This Gingerbread Trifle is a magical Christmas dessert filled with a ginger ale and sparkling wine jelly, gingerbread cake and butterscotch pudding.
I’m totally in love with this golden Gingerbread Trifle. It’s easy to make and I just love that it’s in individual servings. Of course, you can make one large one but I couldn’t resist when I found these cute little trifle dishes.
Last year, myself and good friend Trang from Wild Wild Whisk collaborated on a Christmas dessert. This year we have a bunch of wonderful food bloggers joining us, all with their own amazing gingerbread creations. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to try all of them. You’ll find the links to all the recipes at the end of this post.
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Isn’t it funny how tastes change over time. I never use to like trifles but then many of the ones I’d come across just looked like a soggy mess. Everything all mixed up with only some vague layers. Often they were smothered in whipped cream that had discoloured from the jelly mixing through it.
These days they look so much prettier and can include whatever layers you love most. With this knowledge in hand, I wanted to create a pretty but also delicious Gingerbread Trifle just perfect for Christmas.
There are four delicious layers to this trifle
- Ginger ale and sparkling wine jelly
- Gingerbread cake
- Butterscotch pudding
- Toppings of gingerbread cookies and gold and white sprinkles
What is a trifle?
A trifle is a layered dessert, usually comprising of some kind of jelly, whipped cream and a layer of cake or biscuits / cookies. I’m not a fan of whipped cream so instead I substituted that with a smooth and creamy butterscotch pudding layer. If you prefer you can certainly substitute one or both of the pudding layers with whipped cream instead.
How to make trifle
When making a trifle, you’ll need to focus on one layer at a time. While each layer in this trifle is quite easy, each step will need to be done separately. For this reason, I would suggest making the jelly layer up to 2 days beforehand so that it’s one less step to worry about on the day. If you make the cake well ahead of time and freeze it that will save you more time on the day.
The layering is very easy but it’s best to keep the jelly layer on the bottom. This is because when you pour it into the glass it is still liquid. If it is on top of another layer it will just seep into that layer or run down the sides so you’ll lose that lovely layered look.
Can I make a big trifle with this recipe
Yes. This recipe makes 4 mini individual serve trifles but if you want one large one just double all the ingredients to keep the proportions correct. This will serve 8-12 people this way. If you are using a standard round trifle dish, bake the cake in a round tin and then slice into 2 layers once baked.
I’ve previously made this using an 8 inch cake tin as they turn out the perfect size to slip into my standard trifle bowl but double check the size of yours first. If you don’t have the right size cake tin, no problem. Just break the cake into chunks like the top layer of these and layer it that way.
That Ginger Ale and Wine Jelly layer
Sounds good right? You can use any kind of sparkling wine or champagne that you like in this but remember this will be an adults only dessert as that alcohol won’t be cooked out. I used a ratio of 1 part ginger ale to 1 part sparkling moscato and it tastes like a refreshing cocktail in jelly form.
The jelly is as easy as heating half of the liquids and a little sugar, then whisking through some powdered gelatine. Once dissolved pour this mixture through a strainer into the other half of the liquids then pour straight into your serving dishes. You can use a standard trifle bowl, mini trifle dishes like these ones or even just nice glasses. Place in the fridge to set.
The jelly needs to be completely set before layering your trifles.
The Gingerbread Cake
I love, love, love this gingerbread cake. It tastes exactly like gingerbread cookies but in soft, fluffy cake form. It would be gorgeous as a layered cake filled with cream cheese frosting too. This is actually a slightly amended version of my Gingerbread Cupcakes.
The gingerbread cake comes together like most cakes. Butter and sugar are creamed together, then add egg, some treacle and vanilla. Finally mix through the dry ingredients and some milk. That’s it.
This mixture gets spread out into a 9×13 baking tin and baked for just 12-14 minutes until the top springs back when touched.
The Butterscotch Pudding
This butterscotch pudding is basically a caramelly flavoured custard. Vanilla and butter are added to really round out the butterscotch flavour and it is super simple to make.
Heat the milk and vanilla in a saucepan until steaming. While this is happening, beat together some eggs, sugar and cornflour until very light and creamy. Now very, very slowly drizzle the hot mixture into the eggs while continuing to beat on low. Don’t pour it in quickly as this will just curdle your egg yolks. Drizzling it in slowly and whisking at the same time is called tempering and basically means you are bringing the eggs up to temperature gradually.
The whole lot gets poured back into the saucepan and heated over low heat, while stirring until it’s nice and thick. It will start off looking very frothy but these bubble will disappear as it thickens. Finally add some butter and stir through until it’s melted and incorporated. Now, pour the pudding into a bowl and press plastic wrap down against the pudding so that it doesn’t form a skin. Make sure it has cooled completely before putting the trifles together. Done.
