I first created this trifle recipe for Jubilee Supper Club’s “Six Flags Over Mobile” meal as a nod to our city’s British roots. This trifle is a holiday showpiece with gingersnap cookies, caramelized pears, salted caramel sauce, vanilla bean pastry cream, and whipped cream, topped with caramel sauce and whole gingersnaps.

Gingersnap trifle held in hands
The trifle for Jubilee Supper Club

What is a trifle?

Trifle is a classic English dessert. What I love about it that it’s entirely customizable. The components are some sort of cake or cookies, a fruit sauce and/or pastry cream, and copious amounts of freshly whipped cream. It’s up to you to customize your trifle. Often, people will use pound cake instead of cookies in trifles. I prefer to use cookies in this trifle recipe because they soften under the weight of the hefty pastry cream and turn almost cakelike, anyway. I also love the crunch of the cookies on top, as well.

Gingersnap trifle recipe

How do you make trifle?

There are a few components to this trifle recipe. First, you need to make a pastry cream. A pastry cream is essentially a custard. If you want to skip this step, get the highest-quality vanilla pudding mix you can find and make it according to the directions. Flavor it with a teaspoon of good vanilla extract before chilling.

Can I make this trifle ahead of time?

You can make the pastry cream and pears up to two days ahead. You can assemble the trifle recipe up to one day ahead and chill it in the fridge until ready to serve. Trifles need a little time to meld flavors, so this trifle is an ideal Christmas dessert.

For the caramelized pears, I sliced some pears thinly. I cooked them in a saucepan of butter and brown sugar until the pears were softened but not mushy.

The pastry cream is a cooked custard of egg yolks, sugar, flour, and milk or cream. You can make this step up to two days ahead and store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.

gingersnap trifle
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Caramelized Pear and Gingersnap Trifle

This pear and gingersnap trifle is a perfect dessert for Christmas dinner.

Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Keyword christmas trifle, gingersnap trifle, pear and gingersnap trifle
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chilling time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Servings 18
Author Amanda

Ingredients

Pears

  • 4 firm Bosc pears peeled, cored and sliced into 1/8th of an inch slices
  • ½ cup brown sugar packed
  • ¼ cup salted butter

Pastry Cream

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream

  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Trifle Assembly

  • ½ cup caramel sauce
  • 2 bags or boxes of gingersnap cookies

Instructions

  1. For pears, combine ingredients into a heavy skillet and cook over medium heat until pears are cooked through. Transfer to a container and cool in the fridge. Pears can be made up to two days ahead and chill in fridge until ready to assemble.

  2. For pastry cream, mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add flour and stir until incorporated.
  3. Take a large bowl and fill it with ice. Add 2 cups of water to the bowl (this will help your pastry cream cool quicker).
  4. Combine milk and cream together in a glass measuring cup or other microwave-safe container. Microwave milk mixture until warm but not hot, about 45 seconds.
  5. Slowly add warm cream to egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously.
  6. Pour entire mixture into a heavy saucepan and heat on a low boil until thickened to a pudding-like consistency, stirring constantly. Cool immediately by putting entire saucepan into the bowl of ice water in the sink. Stir to cool faster. Once the pastry cream is cooled, pour it in a bowl with a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream. Chill in the fridge at least 2 hours and up to two days ahead.

  7. To whip cream, pour heavy cream in a bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip on medium until frothy, and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Increase speed to medium high and whip until cream is thickened and stiff.
  8. To assemble trifle, make a layer of gingersnaps two inches thick in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Stand a layer of gingersnaps up vertically along the sides of the bowl. Add half to a third of the pears (depending on the size of your trifle bowl) to the gingersnaps. Drizzle with caramel sauce.
  9. Add half to a third of the pastry cream.
  10. Spread a third of the whipped cream on top.
  11. Repeat layers.
  12. On the top layer of whipped cream, drizzle caramel sauce and top with gingersnap cookies and crumbs.
  13. Chill in fridge for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

Recipe Notes

Start the pears and the pastry cream at least 8 hours (and up to 2 days) before you want to serve this trifle.