Vanilla cake, vanilla pudding, oranges and cranberry sauce layered together for the perfect holiday dessert — this Cranberry Orange Trifle is great for potlucks!
I hope you guys aren’t tired of cranberry recipes (Cranberry Cake with Caramel Sauce or White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes anyone?). I’m not sure what it is, but I just can’t get enough cranberry once winter hits and Christmas is coming. Maybe it’s that vibrant red color that makes everything seem a little more festive.
I love how it works just as well with sweet and savory dishes, too. I’m a big fan of adding fruit and other sweet touches to my savory recipes to get that perfect balance of sweet and salty (and maybe spicy or sour).
When I was coming up with my list of holiday recipes that I wanted to bring to you guys this Christmas season, I swear probably half of them had cranberry as a main component. Now, I’m going to try to get a little more adventurous and try some new things, too, but don’t be surprised if they’re taking up a lot of space here on The Recipe Rebel.
Tell me: what are your favorite flavors to add to holiday dishes? Cranberry? Citrus? Chocolate? Mint? Chocolate and mint is another of my favorite holiday combos, but I don’t make a lot of chocolate and mint desserts for potlucks and gatherings because I know there are people who — gasp — don’t like mint (I know, right?). Tell me you’re not one of those people!
Do you have a must-have holiday dessert? A tradition that you make every year? I don’t really, because I just love creating new recipes, but I’m really interested to see what your favorite holiday dessert is!
If you wanted to keep things super simple, you can use canned whole berry cranberry sauce instead of making your own. The cranberry sauce is really, really simple, but it does take a little time to cool it completely (which is absolutely necessary!). You can also make it easier on yourself by using a vanilla cake mix (prepared) or go all out and make it from scratch. I love recipes like this that offer a variety of shortcuts for when you’re in a crunch, or homemade options for something really special.
The one thing I really like to take the easy way out on is the pudding. I have tried a few different vanilla pudding recipes, and I just can’t find any that I actually like as much as the boxed. Don’t tar and feather me just yet! It’s not that I haven’t tried (I’ve tried) but it just doesn’t taste the same, and I’m not really a fan. Who out there has a really great vanilla pudding recipe that can convert me??
If making vanilla cake from scratch, this is my favorite recipe!
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Cranberry Orange Trifle
- 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 9×13″ vanilla cake (you can use a cake mix, or use my favorite vanilla cake recipe noted above the recipe)
- 2 boxes instant vanilla pudding
- 3 cups milk
- 2 284 mL cans mandarin orange segments or slice some up yourself if you want
- 3 cups whipped cream or whipped topping
- Make cranberry sauceIn a medium pot, add cranberries, 1 cup water and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes until berries are softened and starting to burst.
- Combine corn starch and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and add to cranberries, stirring until thickened.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (you can speed this up by stashing in the fridge or freezer).
- Drain mandarin oranges and reserve juice — you should get about 1 cup.
- Combine pudding mixes, reserve orange juice, and 3 cups milk (or enough milk to make 4 cups liquid) with a whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- Cut cake into 1″ cubes.
- In 12 small jars or dessert bowls, layer half of cake, pudding, cranberry sauce and mandarins, then repeat with the second half. Spread whipped cream on top and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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