Cranberry Trifle in a trifle bowl, topped with sugared cranberries and candied oranges.

Cranberry Trifle

Cranberry Trifle – layered with cranberry sauce, sponge cake, and a homemade custard, this Christmas trifle may look impressive but made with simple store-bought ingredients. Perfect for serving a crowd!

Cranberry Trifle in a trifle bowl, topped with sugared cranberries and candied oranges.
Cranberry Trifle

Cranberry Trifle – layered with cranberry sauce, sponge cake, and a homemade custard, this Christmas trifle may look impressive but is made with simple store-bought ingredients. Perfect for serving a crowd!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Safeway. All opinions are 100% mine.

Cranberry Trifle in a trifle bowl, topped with sugared cranberries and candied oranges.

If there’s one dessert that promises to be a showstopper, it might just be the trifle. Part of the allure is in its presentation. Whether you opt for a modern, sleek trifle bowl, a sparkly, vintage heirloom, or a simple glass bowl, I love that you can see a trifle’s layers in all its messy glory, like a cake inside out! 

So, what is a trifle? Well, this layered dessert is of English origin, typically with a sponge cake of some type (e.g., sponge cake, angel food cake, pound cake, ladyfingers), soaked in some liqueur, often sandwiching jam, and layered with fruit, custard, and whipped cream. It’s akin to a fool or a parfait. The best part is that a trifle serves a crowd, and a delighted one, at that.

This holiday season, I wanted to make a trifle that would feel extra special, like a true celebration. But any day can be a celebration between you and me, especially when there’s a trifle involved. There’s no need to wait for a special occasion.

This cranberry trifle layers angel food cake (store-bought makes it easy!), my favorite cranberry wine sauce (a holiday tradition at my house – I always make extra, so I can play with leftovers), a vanilla-specked homemade custard, and fluffy whipped cream. To give it some extra holiday sparkle, I topped it with candied citrus and sugared cranberries, but I won’t tell anyone if you leave that out (and no one will notice!).

My favorite part of making a trifle is that you can prepare all the elements and the trifle itself in advance, making this the ideal dessert to serve at a gathering!

Cranberry Trifle in a trifle bowl, topped with sugared cranberries and candied oranges.

How to Make a Christmas Trifle with Safeway

I recently visited the town of Mountain House to celebrate the grand opening of their neighborhood Safeway! Not only is the store beautiful and impressive with its open and airy design, but each department is also a celebration of local producers, farmers, and community. I love seeing how farms and farmers are highlighted in the produce department, California wines spotlighted in the wine department, local charcuterie artisans displayed in the deli department, and of course, the butcher block, patisserie bakery, and more! It truly is one-stop shopping.

It was evident that Safeway’s arrival had been long awaited by the Mountain House community – not only as a convenient place to shop (no more driving to neighboring towns!) but as an economic pillar and source of jobs. And what a positive place to work! The enthusiasm, work ethic, and pride of the employees in every department were touching.

In keeping with the festive spirit, I wanted to make a Christmas trifle with ingredients that can easily be found at any Safeway. Angle food cake from the bakery, milk, eggs, heavy cream from the dairy, fresh cranberries and citrus from the produce section, and wine from the wine department make it simple!

How to Make a Cranberry Trifle

All the components of the trifle can be made in advance, and the trifle itself can be assembled the day before.

There are four major components to this cranberry trifle:

  • Sponge Cake: I opt for store-bought angel food cake for this trifle. You can also make your own, but store-bought is a great timesaver. Feel free to substitute with pound cake, as well.
  • Custard: The custard is perhaps the most time-consuming part of this trifle recipe, but I assure you, it is not difficult and worth it. This custard is made with a decadent blend of heavy cream, milk, and egg yolks. If you can use a fresh vanilla bean, the lovely specks make it even better, but you can also use pure vanilla.
  • Cranberry Wine Sauce: While many trifles will drizzle a liqueur in the layering process, I like to add the wine right into the cranberries! My Cranberry Wine Sauce is perfect in this recipe.
  • Whipped Cream: A fluffy layer of homemade whipped cream tops the trifle and takes minutes to make.

How to Make a Cranberry Trifle

  1. Make the Custard

    Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in the bowl of a double boiler. Combine heavy cream and milk and gradually whisk it into the sugar. Cover and cook over the boiling water for 8 minutes without stirring. Uncover and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes.

