Sunday, October 9

A Chef's Secrets: Trifles

In honor of it being the weekend, I thought I'd share something easy, fun and frugal today. Trifles!

Trifles are to dessert what casseroles are to dinner. The fact that they look impressive (and taste great) is a bonus!

I was first introduced to trifles over a decade ago, working my first job as a busser at a nice restaurant. The chef didn't like to see food go to waste (it was bad for his food cost numbers), so every week at the high-end Sunday brunch he'd grab a pretty trifle bowl and start layering.

Leftover cake or brownies, fruit that was too soft or spotty to be served whole, starting-to-get-stale cookies, maybe some pudding or a handful of chopped candy bars left over from last week's catering function. Anything sweet that needed using up got crumbled, sliced or chopped and layered together with generous helpings of whipped cream added in for effect.

People loved it. Leftovers! People were paying Sunday brunch prices for leftovers and were happy about it!

Guess what? If restaurants can do it, so can you!  

Need a dessert in a hurry? Trying to figure out what to do about that cake stuck that to the pan and only came out in misshapen chunks? Wishing you could use up that holiday candy being eschewed because it's now the wrong color for the season?

Make a trifle! It travels well, makes a beautiful display, and is no-fuss to put together. Layer in a little whipped cream or your favorite pudding and everything will think you're spoiling them! They needn't ever know you had completely practical intentions.

Hint 1: Although trifle dishes are beautiful and versatile, if you won't regularly use it don't get one! A punch bowl or glass mixing bowl makes an equally pretty presentation. Or use your regular old juice glasses, wine glasses, dessert cups or tupperware (for pack-in-your-lunch convenience) to make individual serving-sized trifles!

Hint 2: Trifles are one of the easiest desserts to make gluten- or sugar-free. GF/SF puddings are cheap, easy to find and take up little cabinet space. Crumbly, over-baked or otherwise texture-challenged GF/SF cookies, cakes or brownies are easier to hide/redeem in an arrangement like this than standing alone. Just be extra generous with the fruit and whipped cream if you're worried.

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