An Australian Christmas for me has always involved my nanna’s trifle as a dessert. With us being in Australia I thought it essential to more healthfully recreate the trifle for our Christmas together. Christmas time isn’t exactly known for its healthfulness – it’s that time of year where most of us indulge. Overall however we kept our Christmas fairly healthy whilst indulging a little.
This vegan trifle can’t exactly be called healthy, but it’s a lot more healthful than the traditional trifle I’ve become accustomed to. This dessert is sweet and delicious too.
For the first trifle layer of crumble I used ginger cookies crushed in a food processor. Any cookies could be used, or you could even use stale toasted bread. I used glasses (I made four small trifles) for the trifles but traditionally a large glass bowl is used. Either will work depending on what dishes you have available – we didn’t have a suitable bowl and so opted for glasses instead. I made the jelly mixture the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight to set before making the custard the next morning, though this isn’t necessary and the timing can be adjusted to suit your needs and schedule.
We had overripe peaches available and so decided to use them for jam. I basically boiled them for a few minutes in a little water and then blended and jarred for later use.
Seeing as the ingredient of the month is still pear, I decided on using pears in the trifle for the jelly. We’ve already posted a great delicious pear recipe for this month, but here is another! I juiced five pears and used another whole diced pear as fruit within the jelly.
Things I’ll do differently next year
There are rooms for improvement in this recipe. This was the first time I made trifle by myself, and the task was made even more difficult by veganising and healthifying it.
I contemplated using rice milk for the custard, but ended up choosing soy milk because of the difficulties involved with using rice milk. Next time I need to make custard however I’m going to try oat milk – it’s higher in fat than rice milk, but much lower than soy milk, and its high protein content should allow for curdling. Coconut milk would result in probably the most delicious and creamy custard, but I avoid coconut milk due to its negative health properties. Almond milk could be another alternative, but I’m going to try oat milk next.
The texture of the custard was good, but I thought the flavour was a little lacking – likely due to the minimal amount of sweetener I put in. If I had access to erythritol I would’ve added that. I could have also used more splenda which would have worked fairly well. More sugar of course could be added, and traditionally a lot of sugar is added, but I tried to keep sugar levels to a minimum. In another custard I made recently (for a custard tart) I used frozen banana, so that’s another ingredient that could be added to boost flavour.
I’ll also probably cut down on the agar agar – some fine tuning is needed as I’m still fairly new to the wonderful world of agar. The jelly was a little too solidly firm, so a little less could be used. I added the jelly mixture on top of the crumbled cookies too soon while it was too hot, and this resulted in the cookies being mixed with the jelly instead of maintaining layers. The jelly should be allowed to cool slightly before being poured on top of the crumbled mixture, but don’t let it cool too much because agar agar sets very quickly even at room temperature!
The peach jam was also a little more runny than I wanted though worked out well in the end. It may help to add a small amount of agar agar to the jam mixture. Alternatively a commercial jam could be used, but then the sugar content will likely increase.
The cashew cream was divine, but I did struggle a little with our low-powered blender. If you have access to a high-power blender then I envy you!
Want a tasty, creamy soft dessert for Christmas (or any other time of the year)? Try this Vegan Christmas Trifle that’s not overloaded with sugar. While you probably shouldn’t eat this all the time, as a treat it’s a good alternative to many other indulgences.
Vegan and free of added salt and oil.
Reasons to love this recipe: vegan, dessert, a treat that’s not too unhealthy
Yields 4 small trifles or one medium trifle
- 4-6 cookies of your choice
- 1 pear, diced
- 2 cups pear juice
- 2 tsp agar agar
- 2 cups soy milk
- 1 tsp agar agar
- 1 tbsp (yellow) corn flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp tumeric
- 2 tbsp splenda, sugar or other sweetener
- Peach jam (or other jam of your choosing)
- 140g unroasted cashews (soaked overnight)
- 5 tbsp soy milk
- 2 tbsp molasses
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Punnet of raspberries (or other berries of your choosing)
Mix the agar agar with the juice and diced pear and bring to a boil, whisking continuously. Cook for about 5 minutes until pears are soft.
Using a fork or whisk, mix cornflour with a small amount of milk to dissolve and create a thick paste, then set aside. In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk, agar agar, sweetener and vanilla extract to a gentle boil, whisking continuously. Add in cornflour mixture. Add tumeric for colour. Continue boiling until everything is dissolved. Reduce to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Drain and wash cashews. Bring to a boil cashews with 1 cup of water for about 15 minutes until all the water has evaporated and the nuts are soft. Move into a blender and add milk, molasses and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
The first layer of the trifle is the cookie crumble. Crush cookies in a food processor (or in a blender or by hand) and coat the bottom of your dish (or dishes) with the crumbled mixture.
The second layer of the trifle is the jelly. After making the jelly and letting it slightly cool, pour the mixture on top of the crumble mixture and allow to cool before adding the next layer. Keep it in the fridge or freezer and it won’t take long – but let it set for at least half an hour.
On top of the jelly comes the custard. While the custard is at least still warm, pour it on top of the jelly then let set – this time let it sit in the fridge at least an hour.
When the custard is set you can add a small layer of jam followed by the cashew cream and top with berries.