Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Just a Trifle, Really

All the great things are simple,
and many can be expressed in a single word:
freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
-Winston Churchill

Happy July Fourth! I have a little something for you. Just a trifle, really....

I call this beautifully cool dish my Banana Berry Trifle. A variation of the recipe was presented to me this spring by my loving Aunt K who carefully took down the recipe from my Grandmother's sister, Maxine. I was unbelievably excited to have such a winner of a recipe from Great Aunt Maxine, considering I've adored her since I was young. (We share the same passions, being pianists and readers alike. I'm still devastatingly envious of Great Aunt Maxine's Nancy Drew collection, which features all of the original 1950-ish titles.)

Anyway. Before I post or publish a recipe, I always try to do a little checking and background hunting. After all, you want to be absolutely sure your secret family recipe isn't one copied directly from an Ina Garten cookbook or something. And as these things go, this moistly-crumbed, cool custard-y dish was a copy. (Gasp) I found an exact reproduction here. It's a Paula Deen.

So my best to Aunt K, Great Aunt Maxine, and accent queen Paula Deen. But my version's even better. It's packed with antioxidant-rich berries, a touch of nutmeg and vanilla, and is especially great for those who never, ever cook. I mean, never ever cook. This is simple, fast and summery and altogether perfect for the days you're required to show up with something fabulous and can't bring yourself to turn on the oven.


1 (5 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
2 cups cold milk
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (12 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. grated nutmeg
1 (8 oz.) carton Cool Whip, thawed
1 pint fresh blueberries, sorted and rinsed
1 pint fresh raspberries, sorted and rinsed
3 bananas, sliced
1 bag Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies

In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and milk and beat according to package directions. In a separate bowl, whip together room temperature cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Stir in vanilla and nutmeg. Add cream cheese mixture to pudding and carefully fold in thawed Cool Whip.

Using any dish of your choice, (I used a glass Pyrex bowl yesterday but at home I have a Trifle Bowl for these concoctions), spoon a ladle full of pudding mixture into the bottom of the dish. Layer cookies over the thin layer of pudding and top with a layer of pudding. Cover with half of the banana slices, blueberries and raspberries. Top with layer of pudding. Repeat. Finish with a layer of pudding topped with fruit. Garnish with additional Cool Whip or whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg, if desired.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or until ready to serve. Keeps for a weekend in the refrigerator if you can hide all the spoons in the house and padlock the refrigerator.

(By the way, I traditionally make my version of this trifle with homemade vanilla bean pudding, but as I'm at a friend's this weekend I used boxed pudding mix. Still delicious. Oh. And I made this trifle with skim milk and fat free everything, save the cookies. Now I can sit on the couch all afternoon watching movies and not feel a bit guilty.)

Churchill was right, you know: all the great things are simple. Like bananas and berries. And our freedom. Especially our freedom. It's no trifle of a thing. May we all quickly awaken to the consequences of taking both for granted.

Happy Independence Day! -Brin


Anonymous said...

Wonderful! and beautiful picture! i make my own banana pudding similar to this, i never thought to add the berries. i always use skim milk and low-fat vanilla wafers. i have never tried it with the cookies.

Also wanted to comment on your photo below, it is just beautiful! and magic indeed :)
would you please mention sometime what camera you use?
thank you,
have a wonderful week-end!

Betty said...

Ahh trifles are just the perfect dessert! There are so many variations and this one you shared Brin looks wonderful.

Harbor Hon said...

You take a simple dessert, take a picture, and turn it into a work of art. I am so impressed with that picture. Makes me want some right now and I really don't eat pudding at all. Thank you for sharing with us. xxoo

paisley penguin said...

Yummy, I will have to try it. My mother also has a Nancy Drew collection with most original 1950's and it will be mine someday. I can't even tell you the amount of hours I spent reading those books as a kid!

Hope your 4th was fun!

Kathi~Lavender, Lace and Thyme said...

Your photograph is so perfect I almost took a bite out of my computer...I'll have to make this at our next family gathering! Nancy Drew, they don't write them like that any more do they? Perhaps you'll end up with her collection one day? :)

Amy said...

Hi Brin,
We don't have Cool Whip in Australia, what exactly is it? I could just google it of course, I might do that!

Unknown said...

My Mom was born and raised in England so I grew up with trifle, thanks for the memories! Hope you had a lovely 4th!

Anonymous said...

The recipe looks delicious! I love trifle and it's so light for summertime. I wanted to thank you again for the aprons you sent. One has already been given away and my friend laughed out of delight when she saw it. She loves her garden but is not a cook, so she thought when she opened it that I gave her a cooking apron. I know her too well and the idea for her garden was perfect - she just loves it!! The second one I haven't given yet but will be shortly. I just wanted you to know.
I agree your pics are gorgeous and your little excursions simply look devine ~ you are so lucky to be able to venture out the way you do. You are one lucky lady!
Patricia from Burlington

Anonymous said...

Hi Brin, I left a comment up above wondering what type of digital camera you are using, and also if i might be so bold to ask what editing program you use.
I looked all over for an email address for you, but couldn't find one. If you are around, could you please email me the information? I am anxious to order one right away. My digital is so old, it's not taking good quality photo's any longer.
thanks ever so much!
my email address is:

Anonymous said...

I made the trifle recipe over the weekend using strawberries and bananas. It was amazing!

Terri Steffes said...


I love trifles because they allow the artist (cook) to be creative! This one sounds divine!

thanks for sharing!