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Recipes: Brownie Trifle

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It is hard to conceive how the word trifling evolved from the word trifle.

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Trifling means to be of little importance or value while a trifle is a decadent and rich dessert. One has to wonder how decadent and rich transcended to being of little importance or value just by dropping an e and adding an -ing.

At any rate, we can thank the British for the original trifles which were typically made as much for table decorations as they were to be enjoyed by diners. Cubes of stale sponge or pound cake were the base of the trifle, which may have been soaked in sherry or port wine (or a non-alcoholic fruit juice). The cubes were layered with fruit compotes or jams in a bowl specially designed for this purpose (trifle bowl), sometimes with vanilla custard mixed in the layers. Nuts or layers of whipped cream were sometimes added. Regardless of the number of layers, they had to be continued until the trifle bowl was completely full.

Over the years, there have been many variations made to the original recipe. Some recipes, such as this one for a brownie trifle, call for chocolate or other flavors of cake in lieu of the stale sponge or pound cake. The flavor of the custard may also be changed to complement the flavor of the cake used. Often the jams are replaced by mixed berries or other fresh fruits


  • 1 pouch (10.25 ounce) fudge brownie mix
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups frozen (thawed) whipped topping
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries (6 ounces)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds


  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Spray bottom only of 8-inch square pan with cooking spray or grease with shortening.
  2. In large bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water, almond extract and egg with spoon about 50 times (batter may be lumpy). Spread in pan.
  3. Bake 26 to 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. Break cooled brownies into bite-size pieces, placing half of pieces in 2-quart straight-sided serving bowl.
  5. Top with half of the whipped topping and half of the raspberries; repeat layers.
  6. Sprinkle almonds over top.


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