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Creme Brûlée Trifles

These individual Creme Brûlée Trifles are a surprisingly easy dessert, layered with shortbread cookie crumbs, raspberry jam, and a homemade custard. Such a simple but impressive dessert for the holidays!

A DELICIOUS NO BAKE DESSERT

Don’t let the name fool you, it sounds fancy but I promise you it is just a fancy name for an easy dessert. These individual Creme Brûlée Trifles are the perfect thing to make this holiday season. You only need 6 simple ingredients to make this decadent dessert. And, serving it is a breeze since it’s made in individual servings. This delicious dessert is fancy enough for the holidays, yet easy enough to make all year round! The best part is they taste absolutely delicious and are the perfect ending to any meal.

A beautiful glass of creme brulee, raspberry jam and shrotbread cookies layered to make a Creme Brulee Trifle.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What if I don’t have a kitchen torch?

I used this kitchen torch (paid affiliate link) but if you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can use a grill lighter. You’ll need one with a long neck so you don’t burn your fingers. I would not recommend putting these under the broiler unless you make them in oven safe ramekins instead. Also, these trifles are absolutely delicious without the crusty sugar topping. So honestly, you really could just skip it and still have the most amazing layered individual desserts that everyone will still love!

Do I have to use heavy cream?

Yes! This is a must. In order to get the right flavor and texture, heavy cream is a necessity.

Do I have to use the whole vanilla bean?

The whole vanilla bean adds amazing flavor to the pudding. Since there aren’t that many ingredients in this dish and it really helps the vanilla really shine but I think just using vanilla bean paste (about ½ teaspoon) or vanilla extract (1 teaspoon) would work too.

Where can I buy vanilla bean pods?

Vanilla Bean pods that you buy at the grocery store can be pretty pricey. I prefer to order them online (paid affiliate link). You can usually get more for the same price you would purchase one at the store.

Can these be made ahead of time?

Yes but not too far ahead as the cookies will get mushy the longer these sit in the refrigerator. These are best eaten cold and straight from the fridge. If you want to make them ahead of time, assemble the trifles up to the step 17, where you add more sugar on top and them put them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve, then finish off the recipe as written.

Can I make more servings?

These make (8) one cup servings per person. You could easily make the servings smaller and make 16 (half cup serving size) to serve at a party. And, of course, if that’s not enough, scale the recipe to suit your purposes.

Do I have to use shortbread cookies?

I like the contrast of the crispy, crunchy cookies to the texture of the brûlée, but you can totally swap it out for other cookies or even cake pieces that you think would go nicely with the other flavors. Please use your best judgement on how much to use of your substitution as I have only tested this recipe with these cookies.

I don’t like raspberry jam, what else can I use?

You can really use any jam you like that you think the flavors would work with this. A strawberry jam or blueberry jam would also work nicely.

What size glasses did you use?

I used 8 ounce glasses. So it is a one cup serving per person.

How to store leftovers?

These will last up to 3 days in the fridge. I don’t suggest trying to freeze this treat. Also, if you know you plan on storing these, I’d wait to assemble everything until you’re serving them, that way they last longer in the fridge. Keep in mind the cookies will get soft after they are assembled with the custard.

A glass of homemade Creme Brulee Trifle with ingredients around it.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • vanilla bean – with homemade custard, there are not a lot of ingredients so it’s important to not make substitutions because it really does affect the overall taste and quality. See my FAQ (frequently asked questions) above where I talk more about vanilla beans.
  • large egg yolks – do not use any type of egg yolk substitute here. It has to be fresh eggs yolks. You can always save the leftover egg whites to make egg white omelettes or meringues.
  • heavy cream – it has to be heavy cream, no substitutions here.
  • granulated sugar – do not substitute with any other type of sugar here. I have not made this recipe with any sugar substitutes so I cannot tell you how that would turn out.
  • shortbread cookies – I used Lorna Doone (paid affiliate link) but you can use other types. I have only tested it with Lorna Doone so if you make these with another size or type of cookie, you will have to use your best judgement on amounts.
  • seedless raspberry jam – you could also use strawberry or blueberry jam instead. Also, I really like seeded raspberry jam and I would not hesitate to use one with seeds but if you are serving these to guests, some people may not enjoy the seeds in jam so I generally go with seedless.
Heavy cream, shortbread cookies, eggs, sugar, vanilla bean, and raspberry jam.

HOW TO MAKE CREME BRULEE TRIFLES

Preheat the oven to 300°F and position the oven rack in the middle. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil while you work on the cream. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half and scrape out the seeds using the back of a knife.

Take a big bowl, add the egg yolks, and whisk them until they become smooth (about 1 minute). Set the bowl aside.

collage of two photos: a knife with some vanilla bean on the tip next to the pod; egg yolks and a whisk in a bowl.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, pour in the heavy cream and whisk in the sugar. Also, add the scraped vanilla beans and the vanilla bean pod.

Heat the mixture until it’s almost simmering, constantly whisking to prevent burning. It’s ready when it reaches 205°F. Remove it from the heat and remove the vanilla bean pod.

