Try it yourself - Trifle can be an incredibly easy, tasty, and gorgeous holiday dessert.
Step 1: Acquire Ingredients
- angelfood cake (made from a box is dandy; purchased pre-made is also fine, and faster)
- 2 boxes french vanilla pudding (I used Jell-O instant)
- 4 cups whole milk (I often substitute half-and-half for extra richness)
- frozen fruit (I used cherries, blueberries, and raspberries from Trader Joe's)
- liqueur(s) of your choice (I like amaretto, irish cream, and any fruit-flavored liqueur)
- 2 cups heavy/whipping cream (make this fresh)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- brown sugar to taste (I use about 1/4 cup)
- grated chocolate on top (optional)
Go ahead and bake your angelfood cake, mix up your pudding, and whip your cream. These can be stored until you're ready to assemble the trifle.
I've made angelfood cake from a box and from scratch, and the difference isn't major- here you're combining it with so many other flavors that any such distinction would be lost. Purchased pre-made angelfood cakes will do, but tend to be a bit dry and sometimes taste off. Pound cake may be traditional, but I prefer angelfood because it's lighter, more absorbent, and complements the berries better.
I used a trifle bowl (purchased at Target for $14), but you can use any bowl. Glass is preferable, because then you can see all the pretty layers.
Step 2: Chop Cake and Layer
Chop your cake into smaller pieces, about 1 inch thick, and spread them in a dense layer across the bottom of your trifle dish or bowl.
The white interior of the cake looks best facing outwards for contrast with the fruit, so keep the darker edge pieces facing up. They'll disappear into the layers.
Step 3: Drizzle With Liqueur
Pick the liqueur of your choice to drizzle over the cake pieces.
You can use a different liqueur for each layer if you like- that worked quite nicely for me this time. This time I used plum brandy on the bottom layer, marsala in the middle layer, and kirschwasser (cherry) on the top layer. Other good choices: amaretto (almond), goldschlager (cinnamon), chambord (raspberry), triple sec (orange), irish cream (one of my favorites), or kahlua. Sherry is traditional, but doesn't add much flavor. Adjust quantity and proof of liqueur to your preferences.
You can skip this step if you don't want the alcohol, or add a bit of fruit juice to help soften the cake. There are enough wet ingredients that everything will turn out well anyway.
Step 4: Add Fruit
Cover the cake layer with the fruit of your choice.
I used frozen cherries, raspberries, and blueberries: you can use most any fresh fruit available, though I find berries best complement the texture. Don't worry about thawing frozen fruit, as it will thoroughly melt while the trifle sits.
Step 5: Add Pudding and Whipped Cream, Then Repeat
Cover the berries with a layer of vanilla pudding, then a thin layer of whipped cream.. Don't worry about 100% coverage or being tidy- everything will get layered over, so just dump it on there. Keep an eye on the sides to get a nice layered look.
Now add another layer of cake, drizzle it with liqueur, sprinkle with berries, and add more pudding and whipped cream. Continue until you've filled your trifle bowl or run out of ingredients. My trifle bowl held 3 layers of cake and fruit, with two layers of pudding and cream.
Depending on the size of your trifle bowl, you'll likely have leftovers. Grab a glass bowl or some wine glasses, and make more little trifles with the extras, then stash them in the back of your fridge. They'll make excellent leftovers.
Cover the top in a final layer of whipped cream, then grate chocolate over the top if you like for bonus style points.
Step 6: Chill and Serve
Cover the finished trifle in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It can easily be made the night before, or earlier in the day, as the flavors only improve upon sitting and mingling.
Garnish with a couple of fresh berries, a dusting of spice, or a sprig of mint if you're feeling particularly giddy, then just add a large spoon and step back to avoid the ravening hordes.