Irish Cream Brownie Trifles

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The title says it all, but I will say it again: Irish Cream Brownie Trifles.  Pieces of brownie are layered with Irish Cream pastry cream, then topped with a swirl of whipped cream and garnished with a chocolate covered espresso bean.  Itty, bitty bites of happiness in an itty, bitty dish.  Who could ask for more?

Broke Baker veterans are probably already aware that, every year, my employer throws a bake-off during the holidays.  Any employees that can bake, or have relatives that can bake, are encouraged to enter. The result is a day full of cakes, pies, and all sorts of other treats.

This was my third year entering.  My coworkers once advised that, in order to win, your dessert needs to contain alcohol.  I scoffed at the idea, although I still made Eggnog Mini Cheesecakes that had rum in both the cheesecake and the caramel sauce for the first year.  The 2014 winner was a Coquito Rum Cake, which I took to mean that the judges are more partial to desserts with latin-inspired flavors.  So, last year I took this knowledge at face value and made Chocolate Coquito Macarons.   While the judges found them to be good, a Coquito Flan took the title.  I heard through the grapevine that my macarons were considered good, but that they didn’t think they really qualified as “dessert.”  So, for 2016, I went into this armed with the knowledge that my entry had to both contain alcohol and represent the traditional idea of a “dessert.”

I went with Irish cream because it’s sweet and translates easily into dessert form.  I considered cake, cheesecake, and even mousse when I was thinking of what to make.  Ultimately, I decided on making trifles because they seemed like the most unique option.  Plus, serving them in disposable mini cups from the local party supply store made for a nice presentation without a whole lot of messing around with icing or complex decorating.  The trifles are a bit time-consuming, but they are not particularly labor-intensive.  All you have to do is bake a thin layer of brownie, cut it into small circles, and then layer it in mini trifle dishes with the pastry cream.  A dollop of whipped cream finishes it off.  They just require a little bit of planning so that you have all of the components ready to go in the right order.  In the end, I got First Place in Presentation (for the third year in a row), but nothing in Taste except for a pat on the back from several judges for the deliciousness of my trifles.  And, since they DID receive a warm reception, I decided to share the recipe with you all.

The recipe below makes enough brownie for about 2 dozen mini trifle cups filled with brownie circles, but about enough pastry cream for 36 trifles total.  What I usually do is chop up the brownie scraps and use that to layer the last dozen.  You could also always make a regular-sized trifle with it by just cutting a regular pan of brownies into cubes and layering it with the cream.



Irish Cream Brownie Trifles


  • 3/4 recipe batch of brownie batter (from a 13″ x 9″ pan recipe)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks (I used 3 whole eggs)
  • 6 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 3/4 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup Irish Cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened whipped cream (optional)


Make the pastry cream:

Place the half-and-half, irish cream, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, salt, and cornstarch until there are no clumps and mixture is pale in color.  Set aside.

When the saucepan mixture is about to come to a boil, remove from heat.  Slowly add the hot mixture to the egg yolk mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly.  Once about half of the hot mixture has been added to the yolk mixture, pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the hot mixture.  Return to heat and continue to cook, stirring or whisking constantly, until mixture has properly thickened.

Remove from heat and strain the mixture into a heat-proof bowl.  Add the vanilla and stir gently to combine.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before using.

Make the brownie:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line a 10″ x 15″ jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Spread the brownie batter evenly into the jelly roll pan, then bake for10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before using.

Assemble the trifles:

Using a cookie or biscuit cutter the same size as the opening of your trifle cups, cut the cooled brownie into circles.  Place one circle into the bottom of a trifle cup, then spoon or pipe a small amount of pastry cream on top of it.  Place another brownie circle on top of the cream and gently push it down until there are no gaps between the brownie and the cream.  Spoon or pipe additional pastry cream until it reaches the top of the cup, then gently tap the bottom of the cup against the counter to let the cream settle.  When you run out of brownie circles, you can cut up the brownie scraps and layer those in the cups.  Repeat the process until either no brownie or pastry cream remains.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Makes about 3 dozen

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