A trifle for Christmas

I thank the English for giving us this timeless dessert. Trifle originated in England pre-1700 where it began as a “fool” – a puree of fruit mixed with sweetened cream. It evolved around the 1750s to what we know it today, – biscuits soaked in wine, layered with custard and covered in whipped cream. Trifle graced the shores of the Caribbean when the British plantation owners settled during colonialisation. Its popularity remains to this day.

Trifle is one of my favourite Christmas desserts, it’s creamy, fruity and a little bit boozy, making it the perfect make-ahead dessert that will give you many servings. My early days of homemade trifle consisted of sponge cake soaked in cherry brandy and covered with about two inches of custard, when that was set and refrigerated it was easily cut and served, and boy was that good. The creamy, flavourful, thick custard combined with the soaked sponge was sweet and creamy and unforgettable.

These days I make trifle with store-bought lady fingers or bakery-bought jam roll paired with custard, fruit, good-quality whipped cream, toasted almonds and soaked in good-quality cherry brandy, it’s the perfect dessert every time.

Here are some of my trifle recipes that are guaranteed to please! Merry Christmas!

Fruited cheesecake trifle

Wendy’s Fabulous  Cheesecake Trifle

½ cup granulated sugar

4 egg yolks

5 tbs dark rum (optional)

1 tsp vanilla

1 lb cream cheese cut into pieces

1½ cups whipping cream

20 Italian lady finger biscuits or one 12 oz butter-less sponge cake cut into 3-inch by one-inch pieces

1 28-oz can peaches, chopped, and drained, save peach juice

1 cup peach juice

½ cup toasted almonds

cherries to garnish

Combine peach juice with rum if using.

Place egg yolks with sugar into a double boiler, and over gently simmering water beat until thick and warm.

Place into mixing bowl and with an electric continue beating, add cream cheese and continue beating just until smooth.

Beat whipping cream until stiff; fold into cream cheese mixture.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Line the base of a glass dish with ladyfingers, sprinkle with juice/rum mixture or dip

Ladyfingers into juice and arrange at the bottom of your dish.

Top with half the cream cheese mixture, then with some peaches.

Repeat with another layer of ladyfingers and cream cheese mixture and peaches.

Sprinkle on the toasted almonds, garnish with cherries and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Serves 8 to 10

You can substitute coffee for the soaking liquid!

Fruited trifle roll


1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking powder

For the custard

3 rounded tbs custard powder

2 cups milk

1 tbs granulated sugar

For the assembly

1 14-oz tin fruit cocktail, drained

¼ cup cherry brandy

2 cups whipped cream

1/3 cup toasted, slivered almonds.

Make the custard:

In a small saucepan, combine custard powder with ¼ cup milk taken from 2 cups.

Heat the balance of the milk with the sugar, add to custard paste and bring to a boil gently stirring continuously.

Cook until mixture is thick, remove and cool.

Make the jelly roll:

Preheat oven to 350

Line, grease and flour a jelly roll tin 15 x10 ½x1-inch.

Make the sponge:

Combine flour with baking powder.

Beat the eggs with the sugar until thick and ribbons form from the beaters when lifted.

Add vanilla and fold in the flour.

Spread batter into a prepared jelly roll tin and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until cake springs back when touched.

Remove from oven, place a clean tea towel on a wire rack and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Turn out cake onto towel and carefully remove waxed paper.

Roll up cake starting at the long end, wrap in towel and cool for 30 minutes.

Assemble the jelly roll:

Using a pastry brush, gently paint the jelly roll cake with cherry brandy.

Spread custard over and arrange fruit cocktail pieces evenly over entire surface..

Roll up again, place seam side down and wrap tightly in foil, refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving spread whipped cream on top of jelly roll, sprinkle with toasted almonds and slice.

Serves 10

Cheesecake trifle

Christmas Trifle

1 jam roll , 12 -inch length

½ cup dark rum

1 cup slivered toasted almonds

Maraschino cherries to garnish

4 cups of mixed fruit (any type) or

1 28-oz tin canned peaches or fruit cocktail.


3/4 cup custard powder

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups milk

1 cup whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla essence

In a medium saucepan, combine custard powder and sugar; gradually stir in milk.

Cook and stir until mixture thickens, whip to remove any lumps. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Meanwhile beat cream until whipped cream stage, fold into custard.

In a large trifle bowl or individual glasses, place one layer of Swiss roll, sprinkle on rum, spoon custard on top, layer with fruits repeat with another layer of Swiss roll, rum, custard and fruit.

Repeat until all Swiss roll is used and the last layer is custard and fruit.

Top with additional whipped cream if desired, top with cherries and nuts.

Serves 10



"A trifle for Christmas"

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