Strawberry Shortcake Trifle
When I think about my life in food—the dishes that have made me who I am or remind me of how I was raised—Strawberry Shortcake Trifle is at the top of the list. To me this signifies that my childhood was spoiled and filled with excellent dessert. Both are true.
I grew up eating my Grammy’s strawberry shortcake. Every Fourth of July, she adds blueberries to make it red, white, and blue (my idea of patriotism), but spoiled privileged granddaughter that I was, I would often request strawberry shortcake on other occasions (it was Tuesday, for example), and my too-generous Grammy would oblige.
Strawberry shortcake dates back more than 100 years, and as with any dish that has been around for a while, it has developed many iterations—some make it with pound cake, others angel food cake, and still others biscuits, to name a few.
I am going to state declaratively that my Grammy’s simple, classic recipe for shortcake is the absolute best. A fluffy, buttery cross between a flakey biscuit and a tender cake, my Grammy’s shortcake recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, requires only one bowl and one pan, and was created to be combined with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.
To me, Grammy’s strawberry shortcake is the epitome of that glorious culinary phenomenon where the simplest combinations turn out to be the most delicious. (If you’d like the recipe for my Grammy’s shortcake, you can find it in this post for Peach Shortcake.)
In addition to strawberry shortcake, berry trifle is another one of my Grammy’s signature desserts. Soft layers of pound cake (my Grammy actually uses sliced Little Debbie jelly rolls, which look beautiful and taste shockingly gourmet in the completed dish), shortbread cookies, fresh berries, pudding, and real whipped cream, berry trifle is a show-stopping dessert that tastes like fluffy whipped berry heaven.
As I’ve shared before, my Grammy is the ultimate hostess, and trifle is one of her (and now my) favorites for entertaining. It can be made up to two days in advance, feeds a crowd, and looks stunning enough for the cover of Martha Stewart Living; yet, it is straightforward to prepare. Thanks to Grammy, any time I need a dessert for a summer party, berry trifle is at the top of the list.
My Grammy and I are very close, and it was she who first taught me to bake. Every Wednesday during the summer, she would pick out a dessert recipe for us, shop for the ingredients, then bring my sisters and me to her house and teach us to make it. This is both how I learned to bake, and what I assume to be the origin of my voracious sweet tooth. I am grateful for both. I still call Grammy with baking questions on a regular basis, including today’s Strawberry Shortcake Trifle.
A few weeks ago, Driscoll’s Berries contacted me to create a special recipe for National Strawberry Shortcake Day, which is June 14th,, and I immediately agreed. In keeping with the lifespan of strawberry shortcake itself, Driscoll’s has been growing berries for more than 100 years, and I loved the idea of finding a new way to share my Grammy’s shortcake to celebrate the tradition. I fell for the idea of combining her shortcake and her trifle into one stellar dessert, and I immediately called Grammy for advice.
Grammy’s words of Strawberry Shortcake Trifle wisdom:
- Resist the urge to eat the trifle the day you make it. It needs to sit overnight to soften properly and for the flavors to meld.
- Instant vanilla pudding is ok; homemade whipped cream is mandatory.
- Layer as follows: shortcake; sprinkle with rum; shortbread cookie; sprinkle with rum; vanilla pudding; sprinkle with rum; whipped cream; sprinkle with rum; berries; sprinkle with rum. Repeat.
Most importantly, and I quote:
- It will seem like too much rum, but it isn’t.
My Grammy’s “sprinkle” rum technique came out to be about 1/2 cup rum, which does sound like a lot, but after a few bites, I found myself wanting to add an few extra splashes for good luck. I left the recipe at 1/2 cup, but feel free to adjust. As my Grammy said, “It will seem like too much rum, but it isn’t.”
Let’s build ourselves a Strawberry Shortcake Trifle! (I did mini trifles in these dishes in lieu of the classic large size, but feel free to use whatever sized serving dishes you like) The Strawberry Shortcake Trifle assembly process is a bit like stacking blocks, but way more fun since we are going to eat it at the end.
First, we split the shortcake and spread the middles with strawberry jam. The jam adds extra berry sweetness and makes the layers ultra pretty. Place a bit of pudding at the base of the dish to anchor it, arrange a few pieces of the shortcake, then sprinkle with rum.
Next step is shortbread cookies. I used buttery Lorna Doone (my Grammy’s recommendation). For super bonus points, you can make them from scratch, but a good quality store-bought cookie will do just fine here.
A second sprinkling of rum, then pudding, more rum, whipped cream, more rum (be thorough!), and the ruby red berries. At this point, I reached the top of my mini dessert glasses, but if you are using a larger trifle bowl, simply repeat the layers, ending with whipped cream and berries.
Let the trifle rest in the refrigerator overnight, and you will be rewarded with an absolutely ethereal dessert. The layers blend together into something greater than each could be alone. Part pudding, part cake, and total berry bliss, Strawberry Shortcake Trifle is heaven in a dish, topped with a cloud of whipped cream…plus rum
Keep your spoon handy. Strawberry Shortcake Trifle is fit for a special occasion, but you’re going want to eat it directly from the fridge at midnight. Trust me—I am very well informed on this point.
For the recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Trifle, visit the Driscoll’s website where I am excited to be sharing it as a part of National Strawberry Shortcake Day!
A very special thank you to my Grammy for providing help and direction on this recipe! Grammy’s recipes elsewhere:
Disclosure: Paid Endorsement from Driscoll’s – Visit www.driscolls.com for more berry recipes and to enter their summer sweepstakes for a KitchenAid stand mixer + year’s supply of berries. As always, all opinions are my own and thanks for supporting the brands who support The Law Student’s Wife!