Danielle Alvarez's chocolate, coconut butterscotch and raspberry trifle recipe

Custard, cake, fruit, booze – what's not to like?
Custard, cake, fruit, booze – what's not to like? Photo: William Meppem

Although trifle is not something I grew up eating, when asking people what they like most about a good trifle, I can immediately see their eyes light up with both nostalgia and pure delight. It's custard, it's cake, it's fruit, it's booze – what's not to like? It's true, this is not a purist's recipe. I have taken a bit of creative licence but hopefully you can find room in your hearts for this version.


For the genoise sponge

100g plain flour

35g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 eggs at room temperature

3 egg yolks at room temperature

170g sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

30g butter

60ml milk

For the coconut butterscotch custard

60g butter

190g dark brown sugar

60g cornflour

800ml coconut milk (two cans, preferably organic and free of additives) 

200ml milk

1 tsp salt 

20ml vanilla extract

For the raspberry prosecco jelly

1kg raspberries (frozen is fine)

1 litre water

700g sugar

juice of 1 lemon

100ml prosecco

5 sheets titanium strength gelatin sheets

For the pedro ximenez caramel sauce

200g brown sugar

55g butter

100ml cream

pinch of salt

60ml pedro ximenez sweet sherry

To assemble

extra pedro ximenez sweet sherry

150ml cream

125g fresh raspberries

100g toasted coconut chips (or flakes)


Altogether it may seem like a few steps, but it doesn't all have to conquered in one day. You can almost fully assemble it the day ahead, leaving only the last step of adding whipped cream and final topping until just before serving.

1. Make the genoise sponge (recipe here)

2. Make the coconut butterscotch custard (recipe here)

3. Make the raspberry and prosecco jelly (recipe here)

4. Make the pedro ximenez caramel sauce (recipe here)

To assemble

1. The day before serving, slice the cake in three layers (if you haven't already) and trim them to fit in a large trifle bowl. Gently warm the custard.

2. Place a layer of cake down first. Then splash it really well with sherry (how much depends on how you like it but this sponge can take more than you think). Top that with a drizzle of the caramel sauce and half of the warm custard. (Doing this while warm will allow more of the custard to soak into the cake.) Let this cool for about 10 minutes before roughly breaking up the jelly and adding half to avoid melting the jelly. 

3. Repeat this process with the next layer, starting with the cake, and finishing with the third cake layer and a splash of sherry. Keep a little of the pedro ximenez caramel sauce aside for final assembly. Do not put anything else to the last cake layer. At this stage, cover the trifle and put it in the fridge overnight. 

To serve 

Whip the cream until soft peaks form and spread on top of the cake. Top with raspberries, toasted coconut chips and a final drizzle of caramel.

Read more: Danielle Alvarez interview: The Cuban cook's fascinating tale