This easy trifle recipe makes a tropical trifle with layers of rum-soaked vanilla sponge, fresh papaya, lychee jelly, pineapple custard, mango puree, fresh passionfruit, and cream, topped with dried tropical fruits. Served in individual glasses, it’s an elegant trifle made for holiday entertaining, but could also be served in a traditional trifle bowl.

My easy trifle recipe makes a tropical flavoured trifle dessert made up of layers of rum-soaked vanilla sponge, fresh diced papaya, lychee jelly, pineapple custard, mango puree, fresh passionfruit pulp, and thickened cream, topped with dried tropical fruits.

In my late childhood cum early teenage years I was obsessed with trifles, which I regularly made in a traditional trifle bowl. But these days I like to serve trifles in individual glasses. The presentation not only makes for a more elegant looking trifle that’s more suited to holiday entertaining, but the trifles set faster and hold together better.

Before I tell you all about my easy trifle recipe for a tropical trifle, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by using our links to buy travel insurance, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, book accommodation, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. You could also browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images.

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Easy Trifle Recipe for a Tropical Trifle with Papaya, Pineapple Custard, Mango Puree and Lychee Jelly

Perhaps surprisingly, considering my early cooking history with trifles, this easy trifle recipe for a tropical trifle is the first trifle recipe I’ve developed in 40 years. Which is to say that I started developing boozy trifle recipes from a very young age!

I had not long turned ten when my parents took my little sister and I on an epic five-year road trip around Australia in a shiny new four-wheel-drive and a massive contemporary caravan that was the envy of all the other road-tripping families we met on the road.

Our caravan was so long compared to the cramped, compact, old-fashioned vans and pop-up camper vans towed by all the other families we befriended on our never-ending journey that everyone stared as we pulled into park sites that I became somewhat embarrassed by our comfortable home on wheels.

My embarrassment aside, I was very grateful not only for the separate bedrooms, shower and toilet, and spacious living area, but I was appreciative of the amazing kitchen – which I probably used more than my parents.

Depending on where we’d settled in for a while, I often spent my days at home doing my correspondence school lessons while my parents were working and my little sister was at child care or pre-school.

Easy Trifle Recipe for a Tropical Trifle with Papaya, Pineapple Custard, Mango Puree and Lychee Jelly. Copyright © 2021 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

I was a responsible young student and a capable independent learner, thanks to my mum’s guidance and discipline, and the terrific South Australian Correspondence School teachers. Educationally, I thrived. But come lunch-time, I’d abandon my lessons for an hour or two – the beauty of the flexibility of home-schooling! – and focus on my self-guided kitchen lessons.

I made everything from crunchy chocolate crackles to savoury cheese sticks and baked biscuits, sweet slices and moist cupcakes. But one of my favourite things to make, which, perhaps a little weirdly, I became obsessed by for a year or so, were traditional trifles.

In those days, the traditional Australian trifle, obviously modelled on the traditional British trifle, consisted of just three layers, so trifles weren’t all that difficult to pull together. But what’s most surprising to me now, is that my parents let me make the traditional trifles as they should be made, with booze-soaked sponge cake, jelly and custard, topped with whipped cream.

But, knowing my parents, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that they let me raid their liquor ‘cabinet’, though now I wonder whether my 11-year-old-self should have been digging so deep into the trifle bowl when serving out the dessert to the family, and tucking into the booze-soaked sponge…

If you’re making my easy trifle recipe for this tropical trifle for kids, you may want to replace the rum with fruit juice instead.

Tips for Making this Easy Trifle Recipe for a Tropical Trifle 

Easy Trifle Recipe for a Tropical Trifle with Papaya, Pineapple Custard, Mango Puree and Lychee Jelly. Copyright © 2021 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Just a few tips to making my easy trifle recipe for a tropical trifle as it’s really very easy to prepare. Traditional trifles only included 3-4 layers, but including additional layers doesn’t really require a whole lot of extra work.

Trifles should be made the night before you want to serve them to allow the flavours to meld together, so you’ll need to prepare the jelly two nights before.

If you don’t wish to use rum, use another tropical liqueur, and if children are going to be tucking into your trifle, you may wish to replace the liquor with juice instead.

My easy trifle recipe for a tropical trifle is also a very versatile recipe, so don’t hesitate to substitute sponges, fruits, jellies, custards, fruit purees, and cream. I will often use creamy flavoured Greek-style yoghurt instead of cream, for instance.

Lychee jelly might be tricky to get hold of, depending on where you are, so use another tropical fruit jelly, such as passionfruit or pineapple.

Easy Trifle Recipe for a Tropical Trifle 

Easy Trifle Recipe for a Tropical Trifle with Papaya, Pineapple Custard, Mango Puree and Lychee Jelly. Copyright © 2021 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Easy Trifle Recipe for a Tropical Trifle

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Jelly setting time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert, Pudding, Sweets
Cuisine: British/Australian
Servings: 4
Calories: 902kcal
Author: Lara Dunston

Ingredients

  • 1 100 g packet lychee jelly crystals
  • 120 g vanilla sponge cake broken by hand into small pieces
  • 177 ml Havana Club rum or another dark rum
  • 400 g fresh papaya finely diced
  • 400 ml pineapple custard or pineapple yoghurt
  • 200 g mango pureed or fresh mango pieces finely diced
  • 2 passionfruit halved
  • 400 ml thickened cream or creamy Greek-style yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp mixed dried tropical fruit pieces mango or pineapple or tomato finely diced
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut

Instructions

  • The night before you plan to make the trifle, prepare the lychee jelly following the directions on the packet, and refrigerate, and prepare the custard if you’re not using store-bought custard.
  • To assemble the trifle, distribute the pieces of sponge cake between four glasses and drizzle the rum over the sponge.
  • Next, to each glass, spoon on a layer of finely diced fresh papaya, a layer of lychee jelly, a layer of pineapple custard (or pineapple yoghurt), and a layer of mango puree (or fresh finely diced mango pieces).
  • Scoop the pulp and seeds out of the passionfruit halves and distribute evenly across the glasses, and then for the final layer, spread the thickened cream (or creamy Greek-style yoghurt) on top, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle on the finely diced tropical fruit and desiccated coconut.

Nutrition

Calories: 902kcal | Carbohydrates: 97g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 219mg | Sodium: 423mg | Potassium: 810mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 62g | Vitamin A: 3731IU | Vitamin C: 93mg | Calcium: 275mg | Iron: 3mg

Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our easy trifle recipe for a tropical trifle as we’d love to know how it turned out for you.

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