Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays! I’m proud to be an American and slightly embarrassed to admit that I cry at nearly any patriotic song. I love the lyrics & music to patriotic songs, I’m grateful for the men & women who put their lives on the line for our freedom, I really enjoy summer grilling, and having game night and fireworks with friends and family each year is priceless to me. So, in anticipation for this great day, I’ve got a light, healthy dessert for you. (Because we all know the meal preceding Independence Day dessert is anything but light!)
I’ve been wanting to make a trifle for a long time – mostly because it looks so pretty in the big clear bowl! But alas, I still don’t have a trifle bowl, so I thought, why not make individual trifles?! So you could use this recipe as is into individual dishes as I did or double it and make one big trifle. Either way, don’t forget to thank a veteran and say a prayer for our men and women on the field.
Traditionally, a trifle is layers of sponge cake with jam and custard or cream. Though Angel food cake is technically not a sponge cake, it serves the same purpose without the fat, so I approve of this substitution! I went with my over-achiever nature and made everything from scratch – including the food dye! However, if you want to buy the cake, jam, and food coloring pre-made, these little sweets can but put together in about 10 minutes! I love light, fast, and healthy – but making everything from scratch was incredibly satisfying.
Old Fashioned Red, White, and Blue Mini Trifles
Makes 4 mini trifles or if using small jars or large shot glasses it will serve about 6
½ a White Angel food cake, mine turned out to be9 inches round , 1 inch high
1/2C + 1T cake flour
3/4C + 1T white sugar
6 egg whites
3/4t cream of tartar
1/2t vanilla extract
2C Red strawberry jam
3 pounds strawberries
3.5C white sugar
1/4C lemon juice
Blue whipped cream
1.5C whipping cream
1/2C sugar, mine was infused with vanilla bean
Few drops of blue food dye or ¼C natural food coloring
1 head red cabbage, if making food coloring from scratch
1T cornstarch, if making food coloring from scratch
I made my Angel Food cake by completely following the recipe and directions from Jessie. Well except the part about not having the correct pan…and cutting the recipe in half….and since I didn’t have the right pan, when I flipped the cake upside down it dumped on the counter about 2 minutes later. So I mostly followed the instructions. I figured since I’m cutting the cake to fit into small jars anyway, those details didn’t matter. Her Angel food cake recipe (with step by step photos) is here. It turned out pretty good if I do say so. If I was making this just as a cake I’d probably cut the sugar a bit since it was so sweet it tasted like marshmallows! But for this recipe, I used the sweetness to my advantage.
I started by making the blue food coloring. I found a simple recipe online for boiling red cabbage then adding cornstarch to the water. Though it did not give clear measurements, so it was a guessing game. This blue did not turn out as bright as expected, and the jam was a darker red then I thought it would be so with that and the off white color of the white Angel food cake, I thought, this looks like an old school recipe my grandmother would make. (So I tacked “Old Fashioned” on the beginning of the recipe title & viola!)
I boiled 1/3 of the red cabbage head in about 1.5 quarts of water for about 5 minutes – but my camera had a hard time focusing with all the steam!
While it was boiling, I cut the tops off and hulled 3 pounds of strawberries. It was hard not to eat all of them because they were so ripe, sweet, and delicious! When the cabbage was done boiling the water was left a pretty purple color. So I added about 1T of cornstarch…
and it turned into a pretty blue jean color.
Though this didn’t make my cream as blue as the coloring itself, this recipe would be really great for a liquid recipe.
This is a good time to mention that my summer venture is to teach myself how to make jams and can them. So I thought I’d try my hand at a homemade jam for this recipe. I was inspired by my favorite jelly at Wholefoods Market: Tiptree Preserves.
Literally, the only ingredients on the label are: strawberries and sugar. This is what food should be, people! Not a laundry list of things developed in a laboratory. In my search across the internet I found that adding lemon juice as a preserving acid is a wise step, so I made a simple jam of strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Once the berries were washed, trimmed, and hulled, I dumped them into a tall pot on medium heat…
and mashed them with a potato masher. I was surprised at how easily they juiced right up! The amount of mashing depends on how large you like fruit chunks in your jelly. I was going for more of a jam consistency so I mushed them pretty good.
Once all the liquid has come up,
add the sugar
and lemon juice. I used a sieve so I didn’t need to worry about seeds or lemon pieces.
Bring the mixture to a low boil.
And once it gets to this point, grab that wooden spoon and stir straight for about 20-25 minutes. I know that sounds laborious, but 1) it is worth it!!! And 2) you don’t want to let the mixture burn on the bottom of the pot. Also, beware. I’m not sure if “jumping jelly” is a phrase, but it should be. The molten hot liquid will occasionally jump out of the pot and onto your poor arm. The end result is this beautifulness.
Last step is making the cream. I started with my food coloring in the bowl and slowly added the cream while beating with a hand mixer. (I was not at home where my kitchen aid sat feeling useless.)
While the cream was whipping, I slowly added in the sugar. My sugar was infused with real vanilla beans – which not only makes the scent glorious, but you’ll also notice the little black flecks in the cream later. Here’s how to make vanilla scented sugar. Yumm!
And whip until all the cream is incorporated and fluffy. Be careful not to over whip – you don’t want to make butter. As you can see, it’s not terribly blue, however, it had a slight, slight blue hue (the camera can’t even catch it, it’s so slight!) If you really want it to pop, you could always use blue food coloring or experiment with blueberry juice or skins to keep it natural.
All that is left is to assemble everything!
I wanted red, white, and blue so I started with the red jam on bottom.
Then the white food cake. If you want your layers to be perfect, try to make sure the cake touches the glass all the way around so the cream doesn’t run through it. However, it doesn’t have to look perfect. The messy cream falling everywhere is part of the appeal!
Add the cream, then repeat give the trifles a total of 6 layers of deliciousness. They stand alone in deliciousness, but adding fruit garnish on top never hurt anything. Enjoy!