Pumpkin Cake and Salted Caramel Mousse Trifle
November 19, 2013



When I was in a Crate and Barrel in Chicago last year, I saw this small glass Hurricane on display and, although it's meant for a candle, I immediatley knew I was going to make a trifle in it.  I played around with various flavor combinations but finally decided to make something for fall.  That meant pumpkin.  And wouldn't caramel go great with pumpkin?  And you have to have whipped cream in there somewhere.  One thing led to another and here it is - pumpkin cake layers with an incredible caramel mousse filling and whipped cream.  And it's all topped off with some caramel jewels.

There are four components to this cake.  It may look daunting, but each component is a snap to prepare. The pumpkin cake is simply the same cake that is used in this classic Pumpkin Roll - I just doubled the recipe and made it in a bigger sheet pan.  The caramel mousse is incredible and not at all hard to make.  The little caramel jewels are surprisingly easy to make - just cook sugar and water together until it turns golden and drizzle it on a sheet of tin foil.  It hardens up in a snap and you just lift the little jewels right off. 

There will be cake trimmings leftover after you cut out your layers. These are definitely for snacking, so don't throw them away. 

Pumpkin Cake and Salted Caramel Mousse Trifle

for a printable recipe click here

serves about 10 - 12


for pumpkin cake:

for the caramel mousse:

 for the whipped cream layer:

for the caramel jewels


Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 13x18 inch jelly-roll pan (half sheet rimmed baking pan); line with parchment paper. Grease and flour paper. 

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. 

Bake for about 22 -25 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Allow cake to cool slightly in pan. You don't have to let the cake cool completely before you start cutting out the circles.  With your trifle dish, cut out rounds of cake in the pan.  Using a 6-inch trifle,  you should have four rounds.  Remove cakes carefully with a spatula to a wire rack to continue to cool.  


Mix sugar and 6 Tablespoons of water in a medium size sauce pan.  Place over medium heat until it begins to turn from a pale amber to rich caramel color, approximately 8 minutes.  Immediately remove from the heat as the sugar will continue to darken as it cools.  Important note: do not stir the mixture once it’s on the heat; just let it heat to the proper color.  If you need to stir in some sugar crystals that have accumulated on the sides of the pan, gently swirl the pan.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly but do not stir.

Slowly whisk ¾ cup heavy cream into the caramel - the caramel will tend to bubble up as you add the cream. Set aside to cool.

Bloom the gelatin: sprinkle powdered gelatin into 2 Tablespoons of cool water.  Allow it to sit for 3 to 5 minutes.

Whip 2 cups of heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.

Whisk gelatin and sea salt into warm caramel.   Gently fold caramel into heavy cream.  Refrigerate until ready to assemble trifle.


In a small pan, combine gelatin and cold water; let stand until thick. Place over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat; cool (do not allow it to set).

Whip the cream with the confectioner's sugar until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff.  Refrigerate until ready to assemble trifle.


Line a baking sheet with a layer of tin foil. Spray lightly with Pam.

In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water until sugar dissolves completely.  Continue to cook over medium low heat, without stirring, until sugar mixture turns golden, but not dark golden.  Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool just until the consistency thickens up a bit but is still runny.   

With a spoon, drizzle the caramel on the tin foil in any pattern you like.  I did concentric circles. Allow to harden up - this takes just a few minutes.  The jewels lift right off the tin foil.


Note:  I piped the mousse and whipped cream layers with a pastry bag and jumbo piping tip.  It was an easy way to do these layers.  If you don't have a pastry bag, you can just use a big ziplock bag and cut off one corner and pipe the layers that way.  Or you can just spoon them on if you don't want to bother with piping.

Place one pumpkin cake round in the bottom of the trifle.  Pipe or spoon a layer of caramel mousse on top of the cake.  Pipe or spoon a layer of whipped cream on top of the mousse.  Repeat until all four layers are done. Garnish with caramel jewels if desired.  Refrigerate until time to serve.

caramel mousse recipe from Harrison House

pumpkin cake (doubled) from Libby's 

Article originally appeared on The Italian Dish (http://theitaliandishblog.com/).
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