When I was growing up, a favorite family dessert my aunt would make on occasion was called 'dirt'. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the cookies and cream-themed mixture that is made from unspeakably unhealthy ingredients and tasted out of this world. My cousin Jon and I would be overly excited when this version of a trifle recipe made an appearance and proceeded to over-eagerly fill heaping bowls full of the too sweet, too creamy dessert. Halfway through, we inevitably felt ill but powered through to the bottom of the bowl because, well, youth.
Today, my tummy fortunately (or unfortunately) can't stomach those quantities of fat and sugar, so when my aunt sent me the idea for a pared down, more sophisticated version of dirt, I got so excited I made this recipe into a pumpkin spice-flavored trifle that afternoon. Even better, you can use any flavor soft-baked biscotti that you're craving. We used our Pumpkin Pie flavor in this trifle recipe in honor of the impending fall season and because those spice profiles pair so beautifully with chocolate & cream.
Pumpkin Spice Trifle Recipe - Adapted from Food & Wine (and my Aunt Betty)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
dash of kosher salt
1/4 c corn starch
1/4 c high quality cocoa powder (we use Guittard or Cocoa Barry brand)
2 large eggs
6 oz chopped chocolate (or baking discs), milk or dark
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
Pumpkin spice whipped cream
2 c heavy cream (chilled)
1/8- 1/4 c pumpkin spice blend (3:2:1 proportions of cinnamon to sugar to nutmeg, clove, ginger & allspice) - the amount depends on how sweet you'd like your whipped cream
1 x 5oz box of Chocolate Pumpkin Pie soft-baked biscotti or 5 single serving cookies
Make pudding – In medium saucepan, combine 1 ¾ cups heavy cream with milk and sugar bringing to simmer over low heat. Stir occasionally.
Sift cornstarch and coca powder together, whisk in eggs and remaining ¼ cup of heavy cream to form a smooth paste (Aka a slurry). Add the salt to the paste. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of hot milk/cream into paste mixture to temper the eggs. Then scrape the mixture into the saucepan with remaining milk/cream and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick, ~30 minutes. Mixture should coat the back of a spoon when done.
Put chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and using a sieve, strain pudding over the chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth, adding butter and vanilla extract. Press plastic wrap directly over surface of pudding and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours.
Make the pumpkin spice whipped cream for this trifle by putting the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. You can chill the bowl first to expedite whipping is so desired. Start out on slow and then increase speed to medium. As cream starts to thicken, add in your pumpkin spice blend, starting with 1/8 c and adding more as needed to desired taste. Whip until stiff peaks form. Put in fridge to chill until needed.