01 December 2014

Thanks and giving!

Hello strangers! We've had a busy couple of months hence my complete lack of upkeep on the blog, but more on that another time.

For now, this. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we spent the afternoon with my in-laws and husband's family at his Grandmother's house. It was a lovely evening full of family ranging in age from 11 months to 90-something! And Great Grandma (to the little ones) was, as always when the family is gathered, a hoot. We, like so many other families, take turns going around the table sharing our reasons for being thankful. Grandma's sharing wins. She says, without missing a beat, "I'm glad I had children." We asked if there was anything else. She says "I'm thankful for myself!" Hah! It was wonderful. Something we were all thankful for is the amazing meal we shared.  There is nothing like a family laughing together, sharing remarkable food made for everyone to enjoy, from the carnivores and omnivores to the vegans and vegetarians.

Speaking of vegan food, as the cousins are vegan, we usually bring at least one vegan dish and/or dessert and this year we decided to take on both, plus traditional stuffing. My son has been begging to make a trifle of late, so he asked if we could make a vegan trifle for Thanksgiving, and of course I said yes! He was beyond thrilled. We came up with what each of our layers would be, I adjusted a vegan cake recipe to include his request of pumpkin and lots of cinnamon and spice, yesterday morning we got it going. He was an excellent helper and we both had a blast in the kitchen, as always! It is well worth noting, this dessert was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, and will likely please even the most meat-loving of folks. You don't even have to mention the v word when serving! 

And now, it is my pleasure to share with you this wonderful recipe, easy to make with little kitchen helpers, and is great for potlucks and crowds, or for smaller groups who adore leftovers like we do. This is a multi-step recipe to create all the layers, so we'll begin with the cake!

One note: As soon as you have bought your canned coconut milk for this recipe, put it in the fridge and do not shake or move it. You want all that cream to stay at the top and stay firm!
West and his creation just before
serving to the family!

Westley's Spiced Apple Vegan Trifle (Cake layer)
Oven at 350º
All ingredients at room temp

Mix well in large mixing bowl:
¾ c. olive oil
1 ½ c. dark brown sugar
¾ c. pumpkin
1 c. applesauce (I used homemade but unsweetened store bought works just as well)

Sift together:
3 c. ap flour
3 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice 
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 scant tsp. sea salt

Set aside:
1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice (we used almond-coconut milk)

With a whisk, gently incorporate dry ingredients into wet in batches, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with dry (dry-milk-dry-milk-dry) making sure everything is mixed in, but not over-mixing.

Pour batter into greased (we used avocado oil spray) and floured 9x13 pan

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack. Do not refrigerate to cool unless you are prepping the day before, and if you do refrigerate, take out of fridge to allow cake to come to room temp before cutting and layering.

NOTE: If you want to stop here and bake this cake to enjoy simply, without the rest of the trifle components, it is completely divine when dusted with a bit of confectioner's sugar or topped with a spoonful of fresh whipped cream! Makes a lovely and light dessert on its own! 

Next up, the roasted apples! 

Chop into half inch cubes, 6 or medium or 8 small ("lunchbox" sized) Granny Smith apples with the peel on. You can, of course, peel the apples, but I don't mind the peel and it's a time saver to leave them on. 

Toss chopped apples in a baking pan with:
⅓ c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup olive or avocado oil
juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp. sea salt

Roast apples for 30 minutes at 350º, stirring once during roasting to ensure even coating, and set aside to cool. As with the cake, do not refrigerate to cool unless you are prepping the day before, in which case, take them out to come to room temp pre-assembly.

Whip it good!

For our final layering element, which should be prepared just before assembly, we're going to tackle our whipped coconut cream! You'll need:

2 cans full fat coconut milk from the fridge (if you want more whipped cream, go with 4 cans as two provides very thin layers)

1 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, add only the firm white cream top from the canned coconut milk. Just open the can and carefully scrape the top cream layer (careful not to get the clear coconut water underneath as that with hinder the whipping process by thinning the mixture) then add in the rest of your ingredients as you would with any whipping cream and, with a hand mixer, stand mixer or whisk, whip until light and fluffy.

Assembly time!

To keep the cream fluffy, it really is best to assemble just before serving but you can have everything except the cream ready to go the morning of service, or even the day before!

To create your trifle layers, cut your cooled cake into 1" cubes and in the bottom of a tall glass bowl, place half of your cake cubes. On top of that, spoon on half of your roasted apples with the sauce made from the juices during roasting. At this point, we added a sprinkling of chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, any favorite nut) for a bit of crunch, but you can omit that step if you wish. On top of your apple layer, spread half the whipped coconut cream. Repeat all layers using your remaining ingredients and top with a sprinkle or cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice and chopped nuts! 

This recipe, at first glance, may seem a bit daunting, but each step really only takes a few minutes to prepare, and this is a great way to get kids in the kitchen with them helping mix the cake batter, learning about precise baking measurements, chopping the apples with close supervision and a small knife, and of course, putting it all together! When you hear your child say "Best day ever! This has been the most fun of my life!" it's so worth it, even if there's a little more of mess from the making, even if it took a little longer getting things done just right. Things like time in the kitchen with my family, watching my son enjoy cooking and baking as much as I always have, and sharing our culinary gifts with family are things for which I am always so thankful. There is no better gift to give to those you love than something from the heart and, in my humble opinion, from the kitchen! 

We had to use a punchbowl for serving, but this
 goes to show any glass dish with good height will do,
to show off your own beautiful, delightful dessert! 

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

So good! Wish I had leftovers.