Bring the party to the party with this amazingly easy-to-make dessert.

By Stacey Ballis
Updated March 04, 2020
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It’s that time of year: Brunch Season. From Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day to spring brides and mothers-to-be needing bridal and baby showers, that festive meal that always feels a bit special has become a gold-star way of celebrating the season and fêting our friends and family.

But brunch comes with a dessert dilemma. Being more than breakfast, brunch needs a dessert to feel complete. But not being dinner, we can’t overdo things. The occasion demands light, sweet, springy, and festive. What to do?

I love solving this problem for any brunch I throw, or one to which I’m contributing. My go-to? A sweet, delicious return to an old favorite and serious classic. Tipsy Parson.

What Is Tipsy Parson and Why It’s My Brunch Go-To

This lighter take on the classic trifle balances a light sponge cake or lady fingers soaked in something boozy (getting the tipsy bit?), layered with fresh fruit and either custard or cream. Who doesn’t love every one of those layers? How much do I love this dessert? Let me count the ways.

1. For any entertaining event, this layered dessert is beautiful in a clear vessel, so it’s gorgeous on any table.

2. It’s amazingly easy to make. This is more about assembly than baking, so relax.

3. Tipsy Parson is light enough to serve in the morning, but still unequivocally a dessert.

4. The liquor makes it grown-up and festive (although you can adapt it for an alcohol-free version if you prefer). For soaking the cake, I like a ratio of 1:1 of the liquor of your choice with simple syrup. Try fortified wines like Madeira or Marsala, and fruity liqueurs like limoncello, Chambord, and Grand Marnier.

5. The recipe is incredibly adaptable. The fresh fruit can be whatever is in season, from berries and stone fruits to tropicals like mango or pineapple. Even poached pears will work. The cake can be angel food, a light sponge, or ladyfingers. And while a straight custard or lightly sweetened and flavored whipped cream work well, I love to go for the middle ground of lightening my custard by folding in whipped cream. The result is a layer is that is rich without being heavy, and feathery light on the palate.

Last-minute Lifesaver Tip: Are you reading this in a panic and have to produce something for brunch with little time to prepare? Use store-bought cake and use a tub or two of Kozy Shack pudding for your custard/cream layer. I won’t tell a soul.