This Tropical Trifle recipe is easy, delicious and showstopping! Layers of rum soaked cake, coconut cream, mangoes, kiwi and pineapple!
I love a good tropical trifle recipe moment. And based on the runaway success of this lemon berry trifle, you do too!
Whenever I make pound cake, which seems to be often these days, I find myself with about half a cake too much. I wrap it up, pop it in the freezer and then at just the right moment, I whip up a trifle!
The only effort involved in making this layered masterpiece is making the coconut pastry cream. Oh, and waiting for a day to let the flavors meld!
How to keep the pastry cream in your Tropical Trifle Recipe smooth and luscious:
Along with burning or undercooking it, lumps are a common downfall. There are a few stages where you need to be on high-lump-alert!
- Starting with step one! In this tropical trifle recipe I do not split my sugar between the milk and eggs for a few reasons. One, the sugar keeps the milk from scorching and the more sugar, the less I have to pay attention to it. This frees me up to be doing something else in the kitchen – an industrious pastry chef doesn’t have time to stare at pots and wait for them to boil. Two, adding sugar to the eggs too early will denature the proteins in the yolks and create lumps. You basically have the same effect as cooking the eggs when they sit in salt or sugar. These lumps will never come out.
- When you temper your milk into the eggs: whisk your eggs with the cornstarch, then slowly, and in a controlled fashion, add the hot milk while whisking. This allows the eggs to come up to the temperature of the milk without cooking them. Look, ma! No lumps!
- While the pastry cream is cooking: Whisk constantly! Do not allow bits of pastry cream to coagulate and then burn.
- Overcooking: if you overcook your pastry cream for this tropical trifle recipe or you cook it at too high of a heat, you will get lumps.
- Cool it quickly! I pour mine out on a plastic wrap lined baking sheet, spread it out, then cover it with plastic wrap so it doesn’t develop a skin. Poke some holes in the top plastic to let the steam escape and then pop it in the refrigerator!
Now that you have a lump-free pastry cream to grace your tropical trifle recipe, one last note of advice! Before you use pastry cream, you need to “refresh it” or “condition” it. All this means is you need to beat it so that it becomes smooth and silky. This won’t get any lumps out but it will create a more pleasant product to eat and work with. Don’t try folding unconditioned pastry cream into whipped cream. It’s misery.
You can condition it for your tropical trifle recipe with a stand mixer or by hand in a bowl with a rubber spatula.
If you aren’t here for that much effort, you can make perfect lemon curd instead. Or perhaps make it lime!? I see you in your tropical paradise sipping on a piña colada.
I made this tropical trifle recipe with my Bacardi Rum Cake, so there is already rum in the cake, and I say, “in for a penny, in for a pound.” I soaked the cake in a little simple syrup, a generous glug of rum, and the accumulated juices from the pineapple. A moist, happy cake is the key to trifle heaven.
You could also use a plain vanilla sour cream pound cake or any store bought cake of your choosing for this tropical trifle recipe. Just make sure it is a heartier cake like a pound cake. That way it will stand up to all the fruit, soak and filling without becoming a soggy mess.
That is a hard pass from me on soggy messes. You won't find that anywhere in my tropical trifle recipe.
Tropical Trifle Recipe
For the Coconut Pastry Cream:
- 260 g Coconut Cream (1 cup)
- 56 g Sugar (¼ cup)
- 1 Whole egg
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 25 g Cornstarch (6 ¼ teaspoons)
For the Rum Simple Syrup:
- ½ cup Sugar
- ½ cup Water
- ¼ cup Rum (more or less to taste)
- 2 tablespoons Pineapple juice (accumulated from the cubed pineapple)
For the Assembly:
- 2 cups Heavy Cream
- 6 cups Pound Cake (cubed, about half a 12 cup bundt cake)
- 12 oz Mangoes (2 bags frozen, thawed)
- 6 oz Pineapple (1 bag frozen, thawed)
- 3 Kiwi fruits (sliced)
- ½ cup Pecans (toasted, optional)
- ½ cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut (toasted)
Prepare the Pastry Cream:
- Heat coconut milk (don’t forget to shake the can first) and sugar in a sauce pot and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat
- Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and cornstarch. As soon as the milk comes to a boil, slowly pour the milk mixture into eggs while whisking constantly.
- Return to pot, turning heat to medium, whisk constantly until it begins to thicken and comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute while constantly whisking.
- Pour out onto plastic lined baking pan, cover with another sheet of plastic wrap, poke holes and cool in the refrigerator.
Make the simple syrup:
- In a small saucepot, stir together sugar and water. Bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool.
- This can be prepared up to a month ahead of time. This makes more simple syrup than is needed for this recipe, but a smaller batch won’t really work. The sugar doesn’t have enough time to dissolve. Save it for more trifles or cocktails!
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, add 3 tablespoons simple, with rum and pineapple juice. Adjust to your taste.
Prepare to Assemble:
- Cube the cake into bite-sized portions. Toss with the Rum Simple Soak.
- Before you use pastry cream, you need to “refresh it” or “condition” it. All this means is you need to beat it so that it becomes smooth and silky. This won’t get any lumps out but it will create a more pleasant product to eat and work with.
- Place coconut pastry cream in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth. You don’t want to beat it too long or it will loosen and the cornstarch will lose some of its hold and it will not firm back up when chilled. This can lead to loose, unruly fillings.
- Scoop out of the stand mixer bowl into a medium bowl. Pour heavy cream into the same stand mixer bowl. Using the whisk attachment, beat until stiff peaks. I like to do this on medium speed, to ensure I don’t overwhip.
- Combine the whipped cream and coconut pastry cream. At this point you can add some coconut extract if you have it and you like the flavor. Spoon a bit of the whipped cream into the pastry cream and fold aggressively to incorporate. This will make incorporating the remainder a lot easier.
- Fold the rest of the whipped cream into the pastry cream gently and with love. Congratulations! You’ve made crème légère!
It’s time to assemble!
- Spread a small amount of the coconut cream in the bottom of the trifle dish. Layer on the cake followed by the fruit assortment, toasted coconut and pecans.
- Repeat until the dish is filled! Make sure to end with a layer of the coconut cream for that photo finish! I added a thin layer of plain whipped cream to the top to make it white, but that is totally optional.
- Add some of the reserved fruit, coconut and pecans around the edge for a showstopping presentation!
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