The Tipsy Laird Trifle is a Poetic Dessert

Custard, raspberries, and Drambuie make for a unique trifle celebrating Scottish poet Robert Burns on Burns Night. The Tipsy Laird is a dessert for a crowd.
Photo by Con Poulos / Styling by Mariana Velasquez

On January 25, Scotland celebrates Burns Night, a holiday of sorts in honor of the iconic Scottish poet Robert Burns. A typical Burns Night supper consists of haggis, whisky, witty toasts and poetry recitations. It often culminates with a unique dessert: Tipsy Laird, a trifle made with whisky (or the whisky-based liqueur Drambuie), custard and raspberries. Adjust quantities of the individual components based on your trifle dish and personal tastes, but making the custard from scratch is key, and it’s easier than you may think. 

Fill me with the rosy wine,
Call a toast, a toast divine:
Giveth me Poet’s darling flame,
Lovely Jessie be her name;
Then thou mayest freely boast,
Thou hast given a peerless toast.
—Robert Burns
  • ¼ cup raspberry jelly or seedless jam
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup Drambuie
  • 1 (7-ounce) package ladyfingers (may be labeled sponge fingers)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Sliced almonds, for garnish

In microwave or small saucepan, melt jelly. Combine with raspberries, gently stirring to coat. Set aside.

In large saucepan over medium-low heat, bring half-and-half, sugar and salt to simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and cornstarch together in large bowl until smooth.

Whisking yolks constantly, slowly pour in half-and-half mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Stirring frequently, cook until thick,  like soft pudding, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon Drambuie.

Transfer to bowl, press plastic on surface, and refrigerate until cooled. Whisk to loosen.

To assemble trifle, cover bottom of trifle bowl or deep glass dish with layer of ladyfingers, breaking them to fit, if necessary. Brush or drizzle with half of remaining Drambuie. Layer in half of raspberries, then half custard. Repeat layers. Press plastic on surface and refrigerate 2–12 hours.

When ready to serve, whip cream until it holds soft peaks. Spread or pipe decoratively over trifle. Garnish with almonds and raspberries just before serving. Serves 8–12.

Pair It

A late-bottled vintage Port, like Quinta Seara d’Ordens 2011, would be delicious. You can also stick to tradition and drink a fine single-malt Scotch, Drambuie or just strong black coffee.

Published on January 23, 2017
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.


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