This Cranberry Orange Trifle is the easiest recipe for a really stunning holiday dessert. The cranberry and orange combination is perfect.
Have I ever told you that I was raised by a woman who really doesn’t like to cook?
If my mother wasn’t the frugal, semi-health-conscious person that her own home-cooking mother raised her to be, I have no doubt I would have been raised entirely on takeout. As it was, with the exception of her freezer stockpile of Schwann’s frozen dinners, I learned the art of the quick and easy recipe from my mother. She may have despised the chore of cooking and reminded us of that around 5 PM most nights when my siblings and I all started moaning about hunger pangs and sniffing around for dinner. Still, we ate macaroni and cheese from scratch, lemon pepper chicken and rice, and something called “Vegetables in a Cloud,” which was tastier than it might sound. She didn’t like to cook, but she got the job done.
As a mother myself now with four little mouths to feed, I am more grateful to her than ever before. I actually like to cook and enjoy every second of my time in the kitchen. But time in the kitchen, especially as a single parent, is always more rushed than I’d like it to be. Turns out, the most helpful things I learned about cooking, I learned from a woman who really doesn’t like to cook.
My mother didn’t pass on the secrets for a perfect slow cooked Bolognese Sauce or the ins and outs of a delicious pot roast. But when the baby skips his nap, and I have to hover over my nine year old to ensure she actually finishes her violin practice, and suddenly it’s time for dinner, it’s all of mom’s old tricks that I pull out of my sleeve to get food on the table. Thanks to mom, I learned the art of the one pot meal (long before it was a trend), how to repurpose the leftovers, and to always make two of everything – one for the table, one for the freezer.
This Cranberry Orange Trifle is yet another of mom’s best kitchen tricks for people that hate to cook. It’s dessert, and a stunning dessert at that, but so easy. You can cut corners and buy a pound cake (Sarah Lee, you’re a lifesaver sometimes) and even skip the pastry cream and sub in a box pudding mix. Or, if you want to channel a tiny bit of Julia and Martha, you can spend a few extra minutes in the kitchen and make the whole thing from scratch. Either way, you’ve got a dessert with a perfect flavor combination (Cranberry + Orange = So Incredibly Good) that is a real show stopper. We have my mother, queen of the trifle, to thank for this delightful treat.
For all the people tasked with bringing Dessert to Thanksgiving Dinner next week – this one is for you. You’re going to love it, even if you hate to cook.
- 1 loaf of pound cake (homemade or store bought - about 11 ounces), cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 cup orange juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
- ½ cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons corn starch
- 2½ cups milk, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- orange zest for garnish
- To prepare the cranberry sauce: Combine the sugar and juice in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium high heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the cranberries pop. Pour mixture into a bowl and chill.
- To prepare the pastry cream: Place 2 cups milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. While milk is heating, combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs and ½ cup milk. Gradually add half of the hot milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, whisking continually. Return milk mixture to pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. When mixture begins to boil, immediately reduce heat to low and whisk until thick, about one minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl and cool to room temperature.
- To assemble the trifle, arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom of a 2 quart trifle dish (or in 8 to 10 individual cups). Spoon half of the cranberry mixture over the cake and top with half of the pastry cream. Repeat layers. Garnish with orange zest. Chill until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.