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How to Make Custard and a Grilled Peaches & Cream Trifle

From a distance, custard seems like one of those fussy desserts that involves doing tricksy things with eggs and milk and way too much whisking … one had better just open a box. We’re here to say, “Not so!”

Custard actually comes together in a handful of steps and about 15 active minutes, and it’s worth every single second of them. It has a luscious texture — velvety smooth and so creamy — and you can flavor it however you like. Here, we whisk vanilla bean paste and bourbon into it. We love how the bourbon heightens the vanilla notes and gives the custard a buttery, boozy warmth, but brandy and rum are also nice. Not feeling the spirits? Try Earl Grey tea, cardamom, or lemon zest. The sky’s the limit!

A little white ramekin of custard makes an elegant dessert, but you can also swirl your custard through parfaits, spread it on layer cakes, or pipe it into everything from Norwegian custard buns to doughnuts. And, of course, it’s the heart of this showstopping grilled peaches and cream trifle.

To make this summer dream, we grilled a couple of sweet, juicy peaches ‘til they were lightly charred and caramelized and then layered them with fresh raspberries, mint whipped cream, and angel food cake. It’s a triumph of texture! And, though it couldn’t be easier to throw together, it’s visually stunning. Nothing says fancy like a footed trifle bowl — it’s the up-do of tableware. Break this one out when you want to show big, splashy love for your guests, like the BFF’s 40th birthday.

Vanilla Custard

Yield: 2 ½ cups

Grilled Peaches & Cream Trifle
Servings: 12

How to Make Custard and a Grilled Peaches & Cream Trifle



How to Make Custard and a Grilled Peaches & Cream Trifle


For the vanilla custard:

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ⅔ cups whole milk
Kosher salt
Yolks from 6 Gelson’s large eggs
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp bourbon (optional)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter

For the mint whipped cream:

1 ½ bunches Gelson’s organic mint, chopped
3 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar, sifted

For the grilled peaches:

Vegetable oil, for brushing
2 lb peaches, quartered
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
½ tsp bourbon

For the trifle:

2 ½ cups vanilla custard (recipe above)
2 pts raspberries
1 lb angel food cake, cut into 1” pieces
Zest from 1 lime
Gelson’s organic mint sprigs, for garnish


How To Make Vanilla Custard

  1. In a medium bowl, prepare an ice bath. Rest a similar size bowl in the ice bath, and line it with a mesh sieve. Set aside.

  2. In a saucepot, whisk together the sugar, heavy cream, milk, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until steaming, about 7 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch until thick, smooth, and slightly lighter in color. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg yolks, while whisking constantly, until combined. Return the custard to the pot.

  4. Place the pot over medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard begins to thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute more, continuing to whisk vigorously, until it reaches the consistency of pudding. Immediately strain the custard into the bowl over ice.

  5. Whisk the vanilla, bourbon, and butter into the custard until well combined. Place plastic wrap flush against it, and let cool to room temperature, 30 minutes.

  6. Transfer the custard to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Immersion blend or whisk the custard to loosen before serving. Note: the pastry cream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Grilled Peaches & Cream Trifle
  1. To prepare the whipped cream: Combine the mint and heavy whipping cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the cream just begins to simmer. Transfer the cream to a 1-quart jar and seal tightly. Shake well to combine and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

  2. To grill the peaches: Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Lightly brush the grates with oil. Grill the peaches until dark grill marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

  3. Immediately transfer the peaches to a medium bowl, add the brown sugar and bourbon, and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, let sit for 10 minutes, and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

  4. To make the whipped cream: Just before serving the trifle, strain the heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat on low speed, slowly increasing the speed to medium-high. Continue to beat the cream to medium peaks, about 2 minutes.

  5. To assemble the trifle: Set aside 1 cup of whipped cream, some peach wedges, and some raspberries for garnish. In a large trifle bowl, alternate layering the custard, angel food cake, raspberries, whipped cream, lime zest, and peaches. Top with the reserved whipped cream, and garnish with the reserved fruit and mint sprigs.

Calculate nutrition information for this recipe.

Recipe source: Ingredient