These vegan mini trifles are a beautiful way to celebrate summer! They feature layers of a tender, lemon-scented vegan cake, fresh, juicy berries, and plant-based ice cream. I like to use either vanilla or berry-flavored ice cream for this fun and crowd-pleasing dessert.
I’ve always been a little intimidated of trifles: they seemed to require a lot of careful layering, along with a special serving vessel. Plus, I didn’t know the first thing about making either ladyfingers or custard. Then I read this article, and I realized that trifles, like so many other desserts, are actually far more flexible than I gave them credit for; the layering that I thought was supposed to be crisp and tidy, for example, is actually supposed to be gloriously drippy—messy, even.
These mason jar trifles with berry swirl ice cream and vegan lemon cake make things even easier: the single-serve sizing means that you don’t have to assemble more dessert than you need, and the custard layer is a cool, creamy ice cream whip that comes together in about a minute.
You can use vanilla, lemon, coconut, or berry flavored ice cream in the mini trifles.
I like to give the ice cream a slightly “whipped” texture by softening it and stirring in a tiny bit of non-dairy milk. I add just enough to make the ice cream pillowy and easy to layer.
You could easily do this in a food processor, but it’s not necessary.
For the cake layer, I use a sponge that’s simple enough to add flavor to the recipe while also letting the berries shine.
Vegan lemon cake to the rescue! It’s moist, tart, and so easy to make.
I use all-purpose flour, but you can use a gluten-free flour blend, too. (In fact, when I originally tested this recipe, I made a gluten-free version).
The ice cream will most definitely melt as the trifles sit, but when it does, it’ll just soak into the lemon cake, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. The combination of cold, creamy ice cream and tender cake is delightful, and the berries add pockets of tart, sweet, and fresh flavor.
Be sure to work quickly when you’re layering the trifles, so that the ice cream stays cold and firm enough; if you need to take a break, transfer the ice cream to the freezer until you’re ready to start layering again. And if you’d like to make a bigger trifle size, that’s totally cool: I just like the presentation and ease of the single-serve option.
“I couldn’t live without ice cream” is something I hear almost as often as “I could never live without cheese.”
For so many people who are considering the switch to a plant-based diet, the idea of life without dairy is daunting. I’m grateful that we have so many wonderful vegan ice creams nowadays—options that deliver on the richness and creaminess of dairy in a way that’s suited to please everyone.
I’m thinking about trying the trifles with plums or peaches in August, and I’m guessing that roasted apples would be delicious in the fall.
Hope you give the recipe a whirl with any fruit you love, and feel free to use a favorite cake recipe or another tasty base (blondies? brownies?). The more fun you have experimenting, the better!