Nothing goes together like chocolate and peanut butter! This fabulous trifle, with its layers of brownie, chocolate pudding, peanut butter whipped cream and mini peanut butter cups, is a perfect, crowd-pleasing dessert.
Darlings *eyebrow wiggle here* did you know this peanut butter brownie trifle recipe happened because of LEFTOVERS??? Yup. And it’s glooooooorious. But we knew that already because brownies.
Story quickly, then recipe chat. Basically we were hosting a party (our annual pig roast) and I was baking lots of easy desserts. 3 large trays of brownies were part of the spread. But everyone got SO excited over the caramel stuffed mocha chocolate chip cookies, that I had about a tray of brownies left. So I made a chocolate trifle. And it was so good, I blogged it. And we all lived happily ever after. Now let’s talk trifle…
As I said before, I used leftover brownies for this recipe (the first time). In general, trifles are a good way to use extra anything! But if you’re reading this, you’ll likely need to bake your brownies. I’ve included an easy recipe below. Feel free to swap your own, or use a box mix. If using a box mix, I’d recommend getting the family size mixes for the big pans. That way you will have plenty of brownies for your layers.
The kind of brownie doesn’t really matter. If you like cake type brownies, use those. Fudge brownie person? Use those. Honestly, even something like a chocolate pound cake could work here. It’s a peanut butter and chocolate trifle recipe. Get the general flavors in there and there’s room for variation. But I love the texture of brownies over cake in this particular trifle, and I think you will too.
The next layer in this fabulous brownie trifle recipe is… chocolate pudding. Make it from scratch, use a box, do you. I’ve done both. It depends on my mood and if I have a box of chocolate pudding in the house. There is no right answer here other than do what works for you. A basic chocolate pudding recipe is included below. Since pudding needs a little chilling time to set up, you can make the chocolate pudding a day or two in advance and store in the refrigerator. If you’re making this peanut butter brownie trifle for a party or something, splitting the work over a few days is always a good idea.
Finally, we come to the whipped cream layer… PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM to be exact. Remember this peanut butter pretzel pie recipe? I told you the peanut butter whipped cream would make another appearance. 😉 Here we are! And if you haven’t tried making peanut butter whipped cream, what are you waiting for? As a serious peanut butter lover, it’s a must. Not too sweet, creamy, just the right amount of peanut butter flavor. It’s the perfect flavor compliment to this peanut butter cup trifle recipe.
Now as a totally optional addition that I recommend, add some of the mini peanut butter cups! I buy the bag of miniature peanut butter cups that aren’t individually wrapped. Some grocery stores have these in the baking section, but I usually find them in the candy section. The peanut butter cups in this bag require no unwrapping – a bonus for lazy bakers like me. The smaller size also helps keep each bite of trifle manageable.
My approach to eating trifle is to try each little bit individually, then combine the layers on my fork or spoon to try the different combinations. At least one bite of everything together is a requirement. Once you pile brownie, chocolate pudding, and peanut butter whipped cream on a fork, there’s not a lot of room left for a huge piece of candy. The little miniature cups on the other hand, are perfect when cut in half.
As for serving, I usually build my trifle in a trifle dish. But if I were planning to serve this somewhere a bit more formal, I’d probably use clear disposable cups to make cute mini trifles. Mini trifles are easier for people to just grab and eat, kind of like cupcakes to a cake. Think about what works best for your situation, and use that. If you don’t own a trifle dish, you can use a deep glass bowl, or make a shallower trifle in a casserole dish.
Whether you are looking for an easy dessert for a potluck or party, or just another tasty peanut butter and chocolate dessert recipe, I hope you’ll give this peanut butter brownie trifle a try. Enjoy, darlings!
Brownies (see notes)
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, 16 tablespoons
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chocolate Pudding (see notes)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso (optional, see notes)
Peanut Butter Whipped Cream
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Baking the Brownies (make in advance):
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly grease a 9x13" pan. Line with parchment paper to make removing the brownies easier, if desired.
- Combine the butter and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute, then additional 30 second intervals as needed, stirring after each, until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is hot (not bubbling) and a little shiny. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, salt, cocoa powder, baking powder, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed about 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly stir the butter and sugar mixture into the egg and cocoa mixture, stirring constantly until smooth. Immediately stir in the chocolate chips.
- Add the flour and stir until just combined, then pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake the brownies for 33-38 minutes, until the edges are set and the middle looks slightly under-done, but not raw. A tester will come out with a few moist crumbs, and that's okay.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing and serving. To get very clean cuts, refrigerate the brownies before removing from the pan and cutting into bite-sized cubes.
Prepare the pudding layer (make in advance):
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, and instant espresso (if using).
- Slowly whisk in the milk. A few lumps are okay and should cook out.
- Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove the pudding from the heat, stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Stir until the butter melts.
- Transfer the pudding to a heat-safe container and press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until well chilled. (see notes)
Make the Peanut Butter Whipped Cream and Assemble the Trifle:
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip your cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add your whipping cream, sugar, and peanut butter. Start whipping on low speed, working your way up to medium, slowly, as the ingredients incorporate. Scrape the bowl as needed. Whip to firm peaks.
- Take your trifle dish and line the bottom with a layer of cubed brownies. Top with a layer of chilled chocolate pudding, and a layer of whipped cream. Add some of the chopped mini peanut butter cups if you're using.
- Repeat the layers until you run out of room or ingredients. Top the trifle with additional candies, or shaved chocolate, if desired.
- Chill an hour to let the flavors blend, make up to 8 hours in advance. Serve chilled. Enjoy!
- Feel free to use a box mix, just use the "family size" box so you have enough brownie to layer. In a pinch, you could also cut up the pre-made brownie bites and use those. I won't tell. 😉
- You can also just use a box of chocolate pudding. I've made this with homemade chocolate pudding and with a box of instant pudding, nobody noticed the difference. I will probably stick to the pudding in the future as long as I can find the brand I like.
- Whatever you use, plan to make it several hours and up to 2 days in advance. You need the pudding cold to assemble your trifle.
- You will not taste the coffee at all if you use it in the pudding. Coffee just adds a little depth of flavor that helps the chocolate shine a bit more.
- To help the pudding chill a bit faster, transfer the hot pudding to a casserole dish. The larger surface area will help the heat dissipate faster.
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