According to the dictionary, a “trifle” is something that is of little consequence–a mere insignificance. But this rich, often indulgent, tiered dessert is anything but. The treat dates back to the 1700’s and came to the US via the British when it was served to the wealthy.
Over the years, trifles have evolved–crumbled biscuits became cubes of pound cake which became crushed coconut macaroons, which became lady finger cookies. And vanilla custard was replaced by lemon pudding which morphed into whipped cream, and chocolate mousse, and so on. Berries, peaches, and lemon curd were overtaken by chocolate curls, crushed brownies, and shards of toffee.
Trifles are a perfect dessert to serve over the July 4th weekend–the ingredients can be home-made or store-bought, and they can be assembled a day or so in advance. In fact, the dessert gets better with a little time under its belt. The traditional deep, round trifle bowls really showcase the individual layers, but if you’re making the dessert for a crowd, a large, deep Pyrex dish would be equally good. Putting together individual mini trifles in tall iced tea glasses or large individual sherbet cups are a nice touch as well. (Once you’ve prepared all the individual ingredients, you can even have the little ones help you assemble them.)
We’ve searched the web and picked out a collection of favorites that really showcase the versatility of this long-loved dessert. And how fitting that it be served on Independence Day, as we celebrate just one more thing we’ve wrestled away from the British!
Strawberry Chocolate Trifle from frugalfanatic.com uses crumbled cake and pie filling.
“Better Than Sex” Trifle from imtopsyturvy.com uses chopped Heath Bars and chocolate cake, and looks luscious! Mini Tiramisu Trifles are from mybakingaddiction.com uses crushed cookies and can be made in individual glasses. The traditional Mixed Berry and Angel Food Trifle is from natashaskitchen.com and can be assembled in “30 minutes!” Red, White, and Blue Trifles from recipegirl.com are the ones the kids can pitch in and help with. They’re adorable!