This Summer Berry Trifle is an easy summer dessert filled with layers of liqueur-soaked cake, plenty of fresh berries of the season, and fluffy mascarpone cream. Red, white & blue colors make it perfect for 4th of July picnics and other patriotic holidays. Its refreshing taste makes it a great ending to any barbecue or summer get-together.
Easy Berry Trifle
Berry desserts are one of my favorites to serve on hot summer days. Desserts like Strawberry Shortcake, Blueberry Galettes, and Peach Cobbler just scream easy, cool refreshment. This Berry Trifle is no exception. It's easy to put together, uses fresh seasonal fruit, can be made in advance, and feeds a crowd.
Trifles also come in handy when you have leftover baked goods. I don't bake cakes or cupcakes very often as there are only two of us in the house but, when I do, there is bound to be some leftover.
Enter this easy & delicious 30-minute Summer Berry Trifle that makes that leftover baked goods taste like an entirely different dessert!
Here's what you'll need for making a berry trifle:
- Cream Cheese
- Flavored Liqueur - see choices below
- Cool Whip or Whipped Cream
- Cake - see choices below
- Fresh Berries or Other Fruit
Best Fruit for Trifles
Now the next question is always what fruit can I use. Seasonal fruit that is fresh and sweet is the perfect accompaniment to the liqueur-soaked cake and rich cream. This summer berry trifle uses peak of the season berries, like strawberries and blueberries, but there are oh so many other combinations you can choose.
- Triple Berry Trifles can contain a combination of your favorite berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
- Try stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines
- Make a banana pie trifle with ripe bananas, banana pudding, and vanilla wafers
- Stick with just one fruit and make a blackberry trifle or a blueberry trifle
Best Cake for Dessert Trifles
When making a trifle, just about any cake or cupcake flavor will work. And it doesn't even matter if your baked goods are fresh or stale as the liqueur will soften them right up. Here are a few of the most popular cakes used.
- Angel Food Cake tops the list and, if you don't feel like baking or have any leftovers, it is easy to find from your local bakery.
- Pound Cake is another favorite that soaks up the liqueur flavor very well. Many people opt to just purchase one from the bakery or even a Sarah Lee from the freezer section.
- Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Cake, and Lemon Cake are used as well.
- Carrot Cake, Spice Cake, and even Coconut Cake can have their place in a trifle.
Best Liquor for Trifles
Many liqueurs are perfect for adding flavor to this easy trifle recipe. I used Stroopwafel, a caramel and vanilla-flavored liqueur, but any of the following are good choices too.
- Amaretto - gives a nutty toasted almond flavor to the cake
- Frangelica - offers a hint of hazelnut
- Grand Marnier or Cointreau - provides an accent of orange flavor
- Kahlua - for all those coffee lovers out there
- Limoncello - lovely lemon flavor especially when paired with cheesecake filling
- Peach Liqueur - is the perfect flavoring when paired with peaches and bananas for an Easter trifle
- Peppermint Schnapps - is a standout for a Christmas trifle
- Brandy or sherry can be used but they are a bit more alcoholic than the liqueurs above
Don’t want to use any alcohol? Try subbing in ¾-1 teaspoon hazelnut or almond extract plus the amount of cream equal to the amount needed in the recipe. This will give you a caramel-cinnamon-nutty flavor similar to Stroopwafel. You can also try a combination of vanilla extract with a little cinnamon extract or, for an orange flavor, try 5 Tablespoons of orange juice with 1-¼ teaspoons of orange extract.
Any creamy filling would taste great with fresh berries and cake but this rich mascarpone cream cheese mixture, similar to a cheesecake, is my all-time favorite. However, if you want something a little easier, check out some options below.
- Sub in Cool Whip for a lighter summer berry trifle
- Whipped cream will make a rich addition
- Love cheesecake? Opt for a no-bake cheesecake filling like my mocha cheesecake filling from my cookie cups.
- Packaged vanilla or lemon pudding is a really easy option. You can even mix it with Cool Whip for a lighter texture.
You can make the cake and the cream cheese-mascarpone in advance but don’t assemble until an hour or two prior to serving.
It will last 2 to 3 days covered in the refrigerator although best eaten when fresh. It is not recommended to try to freeze this dessert as the cake will absorb too much moisture and get soggy.
Usually, it will keep about 2 hours as long as it isn’t in a hot humid environment such as an outdoor picnic. If planning on serving outdoors, I wouldn’t leave it out longer than 30-45 minutes.
The cake will soften but should not get soggy after storing it overnight in the refrigerator. The cake will continue to soak in the liquids and become soggy after a few days.
Yes, you can make a trifle in a large serving bowl or salad bowl.
It is best to use fresh fruit in a trifle. When thawed, frozen fruit has a different texture and more liquid than fresh.
