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.
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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 modern new caravan that was the envy of other road-trippers we met on our never-ending journey.
Our caravan was so long compared to the cramped compact caravans and pop-up campers towed by other families we befriended that everyone stared as we backed into sites that I became somewhat embarrassed by our sleek home on wheels.
My embarrassment aside, I was very grateful not only for the separate bedrooms, shower and toilet, and spacious living area, but also the amazing kitchen – which I probably used as much as my parents did.
Depending on where we’d settled in for a while, I 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.
I was a responsible young student and capable independent learner, thanks to 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 flexible 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 classic Australian trifle, modelled on the traditional English trifle, consisted of just three layers, so trifles weren’t all that difficult to assemble. But what might be surprising to many of you is that my parents let me make my trifles as they should be made, with booze-soaked sponge cake, jelly and custard, topped with whipped cream.
But, knowing my parents, I’m not surprised that they let me add a splash of brandy or rum, 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
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
- 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
- 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.
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.