A festive holiday dessert that traces its roots to 19th-century New Orleans, this trifle crowns a holiday meal with the perfect amount of southern indulgence.

The macaroons (makes 8 dozen)

  • 10½ cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 28 ounces sweetened condensed milk

The filling

  • 1 quart milk
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 egg yolks, beaten
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

The trifle (serves 10):

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Grand Marnier
  • 4 pints fresh raspberries
  • Mint leaves for garnish 


christmas-trifleFor the macaroons: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Thoroughly combine the coconut, vanilla and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl. Spoon the mixture, by tablespoon onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet about half an inch apart. Bake until lightly toasted and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove the macaroons from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack. Let cool completely.

For the filling: Combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla in a nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture comes to a boil, take one cup of the milk-and-sugar mixture and add it to the yolks. Whisk to blend well. Slowly add the egg yolks to the milk-and-sugar mixture in the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat until it thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water.

Over medium heat, slowly add this mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon, continuing stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the coconut and continue to stir for two more minutes. Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted and the mixture has thickened to a custard, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool completely and chill for at least 4 hours.

To assemble the trifle: Beat the cream and sugar until the mixture is thick and forms soft peaks. Set aside. Beat the chilled coconut custard filling until smooth. Set aside. Dip each macaroon in the Grand Marnier, submerging for 2 to 3 seconds. Spread one layer of the coconut custard filling on the bottom of a glass trifle bowl. Top the coconut custard with macaroons, placing them snugly against each other. Arrange the raspberries on top of the macaroons. Spread the coconut custard on top, then again macaroons, raspberries and coconut custard. Pipe a rosette of whipped cream on top, and garnish with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.

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