Everybody LUUUUVes a parfait! (Pumpkin Parfaits…and a word about pudding)

Just last weekend, we watched Shrek the Musical on our cable’s On-Demand system. It was cute. The line about the parfait made it in. Most of the best lines from the movie made it in. But…honestly…with the exception of a few particularly cute moments, I didn’t find it to be a great or memorable musical. (Except for this. But that’s about it. And it’s way too early in the show to save it. IMO.)


Today, my husband shows me a picture from his phone:

Since we’re a little demoralized today because we were going to go apple-picking and can’t because one of our short roommates has had a fever all weekend, I thought we should do something sort of cool and fall-ish to salvage the day. And the recipe looked really easy, basically just two different flavors of cornstarch-thickened pudding, and we had all the ingredients. (Except the toffee. But we bought some.)

So here’s the recipe. The thing about parfaits is that you can really make them out of anything you want, just layer stuff.  If I were to make this in “real life,” as in not on a day when my husband and kids had already seen how much evil stuff was in the recipe and were craving it, I would have maybe made just the pumpkin pudding, and substituted yogurt for the vanilla pudding layer. I would have used just granola in the crunchy layer, or crushed up some gingersnaps.  Or some toasted pecans. In fact, without the toffee…but here’s what we did tonight:

Pumpkin Vanilla Toffee Parfaits

Pumpkin pudding:

  •  3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • scant 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree

Vanilla Pudding:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For each individual pudding:

  1. Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and whatever spices you are using in saucepan.
  2. Mix in a little milk to form a paste and avoid lumps.
  3. For pumpkin pudding, add pumpkin at this point
  4. Add milk and heat to near boil stirring constantly 4-6 minutes, till pudding thickens
  5. Add flavoring, remove from heat, and chill 3+ hours. Put plastic wrap directly on top of pudding to avoid forming a skin, or be prepared to peel the skin away when it’s chilled.

Praline Crumble:

  • 1/2 cups toffee bits
  • 1/2 cups granola

(NOTE: This is where I would definitely make substitutions, with all granola or crushed gingersnaps or something.)

In trifle bowl or individual parfait glasses, layer pumpkin and vanilla puddings with a layer of crumble in between. Chill again and serve.

VERDICT: A little Too Much, if you know what I mean. Too sweet, too gooey, just too much. Definitely a yogurt substitution for the vanilla pudding would have been good, or a not as sweet crunchy layer, or something of that nature.  It was sweetness overkill. The pumpkin pudding would have been good in a trifle, too–layered with not-too-sweet cake or something.  (And by the way, we all sort of agreed about the “too muchness” of it–it wasn’t just buzzkill mom.)

A Word about Pudding: 

Cornstarch-based puddings are incredibly easy, I’ve learned.  These recipes called for 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup sugar to 3 cups liquid. (Next time I’ll use much less sugar; Neither pudding needed this much at all.)  I’m assuming you could make them out of almost anything–this recipe substituted a cup of pumpkin puree for 1 cup of the milk, but I can’t imagine why you couldn’t puree  bananas or use applesauce or some combination thereof instead.  For chocolate pudding, you’d add up to 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa to the pan with the dry ingredients. You could use brown sugar in place of white, and add whatever spices or flavors you want. From this really easy base recipe, you can make pies, trifles, parfaits, fruit dips, or just plain old pudding.  You could use your favorite dairy-free substitute for the liquid; there’s nothing magical about milk itself as the main ingredient. And it’s ridiculously easy, and hard to screw up (honestly! I used to be totally intimidated by them, but they are easy to make), and if you are judicious about your ingredients there’s not that much that’s bad in them. And certainly better than those boxed chemical-tasting things…


pumpkin praline parfait

Okay, a couple of days later I tried something I should have earlier: I made one of these in a skinny little shot glass, like the photo up top (though it took us a while to realize that’s what we were looking at in the photo):

You know, it’s nuts, but serving this “too much” dessert in a deliberately tiny vessel, with a slightly higher crunch-to-pudding ratio, suddenly made the whole thing not too much after all but just right. Really quite marvelous, actually. Which, if you did do a slightly less candy-ish version (i.e. gingersnaps or just granola or crushed candied nuts) would render this dessert actually almost virtuous–there’s not much in there but milk and sugar and pumpkin, really, and though of course refined sugar is one of the world’s dietary evils, this would be kind of not very much at a go!

Even here you can see I used much less of the candy filling than the original, but even that was plenty. Yummers! Definitely give this one a try! (But maybe halve the recipe entirely, because this version makes a LOT of little shot glasses of pudding!


Posted on October 14, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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