Berry Trifle with Rhubarb and Lemon Curd

Berry Trifle with Rhubarb Lemon Curd

This beauty was made by my daughter, Tricia, for dessert on Father’s Day.  She went to the farmer’s market Saturday morning and came away with, among other things, some impressive rhubarb.  Being the culinary wonder that she is, Tricia incorporated that wonderful tart rhubarb into the lemon curd that went into the trifle.

Wow!  What an amazing flavor combo.  The tartness of the curd was offset by the sweetness of blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.  PLUS Tricia also added a layer of freshly made pastry cream that was enhanced with mascarpone.  Sheesh, it was an amazing dessert.

I coerced Tricia into writing the recipe down for me.  I didn’t want another Butterscotch Marshmallow Bread Pudding incident and run the risk of losing such a great recipe to time and spur-of-the-moment culinary whimsy.  One of the lessons that I have learned about making up recipes is that it is important to write things down as I go.  It is so easy to forget ingredients and measurements.  Thank you, Tricia, for writing everything down for this recipe.  I know that it was done under duress, but you will thank me the next time you make this!

While the rhubarb lemon curd and the pastry cream are by recipe, there are not exact measurements on the amounts of berries used and the pound cake is store-bought.  Any leftover curd or pastry cream would make tasty fruit dips.

This recipe is a great opportunity to learn some new cooking skills or improve on existing skills.  If the pastry cream or the lemon curd doesn’t turn out exactly right, no problem.  Trifle is the perfect dessert to conceal mistakes!  So, get your chef on and wow your friends and family with this beautiful dessert.

Note: If making the pastry cream is more than you feel you’d like to tackle, sweetened whipped cream is a good alternative.  Save making the pastry cream for another time.  However, I must tell you that the pastry cream is outstanding.

And another note: The addition of rhubarb is completely optional.  If you choose to make the lemon curd without the addition of rhubarb, simply skip directions about cooking and adding the rhubarb.  The recipe for the lemon curd works just fine without the rhubarb and no changes need to be made.

Berry Trifle with Rhubarb and Lemon CurdBerry Trifle with Rhubarb-Lemon Curd

Recipe by Tricia @ that’s some good cookin’
Printable Recipe

  • 1 store-bought pound cake, cut into approximate 1/2-inch cubes
  • variety of fresh berries–Tricia used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries
  • 1 recipe of lemon curd (recipe provided below)  
  • 1 recipe of pastry cream (recipe provided below) (sweetened whipped cream may be substituted for the pastry cream)
  • 1 pint whipping cream, whipped

Rhubarb-Lemon Curd

  • 2 stalks rhubarb, rough chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Method for rhubarb-lemon curd (make this first)

  1. In a frying pan with high sides or in a saucepan over low heat, cook chopped rhubarb until very soft about 20-30 minutes.  Do not add any water or other cooking liquid.  Stir occasionally.
  2. When very tender, add the rhubarb and lemon juice to a food processor or blender.  Blitz until smooth.
  3. In a double boiler, combine rhubarb mixture with eggs and sugar.  Cook and stir over boiling water until thick.
  4. Take off of heat. Stir in butter and lemon zest.

Pastry Cream (Make this just before you are ready to assemble trifle.  It stiffens as it sits.)

  • 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) white granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cornstarch, enough to make consistency of thick pudding
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) white granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone, room temperature and whipped lightly with hand mixer (may use cream cheese in place of mascarpone)

Method for Pastry Cream

  1. With a sharp knife, split vanilla bean lengthwise.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the milk, the first 1/2 cup white sugar, and vanilla bean to a simmer.
  3. While the milk mixture is coming to a simmer, in a small bowl combine the cornstarch and the second 1/2 cup white sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl whisk the 2 whole eggs and the 4 egg yolks together well. 
  5. After the milk mixture has come to a simmer, turn the heat to low and do the following in order:
  6. Combine the cornstarch/sugar mixture with the eggs.  Use a whisk to make this a smooth mixture.  No lumps allowed.
  7. While whisking, temper the egg mixture by slowly pouring about 1- 1 1/2 cups milk mixture into the egg mixture.  It is important to continue whisking while adding the milk mixture so that the eggs will be heated by the hot milk, but not cooked.
  8. Again while whisking, slowly pour the egg mixture into the simmering pot of the remaining milk mixture.
  9. Stir constantly and bring the mixture back to a boil.  Boil and stir constantly for 2 minutes.  The pastry cream will go from a mat finish to a glossy finish.
  10. Strain mixture through a fine sieve to catch any lumps that may have formed during the cooking process.  Use a rubber spatula to help push cream through sieve.
  11. Stir in butter until melted and incorporated.
  12. Stir in mascarpone.  Cover and set aside until starting to assemble trifle.
Berry Trifle with Rhubarb and Lemon Curd

To assemble trifle.
You will be repeating the layers, so visually divide the ingredients in half.  Layer in the following order:

  1. pound cake cubes
  2. rhubarb-lemon curd
  3. berries
  4. pastry cream
  5. repeat layers 1-4
  6. top with whipped cream and arrange berries of choice on top of whipped cream


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