Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Tasty Trifles

I’m not sure what impresses people so much about some layers cake, pudding, yogurt, whipped cream, and maybe a little fruit to deem the dessert semi-nutritious, but dinner guests and potluck attendees always gawk and drool upon seeing a trifle being set out.  

JELL-O Chocolate Cherry Trifle

I think the first trifle I attempted was from a store shelf tear-off recipe.  I just searched through my old paper recipe collections for 20 minutes and actually found it!  My version of the trifle was comprised of Swiss Rolls (chocolate with white filling, a cousin of the Twinkie, instead of the raspberry jelly ones), cherry pie filling, Cool Whip mixed with instant vanilla pudding, and grated Baker’s semi-sweet blocks.  The Black Forest-type dessert was a hit! 
It took a little time but I found a link to the recipe via Valley Heritage Radio's archived recipes.  Move the scrolling bar down a generous thumb width; you'll find Chocolate Cherry Trifle on the right hand side.  (The recipes are listed in alphabetical order in case my thumb-width estimate doesn't match your thumb or screen zoom level.)
Triple Berry Trifle

A few years later, when I became a Pampered Chef consultant, I became acquainted with the Triple Berry Trifle.  I made it at a few cooking shows and even whipped one up at a picnic table for friends at our church’s youth camp!  In fact, the photos below were taken on my parents' motorhome table.  The creamy filling was a blend of Light Cool Whip and fruity yogurt, with layers of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and cubed angel food cake.  That summer, our local bakery dabbled in lemon angel food cakes; that made the trifle even better as the recipe called for a bit of lemon zest to be mixed in with the berries.  Yummy! 


The garnish on the top of that dessert was a strawberry fan.  Strawberry fans look fairly impressive; remember how the roses on the birthday cake used to be something to fight for?  Same deal, just updated for the 2000’s. 
  • If you have an egg slicer or Pampered Chef Egg Slicer Plus, take a firm, medium-sized berry, place it upside-down on the slicer so the stem is down, and hold the berry firmly as you pull the metal wire piece down over the pointy end of the fruit.  Leave about ½ cm / ¼ “ from the stem so the strawberry doesn’t come apart; it’s supposed to look like a fan, not roadkill. ;-) 
  • If you don’t have a slicing gadget, just lay the berry wide side down on a cutting board, and make evenly-spaced ½ cm / ¼ “ slits to the same distance from the stem. 
Holding the berry around the top, gently spread the pieces apart to make the fan shape.  Pretty!
If you would like a recipe, here's a link to the RazzleDazzleRecipes website's collection of Pampered Chef recipes.  (Interestingly, the RDR site is copyrighted but I couldn't find any info which indicated the author had permission to post the PC recipes...I'm still going to play it safe!)

Chocolate Banana  Cream Trifle
Then back to chocolate it was, this time with its friends: bananas and graham wafers.  In this Pampered Chef recipe, the semi-crushed wafers stood in for the usual cake element.  A double batch of instant chocolate pudding and about a litre / 4 cups Light Cool Whip provided the squishy goodness, and an egg slicer made the uniform banana slices.  I played around on the top by drizzling some chocolate ganache or chocolate syrup on top, inserted banana slices at a diagonal, and sprinkled wafer crumbs over it all. 

If you would like a recipe, here's a link to my Google search for one; sadly, I could not find a guaranteed legal copy of the instructions to post here. 

Strawberry Chocolate Trifle
Sometimes, I’ve just mucked about with things.  During Lent, we try to abstain from meat, dairy, and eggs for forty days.  This can make church lunch contributions tricky, especially in the dessert department.  I mean, not to be ungrateful, but one can only love to see a fruit platter on the sweets table for so many Sundays!  I have a Skor cake recipe, handed down from many people, which only has water, vinegar, oil, and vanilla for wet ingredients.  Light Cool Whip is an edible oil (vs. dairy) product so that works, and fruit is always a go as well.  From those items, I made a chocolate-strawberry trifle, decorating the top with heart-shaped-looking strawberry slices and Oreo crumbs.  (I didn’t check the ingredients on the crumbs so may have erred in following animal product-less guidelines.) 

The cake recipe is as follows:

Chocolate Cake sans Skor

Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C for metal pan or 325 F / 162 C for a glass pan.
Prepare a 9 x 13" pan with baking spray containing flour (Pam Baking Spray, Baker's Joy) or by greasing the pan with vegetable oil and sifting cocoa to lightly dust bottom and sides.
Stir the following dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3 cups + tbsp     all-purpose flour                780 mL
2 cups               granulated sugar               500 mL
2 tsp                 baking soda                       10 mL
1 tsp                 salt                                   5 mL
6 heaping tbsp    cocoa, *sifted   6 x heaping 15 mL
                       (For any newbie bakers, if there is a comma followed by 'sifted,' 'melted,'
                        'thrown in the air,' etc., you measure the ingredient and then do the
                        required action to it.)
Make a well in the dry ingredients.
Measure the following wet ingredients into the well.
2 cups               water                              500 mL
2/3 cup              vegetable oil                    150 mL
2 tbsp                vanilla                              30 mL
2 tbsp                vinegar                             30 mL
Stir just until combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.  Check at 30 and 35 minutes; the cake is done when it springs back when pushed down gently in the middle and the sides are coming slightly away from the pan.  The old toothpick-stuck-in-the-center-comes-out-clean trick works, too.  Let the cake cool, then cut into 1" / 2.5 cm cubes with a serrated knife if making into trifle.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

