Berry Trifle

Get more of Kim's holiday recipes in the online article Tarts, Trifles & Cookies From Northern Michigan's Bella e Dolce.


  • 1 yellow cake box mix
  • 4 1/4  cups whole milk
  • 1  1/4 cup granulated sugar (divided in half), plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 7 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons Cointreau
  • 3-4 cups of fresh berries: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
  • Drizzle of dry sherry liquor
  • 8 ounces seedless raspberry or strawberry jam
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Slivered almonds or toasted shredded coconut to garnish


The Day Before: Bake the cake in an 8-inch pan and cool in pan. Prepare the pastry cream: In a large heavy-bottomed saucepot, combine milk and half the sugar. Over low-medium heat, stir occasionally with whisk to make sure sugar has dissolved into the milk. Split vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape insides into the milk then toss in the entire vanilla bean. While the milk is heating, place egg yolks in a mixing bowl, add the remaining sugar and whisk immediately until completely incorporated. Then add the cornstarch and flour to egg mixture. It will appear thick. Once milk has come to a full simmer, remove the vanilla bean. Using a ladle, pour one ladle full of the hot milk into your egg mixture and whisk vigorously. Continue adding one ladle at a time until you have added a third of the milk mixture. Then return all of the now-tempered egg mixture to the saucepot. Continue to whisk and cook over medium heat until it becomes thick and large slow bubbles form. Pour the pastry cream into a shallow pan and cover directly with plastic wrap, touching the plastic to the pastry cream to prevent a dry skin from forming on the top.  Allow to cool completely—overnight is best. The Day Of: Wash and dry the berries—hulling and quartering strawberries. Slice cake horizontally into two approximately 1-inch-thick layers. Spread a thin layer of jam on each layer. Cut it into 2-inch cubes and set out so they will dry out, about 1-2 hours. Place pastry cream in a mixer bowl with whisk attachment, add Cointreau and whisk until completely smooth. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, slowly adding the 2 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla. Start assembling the trifle: First, on the bottom, place a layer of the cake cubes and sprinkle lightly with sherry. Second, add a layer of pastry cream, enough to cover the cake cubes. Then a layer of fruit. Repeat as many layers as your trifle bowl will hold. Finish with a smooth layer of whipped cream, and garnish with nuts, coconut, or with berries if you have any extra. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski