Tipsy Trifle with Peaches and Cream

As many of you know, I traveled to New York two weeks ago and spent some time at the legendary New York gourmet store Zabar’s. I am now a Zabar’s “Contributing Chef,” and I’ll be providing some fun, delicious recipes for their website and bi-monthly newsletter. This is my first recipe for Zabar’s – a Tipsy Trifle with Peaches and Cream.

The English word “trifle” is derived from an Old French word, “trufe” or “trufle” (not the mushroom). Trifle means “something of little importance.” In other words, “This cake is a mere trifle of a dish.” Perhaps the dessert was described this way because of its simple nature. While trifle originally referred to a spiced custard with cream, during the Victorian era the dessert evolved into layers of wine-soaked biscuits, custard, and fruit. It’s closely related to another Victorian dish, the “tipsy cake.” Traditionally both desserts are made with wine, though modern trifles may or may not contain alcohol.

The first recipe for a trifle appears in a Tudor-period British cookbook called “The Good Housewife’s Jewel” by Thomas Dawson (1596). The recipe eventually came to America via British settlers on the South East coast of the U.S. The rich and indulgent trifle became a favorite recipe in the American South, and was particularly popular amongst plantation owners and their families.

This is my modern, seasonal version of a trifle. I used peaches because we’re at the height of peach season here in California. You can use any fruit you like. The trifle does contain alcohol, but there’s an easy sub for a liquor-free cake. If you want to forgo the alcohol, replace the rum with equivalent amounts of peach nectar. To make this a no-bake dessert, buy an angel food or sponge cake at the store rather than baking it yourself. This option will cut way down on prep time.

I prefer using caster sugar in delicate dessert recipes like this, particularly desserts that involve macerating fruit. Caster sugar is a finer grain of sugar… the British dubbed it “caster” or “castor” sugar. It is usually sold under the name “superfine” or “ultrafine” here in the U.S. It’s wonderful for baking, dissolves instantly, and doesn’t have the crunch that regular granulated sugar has. Unlike powdered sugar (which is mixed with cornstarch), it is simply a finer grain of sugar, and can be used interchangeably with traditional granulated sugar. Zabar’s carries India Tree Caster Sugar, which works great. If you can’t find caster sugar you can substitute granulated, but I recommend the caster sugar if you can find it. It works well in cake recipes, too. Sub it anywhere you use regular sugar in equivalent amounts.

Zabar’s also carries a wonderful vanilla extract made by Nielsen-Massey that happens to be my favorite vanilla. I used it in this recipe. Any pure vanilla extract will do, but if you want something special with more intense vanilla flavor, try Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. It’s pricey, but awesome.

This tipsy trifle is cold, creamy, sweet, and just a little bit naughty. Serve it at your next summer soiree for a grown-up dessert that will have guests licking their plates.

Recommended Products:

Hand Mixer

Trifle Bowl

Loaf Pan

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Tipsy Trifle with Peaches and Cream

Sponge Cake Ingredients

  • 6 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (I prefer caster or superfine sugar)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Trifle Ingredients

  • 8 cups fresh, ripe yellow peaches cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup rum, divided
  • 1/4 cup peach nectar, divided
  • 11 tbsp sugar (I prefer caster or superfine sugar), divided
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 3 cups prepared vanilla pudding, soft set (about 1 1/2 packages)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup marscapone cheese
  • Fresh mint sprigs for garnish
  • 6-8 peach slices for garnish

You will also need

  • Electric hand or stand mixer, tube pan or 2 medium loaf pans, 3.5 quart trifle bowl, icing bag with star tip (optional)
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: 10-12 servings
Kosher Key: Dairy

To Make Sponge Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Separate the room temperature eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Use an electric mixer to beat the yolks until they are creamy and light yellow.
  • Beat in the sugar slowly, a quarter cupful at a time.
  • Beat in the water, then the vanilla, then the flour.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites on high with the salt until stiff (not dry) peaks form.
  • Fold frothy whites into the flour/egg yolk batter.
  • Grease the bottom only of a 9 inch tube pan or two medium (8.5 inch) loaf pans. Pour the batter into the pan(s).
  • Bake cake(s) for 40 minutes - 1 hour, until top of the cake is golden brown and the edges separate from the pan. Let cake cool.

