Pumpkin Gingerbread Holiday Trifle

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle with butterscotch overtones

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Taking some flavors from our pumpkin crepe creation we decided to create a towering display of fall flavors in a trifle bowl for a thanksgiving dessert buffet. Surrounded by a series of pies and other traditional desserts this can become your centerpiece, drawing those with bellies full of turkey and their fixings to your dessert display for more gastronomical experiences.

My compromise for this recipe was using a boxed gingerbread mix (in my case Pillsbury) to simplify the holiday kitchen workload. There are several recipes out there on the web with positive reviews if you want to make your own. The balance of the recipe is fairly easy to make. The pumpkin custard can be made two days in advance of assembling the trifle. The scotch whiskey and sugar pulls a butterscotch flavor into the pumpkin for an improved custard flavor. The drizzling of brandy or some other liquor is purely optional. Choose a flavor you like or skip it. You could also create another short cut and use cool whip instead of mixing the whipped cream yourself.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle Thanksgiving Dessert

The flavors were not overly spiced but very flavorful. The whipped cream transported the the spiced cake and pumpkin across the palate with a smooth refreshing finish. Those first to dig into the layer will get an extra bit of crunch from the candied nuts on top (we used pumpkin seed brittle). In retrospect adding some candied nut texture in a lower level might be a good idea for those that enjoy the candied nut crunch. If you are trying a couple of desserts this is a great one to finish your palate with or try if your looking for a light finish to your heavier dinner. This recipe is now in our top ten of thanksgiving desserts.


1 box gingerbread cake mix
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz bourbon or whiskey
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons brandy

1. Preheat the oven and mix the gingerbread cake per the directions on the box. Allow to cool.

2. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and salt increasing the heat to medium. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes while stirring frequently. Remove the pot from the heat. Carefully add the scotch whiskey and then 1 cup of cream which will cause the mixture to react violently. The sugar will solidify. Return the mixture to medium heat and whisk the mixture until you have a smooth consistency.

3. Add the pumpkin and spice and cook for another 2 minutes until blended. Set aside to cool.

4. In a stand mixer bowl put the remaining cold cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl. Beat with cream until you have almost stiff cream.

5. Cut the gingerbread cake into bite size pieces, about 3/4 inch cubes. Place one layer of of cake in the trifle bowl. Drizzle 1/3 of the brandy on the cake. Add 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture over the cake and smooth with a spoon. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream on the pumpkin and smooth. Repeat process for two more layers.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle with butterscotch overtones

6. Cover and chill for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

7. Garnish the top with sugared nuts, optional.

Servings: 12-15

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Comment (1)

  1. posted by Heather Lee on December 15, 2010

    I really enjoyed this dessert because it was light. That was much needed after all the food that was consumed at dinner.


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