What Inspired the Recipe
I guess you could say my birthday inspired this decadent dessert recipe. Growing up in the Franken household, it was tradition that on your birthday you decided what was for dinner and more importantly, what was for dessert! Except let's be honest, ten times out of ten dessert was birthday cake, you were just in charge of picking the cake, frosting, ice cream combo. And as much as I still love myself a perfectly spongy, frosting covered piece of cake, it can be a little overkill to make a whole birthday cake for two people: aka Cody and myself. So, instead Cody and I have started to utilize our birthdays as the perfect 'excuse' to explore new desserts! I know, life is tough! So, when my birthday rolled around this year, and I was again responsible for making the all-important dessert decision, I decided to push our dessert horizons a little and experiment with a Trifle. And what a tasty experiment it turned out to be: brownies, pudding, ribbons of caramel, fudgy chocolate, whipped cream, and a sprinkle of toffee bits for crunch. Mhmm, it's just as decadent and drool worthy as it sounds!
Chocolate Caramel Trifle
I'm the creator, recipe developer, and photographer behind The Inspired Dish. As a Registered Dietitian and self-proclaimed foodie, I love (love, love) exploring the world of food and in turn, creating flavorful + swoon worthy recipes inspired from everyday life. When I'm not obsessing over food you can find me running, spending time with my husband, or trying a new restaurant in Raleigh!
All the details
Do you struggle from dessert indecision? Searching for something sweet but can't decide what to make? Let me introduce you to my new dessert bestie, the trifle! It's the perfect dessert when you can't make up your mind because let's be honest, it's essentially layers of other desserts combined to make one perfect dessert. Even better, they are truly versatile, meaning you can build the perfect trifle in a way that best suits your dessert preferences. My preference was for fudgy chocolate, soft brownies, ribbons of caramel and light semi-sweet whipped cream. Anyone with me?
Quick and Easy Homemade Caramel
If it sounds too good to be true but I assure you it's not. There are many ways to make caramel, and most are tediously tricky but for this caramel, we are keeping it simple. This recipe also utilizes brown sugar versus white granulated sugar, developing a richer caramel flavor. In a saucepan, melt down brown sugar, butter, and vanilla extract over medium-high heat. Occasionally stir to combine with rubber spatula. Once the mixture starts to bubble, slowly pour cream into saucepan while continuously stirring. Once cream is fully incorporated, remove from heat, and let cool. Pour caramel into a glass bowl to refrigerate and help set.
How to make Homemade Whipped Cream
Like making the caramel above, making homemade whipped cream, from scratch, is not as dauting as it sounds. It's actually very simple so long as you remember two key pieces; the cream must be cold and don't rush the process. I say number two from experience - whoops! In a chilled mixing bowl add cold cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. It should take about 3-4 minutes. The cream will first start to bubble and froth, then slowly thicken until you have the consistently of whipped cream. As noted earlier, be careful not to rush the process or you'll get an uneven, overly whipped cream.
Layering a Trifle
Your trifle should include a cake layer (brownies), pudding layer (chocolate pudding), a whipped cream layer and a crunch layer (toffee bits). Additional components like caramel or chocolate fudge are completely optional but highly recommended. Layer your trifle in this same order and repeat until the dish is full, ending with the whipped cream layer. Refrigerate before serving.
Pro tip #1: Make sure all components are cooled before you layer the trifle.
Pro tip #2: Aim for at least two layers of each or more if your dish allows. I promise you one layer of each will not be enough nor taste the same.
Pro tip #3: Make the trifle ahead of time and store in refrigerator until ready to eat. This allows the layers to settle in with one another, making for the perfect bite. It's also much lighter yet still decadent when served chilled.
Chocolate Caramel Trifle
6 individual trifles
Layers of brownie, chocolate pudding, hot fudge, homemade caramel, and whipped cream topped with more brownie bits and Heath English Toffee bits, the perfect dessert to satisfy any chocolate lovers sweet tooth!
- 1 box of Brownie mix
- 1 large package instant Chocolate pudding
- 1 jar of Hershey's Hot Fudge Chocolate sauce
- 1/2 cup Heath English Toffee Bits
For the Caramel Sauce
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
For the Whipped Cream
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, let cool completely. Cut into 1-inch squares or crumble in bowl and set aside.
- Prepare instant pudding per package instructions, let cool completely.
For the Caramel
- In a medium saucepan, melt down brown sugar, butter, and vanilla extract over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to combine with rubber spatula.
- Once the butter and sugar mixture starts to bubble, slowly pour cream into saucepan while continuously stirring. When cream is fully incorporated, remove from heat, and let cool. *Optional to pour caramel into a glass bowl and refrigerate and help set.
For the Whipped Cream
- In a chilled mixing bowl add cold cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. It should take about 3-4 minutes. The cream will first start to bubble and froth, then slowly thicken until you have the consistently of whipped cream. As noted earlier, be careful not to rush the process or you'll get an uneven, overly whipped cream.
- Microwave Hershey's Hot Fudge in microwave until softened and able to be drizzled with a spoon.
Layering the Trifle
- In a trifle bowl or desired serving dish, start by placing an even layer of brownies on the bottom.
- Spoon pudding over top of brownies to cover completely, about 1/4" thick.
- Drizzle caramel sauce and hot fudge over pudding.
- Spoon a heap of whipped cream over chocolate and caramel spreading carefully to not disrupt the layers below.
- Sprinkle with Heath English Toffee Bits
- Repeat the layering process a second time or as many times as the dish will allow making sure to end with the whipped cream layer.
- To finish, top with English Toffee Bits, a drizzle of chocolate and caramel and a few extra crumbles of brownie.