This individual no-bake pumpkin trifle has pumpkin custard, cranberry sauce, and ginger snap cookies. It’s so easy to make and its delicious!
I’m going to make this post quick, just like the recipe. No-bake pumpkin trifle is a perfect dessert for a small Thanksgiving get-together…maybe you can’t go visit out-of-town family this year so it’s just your little family, or you and your significant other, or your roommates or friends…whatever. Or maybe you just want something that tastes like Thanksgiving in July without the work of a pumpkin pie.
This is a recipe that I created for WHISK Magazine, for an article about trifles. One of my trifles was a traditional, proper British trifle, with vanilla custard and raspberry jam. One was a chocolate and strawberry trifle. Those were both delicious…but my “outside-the-box” pumpkin, cranberry, and pear trifle was my favorite. I know that the combination of pumpkin custard, cranberry sauce, chopped pears, and ginger snaps may sound strange to some of you, but I promise that it works. Very well, actually. Philip, who is not a big fan of pumpkin or anything remotely pudding-like (though his favorite dessert is crème brûlée-explain that), thought it was “meh”, but our friend Rachel, who was having dinner with us that night, and I both went crazy for it.
I know that the idea of stirring a custard on the stovetop or making a homemade cranberry sauce may remove the appeal of a no-bake dessert for those of you who want something you can truly just throw together. I promise not to judge if you want to use instant pudding or canned cranberry sauce (just please use the whole-berry kind!)….however, I truly, truly believe that real whipped cream trumps Cool Whip every time…so if you must make that substitution, don’t tell me.
Everyone at your Thanksgiving table will love this no-bake pumpkin trifle!
Yield: 4 individual trifles
15 minPrep Time:
30 minCook Time:
45 minTotal Time:
- 8oz cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- juice and zest of one orange combined with enough water to make one cup
- 8oz ginger snap cookies (crumbled)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 2 ripe pears, cored and chopped
- 1 1/3 cup basic custard
- 2/3 cups pumpkin puree
- 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon (ground)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (ground, preferably from a whole nut)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- dried cranberries (optional)
- unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) (optional)
- 5 Large egg yolks
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the custard: Whisk the egg yolks thoroughly and set aside. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium glass bowl. Pour the milk and cream into a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and heat until the mixture begins to steam.Pour the milk and cream mixture into the bowl with the sugar and cornstarch and whisk thoroughly to combine. Pour back into the saucepan. Using a ladle, measure about half a cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk. Pour into the saucepan, whisk thoroughly, and bring back to a gentle boil over medium-low to medium heat. Cook and stir until thickened. Stir in the vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the custard into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Assemble the trifles: Make the cranberry sauce: combine the sugar and water/orange juice mixture in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries and reboil, cooking until the cranberries pop. Chill.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the cream with the powdered sugar. Set aside.
- Combine the custard, the pumpkin puree, and the spices.
- Assemble the Trifles: Divide the gingersnaps among eight mini-trifle dishes or other individual containers with a capacity of at least one cup each. Spoon 1/4 cup cranberry sauce over each bed of gingersnaps (you will probably have cranberry sauce left over). Divide the pears evenly among the trifles. Top the pears with 1/4 cup pumpkin custard. Top each trifle with whipped cream. Garnish with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds if desired.
The cooking time includes the time to make the custard and the cranberry sauce. It does NOT include the time for the custard and the cranberry sauce to chill.