The solution for leftover cookies: Last Chance Cookie Trifle

Trifle made from leftover cookies in a glass dish Jim Norton

Last Chance Cookie Trifle

There they sit lonely and forgotten. Sad, overlooked cookies, mostly broken—chocolate chip, oatmeal, cream filled, shortbread—once loved but now abandoned. What to do? How about this amazingly easy, crazy delicious, utterly indulgent dessert? You don’t have to use a glass dish, but it is prettier. Or you can make individual servings in those mismatched brandy snifters in your cottage cupboards.(Note: You can use our recipes for the custard and whipped cream, or see the tip below for shortcuts. We won’t say a word.) Go ahead and make it—you can thank us later. Makes about 8 servings.

For the custard:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, whisked
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream:
2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp granulated sugar

For the cookie and fruit layers:
16 cookies, broken up into big chunks (about 3 cups crumbled)
2 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t defrost), plus a few more for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup jam, any kind (a mixture is fine)

1. First, make the custard. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, the cornstarch, the flour, and the salt. Add the milk and mix well. Microwave on high for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture comes to a boil, stopping to whisk 2 or 3 times as it heats. Remove the bowl from the microwave, and add about half of the mixture to the egg yolks, stirring well. Return this to the hot milk mixture, and whisk until blended. Continue to microwave on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until bubbly around the edges, stirring once or twice. It should be smooth and slightly thickened. (No microwave? See tip below.) Stir in butter and vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Prepare the whipped cream, once the custard has cooled. Whip cream with the 2 tbsp sugar until soft peaks form.

3. Now assemble your masterpiece. Have ready a 3-quart bowl—preferably glass so everyone can admire the beautiful layers. A traditional trifle bowl has straight sides, but we’re not going to nitpick. Sprinkle half of the crumbled cookies into the bottom of the bowl. Add half of the berries on top of the cookies, then drop spoonfuls of half of the jam here and there overtop of the berries. Spoon half of the custard overtop of all of this, spreading to cover everything, and then spoon half of the whipped cream over the custard. Repeat the layers—cookies, berries, jam, custard, and finally whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream layer so that it’s smooth on top, and garnish with a few additional berries, if you have them.

4. Refrigerate. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours or overnight, to allow the cookies some time to soften and get acquainted with the berries.Try not to be too smug when you serve this. It was easy.

Tip: To take a shortcut on the custard, use one package of instant or ready-made vanilla pudding. Prepare according to package directions. You can also use frozen whipped topping, if you happen to have it in the freezer, instead of making whipped cream from scratch. You’ll need about 3 cups (750 ml) of topping.

Tip: To make the custard in a saucepan on the stove. Just heat the milk mixture over medium heat as above, blend with the yolks, and cook, stirring constantly until the custard is thickened and smooth.

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