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Kahlúa, Espresso, and Chocolate Trifle with Candied Peanuts

Scott Phillips

Servings: 10 to 12

Tempering the eggs is the key to a smooth custard. Adding just 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks prevents accidentally scrambling the eggs before the custard is cooked. The result is a silky custard that layers up with espresso-fueled chocolate cake.


For the custard

  • 2-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6-1/2 oz. (1-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup Kahlúa
  • 6 Tbs. fresh ground espresso powder (not instant)
  • 16 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs. vanilla extract

For the cake

  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 oz. (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot brewed espresso
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

For the candied peanuts (optional)

  • 3 cups store-bought honey-glazed or sugared peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the whipped cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Kahlúa
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

For assembly

  • Mexican drinking chocolate, grated


Make the custard

  • Whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt in a 6- to 8-quart saucepan. Whisk in the milk, Kahlúa, and espresso. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat and cook until thickened, whisking constantly; it will take about 20 minutes.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually pour in 2-1/2 cups of the milk mixture and mix until incorporated. Pour the yolk-milk mixture into the saucepan, whisking constantly.
  • Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, pushing with a spatula if necessary. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight.

Bake the cake

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch cake pan or glass dish.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the oil, eggs, vanilla, espresso, and milk. Increase the speed to medium and mix until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack. Invert the cake onto a cutting board and cut into 2-inch cubes.

Make the candied peanuts

  • Combine nuts, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. Add more spices to taste, if desired.

Whip the cream

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream, sugar, Kahlúa, and cinnamon. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip or a large zip-top bag and snip off a corner.


  • Spoon enough custard into a 4-quart trifle bowl to make a 1/2-inch layer. Place some of the cake cubes on top of the custard. Top with more custard. Pipe the whipped cream in several spots around the edges of the bowl. Top with more cake cubes and the remaining custard. Pipe the whipped cream in several spots around the edges of the bowl and add more cake cubes if there is room (there will be leftover cake). Spread the remaining whipped cream smoothly on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the trifle for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  • Before serving, top with the candied peanuts, if using, and the shaved Mexican chocolate.


Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • Cathy82 | 03/17/2019

    I used some leftover chocolate fudge cake I had on hand. The flavor was good, especially if you are a coffee lover. It serves way more than 12 people since it's really rich. I found the custard gluey. I wonder if the flour content in the custard recipe is correct?

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