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May 7, 2010 11:44 AM

A generic mix and match guide to making a trifle

I started making a guide to making a trifle for my own amusement and as I got into it decided to post it. If you want to add anything, please do so. I apologize to the more advanced hounds. I realize that a trifle is pretty simple.

For those of you that don't know what a trifle is, It is a layered dessert usually in a large glass bowl but they can be put in individual size containers. It is usually important to put in a clear glass container to show off the layers. It is sort of like a parfait. I will try to post a picture of one.

I set this up so that someone could mix and match and come up with their own trifle. for the purpose of this exercise, I am only discussing dessert trifles.


A trifle should have a layer or two of a pastry such as:

Pound cake
Lady fingers
Banana bread
Lemon loaf

You could drizzle something on the pastry such as:

Orange Liqueur
Raspberry Liqueur
Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Syrup
Fudge Sauce
Caramel Sauce

A trifle should have a layer or two of sweet cream such as:

Pastry cream
Fruit curd
Sweetened Condensed Milk

A trifle should have a layer or two of fruit such as:


Optional such as:

Nuts such as:

Syrup such as:

Jam such as:


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  1. Wow, that's a pretty comphrensive list; shows you the versatility of trifle. I want to mention the possible addition of a Marsala, Amaretto or Drambuie soak, and amaretti cookies. Maybe you were thinking of them when you wrote cookies.

    My ex-MIL, who is Scots, made hers with a layer of Jello, but I'm not recommending that.;-(

    7 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      The list really would have been long had I listed all the cookies and I knew someone would chastise me for the skimpy list of liquers. I just sort of got into making the mix and match list. it reminded me of a casserole book I have somewhere. It had a set of lists like that so you could mix and match a casserole.

      I got started doing it because I was trying to add to my computer list of desserts and decided to pull up a list of highly rated trifles on Food network. well, they all looked real familiar so i decided to make a mix and match list.

      Then I decided to post it.

      1. re: tonka11_99

        I was not chastising you, just suggesting...I actually really like mix and match lists. At my age, I can't keep all the possibilities in my head any more, or can't recall them, one or the other.

      2. re: bushwickgirl

        Ah, ditto my grandmother and the Jello. Jello everything. Lord. This makes me realize that's why I never make trifle--the yucky old Jello way is stuck in my brain. Thanks, tonka, your list makes me want to make it. Wasn't it Gourmet that had such a pretty picture of a jellyroll trifle in the last year or so? I'll see if I can find it.

        Yep, here it is:

        1. re: runwestierun

          It might be more tolerable if you used jello least after 3-4 servings.

          1. re: runwestierun

            That's gorgeous and a very special trifle.

            My aforementioned MIL used jelly roll as a base, it's called Swiss roll in the British isles, with the Jello layer. Nice with the sherry (not the Jello.)

            1. re: runwestierun

              Oh, that is kind of a pretty trifle.

          2. here is a picture like I promised. I just automatically posted rather than look for the picture.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tonka11_99

              Now, that's nice looking too. A big part of the beauty of a trifle is the appearance. Individual servings are fine, but made in a proper trifle bowl makes it very special.

            2. There is at least one more thread on Chow hound regarding trifles.


              1. hmm
                brits do use jelly (jello) in trifle.

                layer of sponge soaked in sherry or masala
                layer of jelly/jello, which is cool but not yet set so it does not bleed into the sponge cake
                layer of fruit - usually canned fruit cocktail and bananas after the jelly has set
                english custard - from a tin, made slightly thicker than the 1 pint recipe so it sets
                layer of whipped cream after the custard has set

                1. Too many possibilities. :-) When I was a girl scout leader and we needed a project that used trefoil cookies, we made a trifle w/ them as the base. I've also heard people moan over brownies and heath bar crunch ones. In my mind, a tiramisu is also a trifle variation. I've also seen them with crushed amaretti.