Don’t trifle with me!
My daughter was slated to bring a dessert to her Youth Group dinner, but the dinner fell during one of our craziest weeks — the end of the school year. As such we were hurriedly baking two allergy friendly cakes the night before the event, knowing that the next day would be chock full of other events before the dinner.
Everything seemed to be on schedule until we tried to cut the cake in the morning. We must have done something wrong because the cake simply fell apart. Seeing the meltdown coming, I quickly spoke. “No worries. We’ll make trifle.”
If you are not familiar with trifles, they are truly a godsend. They are a mixture of something cakey with something fruity (or not) with something creamy. As such you can make them quickly with just about anything you have on hand, which is absolutely wonderful if your cake doesn’t work out the way you planned and you’re suddenly in need of a quick fix. Also, it’s a very lovely dessert. If you have a nice round clear glass bowl, the layers are truly pretty to view. Often people will tell me that they don’t want to be the first ones to scoop out the dessert because it’ll mess up how pretty it looks. Finally, you can adjust the recipe to fit any allergy or dietary restrictions you may have.
1. The base: The foundation for trifles is always something cakey but that can be just about anything – cake, brownie, muffins, scones, etc…. So if you suddenly need a dessert in a hurry, you can use any leftover item you might have in the house or in our case a cake that didn’t come out well. The cake or muffin or brownie or scone can be crumbled or cut into small bite size pieces.
2. The fruit: The delightful aspect of a trifle is what you decide to layer between the cakey part. It can be any type of fruit, cut into bite size pieces, but it can also be something not-fruity like chocolate chips or coconut flakes. It also can be fruit pureed into a sauce instead of whole pieces. When our cake fell apart, I only had frozen strawberries on hand, so I pureed them in my food processor and carefully poured the pureed strawberries over the chocolate cake pieces.
3. The creamy sauce: The final layer to a trifle is usually something creamy or saucy like pudding or whipped cream or yogurt. You can use just about anything you can imagine actually. For our disastrous cake, I didn’t have anything on hand for making a pudding or whipped cream and neither did I have yogurt in the house (we were planning on going away for a week, and we had basically been eating out the fridge), but I did have some Tofutti cream cheese. So, I whipped the cream cheese in my mixer with a little bit of Agave and some soy milk until it was a pourable, creamy texture. It tasted so good!
On another note: You will also find trifles which use alcohol to flavor the cake — some bourbon or sherry or other such beverage. If that floats your boat, go for it! As well, a tiramisu which is a popular dessert with lady fingers and coffee and coffee liquor is basically just a trifle which layers the lady fingers with the liquor and coffee and whipped cream, so if you’ve ever eaten tiramisu at a restaurant, you’ve had a trifle.
4. The assembling process: Once you’ve decided what you want to layer, the layering itself is fairly simple. Put a little bit of your creamy sauce on the bottom, layer cake pieces, layer your fruit, and finally end with your sauce. Repeat until you reach the top of your container. So, I put some of the tofu cream cheese sauce on the bottom, then some of my allergy friendly chocolate cake (dairy, nut, gluten, peanut, sugar, soy free), some of the strawberry puree, and then more of the cream cheese sauce. I was able to make three layers in my clear, glass bowl.
5. The top: How you want to finish the top layer of your trifle is up to you. For our trifle that day I crumbled the remaining pieces of cake on top because the cream cheese sauce didn’t seem the prettiest way to end. For some I make up a whipped cream out of coconut cream which I dollop on top. For others, I generously sprinkle cut pieces of fruit. For many I like to put little allergy friendly chocolate curls or chips. Your imagination is the only limit.
6. Final Tips: Your trifle should be refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it. This will help all the wonderful flavors to meld into one another and allow the cake to soften. When you serve a trifle, it’s best to use a large spoon which you can scoop down to the bottom of the bowl and upward with. Then when you put it into the bowl for someone, you can reveal all the wonderful layers.