Sometimes life throws a wrench in your well thought out plans and you need to rethink everything in what Tim … refers to as a “make it work moment.”
I had one of those recently at work. I started planning my Fall dessert menu way, way, way back in July. I started testing in very early August. I was ready to go by September, when it was still technically Summer and not quite Fall. So I waited until it actually became Fall. But events happen, ideas are forgotten or plans are misunderstood and one of my desserts wouldn’t be able to live on the menu full time. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details, so I had to rethink it.
What I ended up coming up with pleases me a lot. In fact, if you were to ask me which of the 6 desserts on the menu to get, I would rank this one as #2, right behind the Spiced Pear Cake with Ginger Gelato & Apple Cider Caramel (and toffee walnuts…). The dessert I ended up with has a few components but they all come together quite easily. It’s best described as a combination of two pies in one glass.
Now, I should state that I normally try to avoid pumpkin desserts. I think pumpkin is overused and when it is, it’s not used well. Sometimes it’s just the spices used (I’m looking at you Pumpkin Spice Latte) and people get all up in arms when the realize it doesn’t actually contain pumpkin. (Side rant: It’s called Pumpkin Spice. As in the spice jar you can pick up at the grocery store. If it were Spiced Pumpkin, then I could see why you’d be upset. It it was called Apple Pie Spice Latte, would you be upset there weren’t chunks of pie floating around in your coffee? End rant.) Or, when pumpkin is used, it’s way too sweet or mixed in with other flavors where you really can’t tell it’s pumpkin. I then say, what is the point of using it? It should taste a bit like pumpkin, because if you’re covering up the flavor with a ton of sugar and a ton of spice, why are you getting upset when your realize canned pumpkin usually isn’t pumpkin?
Clearly, I have issues with pumpkin and the so-called pumpkin lovers. So while this dessert features a spiced pumpkin base (yes, spiced is before pumpkin), there isn’t a ton of sugar and spice, enough to give it that familiar, warm, Autumn hug, but not enough to cover up the flavor of the squash.
I’m realizing now I haven’t actually told you what this dessert is, unless you count the title of this post. You know there’s pumpkin in it. You also know I have issues, apparently, with pumpkin. Rather than rewrite all of this, I’ll just go with my train of thought and spell it out for you now. It’s a pumpkin pudding. Hmmm, that’s not very exciting sounding. Let me give it another shot:
Spiced Pumpkin Budino with Cinnamon Oat Streusel, Cider Braised Spiced Apples & Brown Butter Cream.
Like I said before, there’s a few components to this. But overall, the dish is rather easy to make. At work, I make a big batch of pumpkin pudding, a big batch of streusel and a big batch of apples. All of these keep for a while and then I can just layer everything into a glass. The cooks at night finish it off with the Brown Butter Cream, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds and a Baked Apple Chip.
Everything can be made in advance. You can make these ahead of time, layer them and you’ll have a delicious and show stopping dessert (well, I’m not exactly sure that it could be considered show stopping…but it sounds good, right?!) to serve everyone. But seriously, make it all ahead. You can make the apple chips well ahead of time and keep them in an airtight container. For days or weeks. Same goes for the pepitas. The pudding and the brown butter cream can be done maybe 3 or 4 days before. The pudding actually thickens up and benefits from the time in the cold. If the brown butter cream gets too thick, just thin it out with a little heavy cream or buttermilk. The apples will also last for a while. They’re cooked in sugar and acid and they won’t look all brown and nasty.
A few other notes, if you have leftover brown butter cream, throw it into an ice cream maker and you’ve got ice cream. If you don’t have one, just freeze it in a thin layer and then puree in a food processor and then freeze again. Leftover apple chips? Toss with whole spices and you’ve got homemade potpourri. Leftover pudding? Turn it into ice cream too. Leftover streusel? Toss it into cake or cookie batter. Or combine with pepitas and apple chips and some other tasty things you’ve got a holiday trail mix. The possibilities are endless and I could do a whole post on that. So I’ll stop and just let you run with it.