To Assemble Trifle

  • Cut your cooled sponge cake or your purchased sponge or angel food cake into 1 inch cubes. Set aside.
  • Place cubed peaches in a large mixing bowl and toss them with 2 tbsp rum, 2 tbsp peach nectar, and 1/3 cup sugar till peaches are evenly coated. Let the peaches macerate (marinate in the juices) at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, whip 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream with 3 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt till soft peaks form. Beat in the soft set vanilla pudding till mixture becomes rich and creamy. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tbsp of peach nectar with remaining 2 tbsp of rum.
  • Place half of the cubed cake in an even layer on the bottom of the 3.5 quart trifle dish.
  • Sprinkle half of the peach nectar/rum mixture across the top of the cake cubes to evenly moisten the cubes.
  • Pour half of the peaches with half of their liquid in an even layer on top of the cake cubes.
  • Pour half of the whipped cream/pudding mixture on top of the peaches in an even layer.
  • Repeat the three remaining layers in that order-- cake, nectar/rum, peaches, and whipped cream/pudding mixture. You should now have six layers in your trifle dish.
  • In a mixing bowl, whip remaining 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream with 3 tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp of salt, and vanilla extract till soft peaks form.
  • Add marscapone cheese and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
  • Pour the whipped cream and marscapone cheese mixture into an icing bag with a star tip. Pipe the whipped cream decoratively onto the top of the trifle in a circular pattern. I like to make small florets with the whipped cream. Start on the outside of the trifle and work your way in.
  • Continue piping until the entire surface is covered with whipped cream. Alternatively, to make things easier, you can simply spread the whipped cream across the top of the trifle.
  • Now your trifle is assembled. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight until ready to serve.
  • Just prior to serving, garnish the top of the trifle with peach slices and fresh mint. I like to place the slices in a flower pattern, with mint springing from the center of the trifle.
  • Serve well chilled. Store in the refrigerator.

Comments (46)Post a Comment

  1. CONGRATULATIONS!! I knew you were in New York – this is HUGE! The trifle is beautiful and I love that you made the sponge cake. You also use my favorite vanilla extract…and I just recently purchased 32 ounces of their Vanilla Bean Paste. Have you tried it? Fabulous stuff!

    1. Thanks Ann! I love the vanilla bean paste, it’s awesome stuff! I also bought their chocolate extract the other day, not sure how I’m going to use it yet, but I’m excited to try it!

    1. Thanks Kim! I loved meeting you, too. I’ve been wanting to visit Canada for many years, and now I have the perfect excuse to visit– you! :) This is my first time using my new DSLR camera. Still trying to get the hang of it, but I love it so far. :)

  2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Congrats Tori, that is an amazing opportunity. So proud of you. This recipe is wonderful. I don’t think we Zabar’s here in Canada. If we do there is none in this area. Seriously I need to move. This area is a culinary wasteland I swear.

    1. Thanks Kim! There is only one Zabar’s, and according to owner Saul Zabar he intends to keep it that way. It’s really a one-of-a-kind place. Next time you visit NY be sure to check it out, it’s awesome!

  3. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Congratulations Tori!!! That is really exciting! This trifle looks amazing and excites me because I just got a new trifle dish, this recipe would be perfect! Gorgeous as always :)

  4. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Congrats, it is good to see untapped talent being realized outside the blog world! I am sure you will enjoy every minute of being a contributing chef.
    This recipe looks like you are of to a good start, great way to showcase Zabar’s products and nature’s bounty of tasty peaches this season. Have a great weekend!

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Ooh, Tori! This looks magnificent! Your sponge cakes look great! Mine never really look like that for some reason… oh well. And congratulations on your new role for Zabar’s; that is quite exciting! I’ve still never been to New York but now I know that should be a stop :-) Have a great weekend, my dear! (PS–the crusts are still in the fridge… apple pie later!)

  6. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Oh yummy! I make sponge cake every Passover. I bet this can be adapted for Passover.
    Congratulations on the Zabar’s gig! My son lives on the Upper West Side and “lives” in Zabar’s

  7. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I’ve made caster sugar by grinding regular sugar in a clean coffee grinder. It worked great when I was in a pinch.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    If you put regular sugar in the food processor and pulse it several times, it will become caster sugar. Also, every triffle I’ve ever had was made with pound cake. Will that work with this delectable recipe?

    Also, Mazel Tov on your new job with Zabar’s. You should tell your audience, however, that Zabar’s is also known for greatly inflating prices on just about everything, so they should be prepared to spend a huge bundle when stopping by to shop.

  9. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Congrats on the contributing writing gig! What fun! This trifle looks amazing. We had our first trifle when we picked England a few months back and they are so refreshing! I also really like the idea of the peach nectar in place of the rum for the non-alcoholic version (not that I’m opposed to rum!).

  10. I shared the recipe with some observant Jewish friends. I will give you feedback when they stop grinning with delight.

  11. Mmmmmmm….this looks like the perfect trifle! I just can’t get enough fresh peaches in the summer and I love incorporating them into desserts~

  12. I live in the same city where Nielsen-Massey vanilla is made. We’re so happy to have them here! Got a bottle in my pantry and I’m ready to try this recipe!

  13. This sounds awesome! I’m going to try this for Christmas dinner! One question though, if I wanted to make this non alcoholic what would I use? My dad doesn’t drink so we make everything alcohol free.

  14. In looking at your recipes (especially the tipsy trifle), I see that the word ‘divided’ is used a lot. Can you explain what this means in the context of a recipe? Specifically… divided into how many parts?

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