ENGLISH TRIFLE – A Husband for a Recipe

“Desserts are the fairy tale of the kitchen, a happily-ever-after to supper.” Terri Grillemets

Hi there,

We now have our recipe for the rib roast which is served at a proper English Christmas Dinner and now my friend, Darlene, darlenefoster.wordpress.com, has provided us with a recipe for the proper English dessert – Trifle. I know you will enjoy reading Darlene’s story about this recipe. I think it is one many of us can relate to.


Coming from a German Canadian family, I had never had a sherry trifle before I travelled to England to meet my man’s family. It was during the Christmas season, so I was served trifle a number of times. I loved it! I asked for the recipe but was told in no uncertain terms that it was a family recipe and it was only shared amongst family. While there, we got married and everyone said I married Paul in order to get the family trifle recipe. It has been a topic of amusement for the past 44 years.
Since then I changed it somewhat to make it my own. My German Canadian family expects it every Christmas, my dad always asked for seconds. I’m not giving away any family secrets by sharing my recipe, besides my son is already married.

Darlene’s Trifle Recipe
Jelly rolls (Swiss rolls)
1 – 2 tablespoons of sweet sherry
I can of fruit cocktail
Canned mandarins
Other fresh fruit if desired
1 Package of strawberry or raspberry Jell-O (jelly powder)
Bird’s custard powder
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings (optional)
Line a clear glass bowl with slices of jelly roll covering the bottom and partially up the sides.
Sprinkle with sherry to soak the rolls
Drain the fruit cocktail and mandarins, arrange on top of jelly rolls
Add more fruit if desired. I often slice a banana, add fresh strawberries or sprinkle a few blueberries. Whatever you prefer and whatever is available.
Prepare the Jell-O as instructed, I often use the juice from the fruit as part of the liquid.
Pour Jello-O over the fruit and rolls. Let it cool and then refrigerate. (I often do this the night before)
Prepare the Birds custard as per package instructions.
Let it cool and thicken somewhat.
Pour custard over the rolls/fruit/Jell-O which should be well set.
Place back in the fridge, cover with wax paper so as not to get a skin on it.
Just before serving, whip cream and arrange on top. Top with chocolate shavings or decorate with pieces of fruit such as strawberries or mandarin slices. Use your imagination. When the children were little I often decorated the top with Christmas figures.
The layers in the glass bowl look very pretty and festive. Make sure you take a picture before serving. Of course you can eat it any time of the year!
Note: Amounts can vary depending on the size of the bowl and how many people will be sharing it. No matter what, there is never enough!
Darlene Foster

72 responses to “ENGLISH TRIFLE – A Husband for a Recipe”

  1. An interesting take on the English Christmas dinner, Bernadette. Rib roast? Nope, it has always been Turkey for us! Followed by Christmas Pudding, though a trifle has been known to sneak onto the Christmas Eve menu. Darlene’s is a good recipe 😊

  2. Well done, Darlene! My paternal grandmother Rose made a fabulous trifle with clotted

    cream and almonds on the top (and cherries of course!) Mum also made it like yours. We had it at every birthday party and Christmas too. Cheers! x

  3. What a catchy title, and I use the word “catchy” facetiously.. “Trifles” sound very English, so I don’t remember eating one. You know I like to try new recipes; yours sound like a wonderful one!

  4. Hi Darlene, Well done you!. An old favourite in our family. My paternal grandmother Rose made a fab. one with clotted cream and almonds, and Mum made a mean one too. Cheers! x

  5. My Mum made a wonderful trifle, but never used jelly. Sherry and fruit, yes. She claimed she was once told by a chef that a trifle should not have jelly.
    When I was little, the primary school I went to made a trifle as a treat for someone’s birthday. They put jelly over the sponge and I hated it. I wanted to keep my birthday a secret so they wouldn’t make a trifle! I think sponge soaked in jelly is horrid, so I follow my Mum’s advice and never use jelly. It’s the texture that is all wrong with jelly soaked sponge, in my opinion.
    I also soak the sponge in the juice from a can of strawberries or raspberries then add the sherry (if I’m using it).

  6. Thank you for reading my post, Bernadette (what a lovely name!) I’m pleased to ‘meet’ you. From your photograph, you have the look of a very pleasant, attractive and competent cook/chef – which I’m sure you are. I’m now quite ancient and my husband has taken over the role of cook, bless him – although he’s even older….I used to love cooking for him and our three, hungry, sons. (I noticed you have three too…) and tried all sorts of recipes out over the years. Although my appetite is not what it was, I still love to indulge….Have a lovely Christmas. Cheers!

    • Thank you for this lovely note. After I looked at your block I knew I had to get to know you better. And now I know that is true. Here is to 2022 and continuing to explore new friends.

  7. I’ve never heard of a sherry trifle. I’m not a spring chicken, and look at what I’ve missed all these years! Yummy, yummy, Darlene. Luckily you made a good choice of husband while getting the recipe. 🙂

  8. Ha ha. I love that story. Of course, you married for the recipe, Darlene. And what a wonderful Christmas tradition. Thanks for sharing, Bernadette. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you both!

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. If you like this recipe, please give it to your friends.

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