Christmas Trifle with Chianti & Berry Sago

A trifle can be as time-consuming or quick as time permits.  If, as I used to be, you have all day to create, cook and enjoy time in the kitchen then make each element of this dessert yourself. I haven’t provided recipes for sponge cake, custard or meringues as mostly likely you’ll have a go-to recipe tucked away.  And if, as I am now, you work full time and try to squeeze as much in to the time before work and the time after work, then the quick option is just as good.

We’ve enjoyed trifle with home-made coconut custard and home-made meringues as well as bought custard and bought meringues.  The home-made version is really good but the quick trifle, well if I didn’t know, would I know?  The beauty of home-made, of course, is you can tailor it to dietary intolerances.

I used frozen berries for the sago and fresh strawberries in the Eton mess.  If you prefer not to use a microwave, then prepare the sago on the stop top (it will take a little longer).  In my trifle research I came across varied opinions as to whether trifle has jelly or jam in it.  I decided to forgo the jam, and swap out the jelly for the berry sago after watching Kasey & Karena in Shanghai (Kitchen Diplomacy Ep 6) make Sago and Jelly Trifle.

To keep the meringues crispy for as long as possible, make the trifle up to the point of the Eton Mess.  Store in the fridge with a plastic wrap over the custard to prevent it forming a skin.  Just prior to serving make the Eton Mess – alternatively the Eton mess can be made ahead of time and chilled in the fridge.  Just prior to serving, fold in the meringues and pile it on top of the custard.

Christmas Trifle


  • Christmas Trifle
  • ½ trifle sponge
  • 1 portion of berry chianti sago
  • 2 x 500 g vanilla custard
  • 1 portion of berry Eton mess
  • Extra berries & meringue crumble to serve
  • Berry Chianti Sago
  • ¼ cup sago
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup Chianti or berry fruit juice
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup boysenberries
  • Place the sago and water in a heat proof bowl and set aside to soak for 15 minutes.
  • Microwave on FULL for 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the Chianti, sugar and berries then cook again on FULL for about 5-7 minutes or until the sago is clear (there should be no white spots in the centres).
  • Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  • Berry Eton Mess
  • 300 ml double cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste
  • 500 g thick Greek blueberry yoghurt
  • 1 punnet (250 g) fresh strawberries
  • 8 meringue nests


  • Whip the cream and vanilla paste until it forms soft peaks. Fold in the yoghurt. Hull and cut the strawberries into bite-sized chunks. Reserve 1 meringue nest for garnishing and crush the meringues into bite-sized chunks. Fold both the strawberries and the crushed meringues into the yoghurt cream mixture.
  • To assemble the trifle:
  • Cut the sponge into even sized pieces (about 3cm cubes) and place into the base of a glass bowl. Pour the cooled berry sago mixture over the sponge and set aside for the mixture to soak into the sponge. Once the sago is completely cool, spoon the custard into an even layer over the sago then pile the Eton mess on top.
  • Cover and refrigerate until required.
  • To serve, pile fresh berries on top of the trifle. Crumble the remaining meringue nest and sprinkle it over the berries. Finish with a light dusting of icing sugar.
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