut milk. None of this "low-fat" business here. We're making whipped cream – embrace it. For this recipe, I actually look for the can with the highest fat content possible. Since different companies use different serving sizes, you might need to be prepared to do a bit of #math. My favorite brand is the Whole Foods 365 coconut milk.
On the day of, all you need to do is whip up some fresh coconut whipped cream. I personally like the texture of coconut whipped cream best when it's fresh, but you could totally make it the night before. Just give it a quick re-whip before serving. The ginger cookies add a delightful crunchy element to the dessert. Feel free to use your favorite store-bought cookies, or if you want to get really gourmet, try this awesome recipe here. This dish would even become gluten free if you can manage to get your hands on gluten free ginger cookies.
I like to assemble the layers right before serving – and I usually enlist a guest to help me quickly layer up the desserts into glasses or bowls. There's really no right way to do it, so feel free to get creative with the layers. But if you'd prefer to have these assembled in advance, by all means go ahead! The cookie crumbles will be a bit softer, but some might even prefer it this way!
PUMPKIN PIE PARFAIT WITH COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM
SERVES 6 (VEGAN)
1 can pure pumpkin puree (15 oz / 425 g)*
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch of ground cloves
1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons ground chia
1 teaspoon orange zest
Coconut whipped cream:
2 cans coconut milk (13.5 oz / 385 g can), refrigerated overnight or ideally ~24 hours**
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (to taste)
In a medium sized bowl, combine pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt. Whisk thoroughly, until smooth. Add ground chia and orange zest. Whisk vigorously for 1-2 minutes to ensure the chia is evenly distributed. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight.
The next day, place beaters and freezer-safe mixing bowl in a freezer ~20 minutes before serving. If your mixing bowl can't go in the freezer, place it in the fridge instead for a bit longer. It helps the cream whip up.
Remove beaters and bowl once chilled. Open the cans of coconut milk. The thick coconut flesh/ fat should have separated from the liquid. Scoop out the coconut solids, and add to the mixing bowl. Set aside any remaining liquid (store for another use). Using electric beaters, beat the coconut cream on medium-high speed. It should take 1-2 minutes to fluff up. Add the vanilla extract and maple syrup, to taste. Beat for another 30 seconds to incorporate.
Remove the pumpkin mixture from the fridge and whisk for 1 minute to fluff it up. Take a quarter of the whipped cream and add it to the chilled pumpkin mixture. Fold in gently to incorporate. The balance of the whipped cream will be used for the whipped cream layer.
To assemble, alternate layers between pumpkin, whipped cream and crumbled cookies. Serve immediately.
-*This recipe calls for pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling).
-**Coconut whipped cream requires a full-fat canned coconut milk (not light). For this reason, do not use refrigerated coconut milk in the carton (not enough fat). If this is your first time making coconut whipped cream, buy a couple brands to test out. Some work better than others, so for the first run, best to have a spare in the fridge (in case one brand doesn't separate). A good test in the store is to shake the can. You're looking for minimal "sloshing" - a sign that some of the coconut has already solidified in the can.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten ("Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits" from Barefoot Contessa at Home)