How to Make a Super-Quick Trifle




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This is a quick, easy version of the traditional Trifle.  Whether you buy pre-made ingredients or make them yourself, it will be delicious.  Be prepared for multiple recipe requests!

Try it yourself - Trifle can be an incredibly easy, tasty, and gorgeous holiday dessert.

Step 1: Acquire Ingredients

You'll need:

  • 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.



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    30 Discussions

    Last Monday I tried this Super-Quick Trifle and I used grated orange as topping so that it will be mmore attractive and delicious...Earlier i use to know only one kind of triffle thats Apricot Trifle from the website ...Now I am happy that I know one more sweet trifle..
    jelly and apricot trifle.jpg
    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I gotta say, not only does the trifle look and sound woderful, the pastries around them in the pic look pretty phenomenal, too!

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I can't take credit for the other pastries - other people brought most of them, as we do a big (40-50 people) dinner and everyone brings something to contribute. But they were most excellent.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I live in New Zealand it is a kiwi favourite, I changed it up last year and made a choc berry version, it was just a chocolate spongecake soaked in the fridge overnight in blackberry jelly, then a can of blackberries on top - drain most of the juice, then some Swissmaid custard some whipped cream and fresh blackberries,blueberries and stawberries with crushed flake bars on top. Everyone loved it.

    2 replies

    That chocolate berry versions sounds fantastic!! Did you have to heat up/melt the blackberry jelly in order for it to soak into the cake? And was it jelly, or more like a jam or preserve?


    8 years ago on Introduction

     I love trifle!! We're English ex-patriots living in the states and we always love a good trifle when Christmas or another big occasion rolls around. It was always my job since I was a little girl to do the trifle and layer everything in order. This recipe is an interesting  and tasty-looking American take (I didn't think that trifle was big in the states), but for those looking to make this just a little bit more English/traditional just make the following simple swaps:

    pound cake instead of angel food (a different taste but really not that big)

    bird's custard instead of vanilla pudding (A BIG ONE, can probably be found in the international aisle of any supermarket and just takes a few minutes to microwave and then cool)(or alternatively you can make the creme anglaise from scratch which is absolutely divine but a wee bit more time consuming)

    On top, finish off with some hand whipped cream sprinkled with almonds or berries for a final flourish. 

    As far as the fruit: anything goes, be as creative as you want, the cherry's in this one look nice :). We usually put skinned orange segments and chopped bananas. I once saw on TV in England a recipe for a passion fruit, mango, and pineapple trifle! Maybe you could try that sometime!

    Here's a picture from google that i found that looks a bit more like what we used to make, but i love the effect that canida's cool target bowl had! :D

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The topping suggestion is awesome - nothing like toasted almonds and berries!

    So how is bird's custard different - is it richer/sweeter/heavier? I think it would need to be to compete properly with a dense pound cake. Of course, the pound cake can absorb more liqueur, so there you go. ;)

    And the tropical fruits sound excellent! Yum.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    My mother, who is Irish, made this every Christmas!  She used *lady fingers* instead of the cake.  I knew she used a liqueur but never knew what type, now I do.   Thanks bunches.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent! I know lady fingers are a bit drier, so can probably soak up more of the liqueur. Mmmm.

    I use a similar recipe with whipped cream in place of pudding and only fresh berries.  Usually the cake doesn't require any more moisture and I like it best in the pre-soggy phase.  I'll have to try the liqueur idea.  The recipe is more expensive than say baking a pie, but super fast and perfect for summer.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Whipped cream would make it a bit lighter, perfect for summer. Let me know if you give the liqueur a try!


    Oh my goodness, this looks so good! I am going to make it for my boss at work... and hoping she'll share it with me. :-D haha I will tell you how mine turns out.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 5

    I'm glad to see that someone else uses the term "limiting reagent" in a culinary context. I learned about the concept when I took chemistry in high school, and have used it to refer to cooking ever since -- to the utter confusion of pretty much everyone within earshot.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Handy terms! I'm a cell/molecular biologist with a chem minor, so my geekiness sometimes shows through. ;)