What is trifle? It's hard to describe. Basically it's a layered dessert, made with ladyfingers, jello, pudding, fruit cocktail and sherry. We loved it when we were kids--well, it's full of things that aren't good for you, so of course we loved it! There are many other recipes for trifle, but just reading the recipe brings back memories of the amazing taste of this dessert, and of my mother's face when she carried it to the table.
It turned out to be more of a challenge to post the recipe than I thought--my computer decided that my printer no longer has a scanner, so I could not scan in the PDF Cathy sent by email.
So I took a photo of the printed copy of the PDF that Cathy emailed that is a copy of the original recipe in Mom's handwriting. (This is beginning to sound like The House that Jack Built!) Here it is:
Now a photo of a copy of an electronic copy of an original isn't ideal, but better than nothing. It's hard to read, although if you click on it the print may be big enough to make out. But here is the recipe, typed out:
1 package of plain lady fingers, split
1 package raspberry jello
1 small can fruit cocktail
1 cup water
1/2 cup good sherry
1 package vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tsp sugar
Maraschino cherries for decorating top
A few mint leaves if available
Large glass bowl
Spread the raspberry jam between the ladyfingers. Place in the bottom of the bowl. Drain fruit cocktail-save the liquid. Place fruit on top of the ladyfingers Pour sherry over this and let soak.
Meanwhile boil 1 cup water. In a small bowl make jello with the boiling water. Add enough cold water to reserved fruit juice to make one cup; pour this into the jello and stir well. This is then added to fruit and sponge mixture in the bowl. Refrigerate 2 hours until set.
In pan (or bowl if it's instant) make pudding. let cool. Pour this over the jello-fruit in the glass bowl. Refrigerate.
Just before serving beat whipping cream until stiff peaks can be formed, adding sugar as you beat. Put this on top of the trifle.
Drain cherries on paper towel. Place on top as decoration with two mint leaves beside each cherry.
I seem to remember that Mom made several layers with the lady fingers--perhaps one of my sisters can recall if she did that, or if it's my imagination. I do remember this beautiful dessert shimmering in the glass bowl, crowned with whipped cream and cherries. When she made it for us as children, of course, she skipped the sherry! It was still delicious, a treat we had on rare, special occasions.
There are many other trifle recipes; many that call for fresh fruit, some made from chocolate, pumpkin--you name it, someone has tried it. The basic recipe is the same--layers of cake, pudding, fruit, alcohol to soak it and whipped cream to top it. Check out Cooks.com for 145 different trifle recipes!
In my mother's childhood, canned fruit cocktail was a delicacy (heck, it was in my childhood too!); especially during World War II it may have been one of the few kinds of fruit available. I do remember Mom making this with fresh strawberries, blueberries and bananas.
Let me know if you try it. I'd love to know how it turns out.