Dessert/ Fall

Spiced Pumpkin and Bourbon-Butterscotch Trifle

When I graduated from college I was given a Crate & Barrel gift card. Jackpot! Instead of purchasing something useful for “real life” like dishes or utensils or glassware, this genius chose to buy a set of miniature trifle dishes. Because nothing says “I’m an adult” like owning zero practical items necessary for survival being able to serve a dozen people their own tiny trifle. God bless.

If you make it fully from scratch, trifle is not a quick or casual throw-together recipe. But it looks wonderful and is delicious and sometimes those things are worth a number of steps and time. When done properly, trifle is a gorgeous dessert with layers of flavor, texture, and color. Except the second you start serving, at which point it looks like a train wreck in a bowl. That’s just trifle for ya.

The layers in this trifle are a spiced pumpkin cake, Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Unbelievable Butterscotch Pudding, and a classic whipped cream. I believe traditional trifle recipes include some sort of fruit layer, if you wanted to do something with poached pears or apples it would probably be amazing as a fourth element.

Here’s how it goes down: Make the pudding ahead of time and store in the fridge until fully chilled. Make the pumpkin cake and when it’s cool enough to handle, slice each round into two very thin halves for a total of four cake layers. Don’t worry if these slices don’t come out perfectly because you can wedge smaller pieces in, cover any breaks, etc. Perfection not necessary here! Finally make your whipped cream right before you’re ready to assemble.

pumpkin-cake-pansTo assemble: First add a layer of cake to the base of the trifle dish. Then layer pudding, followed by whipped cream, and repeat. This recipe makes exactly enough for four layers.

A few miscellaneous tips:

  • You can get creative with the top – I crumbed Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Cookie Thins but have also done candied nuts and pumpkin seeds or nuts and graham cracker crumble. Add any crispy topping just before serving so they don’t get soft sitting on the whipped cream.
  • I recommend making the pudding in advance. Store the pudding in the fridge in an airtight container with plastic wrap lining the surface.

Check out the recipe and directions for Unbelievable Butterscotch Pudding from Sally’s Baking Addiction here. It’s the best and I don’t mess with that!

I walked away for one second and my son Alex managed to dig a spoon into the trifle!

Pumpkin Trifle

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
By Chrissie Knudsen Serves: 8-12
Prep Time: 15-30 minutes Cooking Time: 35 ish minutes


  • Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • Whipped Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 TBS powdered sugar
  • splash of vanilla



For the pudding instructions, refer to link to Sally's Baking Addiction. It takes just about 15 minutes to pull this delicious recipe together.


To bake the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Butter the base of two cake rounds, and then place a circle of parchment in each base, and then butter the top of that parchment.


Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet in another (include brown sugar here).


Mix together and stir to combine so there are no lumps and batter is thick but smooth.


Bake for 20 minutes or until knife comes out clean.


Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack, and when they're cool to handle slice each round in half so there are two thinner round layers.


To make the whipped cream in an electric stand mixer using the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it starts to thicken, then add the powdered sugar and vanilla, finally turning the speed back up until the cream is ready.


To assemble the layers, start with a base layer of cake, then spread a layer of the pudding, and then on top of that a layer of whipped cream. Repeat until you've used up all the cake, ending with a top layer of whipped cream.

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