A Fancypants Dessert without any Fuss: Trifle with Berries, Pound Cake, and Pastry Cream

7 Aug

Hello, thick and rich pastry cream, moist pound cake, and sweet berries. Let’s be friends.

This dessert tastes as lovely as it looks, which makes it perfect for entertaining. Plus, it’s easy and fun to make! The beautiful artistry of the trifles in this post is thanks to my second cousin, Arianna, an amazingly talented chef going on 10. Thanks, Ari! Cooking with you was an even better treat than this delicious trifle.

Trifle with Berries, Pound Cake, and Pastry Cream


  • 2 loaves of Pound Cake (you can make these, or buy)
  • Raspberry Jam (I prefer seedless)
  • 4-6 cups of Blueberries
  • 4-6 cups of Raspberries (or Strawberries, if you prefer)
  • 2-3 cups of Pastry Cream
    • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
    • 6 large egg yolks
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2-3 cups of Whipped Cream
    • 2 1/4 cups of Heavy Whipping Cream
    • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar

Don't forget to wash your berries!

Instructions: Pastry Cream

  1. In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch.
  2. Transfer remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add pod. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar sink to bottom. Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.
  3. Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture. Return to saucepan over moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens, about 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and whisk cream until smooth. Transfer to bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface.
  5. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Pastry cream can be made ahead and refrigerated, wrapped well with plastic wrap on surface, up to 3 days.)
Instructions: Whipped Cream
  1. For best results, put your whisk and mixing bowl into the freezer about 15 minutes before you’re ready to begin, so they’re chilled when you whip up your cream.
  2. In your ice cold bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.
Instructions: Assembly
  1. Remove the pastry cream from the fridge and slowly fold in the whipping cream. This will incorporate air into your custard to make it nice and light.

    Mmmmm pastry cream + whipped cream = heroin I mean heaven.

  2. Slice your pound cake loaves in half lengthwise (as though you were going to make a layer cake).
  3. Spread raspberry jam on the pound cake pieces, then cut them into squares.

    If you need to make your jam more spreadable try putting a few spoonfuls into the microwave to melt it a bit.

  4. Using either a large glass trifle dish or individual glass dishes (we used wine goblets), begin the layering process by putting pastry cream on the bottom. On top of the pastry cream place a layer of pound cake squares. On top of the pound cake place a layer of blueberries and raspberries. Repeat the layering process, beginning again with the pastry cream.

    Aren't these beautiful? Wine or water goblets make for great individual-sized trifles.

  5. If you’re cooking with an artist, like Ari, use berries to create a fun design on the very top.

    Ari used the berries to make the faces of our two family dogs, Sam and Finnegan. Look closely and you can spot the ears hanging down on the sides of each smiling face.

    Not a bad likeness, right?

  6. Put the trifle into the fridge to chill–letting the layers sit (30 minutes to a few hours, if possible) allows all the flavors to meld together.
  7. Final step: Enjoy!

Mint always makes a great garnish.

2 Responses to “A Fancypants Dessert without any Fuss: Trifle with Berries, Pound Cake, and Pastry Cream”

  1. vansamat August 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    so now I can tell Mary that I have seen Finnegan (virtually). Desserts are no trifling thing.

  2. Tes August 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    These elegant trifles look amazing! I just want to try this soon and I know my family I adore these 🙂

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