The Only Holiday Dessert Recipe You Need

It started with a small group potluck. Then, the inspiration waves came crashing in. Then, the next thing I know, I'm crying over how delicious my creation was. Dramatic, much? Definitely.

But, this recipe is worth the drama (and the work!). And, it really did start out as a small group potluck contribution.

Here's the non-dramatic story:

My roommate was heading out to a small group gathering and decided she wanted to bring a trifle. Before she left, she let me try a bit. She's nice like that. It was delicious. I decided to create a holiday-inspired trifle recipe to share with you guys. And it was good.

But, here's the thing about trifles: they take FOREVER! Especially if you are making it from scratch. Because you have to make the cake. Let it cool. Make the pudding. Try no to eat it while the cake is cooling. Make the whipped cream. Try to not to eat that while everything is setting. Make the topping. Assemble. Make it look pretty. Photograph. Write down the recipes.

PHEW! See, you burn more calories making the darn thing than the dessert contains!

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Anyway, my version had to scream Christmas, and it had to be simple. So I decided to use a spiced cake for the bottom layer. Then, I used a vanilla pudding. (Optional, and highly recommend: adding a splash of bourbon to the pudding.) Then, I used real whipping cream. Like, you have to actually whip it. This isn't that canned stuff. And it's not Cool Whip. The topping needed to be quintessentially Christmas. So baked apple slices with cinnamon and sugar.

This recipe is not gluten free, vegan or refined sugar free. Each recipe contains butter, cream and white/brown sugar. If you require substitutions, use your favorite gluten-free flour, swap oil for butter and whip coconut cream instead of dairy cream.

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Okay, now for the moment of truth. Strap on your seatbelts cause this one is good. I present: THE RECIPES!



  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Cream sugar and butter.
  2. Add eggs, beat for 1 minute.
  3. Mix dry ingredients.
  4. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  5. Beat for 1 minute.
  6. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan.
  7. Bake at 350* for 40 minutes.




  1. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat milk until bubbles form at edges.
  2. In a bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Pour into hot milk, a little at a time, stirring to dissolve.
  3. Continue to cook and stir until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Do not boil.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and butter.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.


Whipped cream is pretty basic. Take a small carton of whipping cream and pour into a standing mixer. Sprinkle in some icing sugar and whip. Icing sugar is to taste, so add as much or as little as you like.




  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Spread the apple slices into the bottom of a small baking dish. Whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl; pour over the apple slices and gently stir. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the apple slices.
  3. Cook in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, about 15 minutes.

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Once you've made everything and it's cool, it's time to put everything together. The adage is true: this trifle IS greater than the sum of all its parts. Take your cake and crumble it. Place it in the bottom of your serving dish. You can use a traditional trifle dish or any other serving dish you might have. I used drinking glasses here. Spoon a layer of pudding. Repeat if necessary. Top your dessert with whipped cream. The more, the better. Adorn your gorgeous trifle with your freshly baked apples. Dust with cinnamon. Then dig in!

Oh, and I did not use beef sauteed with peas and onions. (ya Friends fans get me?!)

Did you try this recipe? If you did, let me know! 

xo _ britt