How to Make a Mixed Berry Trifle
Here are the step-by-step instructions for making an English trifle with berries:
Mascarpone Cream Filling
- In a large mixing bowl, combine mascarpone and cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add thawed Cool whip. (photo 1)
- Add granulated sugar. (photo 2)
- Pour in liqueur. (photo 3)
- Beat again until smooth. (photo 4)
How to Layer the Trifle
- Cut up leftover cupcakes, pound cake, or angel food cake into small pieces. (photo 1)
- In a tall trifle dish, place ⅓ of the cut-up cake on the bottom. (photo 2)
- Drizzle with 1 tablespoon liqueur. (photo 3)
- Spoon ⅓ of the cream mixture over cake cubes and smooth out evenly. (photo 4)
- Place ½ of the blueberries on top of the cream layer. (photo 5)
- Add ⅓ of the cake cubes sprinkled with liqueur over berries. (photo 6)
- Spoon ⅓ of the cream mixture on top of blueberries. (photo 7)
- Smooth to cover all the way to edges. (photo 8)
- Repeat with the remaining cake with a drizzle of liqueur and ½ of the strawberries. (photo 9)
- Spoon all the remaining cream mixture on top. Top with a layer of cake and the remaining half of both the strawberries and blueberries. (photo 10)
- Just prior to serving, finish with a layer of whipped cream or Cool Whip and decorate with sliced strawberries.
This easy no-bake summer berry trifle is perfect for summer or holiday parties and easy enough to make in single-serving size for just the two of you. No matter which way you make it, left as is or drizzled with chocolate syrup, this beautiful, simple dessert is bound to be a hit! Enjoy the bounty of summer!
How to Serve a Trifle
Trifles are a beautiful layered dessert so you want to serve them up in something to show off those layers. Here are some ideas:
- Glass Dessert Dishes
- Martini Glasses
- Parfait Dishes
- Wide-mouth Mason Jars
Holiday Trifle Ideas
- Patriotic Trifle, such as this one, is full of vibrant red, white, and blue colors perfect for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.
- Christmas Trifle, made with strawberries or raspberries, is a seasonal red and white delight. Highlight this trifle with angel food cake soaked in peppermint schnapps and filled with white chocolate cream.
- Even Easter can have a spectacular trifle filled with peaches, bananas, and strawberries and a base of yellow cake soaked in peach or banana liqueur.
More Summer Dessert Recipes
Berry Upside Down Cake - a tender, moist vanilla flavored cake that’s topped with sweetened fresh plump blueberries and juicy strawberries.
Raspberry Lemonade Popsicles - an easy-to-make summer treat. Just 3 ingredients, yogurt, lemonade, and raspberries, are all it takes for a refreshing healthy snack on a hot day.
Blueberry Almond Bundt Cake - a rich, dense cream cheesecake flavored with almond and loaded with fresh blueberries. It’s kicked up a notch with a drizzle of lemon glaze & a sprinkling of almonds.
Find lots of summer dessert recipes here on 2CM!
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Summer Berry Trifle
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 1 cup cream cheese
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup liqueur Stroopwafel or other flavored liqueur such as Frangelica, Amaretto or Grand Marnier (5-⅓ tabelspoons)
- 2 cups Cool Whip or other non-dairy whipped cream
- 10-12 large cupcakes or cake, cut up (I used a lemon poppy seed cupcakes but you can also use any vanilla flavored cake, an 11-oz pound cake or a 9" angel food cake)
- 3 Tablespoons liqueur Stroopwafel or other flavored liqueur such as Frangelica, Amaretto or Grand Marnier
- 1 pint blueberries
- 2 pints strawberries, divided 1 pint to cut up for layering and 1 pint sliced for topping
- ½ cup whipped cream (feel free to use more if you prefer)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine mascarpone and cream cheeseand beat until smooth.
- Add Cool Whip, sugar and liqueur and beat again untilsmooth.
- Cut up leftover cupcakes, pound cake or even muffins into small pieces.
- In a tall trifle dish, place ⅓ of the cut-up cupcakes/cakein bottom. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon liqueur.
- Spoon ⅓ of the cream mixture over cake cubes and smoothout evenly.
- Place ½ of the blueberries over the cream layer.
- Add ⅓ of the cake cubes sprinkled with liqueur over berries.
- Spoon ⅓ of the cream mixture on top of blueberries.
- Repeat with remaining cake with a drizzle of liqueur and ½ of the strawberries.
- Spoon all remaining cream mixture on top. (If your dish is deep enough, you can add another layer of cake cubes prior to adding the final cream layer. If this is the case just add ¼ of the cake amount to each cake layer.)
- Top with cream of extra layer of cake with remaining ½ ofboth the strawberries and blueberries.
- Just prior to serving, finish with a topping of whipped cream and your own design made with the sliced strawberries.
- Change out the muffins or cupcakes for day old cake which you can pick up pretty cheaply in the bakery section of your grocery store.
- Opt for blackberries and raspberries or any fruit for that matter because what fruit doesn’t go well with cream cheese and whipped cream?
- Don’t want to make the mascarpone cream cheese mixture? No problem! You can sub in Cool Whip or Just use a vanilla pudding or a vanilla pudding mixed with cool whip.
- Any flavored liqueur can be used in place of Stroopwafel. I like to use Amaretto or Frangelica for a nutty taste or Grand Marnier for a more citrusy flavor.
- Don’t want to use any alcohol-base, since the predominant flavor of the Stroopwafel is cinnamon and caramel with nutty undertones, try subbing in ¾-1 teaspoon hazelnut or almond extract plus the amount of cream or creamer to equal amount needed in recipe. You could also try a combination of vanilla extract with a little cinnamon extract. If you want the orange flavor, try 5 Tablespoons of orange juice with 1-¼ teaspoons orange extract.
- Want a smaller dessert for fewer people? Cut the recipe in half and layer as shown but into smaller individual serving glass dishes.
This post has been updated with step-by-step directions and more photos. It was first published on May 28, 2017.