Bars, Cookies, Sweets

Italian Tuxedo Trifle Makes the Cut

It was an honor to make desserts for the East Central Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Fire & Ice formal fundraising event this year.

It was tough to make a final choice for this year’s dessert. For the 2011 event, I made Raspberry White Chocolate Truffle Baby Cheesecakes and they were a crowd favorite. This year, event organizers, Darilyn and Julie, narrowed it down to Italian Tuxedo Parfaits and Andes Mint Baby Cheesecakes. Since the night’s theme colors were an elegant black and red damask pattern, the parfaits made the cut, and we moved the Andes Mint cheesecake babies to the 2013 short list.

It all starts with good-quality chocolate and my favorite amaretto liqueur, which appears not to have started the day as a full bottle. Sampling my friends, sampling.

Instagram photo from my kitchen

A tower of butter is needed to bake enough brownies for 240 guests.

Instagram photo from my kitchen

We served the light desserts in petite wine glasses.

Instagram photo from the Old Sanctuary kitchen

The recipe in today’s post makes one large triffle bowl full of deliciousness. Of course, it’s always fun to serve them as individual triffles.

(A special thank you to Mike, the Brookings Hy-Vee Produce Manager, who spent part of the morning picking out some of the best strawberries with me! …and for making sure I had enough Ghirardelli white chocolate.)

Italian Tuxedo Trifle


  • 1- 1/2 cups butter, melted
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon almond extract or bakery emulsion
  • 4 Tablespoons Italian amaretto liqueur (I use Disaronno)
  • 1 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate,  finely chopped
  • 4 ounces white chocolate
  • 4 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract or bakery emulsion
  • 2 cups whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 9x13-inch cake pan or line with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter and cocoa. Set aside.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs on medium speed until fluffy, about five minutes. Slowly beat in the cocoa and butter mixture. Add flour, salt, almond extract and amaretto liqueur; beat just until combined.

  4. Spread half of the brownie mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with finely chopped chocolate. Carefully spread the remaining brownie batter over the chocolate all the way to the edges. Bake for 35-37 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into bite-size pieces.

  5. For the silky white cream: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate and milk. Stir until melted. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in powdered sugar and almond extract. Slowly stir in melted white chocolate. Gently fold in whipped cream.

  6. Slice most of the strawberries into bite-size pieces. You'll want to save some whole strawberries for garnish on top.

  7. In a large trifle bowl, layer brownies, cream and strawberries. Repeat layers until all the ingredients are gone. Refrigerate 3 hours before serving. Can be made one day ahead.


  1. Absolutely delicious. My mom and I do not have adequate words for the experience eating this was. I think these will be making a repeat appearance over the holidays. The brownies alone are definite new recipe I’m adding to my brownie collection. I adore brownies; I’d give up all desserts for a lifetime of perfect brownies. In that dream, these would be featured weekly. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. I’m making these tomorrow for my mom’s birthday. She and I are very excited. Brownies and amaretto sounds like a fabulous pairing. Is the whipped topping cool whip? I’ll report back on our sure to be happy bellies. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  3. Oh my goodness!! Your photos look delicious!
    Congratulations on being selected to make these wonderful Triffles for this special occasion!

  4. Staci….the Italian Tuxedo Triffles were fabulous. Everyone was still raving about them days later. I didn’t think you could top last year’s cheesecake….but you definitely came through. I can hardly wait to start taste testing for next year’s Fire & Ice event! Luckily I will get my cheesecake fix at Tanner’s graduation! Thanks so much for all of your hard work and talent in the kitchen!

  5. What an honour for you to again have been chosen to prepare the dessert for this occasion. The parfaits look so beautiful, not to mention delicious. Even though everyone in attendance must have been full after that great dinner, I’m sure they all saved room for dessert and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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