Pumpkin Pudding and Chocolate Mousse Parfait

raw Pumpkin Pudding and Chocolate Mousse Parfait

I’m such a tease. First I allude to a Halloween-themed sweet treat, then I deliver it not only a day later than promised, but also two days after Halloween itself. I’m sorry to make you wait, folks, but hopefully the pleasures of this recipe—a mouthwatering chocolate and pumpkin parfait–will make it all worth it.

This has been a season of pumpkin pudding: a few weeks ago, I shared two recipes, one using silken tofu, and the other using cashews. Only a few days later, I shared a recipe for pumpkin cream sauce that doubles as a pudding, and contains neither tree nuts nor soy, and is thus very appropriate for my allergy-conscious readers. All of these have been big hits!

This week, I decided to challenge myself one step further, and create a pumpkin pudding that was allergy-friendly, not excessively high in fat, and impossibly rich and creamy. And I wanted to do it all without xanthan gum, which is a fantastic shortcut ingredient if you’re making a pudding in a pinch, but which can cause some minor stomach upset, especially if it’s eaten too often.

My solution? This stuff.

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That, my friends, is Irish moss. It is an algae, and it has superpowers as a thickening agent in all kinds of recipes. I have avoided Irish moss in the over four years I’ve been eating raw, for good reason: it demands a great deal of washing and soaking, it has an unpleasant, fishy odor (OK, we’ll call it an oceanic odor) and it is very, very sandy (you can even see little grains of sand on my hand in that photo).

In spite of my fears, I’ve also always been curious about the stuff, which I know is very popular among raw dessert aficionados. I often find myself trying to thicken raw smoothies and puddings without excessive use of either nuts, which can be overly heavy in some recipes, or soy lecithin and xanthan gum, both of which are a little too artificial for my liking. It’s not easy. Irish moss is a powerful thickener, but it’s also allergen-free, fat free, and, if you handle it properly, essentially tasteless. For that reason, it’s a pretty brilliant ingredient, and now that I’ve gotten over my initial squeamishness, I suspect I’ll be using it often.

I credit my friend Ela with encouraging me to give Irish moss a chance: when I originally posted my pumpkin pudding recipes, she reminded me that Irish moss would work well in either. I took her advice, along with some of her instructions for using the stuff. The best way to approach Irish moss, I think, is to create a “gel” with it, and store the gel in the fridge. It will keep for a week, and you can use it to thicken recipes as you please. This all sounds like a lot of effort, but I can assure you that it was very little hassle for me. Here’s the method I used to make it happen.

Basic Instructions for Using Irish Moss

  1. Remove approximately 1 cup (or about 2 oz) of Irish moss from packaging. Rinse and wash in cold water thoroughly: Ela recommends soaking and washing it at least four times. I probably soaked and washed it two times, but I did take meticulous care to get every bit of sand off of it.
  2. Place Irish moss in fresh, cold water, and soak overnight (you can do this in your fridge).
  3. In the morning, rinse the Irish Moss and place it in your Vitamix or blender with 1 cup fresh water. Blend well. At first, the moss will seem to simply get broken up in the water, but as you continue blending, it will start to gelatinize in the water and become thick. It’ll even be hard to blend, but you can use your plunger attachment to help you. Once you have a thick, uniform “gel,” stop and place the gel into an airtight container. It will keep for a week in the fridge, or you can use it right away.

As you can see, it will help you to create the thickest and most delicious of puddings, all without the use of artificial thickeners or excessive amounts of nuts:

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So. Let’s get to that delicious recipe.

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Pumpkin Pudding and Chocolate Mousse Parfait (high raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)

Serves 3-4

For the pumpkin pudding:

2 cups (or 1 can) pumpkin purree
1/2 cup Irish moss gel
2 tbsp mesquite powder (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (or a very small piece of fresh ginger)
2 tbsp almond or cashew butter
6 dates, pitted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup nut milk of choice

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till very smooth. Chill until ready to serve. If the pudding becomes overly thick after you chill it, you can always re-blend it with some additional nut milk,

For the chocolate mousse:

1 recipe of my classic or Mexican chocomole

To assemble parfait:

Layer all ingredients together in small, glass cups. Sprinkle with cacao nibs, and enjoy!!

