The Covered Dish - Debbie’s Decadent Trifle

June 22, 2023

This week I was starting to think about the 4th of July and what I might serve for dessert. When it’s hot outside a cold dessert with fresh fruit always seems to hit the spot. This week I’m featuring what I’ll call my ‘base’ trifle recipe. But let’s remember this is just a sketch for all of us! Special fillings, flavors, alcohols, caramel, chocolate, pumpkin, they all can make an impact on a beautiful trifle.

My husband, Ervin, enjoys desserts of this style more than any other. Some of you might even have a ‘cream’ salad you make which could be turned into a trifle or parfait. Fourth of July morning you could even make trifles or parfaits with yogurt, fruit, baked oatmeal, honey and nuts. They’re special and your family and guests will love them.
No matter which way you twist or turn a trifle, they are simply delicious. Personally I have lots of different versions that I ‘play around’ with when I want to make a trifle presentation. This time of the year they are particularly desirable because of all the fresh fruits. I’ve even seen them made with commercial cupcakes and Twinkies. The presentation can be in a large trifle bowl or an individual parfait cup.
Historically some artists referred to it as a work of art! It’s a whimsical dish that comes from the English word Trufle. At the beginning it was a sponge cake that was soaked with sherry, and covered with fruit and an egg custard. As years have passed it can include any type of cake, cookie, lady fingers, nuts, fruit, alcohols, egg custard and whipped cream. When I was growing up it was a good way to use a cake that had become too dry.

This week I’ll share my more impressive trifle recipe that is one of my all-time favorites. But let's go with something simple to start, the egg custard. I've been making lots of Boston Crème Pies lately and the filling is pretty close to what you may be looking for:

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 large whole eggs

2 cups 2 % milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

I place the dry in a saucepan and incorporate them together, then I add the eggs, whisking, followed by the milk. Blend until smooth and place over a burner on medium. With a whisk stir until it comes to a light boil and thickens. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
This is also a dessert that can transport well. Make the fillings before you depart and put the dish together upon arrival. Some recipes will tell you to make a trifle 24 hours ahead of serving. I’m not sure I totally agree with the concept. There could be times when I’s say yes, and other times when I would disagree. Here’s my favorite trifle:

Debbie’s Decadent Trifle

1 (17 ounce) or larger angel food cake

12-14 ounces fresh blueberries

1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced. (Leave 1-2 whole berries for garnish)

Crème Filling

6 cups milk

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch

8 egg yolks, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

In medium saucepan combine milk, cornstarch, salt and sugar, stirring well. Cook until mixture is thickened. Beat egg yolks and ‘temper’ them into the hot pudding. Cook 2 more additional minutes.
Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, stirring until melted. Allow to cool before making trifle.


1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese

7-8 ounces marshmallow crème

1/2 cup cream (your choice)

Prepare the filling about an hour before you are ready to put the trifle together, allowing to cool. Pull angel food cake (sponge cakes and cake mixes also work) into small chunks for layering in the dish. If there’s more cake, layer on again. Sprinkle a few blueberries in the center and fan out a whole strawberry with the stem still attached. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Best if served the day it is made. This will accommodate approximately 12 persons.
If time doesn’t allow for making the filling from scratch two boxes of vanilla pudding may be substituted. Don’t omit the top layer as it really makes this trifle special. Spoon a bit of filling in the bottom of the bowl, cover with a layer of cake, spoon on filling, covering well. Sprinkle on blueberries and sliced strawberries. Add another layer and build! Simply Yours, The Covered Dish.