RecipeTin Eats x Good Food: Mango and berry trifle

Mango and berry trifle with cranberry jelly.
Mango and berry trifle with cranberry jelly. Photo: William Meppem

Buy the cake … use store-bought custard but please, please, PLEASE do not use artificial jelly powder! Homemade is dead easy – just mix gelatin powder with fruit juice. Trust me, the flavour is immeasurably better and this one little thing will set your trifle apart from the rest.


1 x 350g Madeira or pound cake, cut into 3cm cubes

¼ cup Cointreau (or orange juice)

Thick custard

125g caster sugar

4 egg yolks

½ cup cornflour

3 cups full-fat milk

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

30g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes

Cranberry jelly

1.5 litres cranberry juice, sugar added (see note)

7 tsp gelatine powder


4 large mangoes, flesh removed, cut into 0.5cm slices

2 punnets raspberries

1 punnet strawberries

12 cherries

10 small mint leaves

silver balls and gold dust, for sparkle


2 ½ cups thickened cream

3 tbsp soft icing sugar, sifted

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract


24-48 hours ahead

For the custard, whisk half the sugar with the egg yolks in a large bowl.

Add cornflour and whisk until smooth. Bring milk, vanilla and the other half of the sugar to a near boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly pour it into the egg mixture in a very thin stream while whisking constantly (this stops the egg from scrambling).

Once all the milk is added, whisk well to combine then pour it back into the saucepan. Set over low heat and whisk constantly so the base doesn't catch. Within a minute or two, it will start to thicken. When you see big lazy bubbles appear (pause whisking to check), whisk for another 30 seconds then remove from the stove.

Whisk in butter and strain into a bowl. Cover with cling film pressed against the surface, cool to room temperature for 1 hour and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Cranberry jelly

Heat half the cranberry juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Pour remaining cranberry juice into a large bowl and sprinkle gelatin across the surface (don't dump in one place) then whisk to dissolve. Pour in hot cranberry juice and whisk. Tip into a pouring jug.

Stage-one layering

Place cake cubes across base of a 3.5 litre trifle dish. Sprinkle with Cointreau. Pour half the warm jelly mixture down the side of the trifle dish (to avoid escaped cake crumbs). Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2 hours until set. Leave remaining cranberry jelly mixture on the bench, do not refrigerate.

Place a 2cm-thick mango layer on top of the set jelly. For the custard layer, remove custard bowl from fridge. It will be firm so mix vigorously to loosen, then whisk until smooth and creamy. Spread on jelly/mango layer, smooth surface and refrigerate 1 hour to firm up. This will create neat layers.

Stage-two layering

At this point, put the remaining jelly in the fridge and refrigerate for 1 hour. This will slightly thicken the liquid. To make the jelly layer, slowly pour the jelly down the wall of the trifle dish so it gently spreads across the set custard surface without breaking it. Gently place hulled and quartered strawberries into the jelly. Refrigerate 2 hours or until jelly is set, or you are ready to serve.

Christmas Day

Place cream ingredients in a large bowl and whip to soft peaks. Top trifle with a 2cm-thick layer of mango. Pile on cream. Top with raspberries, cherries, more mango slices, and mint leaves. Sprinkle with silver balls and dust with gold powder.

Make a dramatic entrance with your creation. Enjoy how beautiful it looks before everyone digs in and it becomes a frightful (but delicious) mess.


Home-made custard is best because it sets better giving you neater layers. If you use store-bought custard, get double-thick vanilla custard, which is much thicker than pouring custard.

Use cranberry juice with sugar added. No-added-sugar juice is quite sour.

Judge the thickness of each layer depending on the height and size of your trifle dish. There's nothing sadder than running out of space for a layer!

This recipe features in RecipeTin Eats' make-ahead Christmas menu