Every time I want to make an easy dessert for a fancy dinner I immediately think of some sort of meringue pavlova or trifle. I get excited because in my mind, it takes almost zero hands-on time to make meringues and throw some fruit on. But then every time, without fail, I realize I don’t have time to let the meringues dry out.

In the south where the humidity in the kitchen is often almost as bad as it is outside, I almost never attempt to make them outside of Winter. I usually buy them from the store. They’re still beautiful and impressive looking, and you don’t have to reserve your oven for hours on end.

Individual trifles or anything with meringues will fancy up any dessert tray. I made these while I was in England because they sell custard in the grocery stores. It’s probably a good thing US stores don’t sell pre-made custard because I honestly would eat it on everything. It’s deliciously rich on its own, and mixed with the cream cheese it gets a smooth cream cheese flavor as well. If you live in England and can buy pre-made custard, this recipe is a breeze. Not to fear for those everywhere else though, you can make homemade custard which is also delicious. If you're really pressed for time, you can sacrifice a bit of the flavor (though it will still be great) and make it with instant vanilla pudding.

The original recipe calls for raspberries and Cointreau. A true trifle is made with Cointreau, but if you want to leave it out that’s fine. You can also sub in sliced strawberries for the raspberries. I prefer raspberries, but the pictures show the strawberry ones I made. As for whether to use meringue nests, like I've shown in the pictures, or glasses with a more traditional trifle look, that's up to you. Individual glasses allows you to add more custard and it's likely the cheaper option. I think Nests are just as pretty and are easier to serve if you're short on glasses. I doubled the recipe both times I made these because I was feeding a crowd. I used glasses once and nests once.

At the end of the day, this is really me suggesting that you all give trifle-making a try when you want to impress people. I’ve had them with custard, ice cream, cool whip, homemade whipped cream, etc. The layering piece is up to you, but I strongly suggest this custard because it is heavenly!


Strawberry or Raspberry Meringue Trifle
Recipe slightly adapted from Taste AU

  • 1 3/4 cups-2 cups Raspberries (2 x 125g punnets raspberries)
  • 2 tbs Cointreau liqueur (optional)
  • 55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 8-ounces cream cheese (250g)at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250ml) bought vanilla custard* 
  • Meringues, coarsely crushed
* If you live in places, like the US, that do not sell custard in grocery stores, you can do one of two things. The ideal thing is to make homemade custard. I've included a recipe below. If you're not up for this, follow the direction on a box of Instant Vanilla pudding. Once pudding is ready and chilled, proceed to the cream cheese step.

  1. Combine the raspberries, Cointreau and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes to macerate.
  2. Step 2
    Meanwhile, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, custard and remaining sugar in a bowl until smooth.
  3. Step 3
    Divide three-quarters of the raspberry mixture among six 250ml (1-cup) capacity serving glasses. Top with the cream cheese mixture and meringue. Top with the remaining raspberry mixture. 
    If you are making meringue nests instead of trifles, fill each nest with a teaspoon of raspberry mixture (depending on the size of the nest). Next, add 2+ teaspoons custard mixture, making sure the custard incorporates into the raspberries. Think of it like making sure the ice cream gets to the bottom of an ice cream cone. Top each nest with another teaspoon or two of berries. Sprinkle crushed meringues on top for decoration.

Jamie Oliver's Proper English Custard
Recipe from Jamie Oliver (on My Kitchen from Scratch)

Ingredients (yields about 8 cups/2 L)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scored lengthways
  • 8 large egg yolks
  1. Mix cream, milk, and four tablespoons of sugar in a pot under medium low heat.
  2. Scrap out all the seeds in the vanilla bean into the pot. Put the beans in the pot as well. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon until it boils and then turn off the heat. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the vanilla infuse with the cream and milk mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks with 2 tablespoons of sugar until pale yellow in colour.
  4. Remove the beans from the pot and slowly add one ladle of the cream mixture to the yolks while whisking them together. Keep whisking and slowly add a couple more ladles. This process is called tempering and this will ensure that the eggs won’t curdle when they come in contact with hot liquids.
  5. Pour the yolk mixture back to the pot with cream and milk and stir with a wooden spoon under medium heat. As the eggs cook, the custard will thicken in several minutes. It is thick enough if it coats the back of the wooden spoon. When it’s nice and shiny, remove from heat and pour into a serving cup. You can serve it hot or cold.

My sister-in-law took this picture of the trifle in glasses. All we had on hand for 12 people were wine glasses, so we made those work.


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