This Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle is made by layering store bought angel food cake in a mason jar with pumpkin cheesecake filling and topping it off with whipped topping and pecans. The pumpkin trifle is a seasonal dessert that is both elegant and easy, nice enough for Thanksgiving or Christmas, yet easy enough to make for a family dinner.
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Pumpkin is one of the most iconic of all all the fall flavors. It seems that in the fall you can’t avoid pumpkin in anything – whether it is pumpkin spiced coffee, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie or even pumpkin chili. This recipe is for yet another pumpkin dessert – one that is simple to make and yet elegant enough to deserve a place at the Thanksgiving table.
Trifles are one of my favorite holiday desserts because they are so quick and easy to make, but look impressive. At its most basic a trifle is just layers of cake, fruit, custard and whipped cream, but you can have almost an infinite number of variations and layer whatever ingredients you love most with cake and whipped cream. This trifle uses pumpkin instead of fruit, which makes it the ideal fall dessert. The Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle can be made in less than 30 minutes and be eaten immediately or made ahead and saved in the refrigerator for a few days.
Making the Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle
To make the pumpkin cheesecake trifle extra easy I used store bought angel food cake as a base. I took the cake out of the package and diced it up into cubes, which were about 1/2″ to 3/4″ long. A pound cake or spice cake would also work as the base for this pumpkin trifle, but I like angel food cake because of its soft and airy texture.
Then I made a simple no-bake pumpkin cheesecake filling by mixing softened cream cheese with pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and whipped topping. The pumpkin and the pumpkin pie spice give the dessert its seasonal flavor and the cream cheese and whipped topping make it creamy. Together they make a creamy and cheesy filling with a delicious pumpkin flavor. Make sure you use real pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling for the cheesecake filling. After the filling is made the cubes of cake are layered into mason jars alternately with the pumpkin cheesecake mixture.
Alternatives for trifle dishes
You could make this recipe in almost anything from a large trifle dish to shot glasses, but I like pint sized mason jars because they are the perfect size for a single serving. A large trifle dish would be excellent for taking to a potluck, and shot glasses would be ideal for a dessert bar with lots of variety, but for a quick and easy family dessert mason jars are just the right size. Also I’d have to clear off a shelf in the refrigerator to fit a large trifle bowl in, but mason jars can be tucked in around everything that is already there.
Two alternating layers of cake and pumpkin cheesecake filling are enough to fill up the mason jars. Then the pumpkin cheesecake trifle dessert is topped off with a dollop of whipped topping, sprinkled with cinnamon and finished with chopped pecans.
Elegant Thanksgiving Dessert
This seasonal pumpkin dessert is pretty enough for a party or Thanksgiving dinner, but also easy enough to make on Sunday afternoon as a family treat. It is also easy to prepare the angel food cake and pumpkin cheesecake filling in advance and put the dessert together right before serving. This pumpkin cheesecake trifle is a great dessert to have kids help make, since it is quick and easy and they will enjoy layering all the ingredients to make this creamy treat.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle
- Cut the Angel Food Cake into pieces about 1/2 inch thick.
- In a mixer combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice until well mixed.
- Fold in the whipped topping and stir gently to combine for a pumpkin cheesecake mixture.
- Add cake pieces to the bottom of the mason jar. Top the cake with a layer of pumpkin cheesecake mix. Add another layer of cake pieces and another layer of pumpkin cheesecake.
- Top each mason jar with some more whipped topping. Then sprinkle with cinnamon and pecans.
- Refrigerate until it is time to serve.
- You can use real whipped cream in the dessert instead of whipped topping. If you use whipped cream the dessert will still be delicious, but it won’t keep as well, and should be eaten within a few hours.
- This recipe uses only about half of the angel food cake, at least the size cake my grocery store sells. I usually freeze the other half and save it to use in another trifle another day. But you could also double the recipe and make 8 mini trifles.
- If you are planning to use a large trifle dish for the dessert double the recipe.