[This is the final recipe I have to share from this year’s Thanksgiving feast–but what a way to end off the meal! If you’re looking for even more Thanksgiving recipes, check out my mega roundup of 75+ Healthy, Whole Foods, Vegan & Gluten-Free recipes.]
I do seem to be on a “pumpkin and chocolate” kick these days. I think it’s a throwback to my childhood Halloweens, when those two items always went together. Chocolate, more chocolate, topped with a few chunks of chocolate, coated in a sheath of chocolate, served up with a side of chocolate. Oh, and a plastic pumpkin used for collecting. . . . chocolate.
These days, my pumpkin is real and often home-roasted, and my chocolate is fair trade, organic, and unsweetened. But hey–it’s still chocolate.
The combination of pumpkin and sepia sweetness first occurred to me as an offshoot of Ellen Abraham’s genius brownies in Simple Treats. In that recipe, Abraham employs a smidge (isn’t that a great word?) of sweet potato purée to help bind and sweeten the brownies, and to approximate the dense fudginess of egg- and butter-based bars. I loved them and used to bake (and eat) them all the time pre-ACD.
But times change.
While I’ve continued to use sweet potato in my own brownies, I think pumpkin is equally versatile and delicious. And it’s popping up everywhere on blogs these days: pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin alfredo, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soufflé, pumpkin soup, pumpkin brownie tarts, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin parfait, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cinnamon rolls and pumpkin chili. Mmmm! I’ve used it, too, in hummus, crumble bars, bread pudding, pumpkin butter, and (just recently) pasta. So it just made sense to combine it with my favorite food, chocolate!
This dessert is sort of like the evil twin of the mousse I posted recently: whereas that earlier version is virtuous and pure, this one is luxuriant and verging on debauchery, with a rich, velvety texture that beguiles. Tradtional pôts de crème are pillowy, light custards suffused with cream. Lighter and smoother than typical custards, they fairly float across the tongue, irresistibly. (For some enticing photos of a true pôt de crème, see this blog post). Not quite as solid as the real thing, this silky, smooth and airy vegan version is so reminiscent that I just had to use the French term. But who cares what we call it? This is one of the most decadent desserts you’ll ever eat.
The pumpkin and chocolate command equal roles in this mousse-like dessert, sharing the flavor spotlight much like chocolate and coffee do in mocha confections. Enhancing the squash is a breath of cinnamon, which adds depth and warmth. The small amount of agave softens the bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate just enough so that stevia can take over from there, resulting in a dark yet rich chocolate intensity.
Overall, the HH and I absolutely adored these. I ended up freezing leftovers so we wouldn’t over-indulge and I plan to use them for some mighty fine ice cream once we’ve had a chance to recover from the chocolate overload. (Okay, let’s be honest: once the HH has a chance to recover from his chocolate overload. There is no such thing where I’m concerned. 😉 ).
Chocolate Pumpkin Pôts de crème (suitable for ACD Stage 2 or beyond)
The key to perfect pôts de crème is to mix the custard in a blender. Even though the pumpkin is already puréed, the blender smooths out the dessert just that much more to create a truly light-as-air treat.
2 Tbsp (30 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla rice, almond or other nondairy milk
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut nectar or maple syrup
2 Tbsp (30 ml) corn starch, tapioca or arrowroot starch
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened pumpkin purée, homemade or canned
1 can (12 oz or 400 ml) full fat coconut milk, preferably organic
pinch fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1.5 ounces (55 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate (I use Cocoa Camino)
3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) xanthan gum
In the bottom of a medium-sized pot, whisk together the rice milk and agave. Add the corn starch and whisk until smooth and there are no lumps. Mix in the pumpkin until smooth. Add the coconut milk, salt and cinnamon.
Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to bubble and thicken; continue to cook, stirring, for one minute and remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla, stevia and chocolate; allow to sit 30 seconds, then stir again until the chocolate is melted and completely blended. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring once or twice during the first five minutes (this will help prevent a “skin” from forming on top; if one develops anyway, don’t worry too much, as everything will be blended later).
Once the mixture has cooled, pour it into a blender and add the xanthan gum. Blend on high until well combined and smooth, then return to the bowl. (It may appear quite liquid at this point–this is fine).
Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours before spooning or piping into serving dishes; garnish with cacao nibs or shaved chocolate, if desired. The mousse will be soft but should hold a shape. Makes 4-6 servings. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 4 days. Freeze leftovers for ice cream maker-free ice cream (see my method here).
Suitable for: ACD Stage 3 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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