A 4th of July Trifle

The weather lately has been what we in this apartment like to call ‘Balls Hot’. Sorry if that’s a bit much, but it’s the truth. When the heat outside is so unbearable that you can’t walk from your front door to your car without breaking a decent sweat, it’s Balls Hot. When the park down the street is completely empty on July 4th because it’s too hot to enjoy an outdoor barbecue, it’s Balls Hot. When it’s BH outside, trying to cook is like a death wish. Especially in this apartment, where our window unit air conditioner doesn’t cool any farther than a few feet. I haven’t been able to cook anything for days because of this heat. And forget about trying to bake a cake or some adorable cookies for a 4th of July dessert! My roommates would murder me if I turned on the oven. 

I was looking through the other day and saw a slideshow of 4th of July desserts. I was looking specifically for no-bake desserts. A red, white and blueberry trifle caught my eye. I had only heard of a trifle once before, from that episode of ‘Friends’ where Rachel tries to make dessert for Thanksgiving and ends up serving everyone a cream, beef and pea trifle. A trifle is an English dessert (I know, how horribly ironic that I’m making an English dessert to celebrate the day that America gained its independence from Britain), with layers of fruit, custard and cake. I had never actually eaten a trifle before, so I thought ‘what the hey? I’ll make one and see how it turns out’. 

My mom let me hang out in her nice, big, cool kitchen all afternoon to make the trifle, so the stove and counter top in the pictures are from my mother’s kitchen. The first thing to make was the lemon syrup to brush over the pound cake. I put lemon juice, sugar and water in a saucepan and brought the mixture to a boil. Getting this mixture to the boiling point ensures that all of the sugar has dissolved into the liquids to make a smooth syrup.

While that was warming, I cut a store-bought pound cake (It killed me to buy it! I would have loved to make my own but I couldn’t in this heat) into big slices and arranged them in a single layer on a plate.

When the lemon syrup got to boiling, I took it off the heat and let it cool completely.

This was the perfect time for me to start making the cream. I put cream cheese and some sugar into a mixer and beat them together until they lightened…


Then I gradually poured in heavy cream and mixed it until it was good and thick. I decided to switch out the beater for a whisk attachment once I added the heavy cream to see if it would fluff the mixture up. It didn’t make a difference.

By now, the lemon syrup had cooled. I used a basting brush to brush the lemon syrup on each side of the cake slices. Then I cut each slice into quarters.

With each element of the trifle prepared, I was ready to assemble my dessert. I began by filling the bottom of a serving bowl with the pound cake pieces…
…Then I scooped some of the cream on top and spread it around…
And I sprinkled plenty of berries over the cream. The recipe called for blueberries and raspberries, but I threw some strawberries in there because I like them! And they’re another red berry, so it worked.
I repeated the layers until I reached the top of the serving dish, which exactly equaled the amount of cream I had left! I ended up making six layers.
I left that in my mother’s fridge for a few hours so that the cream would set. When it came time for dessert, I pulled off the aluminum foil cover to reveal my creation and grinned as my parents and Ty ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’. 
This dessert was absolutely heavenly. The lemon syrup soaked into the pound cake and gave it a lovely and light flavor. The cream was of course, creamy, but the cream cheese made it much more like custard than just whipped cream. The berries each added their own flavorful sweetness, and these all melded together into a fantastic dessert. Everyone who’s had it so far is raving about it. It still blows my mind that it was so easy to make! It only took thirty minutes to prepare the ingredients and assemble the trifle. The trifle needs to set in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but that’s no sweat! This was the perfect dessert for a Balls Hot 4th of July. It didn’t feed the heat, and it kept me refreshingly cool.
Recipe for Berry Trifle, thanks to Martha Stuart via
1/4 cup(s) sugar
1/3 cup(s) sugar
1/4 cup(s) fresh lemon juice
1 bar(s) (8-ounce) reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1  (12-ounce) store-bought pound cake, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices
1 cup(s) heavy cream
3 cup(s) (three 1/2 pint containers) fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
3 cup(s) (two 6-ounce containers) fresh raspberries
 In a small saucepan, bring 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Let cool completely, then brush over both sides of cake slices. Quarter each slice
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese with remaining 1/3 cup sugar on high speed until lightened. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add heavy cream in a steady stream; continue beating until mixture is light and airy (mixture will be like a very soft whipped cream)
Arrange half the cake pieces in the bottom of a 2-quart serving dish. Spoon half the cream-cheese mixture over cake in dollops; spread to sides of dish. Scatter half the blueberries and raspberries on top. Repeat layering with remaining cake, cream-cheese mixture, and berries, piling berries in the center
Cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

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