Annabelle Breakey, Karen Shinto
Total Time
1 Hour 30 Mins
Makes 16 servings

Layer homemade gingerbread, pears, vanilla custard, and whipped cream for an elegant dessert that's just as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.

How to Make It

Step 1

Make gingerbread: Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8- by 8-in. baking pan. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, the cloves, and 1/2 tsp. salt. In a large bowl, whisk 3/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 egg until thick and pale. Stir in applesauce, molasses, 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, oil, and 1/4 cup hot water. Stir in flour mixture. Pour into pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes; turn out onto rack and let cool. Cut into 1-in. cubes.

Step 2

Cook pears: Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add pears. Cook, stirring, until soft, 7 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Step 3

Make custard: In a pan over medium heat, whisk half-and-half, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp. salt until thickened, 10 minutes. Take off heat; stir in vanilla and 2 tbsp. butter.

Step 4

Whip cream: In a large bowl, beat cream, powdered sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger until soft peaks form.

Step 5

Assemble trifle: Put half the gingerbread cubes in a trifle dish or glass bowl. Sprinkle with half the brandy. Spoon half the pears and liquid over gingerbread. Pour half the custard over pears. Top with half the whipped cream and half the crystallized ginger. Repeat layers. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 1 day.

Step 6

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Chef's Notes

Make gingerbread, pears, and custard up to 2 days ahead. Store gingerbread, covered, at room temperature; cover pears and chill (bring to room temperature before assembling); and smooth plastic wrap over custard surface, cover, and chill.

Ratings & Reviews

GrandmaKY's Review

December 16, 2012

pickbet's Review

December 12, 2011
It would be so helpful if the recipes listed the ingredients as they are used, and not need to be divided for each section. I had to rewrite the whole thing before I made it so I wouldn't leave things out or add too much. Do others have this problem?

yosemitehannah's Review

December 27, 2010
This is my new "favorite dessert for guests" recipe! I didn't change a thing, thinking I would modify it after trying it. Make it just as written. It is divine. I put a small portion aside for the next day to see how it tasted chilled. It was even better! Wow.

Barbara60's Review

October 06, 2010
I love to take this to holiday parties. I usually make a lower calorie version substituting low-cal vanilla pudding and low-cal whipped topping. The pears and ginger never let you think it isn't chock full of calories!

lpitz3's Review

February 04, 2009
Loved this recipe! Such a beautiful presentation! I made a box mix gingerbread, then made the recipe as written. I had never made custard, and it turned out fantastic! The pears were easy and made the house smell so good! I didn't have fresh or crystallized ginger, so I used ground ginger in both the pears and the whipped cream, and it turned out great! It is very filling, but so good! Definitely, a special occasion recipe!