Blame it on a recent trip to England or an insatiable appetite for global cuisines. No matter the reason this holiday season I’m dreaming of an untraditional Thanksgiving offering, the British trifle.
Dating back to medieval times, the trifle consists of layers of liquor-doused sponge cake, fruit, custard and whipped cream. Beautiful and delicious, it is as delightful to look at as it is to eat. In fact, in 18th century England the trifle served as both a dessert and a centerpiece.
As a nod to the season, my Pumpkin-Ginger Trifle’s base consists not of airy sponge cake and wine, sherry or brandy but of earthy gingersnaps sprinkled with spiced rum. Instead of fruit, which I incorporate into the custard, I spread a thin layer of candied pecans over the cookies. The creamy pumpkin custard then covers the two.
As fussy as it may sound, I make the custard and whipped cream from scratch. Neither takes much time to prepare. Yet, both taste far better than what you get from a boxed mix or an aerosol can. However, if you feel too overwhelmed or pressed for time, opt for homemade custard and store-bought whipped cream.
You can make the custard up to two days in advance. Once you’ve assembled the trifle, refrigerate and allow the ginger snaps to soften and the flavors to meld together, anywhere from 1 to 8 hours. Before serving, sprinkle the crystallized ginger over top.
Serves 8 to 10
2 1/4 cups unsweetened pure pumpkin
3 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup light whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Pinch ground cloves
3 tablespoons cornstarch
for the base:
1/2 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup candied pecans, roughly chopped
14 to 18 ginger snaps
for the whipped cream:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons minced crystalized ginger
In a large, nonstick frying pan over medium heat, cook the pumpkin for 5 minutes. You want most of the liquid from the pumpkin to have evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the pumpkin custard, place the eggs, egg yolks, cream, milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, salt and cornstarch in a saucepan and over medium heat, whisk the ingredients together until combined. Keep cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk in the cooked pumpkin and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes. When finished, the custard can coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and allow the custard to cool slightly. Once it has cooled, cover the top with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to assemble the trifle, place layer of ginger snaps on the bottom of a large, deep, glass bowl. Whisk together the rum, sugar and vanilla and pour this over the cookies.
At this point make the whipped cream. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat together the cream and vanilla until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until firm peaks form. Set aside.
Tumble the candied pecans over the wetted ginger snaps. Spoon the pumpkin custard over the nuts and then dollop the whipped cream over the custard. Sprinkle the crystallized ginger over the top. Serve chilled.