This cranberry trifle is made with layers of eggnog pastry cream and sponge cake, topped with whipped cream for a festive holiday dessert that's pretty easy to make!
In the spirit of trying to make the holidays a little simpler for all of us and attempting to not leave EVERYTHING to the last minute, I came up with this trifle recipe. You can make the components of this dessert ahead of time, so even though it seems complicated, it's not, and you can do it all a few days before serving. Here's the breakdown of the schedule:
- up to one month ahead: make the warm milk sponge cake and stick it in the freezer. Just defrost it in the fridge a day before you plan on assembling the trifles
- two days before serving: make the eggnog custard and the poached cranberries
- one day before serving: assemble the trifles
- just before serving: whip the cream and garnish (technically you could even whip the cream the day before and finish the trifles completely, but I personally prefer freshly whipped cream)
The custard layer is a classic pastry cream flavoured with nutmeg and rum. It tastes like Christmas! Looking for an even easier eggnog treat? Try this eggnog milkshake, which is ready in minutes, or you can make eggnog to drink!
Holiday eggnog and cranberry trifle
For the sponge cake
- 125 mL whole milk (3.25 % fat), I used 2%
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large egg(s)
- 200 g granulated sugar, 1 cup
- 125 g bleached all-purpose flour, 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
For the poached cranberries
- 200 g granulated sugar, 1 cup
- 250 mL water, 1 cup
- 360 g frozen cranberries, 3 cups
For the eggnog custard
- 500 mL whole milk (3.25 % fat)
- 100 g granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoon bleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 large egg yolk(s)
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon spiced or dark rum
- 9 teaspoon spiced or dark rum
For the final touches
- 250 mL whipping cream (35 % fat), 1 cup
- 25 g icing sugar
- White chocolate shavings, I got the white chocolate curls at my local bakery
- ground nutmeg
Make the sponge cake up to a month ahead of time
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 9×9 metal baking pan (Chicago Metallic on Amazon)
- Warm the milk with the butter to melt them together in the microwave or a small saucepan. Add the vanilla and set this aside to cool.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (I have also done this successfully with the paddle attachment!), beat the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy and creamy coloured (this takes a good 5 minutes of beating), then add in the salt.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl.
- Add the flour mixture, alternating with the warm milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes until the sides are golden brown and pull away from the pan, and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Unmold after 5 minutes onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make ahead, wrap tightly with plastic wrap + foil, and freeze for a month.
- Defrost in the fridge 2 days before serving.
Poach the cranberries 2 days before serving
- In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and when the sugar is completely dissolved and the cranberries are soft (but haven’t completely burst), take the pan off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.
Make the eggnog custard 2 days before serving
- Have a strainer ready and a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet nearby.
- Whisk together the milk, nutmeg, and half the sugar over medium-high heat.
- Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with the rest of the sugar, then add the flour and cornstarch and whisk to combine and get rid of the lumps.
- When the milk is steamy and hot, pour it over the egg mixture, and whisk to temper the eggs. Pour everything into the saucepan.
- Heat the custard, whisking constantly, until it boils then boil for 1 minute.
- Remove the mixture from heat, strain and transfer to a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet and smooth into a thin layer. Top with another layer of plastic wrap, directly in contact with the pastry cream. Wrap tightly. Cool completely in the fridge.
- Transfer the chilled custard to a bowl and whisk vigorously to loosen it up, then whisk in the vanilla and the rum just before assembling the trifles.
Assemble the trifles the day before serving
- Cut out 9x2-¼–2-½ inch rounds of cake. Place one in the bottom of each jam jar. Sprinkle each with a teaspoon of rum.
- Layer in dollops of eggnog custard and poached cranberries, dividing them among the jars as you like (if you decide not to use all the cranberries, serve them with your morning pancakes).
- Close the jars and set them aside in the fridge until you are ready to serve the trifles.
- Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks, and add in the icing sugar before you finish whipping. Divide the whipped cream between the 9 jars. Top with a sprinkling of shaved white chocolate and freshly grated nutmeg.
- For this recipe, I used large Canadian eggs
Egg Farmers of Canada offered me financial compensation to develop a recipe with Canadian Grade A eggs. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new recipes for Kitchen Heals Soul. As always, please know that I wouldn’t work with a sponsor or product if it wasn’t worth it. And since I cannot live without eggs (or eggnog custard), this just makes sense!
ha! I can sympathize. My Christmas boxes sat in the front room for 5 days. Finally last night I finished decorating while everyone was at karate.
I believe as long as everyone is fed then everything else is peanuts. 🙂
And those trifles me dear, fabulous!
Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness says
Janice, these photos are beautiful! I feel festive just from looking at them 🙂
Aimee @ Simple Bites says
We are counting down, yes!! And I love your trifle. So, so pretty.
This sounds fantastic - eggnog and cranberry would be a perfect combination in my books. And I agree with Shareba - gorgeous photos!
jess meddows says
These little trifles are so pretty! I might try and make them with my mother for Christmas, we love cranberries. 🙂
Oh my! These look amazing!
Whenever I hear/see trifle, I can't help but think of that Friends episode where Rachel combined trifle and some type of meat stew and Joey still liked it. I think Joey would approve of yours as well 🙂 p.s. countdown is on!
I can help myself ... I keep going back to look at those pictures. So, so pretty! Love the tang of cranberries, and I imagine these contrast beautifully with the other ingredients. Great recipe!
Olivia @ livforcake says
These photos are amazing, Janice! Truly stunning and so festive. Love them! The trifle sounds delicious, and I love how you can make the components in advance. Makes it less intimidating overall.
I hope your tree is up now!! 🙂