Tag Archives: pudding

Trifling things (birthday cake trifle)

7 Jun

You may know from Twitter that I think about and read about social justice-related things a lot.  I’ve been quite stricken this week about a certain, horrible thing that’s happened, and I don’t have words/am very overwhelmed right now to write about it.  So instead we’re going to chat about trifling things today, specifically, trifle, which is a delicious combination of pudding and cake and whipped cream and sometimes other stuff (fruit).  Banana pudding is basically a trifle, so you know trifle’s gonna be awesome.


Even when berry upset, trifle is a piece of cake, just a matter of pudding some ingredients together. (ignore the other fruits, they don’t (man)go in)

Last week was my birthday, so I decided to throw a little party and make a cake.  We didn’t actually want to be social for several hours, so it was a combination social hour + 3 hours of board games, and during those board game hours people kept popping into the kitchen to get another scoop of this birthday cake trifle!

I started the day before, by baking a Funfetti cake from a box.  You need a cake, if you make one from scratch that’s great too!  On the day of the party, I assembled the trifle a few hours early to give it time to meld flavors in the fridge.  You could do it even a few days early, but it gets mushier/more homogeneous, which is maybe what you want but not what I wanted.

I was worried about putting fruit in this trifle, but I had all that fruit that was going to go to waste, because baby decided he didn’t want berries this week, only bananas.  So I mixed up my blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and sprinkled them with a few tablespoons of sugar to macerate (aka soak/sit) while preparing everything else.  This softens and sweetens them.

Make pudding (from scratch or I used a box).  Box pudding is SO magical and easy; even my 20-month-old could do it! …sort of.


Sometimes he looks at me so whiskfully while I bake, so I let him help

Then either use cool whip/reddi whip or make your own whipped cream.  If you have a stand mixer/electric mixer, homemade whipped cream is really the way to go.  It’s SO DELICIOUS.  Take your cream, put it in a bowl, and start whipping it at half-power, then slowly up it to full power.  Add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar (I just tipped the bag toward it for a few seconds).  If you want, add extract (vanilla, almond, etc.), but I like it just pure and fresh and creamy and light.  Stop whipping when it looks not-liquid anymore.


I really hope Willow Smith loves whipped cream and sings while making it.

Now gently fold the whipped cream and pudding together; this is the glue of the trifle that will eventually soak into the cake.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly mixed (again, I prefer non-homogeneity in this dessert).


Aladdin’s little known-talent: trifle-making. I can show you the swirl/ shining, shimmering, splendid/ tell me, princess, now when did you last let your mouth decide!

Cut your cake into bite-size pieces.  Trifle is awesome because you can use any flavor you want!  Lemon cake would be so good here.  Also angel food cake.  Also chocolate cake.  Any cake!  Any pudding!  The world is your oyster/trifle!  Don’t make a trifle with oysters, please.


If you want to fool someone into thinking this is healthy, say a sentence about salad, and then mention that you have some lattice (say it real fast).

Take a big, beautiful glass bowl (or a trifle dish if you own one and also why do you own one?) and smear some whipped cream-pudding on the bottom.  Then top it with a layer of cake-cubes.


It’s for my birthday!  So it’s special!  A special cake-cube complex!

Now top that layer of cake-cubes with another layer of pudding-cream, and top that with berries.  You want to go all the way to the edge of the bowl so you can see the layers from outside.


If you’re upset someone’s razzing you, at least you’re not black and blue

Then cover that with another layer of cake-cubes, then a layer of pudding-cream, then a layer of berries, cake-cubes, and if you’re me and ran out of pudding-cream, top it all with more whipped cream!


If you’re failing at something and running on an empty stomach, why not have some trifle and try full?

I decorated the top with sprinkles and crumbled cake-cube.  Toss in the fridge for at least an hour, and serve with a deep serving spoon.

This has been a hard week for us because that adorable person up there is having some anxiety issues at daycare, and he’s only 20 months old!  Poor little dude.  We’re meeting with the pediatrician and the speech therapist later this week to figure out if we can do anything to help him be happier.  Parenting is a thing, and I’m still new to it, and my poor baby.  Anyways.  That’s why this post is about trifle!  Because sometimes you just need to make something delicious and easy, and it’s best if that something is light and fluffy and cloud-like too.  Baking is totally therapeutic.

