Berrie's 'n Cream Trifle

Happy birthday to Greg, for whom this delicious trifle was prepared! Of course, I created this post weeks and weeks ago (it got interrupted by a lot of moving work!), but here it is, finally :)

What's great about trifles is that no baking or cooking is required, whatsoever. Of course, a more traditional English trifle would have custard, which does require cooking, but my version is simply lady fingers soaked in a sweet wine or liqueur, layered with freshly whipped cream and fruit. It's as easy as that.

What's also nice is that it's a sweet dessert, similar to a cake, but much lighter and refreshing. You get your cakey texture fix from the softened lady fingers while your palette is brightened by the fresh fruit...and a little kick from the liqueur never hurt anyone :)

The trifle shown above was, as stated, made for my coworker, Greg. After bringing this in to work, though, I was immediately commissioned to make a second, that very same week, for another coworker! It was my very first commission and incredibly exciting. I think it looked even better the second time around and I've heard that my accidental addition of a bit too much Marsala wine made it an even bigger hit ;)

Berries 'n Cream Trifle


  • Savoiardi lady fingers (these are the crisp fingers, not the soft ones most may be accustomed to)
  • at least 1/2 cup Chambord/Framboise/Marsala (any sweet, fruity liqueur/wine should work)
  • heavy cream for whipping (half to one pint, depending on how much cream you want)
  • granulated sugar (to sweeten the cream--use as much or as little as tastes good to you!)
  • three 1-pint packages blackberries
  • two 1-pint packages raspberries
  • three large, shapely strawberries (red throughout!), hulled
My fruit trifle system:

Because a trifle isn't baked, you have a lot of leeway in flavors and amounts of ingredients used. My system is to have as thick a layer of whipped cream as I do Savoiardi; then, I like my fruit to completely cover the whipped cream. When it comes to the fruit, I pay a lot of attention to flavor as well as texture. With a mixed berry trifle, I think about the fact that a lot more hard raspberry seeds have to be chewed through than blackberry seeds. Because of this, I prefer a ratio of up to two to one. Because I prefer the look of equal amounts, however, I play a trick using the layers. The first layer (in which all but one row of fruit is hidden) alternates blackberries and raspberries, equally, in the outermost row of fruit. Everything filled inside that row, though, has nearly twice as many blackberries as raspberries--it appears I've used equal amounts (and the raspberry flavor is still prevalent), but I've removed a good deal of tough seeds. 

Now, about the strawberries...these didn't require even one full package because they were used simply for decoration on top. Had I made this trifle in spring/summer (especially June, their peak month), I'd have used equal amounts of blackberries and strawberries. My issue is that, being winter, the strawberries are incredibly tasteless, much more so than the berries. I loved how they looked in the center of the trifle, though, so I wanted to use them at least for that, since it wouldn't take away from the overall taste. Ideally, fruits appropriate for the season should be chosen and I highly recommend that. The difference in flavor and texture is incredible.


Before beginning, line the sides of a springform pan with parchment paper; this step is necessary so that, when you remove the sides later, the whipped cream doesn't stick to the pan and pull apart your trifle.

Cover the entire bottom of the pan with ladyfingers; you'll need to cut some in half/quarters to cover the entire bottom--do whatever necessary to make a complete layer. Pour at least 1/4 cup of liqueur/wine evenly over the Savoiardi. The measurement here is not exact; I tend to spoon the liquid over the fingers so that the tops are just soaked, in which case I'm unsure of how much I've used. I recommend using the same method or using something with a lip that makes controlling your pour much easier. You don't want the fingers to be sopping wet, you want them just wetted and emitting the perfect hint of flavor.

Using a stand mixer/hand mixer/wire whisk, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks, a bit stiffer if preferred. Remember, the stiffer the peaks, the stiffer the hold on your trifle; if your cream is too soft, it won't hold together well, though too stiff takes away from the smooth, creamy texture...this is why I recommend going somewhere in between. Toward the end of the mixing process, gradually pour in sugar. Stop, every so often, before the cream has reached its proper consistency, to taste for desired sweetness. You'll likely only need a few tablespoons--remember that your fruit is going to sweeten this dessert, so a less sweet cream isn't a bad thing; it's not the star of the show!

Spread your cream to your own desired thickness; I recommend making it at least as thick as the ladyfingers. Layer your fruit on top of this, covering every inch of cream. To ensure this, I like to carefully make row after row, circling the entire trifle. I also like to make the outer row as neat and pretty as possible. Once the fruit layer is finished, add another layer of lady fingers and repeat the entire process. For the fruit layer on top, create any design you like, again, ensuring every inch is covered. To get the effect I created with the strawberries, make thin (maybe 1/8 inch) slices from the tip of the strawberry, almost to the bottom, but not cutting straight through. Then, fan out the strawberry and nestle it, tip facing up, in the cream so that it stands up and holds the fan. You can also lay down the fan, which looks just as beautiful.

Lastly, because raspberries tend to take on a duller shade of red when compared to strawberries, I like to puree a handful, strain the seeds, and brush the smooth, bright puree over each raspberry. It's tedious and not necessary to do, but an extra step I like to take to bring the look to the next level.

Once your trifle is complete, cover the top with foil (create a hood so that the foil doesn't touch and shift the fruit) and leave in the fridge at least overnight. To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and carefully peel the parchment paper away from the sides of the trifle. If any berries pull off with the paper, just put them back in place. To serve, cut just like a cake! Make sure you have a good sharp knife, though ;)

An alternate, easier way to make this would be to place the layers in a trifle bowl, in which case the dessert simply needs to be refrigerated overnight (so the ladyfingers soften from the liqueur and cream) and can be served with a spoon. Both methods are absolutely stunning!

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