Trifle is a custard’s vivacious English cousin. They are usually made up of beautiful and colorful layers of fruit and sponge cakes soaked in wine or juice and suspended between creamy blankets of custard. The custard is generally our good old traditional yellow and velvety Vanilla custard, cooked into a thick creamy pudding like rich, firm and moldable consistency. For a nice welcome change, I like replacing the delicate sponge cakes soaked in juice with crunchy wafer crumbs. I find it delightful when my mouth discovers those little crunchy surprises amidst the otherwise soft and smooth custard base. Isn’t that fun?
I loved custard as a child and it was almost like a staple, comfort food for my little brother and me then. Ma (my mom) used to make these thin pourable custards on her stove-top, for us often. We liked them best at dinner, served with fresh homemade, soft, puffed up and light Phulkas (small Indian wheat tortillas or petite Chapathis). The circulating sweet vanilla scent in the air and you could tell Ma was stirring-in custard for us in kitchen. That is my memories of custard. In India those days, we knew of 2 major custard powder brands — Brown & Polson and Weikfield — Ma preferred the former more. Of all, our favorite flavors were vanilla, banana and strawberry. Vanilla flavored custard powder packets were the most frequent visitor in our kitchen.
Unfortunately, the Indian stores near me in South Brunswick, carry neither of the 2 brands of custard powder I love. The ones this store has isn’t bad and makes decently good custards. However, I was craving for the rather smooth and silky custard Ma had long spoiled us with!
My littlest A, was turning one this month and Ma, Baba (my Dad) were flying to be with us to celebrate A’s 1st. Yes, it was a great day for all of us here. We were going to have a birthday party to honor A. I asked Ma to get me two packets of Brown & Polson’s vanilla custard powder from India.
I wanted to do a “Candy Buffet” for the kids at the party and had zeroed down on a “Sweet as can BEE” theme. It goes on to say that the theme colors were bright yellow, black, brown and pink (with a bit of white thrown here and there!). Therefore, all of the sweet treats I make had to have these colors in good measures. Needless to mention, they also had to be easy and hassle-free recipes. How else can I imagine myself doing so many types for the candy buffet? I quickly thought of making a more simplified version of the crunchy trifles I make using vanilla custard powder Ma got for me.
It also gave me the opportunity to throw in the theme colors in good measures!
So, I rushed to the local store and grabbed disposable clear plastic 5oz cups with lids. Made a quick custard, refrigerated them and made thin layers of the trifle in the small party cups. That’s it and I had some lovely delicious dessert to go for my guests! I topped each of my trifle with a sprinkle of candy flowers and a sugar honeybee for an exciting fun surprise. These trifle cups fetched me a lot of compliments from my guests, especially the kids at the party.
Nonetheless, here’s the original recipe of my BEE-licious wafer and fruit trifle. Hope you enjoy it as much too! I sometimes use white icing in place of whipped cream to top my triple with loaded deliciousness. I have also used slightly sweetened and whipped plain or fruit flavored yogurt on my trifles for a healthier version of my recipe. They all taste great.
TO MAKE THIS TRIFLE YOU WILL NEED⇒
Serves 3-4 (makes about 18 oz or 500 gms of the dessert)
- 8 oz or 235 ml whole milk
- 1.5 tbsp of vanilla custard powder or your favorite custard flavor (I used the Brown & Polson brand)
- 2 tbsp sugar or more to taste
- 0.5 cup chopped fruits of your choice (I used blueberries, strawberries and black seedless grapes) — preferably use fruits that do not release a lot of juice/water
- 4 wafers of any flavor
- Whipped cream or cake Icing/Frosting or sweetened yogurt for topping (I used decorating icing as a topping)
- 1 ziploc snack bag
- 4 tbsp of cold whole milk (to dissolve the custard powder)
- Decorating sprinklers or candy confetti (*Optional)
- Clear glass or plastic serving-ware, spoons and stirrers.
- In a cup, dissolve the custard powder in 4 tbsp of cold milk. Stir well to remove lumps and get a uniform solution.
- Heat 8oz of whole milk and sugar in a pan over medium high heat.
- Just before the milk is about to boil, switch the stove to very low heat, and slowly add the custard mixture into the milk with constant stirring.
- Continue to stir and slow heat the pan for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the custard begins to thick sufficiently. (Please note: some commercial custard powders may differ in their ingredient ratios. If you do not observe the consistency changing, dissolve an additional tbsp of custard powder in 2-3 tbsp of cold milk in a cup and add it to the pan over slow heat and with constant stirring.)
- Once, the custard is thick and begins to set in, remove the pan from heat and pour into a container. Close the container with lid and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- Put the wafers in the snack bag and zip-lock it. Crush the wafers into coarse crumbs.
- When the custard has set in the container nicely and is cold, lightly break and mix with a spoon. This facilitates making the custard layers for the trifle.
- In the clean and clear serving-ware, make a layer with chopped fruits. Top it with a bed of custard. With a spoon, gently push down the custard layer so as to fill in any gaps between the fruit pieces and to form a firm and tight layer. On the custard, evenly spread a layer of the crushed wafers. Top the wafer bed with another layer of custard. Yet again, push down the custard gently with a spoon. Add a single layer of fresh fruit pieces on the custard. Top it with cake icing or whipped cream or sweet and whipped yogurt. Add some candy sprinklers to decorate.
- Serve immediately. (Do not refrigerate the trifle if you are using cake icing topping, since that causes undesirably hard trifle layer. Prolonged chilling may also cause the wafer crumbs to loose their crunch!) Have a sweet day you all!