Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle

To satisfy the gluten-free members of our family, I wanted to make a GF pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I don't really like GF flour, so I decided to make more of a pumpkin-cheesecake pudding, with candied pecans and topped with whipped cream.  While it's great as a standalone dessert, it turns out it's also delicious on top of pumpkin pie. With a side of ice cream. And caramel sauce.

Bring the cream cheese to room temp. Beat with a hand mixer, adding in the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pie spice, vanilla, and milk. Add more milk if you wish to thin it out a bit more.  Pour the pudding into a bowl, and set aside in the refrigerator.

To caramelize the pecans, mix them with the sugar and cinnamon in a small skillet. Turn the heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes or so until the sugar is caramelized and your kitchen smells like a small piece of heaven.

When ready to serve, pour 3/4 of the pecans over the pudding, spreading in an even layer. 
Beat the whipping cream and vanilla with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Spread over the pecan layer, then finish off with the remaining pecans.  I ended up eating more of this than the apple pie, which I'm sure was a very healthy decision. My mind ran wild with this dessert - what else could we add to cream cheese and turn into a trifle??!