Try Rosie's sour cherry trifle with almonds, then try chocolate trifle, sherry trifle, black forest trifle, vegan trifle and raspberry trifle. Looking for a dessert sharing idea? Try our impressive but simple dessert board.

Rosie Birkett says: "Every year around this time I make trifle. And then I seriously scold myself for failing to make trifle the rest of the time. ‘A mere trifle’, so the expression misleadingly goes, but, really, this dessert is anything but. Trifles are extra, and ideal for parties or gatherings. They flounce, they dazzle, they set the table alight with their jolly clouds of cream and custard, with their squishy, booze-soaked layers of sponge.

I’ve never been a fan of jelly in trifles so you’re not going to find any of that here – but what I do bring you with this recipe is a sublime confluence of custard and cream, whipped together into the lightest, floofiest, most ethereal of toppings for these layers of sour cherry-laden, sherry-soaked sponge. Toasted almonds crown off proceedings, bringing a nutty crunch as a final, irresistible flourish. Don’t be daunted by the fact we’re making a homemade custard here, it’s so easy to do and is absolutely worth it for the silken, vanilla-flecked results."

Sour cherry trifle with almonds recipe



  • 450ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour


  • 450g frozen pitted dark cherries
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp sour cherry or pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp almond essence


  • 18 sponge fingers (or up to 20)
  • 50g cherry jam
  • 6 tbsp sherry
  • 375ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
  • fresh cherries, to garnish


  • STEP 1

    First you need to make your custard, and I find this is best done a few hours ahead so it has a chance to cool, thicken and infuse – you could do it a couple of days ahead, if easier. Heat the milk and vanilla bean and seeds in a pan until just steaming. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 30 mins. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour with a pinch of salt until pale and creamy.

  • STEP 2

    Ready a large bowl with ice cubes and top up with a little water – you’ll use this to quickly cool the custard when it’s thickened. Strain the infused milk through a sieve into the yolk mixture and whisk until combined, then pour it back into the pan and warm it gently over a medium heat, whisking continuously, for 8-10 mins or until it’s thick and glossy. Remove to the ice bath to cool. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the trifle.

  • STEP 3

    To make the sour cherry filling, tip the frozen cherries into a large pan with the lemon juice, sugar and cornflour, cover and gently warm over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. As the cherries defrost they will release some lovely juices which will thicken with the cornflour. Once warmed through and glossy, stir in the molasses and the almond essence, turn up the heat and reduce for 3-4 mins or until glossy and thickened slightly. Set aside to cool. Again, you can do this ahead to make life easier if needed.

  • STEP 4

    Now, time to assemble the trifle. Spread half the sponge fingers with a little cherry jam and sandwich together with the remaining fingers. Arrange in the bottom of the dish in an even layer (you may need to break a couple in half and wedge them in a bit). Splash over the sherry to cover the sponges as evenly as you can. Allow this to soak in while you finish the cream custard topping.

  • STEP 5

    Scrape the custard into a bowl and loosen by giving it a brief whisk. Using a stand mixer or electric whisk, whisk the double cream until just past the soft peak stage – it needs to be thick and hold its shape but not overwhipped. Scrape half the cream into the custard and fold to combine, then add in the rest and fold together. Transfer back into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk again until really thick, stiff and floofy. It should hold big swirls – make sure it’s not too runny.

  • STEP 6

    Strain the sour cherries from their syrup, splashing a few tablespoons of the syrup over the sponge, then spoon the sour cherries in an even layer. Scrape out the topping onto the cherries, keeping in as much air as possible. Scatter over the almonds and garnish with a cherry or three.


Alternative ways with sour cherries


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