Cranberry orange custard trifle

Holiday trifle

When I was a little girl, my mom would make a holiday trifle every year for Christmas. I loved the layers of rich vanilla custard, tart raspberry jam, berries, and brandy-soaked pound cake in every bite. In recent years, however, my mom has foregone the traditional holiday trifle, saying it’s too heavy for dessert.

First layer of Grand Marnier-soaked pound cake & oranges

This year, I decided to resurrect my favorite holiday dessert. My mom and I found a recipe for cranberry orange custard trifle, which sounded a bit lighter than the traditional trifle. Instead of berries  and raspberry jam, this recipe includes oranges and a sweet and slightly sour cranberry sauce, both of which add a sophisticated acidity to this otherwise saccharinely sweet dessert. The colors in the trifle were gorgeous as well, perfect for a festive holiday dinner.

Pouring custard over the cranberries

My family and friends absolutely loved the trifle and could not stop eating it. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my holiday repertoire–and you should too! The trifle would also make a spectacular New Years Eve dessert, for those of you who are still looking for something to make. Make sure to let it sit in the fridge at least 4 hours before serving–and that’s the hardest step, because you’ll be so tempted to eat it right away.

Cranberry Orange Custard Trifle

Adapted slightly from Red Book Magazine

Prep time: 30 min; Cooking time: 35 min; Chilling time: at least 4 hours

CUSTARD

1 ½ cups each heavy cream and milk

Peel from 1 orange

¾ cup sugar

3 T all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 T Grand Marnier

1 T vanilla extract

CRANBERRY FILLING

4 cups fresh cranberries (approx. 1 12 oz. bag)

1 cup orange juice

½ cup sugar

1 T grated orange zest

TRIFLE

1 (1 lb) pound cake, thawed, sliced 3/8 inch thick, and halved

1/3 cup Grand Marnier

6 oranges, peeled and pith removed, cut into segments**

**(I used two 15oz cans of mandarin oranges instead)

TOPPING

1 cup heavy cream

3 T confectioners sugar

2 T Grand Marnier

1 T vanilla extract

Sugared cranberries, optional

  1. Custard: In a medium saucepan, heat cream, milk, and orange peel to just boiling. In a bowl, whisk sugar and flour, then whisk in eggs until smooth. Gradually whisk in ¼ cup of cream mixture. Pour egg mixture into saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3 min. Remove from heat; stir in butter, Grand Marnier, and vanilla until blended. Pour into bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold.
  2. Cranberry filling: In a saucepan, combine cranberries, orange juice, sugar, and zest. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens, about 30 min. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Trifle: Line bottom of a 3 ½ quart trifle dish with a single layer of cake slices. Brush with Grand Marnier, top with about 1 cup orange pieces, then about ½ cup cranberry filling, then about 1 cup custard. Repeat layers 3 more times. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Topping: In a cold bowl with cold beaters, beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, Grand Marnier, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spoon on top of trifle; top with sugared cranberries, if desired.

Makes 16 servings.

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