    Add egg yolks, butter, and vanilla, occasionally stirring for about two minutes. Transfer to a heavy saucepan and continue cooking over low heat, constantly whisking, allowing the pudding to thicken until you can coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the custard into a bowl set over an ice bath and allow it to cool. Cover tightly and chill until ready for use.Custard in a water bath.

  2. Make the Cranberry Wine Sauce

    Combine the cranberries, wine, and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, stir in the orange zest, lower heat to a simmer, and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cranberries have all popped. Transfer to a glass container and cool completely. This can be done a few days in advance. If making this the same day, cool in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, and chill until ready to use.Cranberry sauce in a glass bowl.

  3. Make the Whipped Cream

    In a cold mixer bowl (I like to put my mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer beforehand), whisk heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Cover tightly and chill until ready for use.

  4. Assemble the Trifle

    Layer slices of cake on the bottom of a trifle bowl. Spread a layer of cranberry sauce, followed by a layer of custard. Repeat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve or overnight. Garnish with whipped cream before serving. Also, top with sugared cranberries and/or candied orange slices if you like (optional).Cranberry Trifle in a trifle bowl, topped with sugared cranberries and candied oranges.

More Cranberry Desserts

Cranberry Apple Crisp
Cranberry Hand Pies
Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake
Cranberry Curd
Cranberry Curd Parfaits

Cranberry Trifle in a trifle bowl, topped with sugared cranberries and candied oranges.

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Safeway. Thank you for supporting brands that matter to me; sponsored posts such as this help behind the scenes at Kitchen Confidante. All opinions in this post are, as always, my own.

Cranberry Trifle

Cranberry Trifle is layered with cranberry sauce, sponge cake, and homemade custard. This Christmas trifle may look impressive but is deceptively simple, and perfect for serving a crowd!
Cranberry Trifle in a trifle bowl, topped with sugared cranberries and candied oranges.
Print This Pin This
5 from 1 vote
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 484kcal

Ingredients

For the Custard

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk you can also use skim (0%) milk
  • 8 large egg yolks beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 vanilla bean (or substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla)

For the Cranberry sauce

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 small orange

For the Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the Trifle

  • 1 10-inch angel food cake homemade or store-bought, cut into 3/4-inch thick pieces

Instructions

Make the Custard

  • In the bowl of a double boiler, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Combine heavy cream and milk and gradually whisk it into the sugar. Cover and cook over the boiling water for 8 minutes without stirring. Uncover and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Add egg yolks, butter, and vanilla, occasionally stirring for about two minutes. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of a small paring knife. Drop the bean and the seeds into the custard.
  • Transfer to a heavy saucepan and continue cooking over low heat, constantly whisking, allowing the pudding to thicken until you can coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the custard into a bowl set over an ice bath and allow it to cool. Cover tightly and chill until ready for use.

Make the Cranberry Wine Sauce

  • Combine the cranberries, wine, and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, stir in the orange zest, lower heat to a simmer, and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cranberries have all popped.
    Transfer to a glass container and cool completely. This can be done a few days in advance. If making this the same day, cool in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, and chill until ready to use.

Make the Whipped Cream

  • In a cold mixer bowl (I like to put my mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer beforehand), whisk ingredients until soft peaks form. Cover tightly and chill until ready for use.

Assemble the Trifle

  • Layer slices of angel food cake on the bottom in a trifle bowl (one medium or in individual servings). Spread a layer of cranberry sauce, followed by a layer of custard. Repeat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for two hours, until ready to serve or overnight.
    Garnish with whipped cream before serving.
    To make it extra festive, top it with sugared cranberries and/or candied orange slices (optional).

Nutrition

Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 205mg | Sodium: 88mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 1236IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see! Tag @kitchconfidante on Instagram and hashtag it #kitchenconfidante

Comments

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  1. Sabrina

    5 stars
    love that this trifle has cranberry sauce, a nice contrast to all the sweetness, I’m really into it this year since Thanksgiving and no longer want to leave it just for the turkey, and also love that this sauce is much more complex than mine, with red wine, etc, so thank you!

    Reply
    • Liren Baker

      Hi Sabrina! The cranberry sauce really adds zing to the trifle – so I’m glad you agree that it balances out the sweetness! I hope you enjoyed the holidays!

      Reply
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