In the little town where I was raised, we didn’t have trifles and parfaits. We didn’t have many fools either—and none of the dessert kind. So when Debbie introduced me to trifles, they didn’t seem right, like “real men don’t eat trifles” through admittedly, they were very good.
That was several years ago. Now I don’t care about “real men”—I love trifles, fools, and parfaits.
Trifles, fools, and parfaits are close cousins. There is so much overlap that what I call a parfait, you may call a trifle or a fool. They are all layers of fruit, creamy fillings, and maybe cookie or cake pieces. But let’s identify traditional differences:.
Regardless of what you call it, these make fabulous, attractive desserts.
Debbie teaches a class on trifles and parfaits and serves them at the end of the class. She sets up a trifle bar and allows participants to build their own trifles in clear glasses. She includes:
- Pound cake and angel food cake pieces
- Bavarian cream
- Whipped cream
- Fruit pieces such as berries, kiwi, bananas, and peaches
- Pastry fillings such as lemon, raspberry, blueberry, and cherry.
She sometimes uses brownies cut into small chunks. In a pinch, we’ve made trifles with boxed cake mixes.
About the Fillings
What is common to all these desserts is a cool, creamy filling. Traditionally, custards are used and we’re sure that a stovetop custard works great. It’s just too easy to use a commercial Bavarian cream filling.
In the chocolate, peanut butter, and banana recipe below, we mixed a little peanut butter with Bavarian cream (about one-third peanut butter to two thirds Bavarian cream) to make peanut butter cream. We have also added shredded coconut and coconut flavor to Bavarian cream to make coconut cream.
In our store and online, we sell a variety of premade fillings, both cream pastry fillings like Bavarian and cream cheese and fruit pastry fillings like lemon, raspberry, and cherry. If you are only going to own one, make it Bavarian cream. You’ll find a thousand uses for Bavarian cream.
The strawberry fool recipe that follows uses a smooth, luxuriant filling made of whipped cream and plain yogurt. We added an orange flavor to the filling which complemented the strawberries perfectly. We have used this filling in trifles.
In nearly all of these desserts, we use whipped cream as a topping—but not just any whipped cream. We nearly always use a flavor other than vanilla. Caramel flavor, butterscotch flavor, lemon flavor, orange flavor, and amaretto flavor are our favorites. When we use warm flavors like caramel and butterscotch, we use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. With lemon and orange, we add zest. With the strawberry foolrecipe below, we have sometimes used strawberry flavor and added a couple drops of red food coloring. We sell all of these flavors in our store.
If you are only going to buy one flavor, make it caramel flavor so that you can make caramel whipped cream. You will find that you use caramel whipped cream in your kitchen more than you use vanilla whipped cream. For two cups whipping cream, add a teaspoon of caramel flavor and use 1/4 cup brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
We consider caramel flavor as essential in our kitchen as vanilla and probably use it more.