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Gluten-Free Cranberry Coconut Trifle

November/December 2011

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No other dessert turns heads like a trifle. Festive in every way, this trifle recipe glows from within with scarlet layers of juicy cranberries. The filling is made from an astounding 6 cups of antioxidant-packed cranberries! We made the custard “skinny” with a combination of low-fat milk and light coconut milk. From-scratch brown-butter sponge cake (gluten-free!) stands in for store-bought ladyfingers.


Gluten-Free Cranberry Coconut Trifle

Makes: 16 servings, about 1 cup each

Active Time:

Total Time:

Ingredients

Custard

  • 3 cups low-fat milk, divided
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free coconut extract (see Tips)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

Cranberry Filling

  • 2 12-ounce bags cranberries (6 cups)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave nectar (see Tips)

Sponge Cake

  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut chips or flakes, toasted if desired (see Tips)

Preparation

  1. To prepare custard: Whisk 1/2 cup milk with cornstarch in a medium bowl; set near the stove. Whisk 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon coconut extract and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another medium bowl. Combine the remaining 2 1/2 cups milk, coconut milk and 2/3 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming but not bubbling. Whisk the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture, then return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Strain through a sieve into a bowl or storage container. Cover and refrigerate until cold, 4 hours or up to 2 days.
  3. To prepare cranberry filling: Combine cranberries, cranberry juice, 1 cup sugar and honey (or agave) in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until most of the cranberries burst open, 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Or transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  4. To prepare sponge cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large (12-by-16 1/2-inch) rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan) with parchment paper. Trim the paper so it covers the bottom of the pan completely, but does not curl up the sides. Coat the paper and pan sides with cooking spray. Place 5 eggs (in the shell) in a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl, add very warm tap water and set aside to warm the eggs and bowl.
  5. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally, until the white flecks of milk solids in the bottom of the pan start to turn golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in 2 teaspoons coconut extract. Set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, place gluten-free all-purpose baking flour (or baking blend) in a medium bowl; set aside.
  7. Drain the water and break the eggs into the warmed mixing bowl. Add 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until tripled in volume and very pale light yellow, 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the strength of your mixer). To test if it’s beaten well enough, lift the beater from the batter: as the batter falls off the beater into the bowl, it should mound for a moment on the surface.
  8. Gently fold the flour (or baking blend) into the egg mixture with a whisk, in two additions, until just incorporated. Gently fold about 1 cup of the batter into the reserved butter. Then gently fold the butter mixture into the bowl of batter with a whisk until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking sheet.
  9. Bake the cake until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool in the pan on a large wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edges and turn the cake out onto the rack; remove the parchment and let cool completely.
  10. To assemble trifle: Cut the cake into 1-inch cubes. Spread about 1 cup of the custard in the bottom of a trifle dish. Top with about 3 cups cake cubes and 1 cup of the cranberry filling. Repeat the layering 3 more times.
  11. To prepare topping: Just before serving, whisk or beat cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Whisk in yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon coconut extract until smooth. Spread over the top of the trifle. Garnish with coconut.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the custard and cranberry filling, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days; tightly wrap the cooled cake and store at room temperature for up to 1 day. Or prepare the trifle through Step 10, cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. | Equipment: Trifle bowl or similar 12-cup glass serving dish; 12-by-16 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet
  • Tips: Check to be sure the brand of extract you select is labeled gluten-free. For certified gluten-free extracts, look for Nielsen-Massey brand at specialty-food markets and online at kingarthurflour.com.
  • Agave syrup or nectar is the naturally sweet juice extracted from the agave plant. It has a lower glycemic index and is lower in calories than table sugar, but is even sweeter. Use it in moderation when substituting for table sugar. Look for it near other sweeteners in large supermarkets and natural foods stores.
  • Large thin flakes of dried coconut called coconut chips make attractive garnishes. Find them in the produce section of large supermarkets or at melissas.com. To Toast: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes.

Nutrition

Per serving: 352 calories; 11 g fat (6 g sat, 2 g mono); 111 mg cholesterol; 60 g carbohydrates; 39 g added sugars; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 180 mg sodium; 171 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 4

Exchanges: 4 carbohydrate (other), 2 fat


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Recipe Categories

Ethnic/Regional
English/Irish/Scottish
Total Time
More than 1 hour
Health & Diet Considerations
Low sodium
High fiber
Gluten free
Servings
8 or more
Preparation/ Technique
Bake
Meal/Course
Dessert
Season
Fall
Winter
Type of Dish
Desserts, fruit
Ease of Preparation
Easy
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