Tipsy Parson

A mini trifle for all your guests.

Tipsy Parson Dessert
Photo: Joy Howard

If you're a fan of classic trifles but daunted by the prospect of assembling a picture-perfect dessert, allow us to introduce you to its casual cousin. Just like a trifle, this dessert features a combination of ladyfinger cookies, pudding, and fresh fruit, but the layers are more laid-back and placed into individual glasses (we like stemless wine glasses the most, but really any vessel will work). Similar to a trifle, the flavor possibilities here are endless, but for this recipe we went with a cozy combination of gingered cherries, sherry, and vanilla pudding. A note on the sherry: a little goes a long way, and yes, though it's only used to sprinkle lightly on the cookies, this dessert wouldn't be the same without the depth of flavor it adds. Don't skip it! We're also fans of making the pudding from scratch, but if you're in a pinch you can also use a store-bought mix.



  • 8 egg yolks

  • ½ cup white sugar

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • ½ cup whole milk

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream

Cherry Sauce

  • 3 cups frozen cherries

  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • 1-inch knob of ginger, sliced

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 18 ladyfinger cookies

  • 1 - 2 tablespoons ruby port

  • 1 cup whipped cream


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, two pinches of salt, and vanilla until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and fit a smaller bowl with a mesh sieve.

  2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the remaining 6 tablespoons milk with the heavy cream. Warm until just bubbling around the edges. Pour the heated cream mixture into the bowl with the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to combine. Return the mixture to the saucepan, add the cornstarch slurry and warm over low heat, whisking continuously, until thickened, about 3 minutes (it should runnier than pudding and will thicken as it cools). Immediately pour the pudding through sieve to catch any solids, then transfer the bowl to the ice bath to let the pudding cool and thicken. Stir the pudding a few times to cool evenly. Once cooled, refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. In another saucepan, combine the cherries, brown sugar, ginger, and ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer over low heat, breaking up some of the larger fruit with a spoon. While the mixture continues to warm, stir together the cornstarch and the remaining 2 tablespoons water. Once the fruit is bubbling, add the cornstarch mixture and stir continuously until thickened and syrupy, about 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Remove the ginger pieces.

  4. Halve each ladyfinger and sprinkle the pieces with sherry. To assemble each dessert, cover the bottom of a wine or parfait glass (6 total) with 3 cookie pieces, then top 3 tablespoons of the pudding followed 2 tablespoons of the cherry sauce. Repeat the layers once more and add a dollop of whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

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