Nouveau pumpkin pie

Skip the frozen pie Frisbee and try some pumpkin-gingersnap trifles instead.

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click to enlarge BETTER WITH LAYERS: The pumpkin-ginger snap trifles: faster than a homemade pie, with all the bragging rights. - KATIE MACHOL SIMON
BETTER WITH LAYERS: The pumpkin-ginger snap trifles: faster than a homemade pie, with all the bragging rights.

The thought of preparing a large feast or nibbles for a large fête can be quite daunting. For home cooks, the dessert course either requires hours of preparation or a hassle skipped by purchasing something pre-made from the store. Not to sound like Rachael Ray or Morpheus from The Matrix, but what if I told you that you could whip up a mouthwatering dessert in 30 minutes or less and be able to brag that you made it all from scratch?

My inspiration for the following recipe came when I needed to whip up a quick dessert, but didn’t have enough time (or motivation) to bake a whole pumpkin pie. These Pumpkin-Gingersnap Trifles incorporate the flavors of classic pumpkin pie — spiced pumpkin filling, whipped cream, gingersnap cookie “crust” — but take only about a third of the time to make from start to finish.

The best part? The recipe is easy to make for an individual serving but can also be adapted to make a big dish to share.

So if you’re strapped for time this holiday season and/or baking-challenged, try this quick and easy pumpkin treat that is sure to impress all of your guests.

Pumpkin-Gingersnap Trifles

Makes about 4-6 servings

Ingredients cream layer
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Ingredients for pumpkin layer
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup mascarpone (substitute room temperature cream cheese)
Ingredients for cookie layer
1 cup chopped gingersnaps, plus extra crushed gingersnaps for sprinkling
2 tablespoons dark rum or amaretto liqueur
Directions for the whipped cream

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or an electric mixer, beat the cream and powdered sugar until it starts to become stiff. Do not over-beat the cream as it will separate. Reserve two-thirds whipped cream for serving and one-third for the pumpkin layer; refrigerate until ready to assemble.

For the pumpkin filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, and spices. With a rubber spatula, fold in half of the mascarpone, then half of the reserved whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining mascarpone and whipped cream until they’re completely mixed together; it should be smooth and fluffy.

Directions for the cookies

Sprinkle alcohol of choice over the crushed cookies in a small bowl and mix well. Don’t do this until right before assembling parfaits, as the cookies will get soggy the longer they soak in the booze.


If you have piping bags or large zip-loc bags, fill them separately with the pumpkin and the cream fillings. If not, you can just use a spoon to fill serving dishes. In clear glass serving cups or bowls, spoon or pipe one-third of the pumpkin filling into and sprinkle one third of the cookies on top. Repeat with whipped cream, then cookies, and top with more pumpkin. Repeat this pattern again if you have enough room in your serving dishes, ending with whipped cream as the top layer.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 1 hour. Just before serving, top with the crushed gingersnaps. These can be made up to a day ahead.

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