One of my favorite desserts for entertaining (and eating) is a trifle. It allows you to incorporate lots of different textures and flavors into one dish. It also is visually impressive but almost always EASY to make. Historically I have made summer trifles with berries, angel food cake or pound cake and cool whip and pudding. It’s September, now, so fall flavors are constantly on my mind. Pumpkin. Apples. Cinnamon. This Fall Trifle takes some prep time but is very easy to put together.
First thing I do when making a trifle is figure out how I will get in all of the textures I want: Creamy, Crunchy, Soft. I also consider the look of the trifle, what are some colors that will go well together but not blend too closely to one another?
For crunch a few cookie options came to mind (graham crackers and gingersnaps especially), so when I found these in my parent’s kitchen I grabbed them! I think of them as a ginger-spiked Oreo:-) Regular gingersnaps would have worked too. I like the little spicy bite with all of the other sweet ingredients.
I just crushed them in a Ziploc bag. No food processor required since you don’t want crumbs, just small chunks of cookies!
Next I thought about the creamy ingredients. I always include cool whip in trifles because it is light and creamy and tailors well to any flavor profile. Fresh whipped cream would be even better (hmmm maybe cinnamon whipped cream!), but I was going for some less indulgent ingredients. In addition to the whipped cream I chose to use vanilla pudding which is creamy but thicker in texture.
One of my favorite guilt-free EASY recipes is pumpkin spice cake. All that you need is spice cake mix, pumpkin, egg whites (or egg beaters) and water. I can promise you that the cake will be moist and flavorful. No one ever knows that it is low fat. Use this as a base for muffins or cupcakes with cream cheese icing!
In the summer, berries are usually a perfect trifle component. Sliced banana is also tasty, but sometimes the mushier texture doesn’t provide enough contrast. What dessert is more fall than apple pie? Enter, apple pie filling!
When you are ready to build your trifle, layout all of the ingredients and decide on an order for layering. Consider texture and color for this.
For this trifle, layer the apple pie filling on the bottom of your trifle dish (a large glass bowl would work too). The apples are a little too heavy to have in the upper layers.
Next is the pudding. Apples + pudding = slightly crunchy + creamy.
The crumbled spice cake is next.
Then cool whip for that cool and creamy addition.
Cookies next for another crunch layer.
After that, you repeat the prior layers except for the apple pie filling. Leave cool whip as your final layer and decorate as you wish. I scattered cookie crumbs and a couple pieces of the apple.
The layers don’t have to be perfect, does that mean I should call this rustic??
Serve with a long spoon for scooping. Dig deep for that apple pie filling!
Prepared apple pie filling (recipe below)
Vanilla pudding, 2 small boxes prepared (use instructions on box)
1/2 of prepared pumpkin spice cake (recipe below), broken up into small pieces
2 8-ounce containers of cool whip
2-3 cups of cookie crumbs (gingersnaps or a similar variety are recommended)
Layer ingredients as follows-
Apple pie filling
Repeat, except for apples, leaving cool whip as final layer
Decorate as desired
Refrigerate prior to serving
When layering ingredients, cover each prior layer completely. You want to get a taste of each component in every bite. Plus, the view from the side is prettier when you can see each element
Instead of or in addition to the cookies, toasted walnuts or pecans would make a great crunch layer
If you like butterscotch, butterscotch pudding would probably be a great replacement for vanilla
I chose to use lower fat ingredients in this recipe because 1) I knew that the way it comes together it does NOT taste low fat, and 2) the rest of the desserts planned for our night were extra indulgent. This version was made with fat free cool whip and fat free, sugar free pudding
1 box spice cake mix
1 small can (15 oz.) pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling
2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg replacement
1/2 cup water
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 9×13 pan or baking dish with cooking spray (if you want to, you can make into 24 cupcakes instead and save the extra; they will freeze well)
Combine all ingredients until batter is smooth. A mixer is easier but this can also be done by hand
Spread batter into baking dish and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until knife or toothpick comes out clean
Allow to cool before using in trifle
Apple Pie Filling
3 golden delicious apples, sliced (peeling optional)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
Dash of cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Combine apples, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Set aside
Melt butter in medium pan over low-medium heat
Sprinkle in granulated sugar and stir until mixture is lightly browned
Pour apple mixture into pan and stir
Cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes or until apple slices are softened
Allow to cool before using in trifle
What are your favorite flavors of fall?