Raspberry Cream Trifle

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Photo courtesy Taste of Home

I found this recipe out of necessity. One year I went to a strawberry patch and picked a bunch of strawberries. They were very ripe, and I needed to figure out a way to use them all before they went bad. Previously, I had never been a big fan of trifles, because they’re usually some heavy, syrupy goo, but this recipe popped out at me from a Taste of Home magazine because of the lightness and because it beautifully highlights fresh fruit. I went with it.

Because I was going to take this to an outdoor picnic/BBQ, I used a clear, plastic ice bucket with a lid and handle for easy transportation. The lid was a nice touch to keep it fresh (and to keep bugs from getting into it). Even though I am a baking snob, this recipe has found its way into my top 10 desserts for big, social gatherings – it always gets eaten, and I always get requests for the recipe. If you do a lot of potlucks, this trifle is a gorgeously delicious presentation, tastes wonderful, and is much quicker and cheaper than whipping up a cheesecake. For your next social gathering, go with this.

Raspberry Cream Trifle
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
1 angel food cake (7 inches), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 cups fresh raspberries or strawberries (For a 4th of July BBQ, I did strawberries, raspberries and blueberries for red, white & blue – yeah, that’s corny for me, too, but it looked awesome!)

Ok, this isn’t hard. There’s no baking required, no heat required – this is a light, cool, and refreshing dessert. There is a bit of mixing, but no baking.

I know what you’re thinking — No baking? You? Using a premade angel food cake? Are you possessed by Sandra Lee?

Nope. The trifle was originally a way of using up old, leftover stale cake. So in keeping with the history of the trifle, I actually don’t mind heading to the store and picking up a premade angel food cake. Head over to What’s Cooking America, for more historical trifle nerdery.

Now, back to the trifle. In a bowl, mix up the water, milk and extract until blended. I use a hand-held mixer, and just swish this up for a minute. It doesn’t take long. Add the pudding mix and mix for about 2 minutes. Let it stand for 2 minutes, or until soft set.

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Put the pudding mixture in the fridge and grab another bowl.

The heavy whipping cream must now be whipped. Pour it into a large bowl – keep in mind that this is going to end up 3 or 4 times its original size, so plan accordingly. Because we’re whipping up a liquid, I usually will empty and clean out my sink, and put the bowl in it. Otherwise, you’re probably going to splatter whipping cream all over.

Let the beater do its work until the cream is whipped – and the way to absolutely know if it’s done whipping is by picking up the bowl and turning it upside down. If the cream dumps out, it wasn’t done. If it sticks and remains firm, it’s done.

It should look like this:

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Now grab your pudding out of the fridge. Take the whipped cream and gently fold it into the pudding. Do not use a mixer – with a wooden spoon or spatula, manually fold it until the mixture is combined. Should take a minute or so, and it will end up as a gorgeous pudding goodness.

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Resist the urge to stick your face in it and inhale like a vacuum cleaner and move onto the next step.

Cut up the cake cubes into small one-inch squares and place half into the serving bowl. This is where the layering process begins. In this picture you can get a better idea of the plastic ice bucket I use to tote my dessert around.

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Half of the cream mixture goes on top of the cake cubes.

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Now for the tricky part. You will want to spread a thin layer of seedless jam on top of the cream mixture. The jam should correspond with the berries you’ve got. If you’re using strawberries, use strawberry jam. For raspberries, use a raspberry jam. You get the idea. If you would like, you can skip this part, but I have skipped it before and it tasted like it was missing a little something. My advice is to keep the jam. I use a sugar free jam, because it’s sweet and flavorful, and not going to give you a sugar-shock like bottle of Smuckers will. Use your best judgment.

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It looks a bit goofy, but no one will see it as the berries are going right on top of it. So if you mess this part up, don’t worry – just keep going!

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After the berries go on top, repeat the layering process: The second half of cake cubes, the rest of the pudding mixture, jam and berries.

Here it is; the finished product:

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We did have to eat a couple of berries to get the lid on. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

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The next time you have to take a dessert to an informal, outdoor gathering on a sunny day, this is my pick as a winner.

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