Friday, September 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait with Cardamom Cream

This is what happens when my oven breaks.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait with Cardamom Cream

The cold evenings we've been having here in San Francisco have brought out the pumpkin cravings.  A recent visit to Target where I was bombarded with spicy scented candles and Halloween decor didn't help.  I even bought some Celestial Seasonings chai tea (and was grossly disappointed).  I do not recommend.  

I've also spent the last few evenings watching The Wire (in preparation for a return visit to Baltimore next month), wrapped in an over-sized scarf, a knee length sweater over a thermal henley, sweat pants, and stripy socks on my feet.  I am such a wimp.  Clearly, San Francisco took the girl out of the country AND the country out of the girl.  To be honest, I think my brain likes to play this trick on my body so I can think it's fall.  We don't really get much of a fall here; so, I don't usually even know it's time to get nostalgic until Starbucks brings out their pumpkin spice lattes.  It's not fall until Starbucks says it's fall.  Sadly, in my world, this is true.

Anyway, I was dressed up in my new fall clothes (like new school clothes, remember those?  Ah, they were the BEST) with the windows open, so I could be more dramatic about the chill in the air.  I also had spiced candles burning and water for tea boiling when the urgency to bake struck.  I needed to make something with pumpkin, like, yesterday.  My mind immediately went to the pumpkin poppets I made last year at about this time.  Mmmm...fluffy pumpkin pillows with cream cheese filling:

Pumpkin Poppet

I got out some cans of pumpkin and the cream cheese.  That's when I remembered.  Our oven is broken.  As you can probably imagine, this is not ideal.

With my desperate craving for pumpkin refusing to be ignored, I decided to invent a no-bake pumpkin dessert, instead.  And, I have been eating it ever since.  I can't stop myself.  It's too good to be true.  I didn't even save any for Ralph to try.  This has something to do with the fact that he doesn't truly appreciate pumpkin.  Pumpkin could replace my sun & moon; and, he makes the "meh face" when he eats it.   I can't even be in the same room as someone who is eating pumpkin cheesecake and saying, "It's okay…could use some chocolate, though."  This is a purely fictitious statement; but, in my head Ralph is saying it.  And, I'm having a hard time forgiving him for it.  

This recipe only takes about 5ish minutes to throw together.  What?  Yes, 5ish minutes.  Ok, before you all get really mad at me for making dessert so easy to indulge in, I'm going to give you some tips on how you can make this dessert relatively healthy.  Typically I would have used homemade ginger cookies for this recipe; but, since the oven is broken I cheated with Newman's brand.  BTW, gluten free, grain free, and refined-sugar-free friends:  This ridiculously easy recipe is also for YOU!  

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait with Cardamom Cream
Original recipe by Emily Haydel of Picnic Bakery

Serves 4 conservatively, 2 generously, or 1 greedily


8 Newman's ginger sandwich cookies, graham crackers, or 1 cup chopped pecans

For the pumpkin cheescake filling:
1 cup pumpkin puree
8 oz container of  Tofutti or brand of choice "cream cheese"
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbs maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

For the whipped cardamom cream:
1 can full fat coconut milk- refrigerated at least 4 hours until separated
seeds from about 4 cardamom pods ground to a fine powder in a mortar & pestle
2 Tbs maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Follow in order, and you won't have to wash your food processor between steps:

1.  Put Newman's ginger cookies into the bowl of food processor and pulse until they are crumbs.  If not using ginger cookies, skip this step.  Feel free to use any cookie, graham crackers, or nuts of your choice.  Use pecans if you are gluten-intolerant or if you are trying to keep this recipe on the healthy side.  Empty contents out into a bowl.

2.   Add all of the pumpkin cheesecake ingredients to the empty bowl of your food processor.  Blend until well incorporated, remembering to scrape down the sides.  Empty puree into a bowl.

3.  Scoop coconut milk solids into a medium bowl and add agave or maple syrup.  Whip until incorporated. Add cardamom powder and xanthan gum and whip until thickened.  

4.  Assemble the pumpkin cheesecake, crushed cookie (or chopped nuts), and whipped cardamom in layers in glass serving dishes.  Top with whipped cardamom cream, a sprinkle of crushed cookie, and garnish with pecans.

Tip:  If you would like to make this into a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake, just add some melted earth balance to the cookie crumbs, press into a pie or tart pan, fill with the filling, and refrigerate until set.  Serve topped with the whipped cardamom cream and a sprinkle of extra crumbs or chopped pecans. 

*For a gluten free version of the no-bake pumpkin cheesecake, pulse pecans into a course flour, stir in melted earth balance and proceed as listed above.

gluten free, vegan, no-bake
Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait with Cardamom Cream


  1. Holy wow. I'm going to make this in the near future.

  2. A broken oven--how well I know (my story about mine is here: Necessity is the mother--how true.

    Your parfait looks wonderful. Even though I have a new stove now, I want to try your no-bake delicacy--a not-gluten-free, not-dairy-free version.

    I like your Ralph story.

  3. Emily, I have the bag of ginger cookies I bought how long ago--it's up on my shelf, waiting. What I need to know, now: why the xanthan gum in the filling, and can I substitute with something else?

    I'll stop by in a few days to see if you've had a moment to comment. Thanks!

    1. Hi Shirley. Xanthan gum is a flavorless thickener that doesn't have to be cooked. I've heard you can replace it with guar gum, but I've never tried that. You could probably make this recipe without the xanthan gum, but it will probably not be quite as thick and mousse-like. The whipped cardamom coconut cream can probably be done without the xanthan gum, just be sure you use only the solid parts from the coconut milk that have to be scooped out and avoid getting any of the liquid into your bowl. Let me know how it works out for you!

  4. Okay, so instead I used gelatin in the pumpkin part (I know--horrors). I should've put in just a tinytiny bit or none at all.

    The sprinkle of cardamom atop the whipped cream, though--lovely.

    1. Uh-oh! I probably would have recommended to just try it w/o any substitution, first. I hope it was still okay. I'm glad the cardamom whipped cream was good!

  5. Oh, and post more pictures of your mom! She's such a sweetie. I haven't seen her in ever so long.

  6. Uh--that Shirley. That was me.

    1. I think I need to see more of my mom to post more photos of her! Hopefully she will visit me in my new house next spring!

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