A trifle party

By Holly Clegg

The holidays are here, and it’s time to start cooking and baking for parties aplenty. You certainly cannot forget dessert! Better yet, why not make a party centered on desserts? This time of year, everyone likes to indulge a little, and dessert parties offer the welcome respite of a last party stop before calling it an evening. Guests enjoy sampling a variety of desserts, so make an assortment.

One of my favorite sweet ensembles to include in a festive gathering is a trifle. Few dishes are more delicious or easier to prepare. Layered in a big glass bowl that’s set on the table, a trifle is a showpiece. And it can easily be doubled or even tripled if you expect a lot of guests. In addition, a trifle can be made ahead of time and put together right before the party, easing pre-party stress. I always make several during the holidays, and I wanted to share with you my favorites.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle from my newest cookbook, Kitchen 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence is pure decadence. Layers of chocolate fudge pudding, angel food cake, peanut butter cream cheese filling, and whipped topping are included in this rich treat. It will be the hit of the party. Banana Split Trifle from my Too Hot in the Kitchen cookbook will get rave reviews from guests of all ages. Put this lovely trifle in a large dish, in individual clear cups or in martini glasses to make a standout presentation.

The Tropical Yam Trifle from my Gulf Coast Favorites cookbook will have you at the first bite. You may not naturally associate sweet potatoes with dessert, but you will after a taste of this dish! With melt-in-your-mouth flair, this sweet and creamy concoction includes the flavors of the islands while being a nutritional winner, full of vitamins, fiber and nutrients.

For your trifle party, offer flavored coffees and have a pot of decaffeinated brew available. I like to keep a deviled egg dish filled with fun little coffee condiments, such as chocolate and vanilla chips, cinnamon sticks, marshmallows and whipped cream. Another option is to have an assortment of liqueurs on a tray beside the coffee for those who desire an added kick. Candles set the mood. Put out the desserts, sit back and enjoy your guests. Such a sweet time of year.

Banana Split Trifle

Who turns down a banana split? This dessert befits a true celebration of the holidays.

1 5-oz. package sponge desserts cakes
1 4-serving package instant banana pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 banana, sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 Tbsp. caramel topping
1 cup frozen nonfat whipped topping, thawed

Slice sponge cakes in half. In bowl, whisk pudding mix with milk until thick. In glass bowl, layer half of sponge cake slices, pudding, banana, strawberries, caramel topping and whipped topping. Repeat layers, ending with whipped topping. Refrigerate until serving. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 35 | Calories from fat 12% | Fat 5g | Saturated fat 2g | Cholesterol 16mg | Sodium 585mg | Carbohydrate 73g | Dietary fiber 2g | Sugars 49g | Protein 5g | Dietary exchanges: 6 other carbohydrate, 1 fat

Tropical Yam Trilfe

Tropical Yam Trifle

The coconut-flavored cream cheese layer complements the cinnamon yam filling and whipped topping. Simply sensational!

12 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 5-oz. can evaporated skim milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 16-oz. angel food cake, cut into cubes
2 15-oz. cans sweet potatoes (yams), drained and mashed, or 2 cups fresh cooked and mashed Louisiana yams
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. flaked coconut, divided
1 8-oz. container frozen nonfat whipped topping, thawed
1 Tbsp. flaked coconut, toasted (for topping)
1 Tbsp. chopped pecans, toasted

In large bowl, beat together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar. Gradually add evaporated milk and coconut extract, mixing until creamy. Fold cubed angel food cake into cream cheese mixture; set aside. In another bowl, beat together yams, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla until creamy. In trifle or large glass bowl, layer 1/2 angel cake mixture, 1/2 yam mixture, 1 tablespoon coconut, 1/2 whipped topping. Repeat layers. Sprinkle top with toasted coconut and pecans. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 12-16 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 257 | Calories from fat 18% | Fat 5g | Saturated fat 3g | Cholesterol 15mg | Sodium 276mg | Carbohydrate 47g | Dietary fiber 2g | Sugars 25g | Protein 5g | Diabetic exchanges: 3 carbohydrate, 1 fat

Holly Clegg is the author of the best-selling trim&TERRIFIC cookbooks, Eating Well Through Cancer and Too Hot in the Kitchen: Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age. For more information, visit hollyclegg.com or thehealthycookingblog.com.