Layering the trifle
This is the easiest part of all and it’s fun to watch the trifle come together. Use a round cookie cutter to cut 4 little circles from your sheet cake and place one into each glass on top of the set jelly. Break up the rest of the cake and set aside. Now dollop a layer of pudding on top of the cake, and top that with the chunks of broken up cake. A little more pudding on top of that layer, then use some store bought (or homemade) gingerbread cookies to poke in the top with some sprinkles to give some sparkle.
If you’d like to make your own gingerbread cookies, you can use my Gingerbread Almond Snowball Cookies recipe. Just leave out the almonds and roll the dough to cut any shapes you like.
Yes, the jelly can be made 2 days ahead and poured straight into the dishes. The cake can be made up to 3 months in advance and stored in the freezer. The Butterscotch pudding can be made a day ahead. These are best layered together on the day. The layering takes just minutes, leaving you plenty of time to organise other dishes.
- The jelly – Pour this directly into the dishes once made so that it sets in the serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
- The cake – can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place or in the freezer if making it ahead. If freezing the cake, wrap it well in plastic wrap.
- The butterscotch pudding should be stored in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed to the top of the pudding to stop it from forming a skin.
So there you have a beautiful Gingerbread Trifle which is sure to be a hit on your Christmas desserts table.
Treats from Our Virtual Gingerbread Swap
- Gingerbread Biscotti from The Sweet Rebellion
- Ginger Molasses Cookies with Candied Ginger from Wild Wild Whisk
- Gingerbread Orange Layer Cake from The Sugar Coated Cottage
- Gingerbread Cupcakes from Pies and Tacos
- Baked Gingerbread Doughnuts from Two Cups Flour
- Holiday Gingerbread Cake from No More Mr Nice Pie
For the ginger champagne jelly
- 1 cup (250ml) champagne or sparkling wine (notes)
- 1 cup (250ml) dry ginger ale
- 1/4 cup (50g / 1.8oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 teaspoons gelatine powder
For the Gingerbread cake
- 97 g (3/4 cup) plain (all purp) flour
- 15 g cornflour (cornstarch)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 57 g (1/2 stick / 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup (50g / 1.8oz) dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg, room temp
- 2 tablespoons 1/6 cup treacle
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons 1/6 cup full cream (whole) milk, room temp
For the butterscotch pudding
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
- 100 g (1/2 cup / 3.5oz) packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cup (375ml / 12.6 fl oz) full cream (whole) milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon (30g) unsalted butter
- Store bought gingerbread cookies
- Gold and white sprinkles
For the jelly
- Mix together the wine and ginger ale then pour half into a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, then bring to the boil over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the gelatine and whisk in straight away until dissolved.
- Pour the mixture through a strainer into the remaining wine and ginger ale. Stir to combine.
- Pour the jelly evenly among 4 mini trifle dishes and allow set in the fridge for at least 3 hours
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 180C / 350F /160C fan. Line a 22.5x31.5cm (9x12 inch) baking tin with baking paper.
- Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, spices and salt and mix them well.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat through. Add the vanilla and treacle and beat well until all completely mixed. Add half of the flour mix and stir through with a spatula. Add the milk and mix until just combined then add the remaining flour mix and stir through until well combined (make sure not to overmix).
- Spread the batter into your lined tin. Bake for around 12 minutes until the cake bounces back when you touch it with your finger.
For the butterscotch pudding
- Whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar until very thick and creamy and light in colour.
- In a saucepan on low-medium heat, heat together the milk and vanilla until it reaches a simmer. Take it off the heat and while whisking continuously, slowly dribble the hot milk into the eggs. You must do this slowly so the eggs heat up slowly and don’t scramble.
- Return the saucepan to a low heat. Stir constantly until you have a very thick custard. Make sure to keep stirring so that you don’t get any lumps. Add the butter and stir through until melted and combined.
- Push the pudding through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps, cover the top with plastic wrap making sure the wrap is pressed to the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until completely cool.
To assemble the trifle
- Use a large circle cookie cutter to cut out 4 circles that match the size of your dish. Break the remaining cake into small chunks and set aside. Top the cake with half the butterscotch pudding. Follow that with the cake chunks and then the remaining butterscotch pudding. Decorate with gingerbread cookies, white and gold sprinkles.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons worldwide).
- You can use any liquids you like in the jelly. You can swap the wine or champagne for a non-alcoholic version if you prefer. Or you could use 3/4 ginger ale and the last 1/4 water
- If you'd like to make one large trifle, double all the ingredients. For the cake, bake it as one cake in an 8 inch round cake tin for 22-25 minutes, then slice it in half to use as layers in the trifle.
Tools used in this recipe
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