- 1 box chocolate cake mix, prepared and cooled (see notes)
- 3 TBS plus 3/4 cup water
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 2 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 TBS light corn syrup
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 16oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed
- Approximately 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
- Make Caramel Mousse: Add sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a large saucepan. Stir gently over medium heat until the sugar completely dissolves.
- Increase the heat to a rolling boil and allow to cook, without stirring, until the mixture is a deep amber color.
- Remove from heat and add 1 3/4 cups of heavy cream and the stick of butter while whisking constantly. BE CAREFUL! The mixture will bubble and steam vigorously.
- Return pan to low heat and stir until any crystallized bits have dissolved. In the meantime, add the 3 TBS of water to a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Allow to soften for one minute and then mix together.
- Pour 1 1/2 cups of the caramel mixture into a glass measuring cup and set aside. Add the gelatin water mixture to the remaining hot caramel in the pan, stir to combine, and allow both containers of caramel to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the 1 1/2 cups of cooled caramel into a mixing bowl and carefully fold in 3/4 of the whipped topping. Make sure you work gently and thoroughly combine the topping with the caramel. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until fully set (1-3 hours).
- Toast the Pecans: While the mousse is setting up, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the pecans and toss them around until they darken in color and start to give off a rich fragrance. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Assemble the trifle: In a large glass trifle bowl, cover the bottom with small pieces of the chocolate cake (or brownies, if using), cover with half of the chocolate mousse, sprinkle with some of the toasted pecans, and drizzle generously with some of the leftover caramel. Repeat the layers again, and then finish the top of the trifle with the remaining whipped topping, pecans, and more caramel drizzle.
You can choose to use a pan of brownies instead of a cake mix if you'd like a more dense, fudgy texture. Either the cake or brownies will work great, it's just a texture preference!
You will have extra leftover caramel after using a portion for the mousse and a portion for drizzling between the trifle layers. Store it in the refrigerator and use it however you wish - as an ice cream topping or in other caramel desserts.