20160604_165904Birthday Cake Trifle (serves 16 or so)

1 13×9 cake (you’ll have leftover cake) or use a 9×9 cake for a smaller trifle.  Any flavor

1 box of pudding mix (some flavor that goes well with your cake.  I did Funfetti cake-vanilla pudding)

1 pint heavy whipping cream OR 1 tub Cool Whip OR equivalent (reddi whip is also good)

1-2 pints of mixed berries or other fruit

2 TB sugar (optional)

1/4 c powdered sugar

3 c milk (or whatever it says on the pudding mix)

  1. If your fruit is a bit tart, toss with the 2 TB sugar to macerate, set aside.
  2. Make the pudding according to box directions.
  3. Fresh whipped cream: beat cream with whisk attachment of mixer at 2-3 speed, then slowly increase to full speed and add powdered sugar.  Beat for a few minutes, until it looks like whipped cream.
  4. Gently fold whipped cream into pudding.
  5. Cut cake into 3/4 inch-ish squares.
  6. Use a big beautiful glass bowl, and smear a small amount of pudding-cream on bottom.  Top with a layer of cake-cubes.  Top with a layer of pudding-cream.  Then a layer of fruit.  Repeat, alternating cake-cubes and fruit with pudding-cream–top layer should be pudding-cream.
  7. Decorate with cake crumbs and/or fruit.
  8. Refrigerate at least one hour.  Serve cold with a spoon.

Banana Pudding

16 Dec

Darn it it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post!  A first in the history of this blog.  My only excuse is that I have been fighting off a crazy cold (there was also finals and travel but that’s not really an excuse).  Today is day 16 since I first felt that little throat-tickle thing, and I’ve been sleeping a ton, drinking lots of water and chicken soup, and loading up on Vitamin C and self-pity.  Anyways.  Here’s a post!

I adore banana pudding.  It’s not a dessert I grew up with- the first time I had it was in the college dining hall.  In fact I can probably count the number of times I’ve had it on one hand, which is sad because it’s SO GOOD!  The cookies turn cake-like when soaked in pudding, and the weird goopy consistency of bananas works perfectly with the other components.  Apparently it’s a big thing in the South… I hadn’t heard of it when growing up in Minnesota and California, while my boyfriend was incredulous of my less than or equal to 5 times (he’s from North Carolina).  We also didn’t have kudzu.  You know that I love pudding in all its forms so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I made this.  What is surprising is that I haven’t made it before.

I live by a fantastic independent coffeeshop (it was in the nytimes once!) that does signature less-coffee-ish drinks every season.  I’m still dreaming of a lemon and rose and cucumber soda they did the summer I moved here.  This fall, the drink was the Cosby Classic, which was a latte that tasted exactly like banana pudding, complete with a Nilla wafer on top.  So of course I immediately walked to the store down the street and picked up ingredients for banana pudding, which meant Nilla wafers and bananas.

There's always rum for rum!  Because rum sounds like "room," sort of.

There’s always rum for rum! Because rum sounds like “room,” sort of.

Lots of banana pudding recipes on the internet are a little disgusting, probably still delicious.  For instance, this one has you beat an entire package of cream cheese with a can of condensed milk, instant pudding mix, other stuff, and half a container of cool whip.  I’m all for cream cheese (love scrambling it with eggs after a workout!), and condensed milk (I am Vietnamese after all), so I’m pretty sure it’s the container of “frozen whipped topping” that makes me go ICK.    It’s also a ridiculously popular recipe so I’m sure it’s wonderfully delicious.

I was tempted to get instant pudding mix, but go big or go home, right?  This is me taking risks and grabbing life by the pot.  Sigh.  Hyperbole aside making homemade pudding was definitely my adventure of the week.

I mostly followed the recipe on the back of the Nilla wafers box, plus a recipe from the internet that I cannot find right now but will keep looking for!


This recipe is a high-whisk investment

Separate the whites from the yolks so we can make the meringue topping.  Then mix the yolks with the flour and sugar.  We’ll use hot milk to temper the eggs so we don’t get pieces of scrambled egg in our pudding.


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Once you’ve brought the milk (I used almond milk…) to a boil, slowly whisk in a little at a time into the beaten egg yolks + stuff.  Once the bowl is warm on the bottom, then pour in the rest of the milk and whisk whisk whisk!  Rinse out the pot, and throw everything back into it- it’s important to rinse out the pot so you don’t end up with burned bits of pudding in it.

