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A trifle is an old English dessert that is composed of layers of cake, cream and fruit. Trifle recipes began appearing in English cookbooks in the 17th century. It is commonly served at the holidays. Allegedly, it was George Washington’s favorite dessert.

The cake layers may be made of sponge cake, chiffon cake, ladyfinger cookies, or even meringue. The cake usually brushed with some sort of sweet liquor, such as brandy, Cassis, or Grand Marnier, to moisten them. This lead some cookbooks to call trifle “tipsy pudding.” The cream filling may be custard, whipped cream or creme Anglaise. And the fruit filling cane be berries or stone fruits, such as peaches. With this much variation, many people disagree about what is a proper trifle and what is not. But suffice to say, that there is a lot of room for creativity and experimentation. Trifles can be served in a large, deep glass dish — often called a trifle dish — which creates a striking effect, or in a more modern twist, served in tall individual glasses, such as a parfait glass. Some people confuse trifles with fools, but a fool lacks the cake layer that a trifle has. The Italians call trifle zuppa Inglese, which means “English soup.”

The food blog Joy of Baking has numerous trifle recipes here. The food blog Fork and Bottle featured a recipe for raspberry trifle made with homemade sponge cake layers here.

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