Individual Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifles

Individual Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifles

…With Salted Caramelized Walnuts. That’s the full title, it was just too long to write above. I started this blog with recipes that could be completed in a 40 (or 80, on block days) minute class period. This recipe took me about 80 recorded minutes for the Live Well Food Rush show… this was 80 uninterrupted minutes of JUST cooking. This never happens in real life, as you all know, so I will break this puppy down for you into easy, make-ahead increments.

As I always say, I need make-ahead desserts. I hate cooking while entertaining, and by dessert-time you just want to hang with your friends – so not the time to get up and prepare dessert. These prepared trifles will last in your fridge for up to three days! To make everyone happy around your holiday table this year, make this trifle. Why? So many fall favorites are combined into one jar. Layers of spicy gingerbread cake with creamy pumpkin mousse, crunchy salted caramel pecans, and clean whipped cream – it’s truly the perfect autumn dessert.

As I will illustrate below, the steps are easy to break up. Bake the cake one day, and cover at room temperature. Make the mousse and whipped cream the next day, and the butterscotch, nuts, and assembly the next. Because we are using gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream you won’t need to worry about it getting liquid-y and gross. It will hold up just great! Okay, so this recipe won me the first challenge in my foray into competitive food TV so other people can vouch for it’s yumminess (if you haven’t learned to trust me yet, trust that).

Also, I incorporated the judge’s feedback and reworked this recipe –  its just slightly changed from the original. As I was making it last week I realized that I wholeheartedly loved each separate part – I might just make the gingerbread again and serve it with a big dollop of whipped cream! You could make the butterscotch nuts for an indulgent snack – and I’ve already posted this pumpkin mousse as a stand-alone dessert. If you don’t have the inclination to make the completed dessert, pick what interests you.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Serves 8-12

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/4 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar

2 tbsp. beaten egg

1/4 c. mild molasses

1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. buttermilk

1/4 c. hot water

For pumpkin mousse:

1 (1/4-ounces) unflavored gelatin

1/4 c. cold water

15 oz. pure pumpkin

1/2 c. packed light brown sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. chilled heavy cream

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For whipped cream:

1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin, dissolved in 2 tbsp. water

For Butterscotch

½ c. unsalted butter

¼ c. water

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

1 c. sugar

½ c. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

big pinch kosher salt

2 c. toasted pecans, big pinch kosher salt

For assembly; 8-12 mason jars, tumblers, or plastic wine glasses
1. For gingerbread, Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

2. Grease an 8×8 square baking pan and line with foil sling.


3. Cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.

5. Beat in egg until blended, then beat in molasses and buttermilk.

6. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until smooth, then add  (1/4 c.) hot water and beat 1 minute.

7. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 23 minutes. Cool in pan.


8. Transfer gingerbread to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch cubes with a serrated knife. Cake can be covered with plastic and kept at room temperature for several days before assembling. 

9. To make mousse, sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small saucepan and let soften 1 minute. Bring to a simmer, stirring until gelatin has dissolved (about 1 minute).

10. Whisk together gelatin mixture, pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl until combined well.


11. Beat cream with vanilla with whisk attachment on electric mixer (in separate bowl) until it holds soft peaks, then fold into pumpkin mixture gently but thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 24 hours). For more details, click here. 


12. For cream, stir gelatin in water in saucepan until dissolved. Heat until thin and smooth. Mix gelatin with maple syrup and vanilla in the bottom of a medium mixing bowl. Set bowl atop larger mixing bowl filled with ice to chill quickly.

13. Add cream and beat using mixer until thickened – holding soft peaks. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 24 hours). 


14. For butterscotch, heat butter, corn syrup and water over low heat until butter is melted. Turn heat to medium high and add sugar; let cook on medium high heat until golden brown and bubbles are small and evenly sized. Remove from heat and add cream, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 2 weeks). For more details, click here. 

14. Meanwhile, toast pecans in dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Add about ¼ c. of the prepared butterscotch and remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt and chill. Chop when chilled.


Assemble trifle: 
15. Drizzle some butterscotch into bottom of each jar. Top with half of gingerbread (it helps to cut the gingerbread into cubes according to how many trifles you make).



16. Top with half of pumpkin mousse, then half of nuts.


17. Next finish off the cake and top with butterscotch. Mousse, and the the whipped cream on top. Drizzle the whipped cream with remaining butterscotch and divide nuts among cups.



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