If you’re looking to get from zero to frozen dessert as quickly as possible, consider the frozen trifle. There’s no ice cream machine required because you are making semifreddo. You also don’t need to take it in and out of the freezer, so individual layers can freeze. Just make it all at once and voilà: this wonderfully flexible, no-bake recipe is here to add more joy to your summer.
If you’re unfamiliar, trifles are old-fashioned desserts usually made by layering cake or cookies, whipped cream, and jam. One of my favorite things about them is their adaptability; you can swap out flavors and textures by mixing up the ingredients you’re using. These frozen trifles are made by layering a no-churn frozen dessert base (semifreddo!) with cake and/or cookies. I opted to use two berries (blueberries and blackberries) to make two different semifreddo flavors for layering, but nearly any fruit can be used in this recipe—whether you want to use just one fruit or three.
Ready to dive in? Here’s what you need to know:
Just like a regular trifle, what goes inside is really up to you, since there are so many options. But since this is a frozen trifle, be mindful of how the items you choose will taste when frozen. You don’t want to use anything that will get super firm, but if you insist, that firm item should be broken into very small pieces so it’s easy to eat when chilled.
I opted to use homemade angel food cake and meringue cookies, but by all means, you could just use the store-bought stuff. You’ll also need fresh fruit that you’ll make into a puree, sour cream, and whipped cream, which you’ll sweeten with powdered sugar. Like I said before, you can use any kind of cake or cookies, from crumbled graham crackers to leftover cookie crumbs from the bottom of the bag; or switch up the cake to pound cake, or even leftover cake scraps.
This Cake Is a Good Option, Too
The Fruit Puree
To make semifreddo, you first need to make a fruit puree. It’s super easy: Just combine fresh fruit with a little bit of granulated sugar and cook until the fruit breaks down and gets all juicy. You can also add any flavorings you like during this time. I like to add vanilla bean, but spices or fresh herbs work well (if you want to use extract, add it at the end of cooking). Once the fruit completely breaks down, strain the mixture.
This is one of those times you want to really press the solids as you strain it to get a thicker puree, rather than just juice. The amount of puree you produce will likely vary, because every fruit has different levels of juiciness, but you’ll need a 1/2 cup of puree for every recipe of semifreddo you want to make. Once you’ve got your finished puree, it’s a good idea to let it cool a bit. It doesn’t need to cool completely before you use it, but letting it cool for at least 15 minutes will make the process easier (and allow the trifles to freeze faster later).
Making the Semifreddo
Once you have your fruit puree(s), you’re ready to make the semifreddo. You’ll start by whipping cream with powdered sugar to medium peaks. (You can hold the cream in the fridge for up to 1 hour.) For each semifreddo recipe, you’ll use 1/2 cup fruit puree, 1/2 cup sour cream, and half of the whipped cream mixture you made. (Note: Since I had two flavors of fruit puree, I made this two separate times. If you opt to just do one fruit flavor, you’ll want to multiply my recipe x2.)
To make the semifreddo, whisk the puree and sour cream together until combined, then gently fold in half of the whipped cream. Repeat with the second puree flavor, if using. That’s all there is to it.
Assembling the Trifle
I like to use clear, medium-large tall glasses for these frozen trifles, so you can see all the pretty layers. Spoon the first flavor of semifreddo into a medium glass, then sprinkle a layer of meringues and/or angel food cake (press them into the semifreddo a little bit). Then spoon the other flavor of semifreddo into the glass, and continue this until the glass is completely full. Repeat until you’ve used up all your components and filled all your glasses. There’s really no right or wrong way to do this, as you’re simply building a yummy layered glass of pure awesomeness.
Freezing the Trifle
Freeze the trifles until the top layer is firm; this can be as little as 30 minutes and as much as 1 1/2 hours, depending on how hot it was when you built it and how cold your freezer runs. Let the trifles sit at room temperature for up to 5 minutes before serving, then dive in.
- 8 ounces (226 g) blackberries
- 8 ounces (226 g) blueberries
- 1 medium lemon, halved
- 1 vanilla bean, halved
- 1/2 cup (99 g) granulated sugar, divided
- 2 cups (455 g) heavy cream
- 1 1/3 cups (151 g) powdered sugar
- 1 cup (227 g) sour cream, divided
- 1/2 angel food cake, diced (homemade or store-bought)
- 8 ounces (226 g) bite size meringue cookies
How would you dress a trifle? Let us know in the comments!