Caramel Apple ‘Trifle’

Caramel apple “trifle.” Photo by Keri White

I saw a version of this recipe while surfing Instagram last week and couldn’t get it out of my head. Then I tried to search for it to make it last night, and came up empty. But all was not lost — I had a vague notion of what was involved and, using what I had in my kitchen, I improvised to great results.

I always associate trifle with spring and summer since it usually features berries, but this version, though chilled, delivers an autumn/winter feel with the caramel and apples, both in color and flavor. I’m sure it would be lovely with pears, too.

And to be clear, this is not a true “trifle,” which integrates custard and often a sweet wine or cordial with ladyfingers or a sponge-type cake. This is a bit of a hack, but it delivers a trifle-esque dessert with far less work, so I’m going with the name.

A few caveats:

  • Be sure to allow the caramel apple mixture to cool to nearly room temperature; I did not, and it melted the layer of whipped cream. It was still delicious but less aesthetically pleasing.
  • This should be chilled for several hours or overnight and, once served, should not sit around for too long. The texture will get soupy and mushy, and though still quite tasty, looks like a sloppy mess.
  • Using a glass, straight-sided dish makes for a nice visual and more even layers. You could also assemble this as individual portions in parfait-type glasses or wine glasses for a dramatic presentation.
  • I did not add sugar to the whipped cream because the caramel-apple mixture was quite sweet, but if you and your crowd are real sugar buffs, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar when you whip the cream.

Caramel Apple “Trifle”

½ stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 large apple, peeled and cut into small pieces
½ cup heavy cream (for caramel)
2 packages graham crackers (about 16 whole crackers, give or take a few)
1 cup heavy cream (for filling/topping)

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar with the apples. Cook on a steady simmer for about 10 minutes until the caramel is brown and syrupy and the apples are soft.

Add ½ cup of heavy cream, and let it bubble up. Cook it for another 5 minutes or so to allow the mixture to integrate. Set the pan aside, and let it cool to nearly room temperature.

While the caramel cools, break up the graham crackers to line the bottom of a glass 1.5-quart dish. Whip the cream until it forms peaks and holds its shape.

When the apple mixture is cooled, pour half of it over the graham crackers, and then spread half the whipped cream over the apples. Repeat the layers, ending with the whipped cream on top.

Chill for several hours and serve.


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