Trifle is redolent of Christmas cheer, with its layers of sponge soaked with sherry, fruit and jelly, custard and whipped cream, traditionally garnished with candied angelica or glacé cherries. But the traditional sherry trifle seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years, being replaced with more contemporary, flashier desserts. My family has a trifle on the dessert table but it’s usually a smaller one, specifically made for my dad, who claims that it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
I had never been particularly fond of trifle but when I started testing recipes for this article, I realised that it has the potential to be a delicious, perfectly balanced dessert. It takes a bit more effort to make each layer from scratch but this way you have full control over the final product.
It’s also a highly flexible dessert: you can swap different fruits for the jelly and compote, or use a different alcohol to soak the sponge, and decorate it however you like.
For the first recipe I’ve gone for a traditional trifle with Genoise sponge, raspberry jelly, creme diplomate (which is essentially custard lightened with whipped cream) and Chantilly. Instead of sherry to soak the sponge, however, I’ve gone for amaretto which is complemented by the toasted flaked almonds on top.
The second recipe takes inspiration from Black Forest flavours, with chocolate in the Genoise and diplomate, cherry compote and jelly, and espresso and rum to soak the sponge.
There is no need to make both of these trifles at Christmas but I do think they look quite striking together, and the flavour profiles of both will be sure to satisfy everyone at the dinner table. Each recipe should make enough to fill a medium sized trifle bowl, or you can use any glass dish you have at home, or serve them in individual glass bowls.
Recipe: Raspberry Amaretto trifle
Recipe: Chocolate and cherry trifle