Holiday parfait

One of my all-time favourite desserts to serve at a dinner party is individual parfaits. There are endless variations, with flavours and colours to match any theme or season. I often go with the ever-popular strawberry and chocolate combination for summertime gatherings, but now that we’re approaching winter, out-of-season fruits just don’t taste the same.

I came up with this holiday parfait for an upcoming dinner I will be hosting for some close friends. I’m known for my deliciously unexpected dessert creations—I am not one to just whip something together at the last minute. I often start thinking about what I’m going to serve weeks ahead, and it gives me the perfect opportunity to experiment with new flavour combinations and recipes before the big night arrives. I probably spend more time thinking about the dessert than the main entree. Call me crazy, but I firmly believe that what comes at the end of the meal is what people often remember most.

This holiday parfait is one of the most decadent desserts I have made in a while. Layered with spiced gingerbread cake, maple-almond cream, sweet potato custard and candied nuts and seeds, it will most definitely make an impression on your guests. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps to this dessert. You can easily make the layers a day ahead (other than the cake-making, all layers are quite simple), and assemble it an hour or two before your guests arrive. Depending on the size of your parfait cups, this recipe should be enough to make about four individual parfaits.

This is my first submission to the SOS Kitchen Challenge, featuring sweet potatoes. I have to admit: I rushed through this photo shoot just so I could take a bite of one of these babies! The sweet potato custard is definitely one of the best parts.

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Holiday parfait

Ingredients:

For the gingerbread cake:

    • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 1/3 cup nondairy milk
    • 1/4 cup sunflower or canola oil
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 2 tbsp molasses
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the maple-almond cream:

    • 12 oz. firm silken tofu (I used Mori-Nu)
    • 1/3 cup maple syrup
    • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/8 tsp pure almond extract

For the sweet potato custard:

    • 2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potato
    • 1 cup nondairy milk
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 2 tbsp arrowroot
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 1/8 tsp cloves

For the candied nuts and seeds:

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cupped hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or canola oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:

For the gingerbread cake:

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the nondairy milk, oil, maple syrup, molasses, lemon zest and vinegar.
    3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir just to combine.
    4. Pour the cake batter into an oiled 8-inch round cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

For the maple-almond cream:

    1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the sweet potato custard:

    1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl a few times to integrate all the potato. Refrigerate until needed.

For the candies nuts and seeds:

    1. Place the pecans, walnuts and pumpkin seeds in a large skillet and toast over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Add the oil and salt and stir to coat all the nuts and seeds.
    3. Add the maple syrup and stir to coat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Spoon the mixture onto a small pan lined with parchment paper and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture is dry and no longer sticky.

To assemble:

  1. Break apart the candied nuts and drop a few into the bottom of each parfait cup. Spoon a layer of maple-almond cream over top. Take the cooled cake and break it into crumbs in a bowl (using a fork or your hands) and then add a layer of cake crumbs over the cream, pressing down gently. Next, add a layer of sweet potato custard. Repeat the layers until the cup is almost full. Top with a spoonful of maple-almond cream and more candied nuts and seeds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

      

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12 Responses to “Holiday parfait”

  1. Jeni Treehugger — November 11, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

    Ooooh YUM! That looks so decadent and I bet it tastes amazing. Your dinner guests are gonna be bowled over.:)

    Reply

  2. blog — November 11, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

    Wow! beautiful and yummy, I'm sure! Parfaits aren't often a rich, decadent dessert but these are on a whole other level.

    Reply

  3. Nicole — November 11, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

    Thank you!

    Reply

  4. VeganLisa — November 12, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    I love this dessert – a very creative use of sweet potato. Did your guests love it?The colours really make it a special Fall treat.

    Reply

  5. Ricki — November 14, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

    BEYOND delicious! Oh, my goodness, each individual layer would be fantastic on its own, but together, it must be swoon-worthy. Thank you so much for this amazing entry in this month's SOS Challenge! :)

    Reply

  6. cadryskitchen.com — November 15, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

    Wow, these are beautiful! I'm sure they were absolutely delicious.

    Reply

  7. Candy Beans — November 15, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    Wow these are beautiful! I can't wait to try them.

    Reply

  8. Elisabeth — November 16, 2010 @ 6:45 am

    I love the parfait! So elegant and yummy!

    Reply

  9. flavourfulbounty — November 17, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    Wow – so pretty and it looks so delicious. I love how you used the sweet potato. :)

    Reply

  10. vegangela — November 18, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    Looks wonderful!! Great presentation!

    Reply

  11. Johanna GGG — November 28, 2010 @ 4:01 am

    wow this looks fantastic – both decadent and a little healthy – great way to end a meal

    Reply

  12. Megha — December 3, 2010 @ 4:11 am

    wonderful combination of flavours!

    Reply

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