Gradually, and very slowly, pour some of the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks while continuously whisking. You need to do it very slowly so you don’t scramble the eggs. Keep doing this until all of the cream is mixed in. 

collage of two photos: heavy cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan; heavy cream mixture stirred into egg mixture in a bowl.

Use a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl to strain the cream mixture to catch the vanilla pod and any solids. Pour the cream into a 9×9-inch baking dish, and then place the baking dish inside a larger pan, like a roasting pan (that has higher sides).

Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the 9×9 baking dish. Make sure no water gets into the cream mixture.

collage of three photos: straining vanilla bean pods from custard mixture; custard mixture in a baking dish; hot water being poured into pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. The cream should still be slightly jiggly in the center. Let it cool at room temperature on a wire rack for 2 hours. Afterward, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight is even better.

When you’re ready to serve the trifles, take the cream out of the fridge and stir or whisk it until it’s smooth. Don’t forget to mix in those vanilla bean specks that have settled into the bottom of the baking dish!

collage of two photos: baked custard mixture cooling on a cooling rack; fully cooled custard being stirred up with a fork.

In serving glasses, layer crushed cookies, followed by cream, about 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam, more cookies, and a final layer of cream. Sprinkle a generous amount of granulated sugar evenly over the top of each trifle, making sure to cover the cream completely. Use a small kitchen torch to carefully brown the tops until they’re nicely caramelized.

collage of two photos: layering the creme brûlée ingredients in a glass; a kitchen torch heating up the sugar on top of the creme brûlée.

Let the trifles sit for a couple of minutes to allow the sugar to set. Serve and enjoy!

A spoon in a Creme Brulee Trifle glass.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

Close up looking at a layered Creme Brulee Trifle in a glass with a spoon.

Creme Brûlée Trifles

These individual Creme Brûlée Trifles are a surprisingly easy dessert, layered with shortbread cookie crumbs, raspberry jam, and a homemade custard. Such a simple but impressive dessert for the holidays!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Chill Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

For the custard:

For assembly:

  • 60 shortbread cookies (like Lorna Doone), crushed
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 300°F and position the oven rack in the middle. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil while you work on the custard.
  • Cut the vanilla bean pod in half and scrape out the seeds using the back of a knife.
    vanilla bean pod.
  • Take a big bowl, add the egg yolks, and whisk them until they become smooth (about 1 minute). Set the bowl aside.
    Whisked egg yolks in a bowl.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, pour in the heavy cream and whisk in the sugar. Also, add the scraped vanilla beans and the vanilla bean pod.
    Heavy cream and vanilla bean in a pot.
  • Heat the mixture until it's almost simmering, constantly whisking to prevent burning. It's ready when it reaches 205°F. Remove it from the heat.
  • Gradually, and very slowly, pour some of the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks while continuously whisking. You need to do it very slowly so you don’t scramble the eggs and you need to be constantly whisking – don't stop. Keep doing this slowly and continuously until all of the cream is mixed in.
    Cream mixture in egg mixture in a bowl.
  • Use a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl to strain the cream mixture to catch the vanilla pod and any solids.
    A strainer straining out vanilla beans over a cream and egg mixture in a saucepan.
  • Pour the cream into a 9×9-inch baking dish, and then place the baking dish inside a larger pan, like a roasting pan (that has higher sides.)
    Cream mixture in a glass baking dish.
  • Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the baking dish. Make sure no water gets into the cream mixture.
    Boiling water being poured in a pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. The cream should still be slightly jiggly in the center.
  • Let it cool at room temperature on a wire rack for 2 hours. Afterward, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight is even better.
    Custard mixture in a baking dish.
  • When you're ready to serve the trifles, take the cream out of the fridge and stir or whisk it until it's smooth. Don't forget to mix in those vanilla bean specks that can sink to the bottom of the baking dish!
    A spoon in a baking dish after mixing up the custard.
  • In serving glasses, layer crushed cookies, followed by cream, about 2 Tablespoons of raspberry jam, more cookies, and a final layer of cream.
    A layered trifle in a glass with custard, cookies, and jam.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of granulated sugar evenly over the top of each trifle, making sure to cover the cream completely.
    Layered creme brulee trifle with a spoon pouring sugar on top.
  • Use a small kitchen torch to carefully brown the tops until they're nicely caramelized (it is important you are using heat safe glasses so they do not crack when using the torch).
    torching sugar on top of creme brûlée.
  • Let the trifles sit for a couple of minutes to allow the sugar to set. Serve and enjoy!
    A spoon in a Creme Brulee Trifle glass.

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
  • Serving sizes will change based on the size of your glasses. I used 8 ounce glasses so each serving is one cup. 
  • Use strong, sturdy glasses or ramekins since you’re using a kitchen torch to brulee the topping. You don’t want it to shatter.
  • If you don’t have any way to torch the sugar on top, just skip it. This is an absolutely delicious layered custard all on its own even without the crunchy sugar topping!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 628kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 48g | Sodium: 54mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 37g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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