For Thanksgiving 2009, I wanted to serve a trifle featuring the comforting autumn-associated spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, as well as pumpkin.  After doing some GRR (Google Recipe Research), I combined a Pampered Chef recipe with one from Paula Deen, Southern Belle o' the Butter. Paula's suggested using gingerbread mix; the PC's version included toasted angel food cubes.  I love gingerbread (the cake kind) so I made up one from the first cookbook with Canadian Diabetes Association food choice symbols my mom had ever purchased.  The recipe for Nova Scotia Gingerbread makes a nice, dense cake, and is one of my “Ack! Company’s Coming In An Hour!” dessert standbys since I almost always have the ingredients in my pantry.  I baked the cake in a larger pan than called for so it would only rise to about 1” / 2.5 cm.  When cooled, I cut it into cubes, and layered it with the creamy filling. 

Pumpkin Filling

3 cups                milk                               750 mL
1 cup                 pure canned pumpkin        250 mL
                         (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 pkg.                instant vanilla pudding         2 pkg.
                         (4 serving size each, sugarful or sugar-free)
1 1/2 tsp            cinnamon                           7 mL

Whisk these ingredients together in a big measuring cup, bowl, or Classic Batter Bowl until smooth.  Fold in 2 cups / 500 mL thawed Cool Whip or more if you'd like to make more volume of filling or find the taste too pumpkiny.

         Though these pictures may look like they are not cropped or else cropped oddly, there were significant
         reasons for showing them this way.  My mom's side of the family was having a combined celebration of 
         Thanksgiving and Grandma Eigner's birthday.  I love the decorations my Auntie Connie added to my 
         Grandma's angel food cake in honour of her love of pansies.   The hands above the trifle belong to my
         Grandpa Eigner; it was his last Thanksgiving with us.

Similar recipes to the gingerbread cake one I use include these two on Epicurious or Robin Hood.ca.  The latter recipe includes nutritional information.  Now I'm looking forward to fall to make this dessert again!

Peanut Butter Trifle

The most recent trifle served at Godziuk functions has been the Peanut Butter Trifle.  I think we – okay, I, having been requested to by the other family members – made this about four times this spring for Easter, Miriam’s family birthday “cake,” and two other occasions.  (Remember last post’s comments about our cuckoo-busy springs?  Memory fails me…)  I “met” this recipe on Pinterest this year, its lovely photo causing me to do the Homer Simpson drool. 

I made a few alterations to the recipe:
  • used Skor cake recipe above vs. brownies for the cake layer
  • made 2 x 4 serving instant sugar-free chocolate pudding mixes with 4 cups of milk
  • used 1-1.5 L of Light Cool Whip instead of whipping cream and did not add sugar
  • added 2 cups vs. 1 cup of Cool Whip to peanut butter mixture since the p.b. mixture is really thick as well as getting more volume out of it
  • sometimes included chopped peanut butter cups in the layers, sometimes didn't; for Miriam's b'day one, I used the mini Reese's Cups to make a "12"
  • topped trifle with chocolate pudding, chopped peanuts, Cool Whip rosettes
 *Note: When following the "How Sweet It Is" blog recipe, you don't have to follow the link to the peanut butter pie recipe; all of the ingredients and steps are listed adequately.  However, if you follow that link to the "Say It With Peanut Butter Pie" page on the same blog, there is a really touching story linked to the blue word "pie" a few lines of text under the picture.   The story is from the blog "In Jennie's Kitchen."  Get Kleenex...

My Last Thoughts on Trifles...For Now

Cake Layers

If you're inventing your own trifle and considering the starch part, you'll have to choose whether you want
  • something that'll soak up moisture (angel food, regular cake-mix cake, soft ladyfingers, sponge cake),
  • something with some density to it (brownies, gingerbread, pound cake) to stay firm, or
  • something with crunch (whole or crushed cookies/wafers, firm ladyfingers).  
The latter two will offer a greater contrast in texture to the pudding/yogurt/whipped topping layers.  It's Squishy versus Starchy!
Whipping Cream vs. Whipped Topping

Some trifles call for whipping cream in the squishy layer.  What I found was that the whipped cream deflated and made for soupy layers.  Therefore, I had been more inclined to use Light Cool Whip to maintain the height of the trifle.  I mentioned this to some of my friends last month, and they informed me that you can buy a stabilizer for whipped cream so it doesn’t go flat!  It has a very tricky name:  Whipped Cream Stabilizer.  Thank you to the ladies who informed me of the product; sorry that I can’t remember which of you it was!

Take care until you return to the island, and I’d love to hear what you like to mix-and-match when making your own trifle-icious treats!


1 comment:

  1. Mmmm. They all look delicious! You've made so many varieties and I don't recall enjoying any of them. Haha! Maybe there will be one in the staff room when I'm subbing ;) heheh!


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