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Whisk and stir the pudding over medium heat until it turns glossy and thick.  Some websites say it’ll take 15 minutes; it took me more like 3.  Then toss in the butter and vanilla and whisk those in.  Also throw in some Kahlua or other alcohol if you want.  I loved the Kahlua flavor in the finished pudding.  Set the finished pudding aside in that same bowl you used earlier, and toss it in the fridge to cool while you do the rest.

You really have to check your egg whites

You really have to check your egg whites

They start out pretty reasonable, not eggstraordinary at all

They start out pretty reasonable, not eggstraordinary at all

Then little bubbles start to appear and everything starts to get fancy-looking

Then little bubbles start to appear and everything starts to get fancy-looking

Once the champagne is gone, it starts looking even more fancy and shiny

Once the champagne is gone, it starts looking even more fancy and shiny

Until finally it's eight times its original size, and way glossy.  It doesn't remember where it came from at all.  Can you talk about an inflated EG(G)O?

Until finally it’s eight times its original size, and way glossy. It doesn’t remember where it came from at all. Can you talk about an inflated EG(G)O?

Once the meringue is done and glossy (add the sugar in around the second to last picture.  Also I did just use five captions to lead up to that last one), you can layer your pretty pudding!  I used a 9″x13″ pan because I wanted a pretty glass sides thing, but I wish I had an 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ glass pan so I could have more layers.

GOING BANANAS with photo size

GOING BANANAS with photo size

First put a little bit of pudding on the bottom of the dish, then throw on a layer of wafers, a layer of bananas, pudding, wafers, bananas, pudding, a third layer if you can, and top with meringue.

Layer 1.  Reticulating splines.  Sim City reference, anyone?

Layer 1. Reticulating splines. Sim City reference, anyone?


Layer 2.  Gesticulating Mimes.  (sim city 4)

Layer 2. Gesticulating Mimes. (sim city 4)

It would be so great if men were from marshmallow.  Maybe not.  I'd never keep a relationship for long because I'd eat him.

It would be so great if men were from marshmallow. Maybe not. I’d never keep a relationship for long because I’d eat him.

OK!  Wish me luck on a recovery before Christmas from this bug.  I went to the doctor on day 5 and she sent me home with Mucinex, but I’ll go back tomorrow and see what she says.

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Seriously this pudding is so yummy.

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IT IS SO FUNNY.  Also this picture is all over the internet so I couldn't figure out how to attribute it.

IT IS SO FUNNY. Also this picture is all over the internet so I couldn’t figure out how to attribute it.

Banana pudding, from the back of the box + the internet


3/4 c sugar

1/3 c flour

3 eggs

2 c milk

2 tsp vanilla

2 TB butter (I use salted, if you don’t then add a dash of salt when you add the sugar)

3 TB rum/Kahlua/whatever liquer (how on earth do you spell that.  liquor.  liqueaur liquar) you want

Box of Nilla wafers

5 bananas

Make the pudding:

Separate the eggs.  Put the yolks in a big bowl and beat in 1/2 c of the sugar and all the flour; put the whites in a separate bowl.

In a medium pot, bring the milk to a boil.  Slowly whisk a little bit at a time into the yolk bowl, whisking constantly, until the bottom of the bowl is warm.  Then add in the rest of the milk and whisk away.  Rinse out the pot, then return the pudding to the pot and heat while whisking until it’s thickened and shiny and there are big, slow bubbles coming up.  This will take a few minutes.  Whisk in the butter, vanilla, and alcohol.

Transfer the pudding to the big bowl and throw in the fridge.

Make the meringue:

Beat the whites until small bubbles form, then disappear, and then soft peaks show up.  Add the remaining 1/4 c sugar.  Beat until stiff and glossy.  Takes 7-10 minutes.

Assemble the pudding:

Slice the bananas.  Smear some pudding on the bottom of a glass dish, then top with a layer of wafers.  Top with bananas, then pudding, and layer until you’re out of pudding.  I would suggest using not the whole box of Nilla wafers- some recipes suggest using 30, some 45.  I did not want to count.  Top the whole thing with the meringue, spreading all the way to the edges.

Bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes or until beautifully browned.  Either eat warm (cool slightly), or refrigerate for a few hours and eat chilled.  SO GOOD.




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