Are you looking for a special autumn dessert? This chocolate and pumpkin trifle is a showstopper for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or any fall day! 
A trifle layered with pound cake, chocolate mouse and pumpkin filling in a trifle dish. Topped with whipped cream, raspberries, and candied cranberries. Text overlay reads, "pumpkin & chocolate mouse trifle."
Trifle is the perfect dessert for entertaining, as it’s easy and should be made a day in advance. We love to bring this pumpkin trifle as a special dessert for Thanksgiving. 
This stunning autumn dessert is a fantastic Thanksgiving trifle and a welcome change from pumpkin pie. Pumpkin and chocolate taste absolutely delicious together. 

 What is a Trifle? 

A trifle is a traditional British dessert that consists of layers of various ingredients, typically including cake or sponge cake, custard, fruit, and whipped cream. The dessert is usually assembled in a glass bowl or trifle dish, allowing the colorful layers to be visible. Trifles are often served at special occasions and celebrations, and they come in many variations, allowing for creativity in choosing the types of cake, fruit, and other components.

The basic components of a trifle include:

1. Cake: Typically, a layer of sponge cake, ladyfingers, or some other type of cake is placed at the bottom of the dish. The cake is often soaked in a liquid such as sherry, fruit juice, or liqueur to add flavor and moisture.

2. Custard: A layer of custard is added on top of the cake layer. Custard is a thick, creamy dessert sauce made from milk, sugar, and eggs, often flavored with vanilla.

3. Fruit: A layer of fruit follows the custard layer. Common fruits used in trifles include berries (such as strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries), peaches, kiwi, and other seasonal fruits.

4. Whipped Cream: The final layer is whipped cream, which is spread over the fruit layer. The whipped cream adds a light and airy texture to the dessert and provides a smooth finish.

Trifles can be customized in various ways by using different types of cake, fruits, custard flavors, and additional elements such as chocolate shavings, nuts, or sprinkles. The beauty of a trifle lies in its presentation and the combination of flavors and textures from the different layers.

How to Make a Pumpkin Mousse Thanksgiving Trifle 

A side view of a trifle layered with pumpkin mousse, chocolate mousse, pound cake, and whipped cream.
Store-bought frozen pound cake means the only thing you really have to “make” is the mousse. However, if you would like to make homemade cake, that is fine too. 
First, make the mousse. Next, split into two bowls and separately flavor with rich melted chocolate and spiced pumpkin. You now how chocolate mousse and pumpkin mousse!
Now all you have to do is assemble the pumpkin trifle and refrigerate it overnight. 
A top-down view of a Thanksgiving pumpkin trifle topped with raspberries, sugared cranberries, and pepitas.
Because something fresh makes everything better, I added some raspberries, sugared cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Chocolate shavings would be gorgeous too. 

One crucial step: Set aside a tiny portion for yourself. To make sure it’s good, of course. This lovely is coming to a fabulous pre-Thanksgiving dinner tonight, and I can confirm from my sample, it’s rich, creamy, chocolatey, pumpkin perfection. 

Yield: Serves 6-8

Pumpkin and Chocolate Mousse Trifle

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes

This pumpkin trifle is made with pound cake and luscious layers of chocolate and pumpkin mousse. It's a special autumn dessert recipe and a great Thanksgiving trifle.

A close-up look at a Thanksgiving trifle made with chocolate mousse and pumpkin mousse.


  • 2 (10 oz.) frozen pound cakes, thawed, and cut into 3/4" slices 
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided 
  • 3 cups cold whipping cream
  • 8 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate (60-70%) chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon (optional)
  • Fresh raspberries or shaved chocolate, for garnish 


  1. Set the bowl of an electric mixer over a saucepan of shallow simmering water. Whisk yolks, water, and confectioners' sugar in the bowl until very frothy and beginning to thicken, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes, until thickened. 
  3. Place another small bowl over the simmering water. Melt chocolate in the bowl. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Divide egg mixture into two medium bowls.
  4. Stir cooled chocolate into one bowl. In the other bowl stir the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Beat whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of confectioners'  sugar at high speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold 1 1/2 cups whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, and 1 1/2 cups into the pumpkin mixture. 
  6. Place a layer of pound cake into the bottom of a trifle dish, large bowl, or individual dishes. Brush with a little Bourbon.
  7. Spoon a 1" layer of pumpkin mousse over the cake. Top with a second layer of cake. Brush with Bourbon. Spoon a 1" layer of chocolate mousse. Top with a third layer of cake and again brush with Bourbon.
  8. Top with whipped cream and garnish. Chill overnight.