As you can see, all of the layers of this parfait are silky smooth and delicious:

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And the taste? Well, it’s chocolate and pumpkin. Layered. Do I need to say more?

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It’s worth noting that one of my Irish moss mentors is the lovely Heathy Pace, who has some parfait ideas of her own!

My experiment with Irish moss was like so many of my hesitant experiments with raw ingredients. I was squeamish and intimidated, but realized quickly how intuitive and easy the process was. This was true of my early experiments with soaking and dehydrating buckwheat, sprouting quinoa, making green smoothies, and all sorts of other culinary forays that were new to me. Raw foodism is very good at intimidation, but don’t let it be: many of the ingredients that seem foreign and strange to us are really quite accessible. And if you consider for a moment many of the artificial fillers and stabilizers we’ve grown accustomed to—chemical additives, gums, and so on—you may find yourself wondering how you were ever scared of a little algae.

Happy pudding-making!


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Categories: Uncategorized
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Raw

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  1. how can you call this raw when it has canned pumpkin in it? Obviously anything canned is not raw, but especially pumpkin which is roasted and pureed.
    Looks delicious…but definitely not raw.

    • Sara – it actually says it is High raw as opposed to being raw. A high raw vegan diet includes a high proportion of raw foods but also some cooked food……google is a wonderful help for defining things like this…..I hadn’t actually heard the term before.

  2. Just had my first go at Irish moss prep. I’m fascinated by its behavior! I also think I may like the smell – more like a day on an isolated beach than a fish market. But WOW you were not kidding about the sand! It was impressive.

    FYI I managed to get Irish moss from a homebrew store — it’s used to clarify beer.

  3. Canned pumpkin is NOT raw…that doesn’t necessarily make it bad…but it is misleading to label any recipe containing canned pumpkin as raw.

  4. Hi this looks awesome! I have all the ingredients except the irish moss – is there anything I can use to substitute it? I don’t have agar either. Do you think it could work if I just left it out?

    Thanks so much for all your recipes posted here, they’re a gift. I’ve been trying to eat more raw and your site is helping!

  5. Avoid all carageenan and seaweed products if you have ibs, crohns or ulcerative colitis. This stuff can trigger crohns like agony.

  6. i’ve resolved to chunky pudding. vitamix on my life wish list! ; )

  7. Hmmm. i’ve been doing some pre-thanksgiving weekend experimenting and the irish moss is not working properly: granted, it did solidify on it’s own in the fridge (albeit there are still lots of pieces in it post blender- quite chewy, ha) it did not do so when i mixed it with some “milk,” strawberries, and carob. there was no pudding feel to it — more so a medium runny smoothie…

    I’m perused the internet for help, but haven’t come up with much. Any suggestions, Gena? Or other folks? Any and all pointers gladly accepted at this juncture in my thanksgiving weekend prep! i would just make a raw pie, but i dont think it’ll survive the car ride… and i don’t want to give up on this mousse/pudding idea anyhow!

  8. Hi! This question may require you go back in your *food-prep-blogging-storage* mind: wondering if the 1 cup (2 oz) irish moss is packed, or just a loose 1 cup? am going to be making this as a Canadian thanksgiving dessert! Oh pretty please I hope you reply (even though I know you are exceptionally taxed this week!).

    many thanks for this!

  9. I was wondering about the pumpkin puree. Are you just using raw pumpkin meat and pureeing it in a blender?

    Thanks for the great tutorial and recipe! Can’t wait to try it.


  10. i bought Irish moss from health store in UK and I prepared a milk pudding with soy milk and it was really disappointing- my puddling has a wonderful texture and some unpleasant “fishy” taste.
    What i made wrong?

  11. How do you do it? how do you create a stunning, picture perfect treat like this. I know it takes a lot of practice and eye for beauty but I really would like to try to make one like this. Any advice?

