Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Desserts: Trifle and Ambrosia

For me Christmas day began with food - I had a trifle and a bowl of ambrosia to make, both of which are really great summer desserts for the beautiful, blue-skied day that we had here in Invercargill. Trifle is a pretty classic dessert that is probably made in a million different ways by various families and individuals. My family's version is somewhat different to any I have seen before and my own adaptation of it is what I am posting below. Traditionally the dessert consists of layers of sponge, jelly or jam, fruit and custard. My trifle, on the other hand, uses rasberry fizzy drink. Ambrosia is also quite well known, here in New Zealand at least. It is a dessert that consists of cream, yoghurt, berries, marshmallows and chocolate. When I made it in Ireland nobody had heard of it before and everybody loved it, so I guess it's not just us Kiwi's that think it's good.


1 plain sponge (make your own or buy pre-made)
1 bottle of rasberry fizzy (soda? soft-drink? I think calling it fizzy is just a Kiwi thing)
1 packet rasberry jelly crystals
500 grams mixed berries or fruit salad, canned, frozen or fresh
About 2 cups (500 mL) vanilla custard
250 mL whipping cream
Grated chocolate (or a cadbury flake bar)

The great thing about this dessert, and the ambrosia below too, is that they are just put together and don't require a lot of time or effort. Even if you want to make your own sponge instead of buying one, it's still relatively quick and easy. I make one from the NZ Edmond's cookbook, their 3-minute sponge, but any basic sponge recipe would do. The first thing to do for the trifle is to get a big glass or plastic bowl (you want something transparent so that you can see the layers). Tear pieces off of the sponge and fill the bowl about halfway.

The next step is to prepare the jelly crystals by emptying them into a small bowl or jug and adding a half cup (125 mL) of boiling water. Stir until the crystals are pretty much dissolved. After trying sponges from a lot of different people I decided that my own was too goopy and needed jelly, but I like the rasberry fizzy so I have combined the two. I added about 2 cups (500 mL) of the rasberry fizzy to the jelly, gave it a little mix and then poured this over my sponge. If you cannot get rasberry fizzy, as I could not in places like Germany, use lemonade, so that you still get the fizz effect.

You then place the fruit directly on top of this layer. I prefer to use mixed berries, I usually buy a bag frozen, but this time around I didn't have enough so I used cans of fruit salad (with the syrup drained out!). I used 2 cans because that was all I had, but more would have been good.

On top of the fruit you add the custard. You can buy pre-made custard, which is usually really yummy, but I always make my own with custard powder, sugar and milk. When I was in Germany I couldn't find custard so used vanilla pudding. Make the custard sort of thick, so that you can't pour it but have to spoon it over. It's best to make this ahead and let it cool, but you could add it hot and it would be OK still.

Finally, you whip up the cream until soft peaks form and then spoon that over the top. I don't much like cream so when I always add a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla essence when I beat it. Decorate it with grated chocolate and some strawberries if you have them and then just place it in the fridge until it's time to eat it! Chilling it for a couple of hours is a good idea, so that the liquid can really soak into the sponge and the jelly set a little. It will be easier to serve, the layers will hold together a bit better, like in the picture below.


500 mL whipping cream
1 litre berry flavoured yoghurt
1 kg frozen berries
1 packet (about 180 grams) pink and white marshmallows
Small pieces of chocolate, like chocolate drops or chocolate chips, or get a block and chop it up roughly. I think I used about 150 grams.

This is a really, really easy dessert that everybody (so long as they can eat dairy and like creamy things) will absolutely love. It's so fast, but tastes so good that people who don't know better will think that you've gone to a huge amount of effort. So - first you need to whip the cream in a large bowl until it is thick, like in the picture above.

Next, add all the other ingredients and fold them in gently until everything is combined. You could place servings into individual dishes at this point, like you might do for chocolate mousse, if you are wanting your dessert to look nice and fancy. If you want to make it pretty, you could sprinkle chocolate on top or add more berries (though they might sink). Then cover it up and refrigerate it for the day, or as long as you can until you can wait no more and absolutely have to eat it!


  1. The food is absolutely amazing. I hope I could taste and cook that in actual, maybe if I have much time since I am so busy working. Anyways, thanks for sharing your article. God Bless and have a good day. Visit my site too.

  2. Eating is really one of my hobby i mean part of my life and cooking is my passion.
    I also love going to a place and at the same time taste their delicious and most wanted food.
    I want to taste something that is new to my palate. Thanks for sharing your article with us.


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