A trifle is the hot-mess-best-friend of desserts. It would be all over the place if it wasn’t for the giant bowl holding it together, but the good qualities outweigh the chaos. You can dress it up with with refined cake cubes, jam, and custard, but I say we let trifles be the trashy dessert of our dreams. Embrace perversion and make a Pop-Tart trifle.
The incoming hot weather is going to scorch the energy out of us all, and this hot mess is an excellent cop-out summer dessert. It combines the mechanics of an ice box cake with the nostalgic flavors of your favorite Pop-Tarts. Start by making a sweetened whipped cream. Pour a quarter cup of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl, and add a pint of heavy whipping cream. Whip this with a stand mixer or hand mixer until you get billowy medium peaks, then stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract. This takes five to ten minutes, depending on the power of your machinery.
While I had my heavy cream whipping in a stand mixer, I took the time to chop up some Pop-Tarts. This is not exactly necessary. You could just rip the tarts apart, but I chopped them into small rectangles so I had the option to crumble those pieces further or leave them in big hunks.
Once the whipped cream is ready, layer a quarter of the cream into the bottom of a bowl. Add hunks and crumbles of Pop-Tarts in an even layer. Add another quarter of the cream, and repeat the layering so that it ends with a layer of whipped cream.
Resist the urge to eat it now. Cover the bowl, and rest the trifle in the fridge for at least four hours, or overnight. The available moisture from the whipped cream will soak into the pastry, softening it. When you dive into it later, the texture of the cream will be firmer and the tarts will be soft, resulting in a more uniform texture. It’s worth the wait.
Decorate it with sprinkles to maximize the whimsy, but do so just before serving. The dye from the sprinkles will bleed out into the whipped cream over time. The leftovers might look like a sad clown tomorrow, but today your trashy trifle shall be pristine. Every scoop is a fluffy heap of colorful jam and cake-like pastry bites. I used four packs of Pop-Tarts, or eight single tarts. You could use a single flavor or mix and match however you please. I used four Cherry Frosted and four Frosted Confetti Cupcake, which was a great success.
The following recipe makes enough for eight heaping servings, but you can cut this recipe in half for a more personal batch, or double it for a gathering of friends who really appreciate the finer things in life. Keep leftovers covered in the fridge for up to five days.
- 8 Pop-Tarts (4 sleeves)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar (or 3 tablespoons granulated)
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Sprinkles for decorating (optional)
Whip the sugar and the heavy cream together in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, until you have medium peaks. Stir in the vanilla extract, if using.
Add a quarter of the whipped cream to the bottom of a bowl. Crumble a third of the Pop-Tarts over the whipped cream in an even layer. Top with another quarter of the whipped cream and smooth it into an even layer. Repeat with the Pop-Tarts and whipped cream, ending with a layer of cream. Cover the bowl and rest the trifle in the fridge for at least four hours, or overnight. Decorate with sprinkles before serving.