Summer Berry Trifle

The dessert I made for my Summer Meal Cooking Class on Tuesday, June 18th, was a very simple recipe - totally no-cooking.  It is a layered affair, easy to make and works well to make ahead of time and eat later.  Perfect for a backyard barbecue or other summer gathering.  You just have to refrigerate the whipped cream so it doesn't spoil.  

I wanted to make an easy dessert that had a big impact, so I chose to make a trifle pudding.  It's all about the layers.  A trifle, summer pudding or a parfait, is a simple layered dessert consisting of a layer of fruit, whipped cream, custard (in this case, the lemon curd) and layer of cake or lady fingers.  The berries can be cooked, to release their juices and pectin and then as the berries cool, the juices released thicken up with the addition of sugar or gelatin or cornstarch.  

In keeping with the theme of a simple summer meal, I opted to use more of semi-homemade approach.  Instead of cooking the berries, I let the natural flavors macerate with the use of balsamic vinegar.   I had 2 bottles of flavored balsamic vinegars - Raspberry and Chocolate, so I used a bit of each of those. They really added a huge punch of flavor to the berries.  You can use pound cake, French bread or even Italian Amaretti Cookies.  Real whipped cream is denser and more flavorful than whipped cream out of a can.  Store bought lemon (or lime) curd is an easier substitute than making one’s on custard.  Feel free to embellish and change this recipe to suit your needs and what you have on hand!
Summer Berry Trifle Ingredients:
  •  Pint Strawberries - Rinsed, Hulled & Cut into slices - reserve 2 strawberries
  • 1 Pint Blueberries - Rinsed and dried
  • 1 Pint Fresh Raspberries or Blackberries - Rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 Cup and 1 Tablespoon White Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar (aged if possible, and if available, use a chocolate or fruit infused balsamic vinegar!)
  • 1 Package of firm, dry Lady Finger Cookies (about 24)
  • 1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Jar (about 10 ounces) Lemon or Lime Curd
  • Mint Springs- optional, for garnishing

  1. Wash and prepare the fruit as directed, adding all to a mixing bowl.  Reserve 2 strawberries and a few blueberries and raspberries or blackberries for garnishing.  Sprinkle the fruit with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of a high quality balsamic vinegar.  With the back of a fork, smash some of the berries to break them up and release some of their juices.  Cover and set aside to macerate 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  2. In a clean, cold metal or glass mixing bowl - beat or whip the heavy cream with 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, beating the cream until stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Use a clean glass high-sided bowl (or use a footed trifle bowl) About a 2 to 2 1/2 quart volume.  Use half of the package of lady finger cookies, and break them into pieces.  Put a layer of the lady finger cookies into the bottom of the bowl, fitting them so they cover the bottom of the bowl. 
  4. Spoon a layer of the macerated berries on top of the lady fingers, along with some of the juices that have accumulated.
  5. Spoon a layer of the whipped cream on top of the berries.  
  6. Next, spoon a layer of the lemon curd over the whipped cream. 
  7. Repeat this procedure, a layer of lady fingers, berries, whipped cream and the lemon curd, ending with a final layer of whipped cream.  Garnish the top layer with the reserved strawberries, blueberries and raspberries/blackberries.  Top with a few springs of fresh mint leaves.
  8. Cover and refrigerate the trifle for a few hours or over-night.  As the trifle sits, the lady fingers will soak up the juices of the berries, softening the cookies as it sits.  Serve cold.  Best served within one day but it will hold for up to 2 days.  Serves 8-10


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