Cranberry Trifle

This cranberry trifle is a show-stopper and made the December 2017 cover of Panoram Italia magazine. It’s a riff off a recipe I found in a grocery-store calendar from 1989 my mother had hidden in the bottom of a kitchen drawer. That recipe called for store-bought pound cake and vanilla pudding, which I have replaced with homemade sponge cake and mascarpone. It makes for a much lighter-tasting dessert. Since cranberries are plentiful at Christmas, this trifle is perfect for the holidays; but, it can be transformed into a summer dessert when made with strawberries or raspberries. I also add a splash of Grand Marnier liqueur for extra flavour.


  • 1/2 recipe pan di spagna, cut into one-inch cubes (or your favourite store-bought sponge cake)

For the cranberry filling:

  • 3 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • grated zest & juice of one orange
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups water

For the mascarpone cream:

  • 1 cup mascarpone (8 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)



  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cranberries, white sugar, orange juice, zest and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until cranberries soften and begin to burst, about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Next, prepare the mascarpone cream: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat mascarpone, brown sugar, vanilla and Grand Marnier (if using) until combined.
  4. Slowly add whipping cream and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  5. To assemble the trifle, place 1/3 of the cake in a trifle bowl or glass serving dish.
  6. Spoon over 1/3 of the cranberry sauce.
  7. Pour 1/3 of the mascarpone filling over the cranberry sauce.
  8. Repeat layers twice more, ending with mascarpone filling.
  9. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  10. Before serving, you can grate a little dark chocolate over the trifle and lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks and sounds delicious..

    Liked by 1 person

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