  12. Irish moss is the best. We use it all the time, and we love adding it into our pumpkin puddings to make them bigger! and love that we can add it into almost anything 🙂 yay for irish moss. so glad you got around to using it and liked it!

  13. Ok, time to try the moss. I like that this is an option vs. using nuts or avocado. I just made chocolate pudding with bananas, dates, coconut oil and protein powder. It’s good, but it’s pretty “heavy” and doesn’t have the lightness of regular pudding. Thanks for the lesson on using moss.

  14. Hi Gena,

    I wonder if you can use agar-agar as a substitute for Irish Moss? Do you have any experience?

    • Yes, agar would be great, but if you did that, you’d have to heat the pumpkin, as agar doesn’t work as effectively when it’s cold. I’d use package instruction proportions and heat it all on a stovetop.

  15. That is so awesome!!! At first when you said Irish Moss, I was like What is she thinking?!?! but now that I read the whole post, I really want to get my hands on the stuff! To the ocean I go! lol

  16. Great post 🙂

    I LOVE the flavours of pumkin or sweet potatoe with chocolate 🙂 I always find a way to have them together 🙂 Like a square of chocolate (or more lol) on top of either piping hot pumkin or sweet potatoe with cinammon. It’s delicious! xxxx

  17. *pout* Another ingredients, like hemp, that I simply can’t find here! Ah well, at least I can still lick the screen. Nom nom.

  18. This looks amazing! I have recently been experimenting with irish moss myself, and it really is super easy to use once you know what you are doing. Thanks for the education and the recipe girl.

  19. Hm, where do you buy Irish Moss? What does the packaging look like? Could you post a picture?
    I’d love to try this. I haven’t made many raw desserts precisely because I don’t like the over processed and artificial ingredients they sometime call for.


  20. You know, I’ve never worked with Irish Moss. I have “known” Ela and the Pure2Raw girls for a couple years and they all use Irish Moss…and now you, too. Ok, I need to try it.

    Your pictures in this post are amazing, Gena. Both the shots themselves but also the food styling, i.e. plating (or in this case cupping) of the item. It’s not easy to work with glass AND layers and to keep it all neat and not look like a big hodge podge for the camera. Bravo on making it look as beautiful as I’m sure it tastes 🙂

    Hope your orgo test wasn’t too painful yesterday!

    • Oh gosh. Compliments from you on food photography are like gold! Thank you, Averie: that really means a lot to me. I assure you it’s all guesswork 😛

  21. Yay! I’m so glad that you played with it and are now able to attest to its awesomeness! Thanks for the shoutout–you’ve put a big smile on my face to think that I had any role in assisting you to get started.

    And the recipe sounds just delightful. Parfaits are so beautiful, and that orange is so cheering…

  22. I think I’ve heard of Irish moss, but I never knew what it was for or how to use it. This look amazing though. I’m kind of on a tight budget now and I have a package of agar that needs using, I wonder if that would work.

  23. Thank you, thank you for the Irish Moss tutorial, Gena! I’ve always been intimidated of using it, as well, but knew it was supposed to be an amazing thickener. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to try it now!

  24. That looks wonderful!!

    I’ve seen other recipes for Irish moss and equally intimidated by it. Where would I find it at a store like Whole Foods? I don’t think I’ve seen it but I might be looking in the wrong place.

  25. Where on earth can I get Irish moss? This looks delicious!

    Speaking of raw foodism intimidation, I successfully drank and enjoyed my first homemade green juice today! I had a few fiascos. No juicer means I did it with a food processor and cheesecloth, but I just ordered a nut milk bad, so homemade nut milk and juice should be making an entrance 🙂

  26. I’ve heard about that from the twins. While it’s probably not something I’d take the time to prepare, I’d definitely eat it if something were served with it, so great pudding recipe.
    And I hope the exam went well!

  27. I’ve also been a little intimidated to use Irish moss, but your step-by-step instructions make it seem much more doable. And this parfait…like you said, pumpkin and chocolate, no need to say more. 🙂