Trifles are a pretty genius dessert. Pieces of cake layered with custard, pudding or whipped cream and some sort of fresh fruit – there are endless combinations and permutations, and there is something for everyone. What’s not to love? Well, for me, the messy scoops and less than pretty presentation once the dessert is served is not to be loved. I bought a trifle bowl years ago because I just had to have it and the number of times I have used it for making a trifle? Exactly once. (I have used it a few other times though…it makes a great serving dish for caramel corn or chex mix.) I continue to see and imagine all sorts of varieties of trifles that sound wonderful but the full size just doesn’t appeal to me. Solution? Individual trifle bowls! I invested in a set of these and I am smitten. Of course wine or sundae glasses work well too if you don’t have mini trifle dishes. Personalized desserts are always fun, and these make for such a nice presentation. I can think of tons of things I want to do with them. But as soon as I got them I knew the first thing I had to make was this coconut tropical fruit trifle.
A lot of trifles are made with heavier or richer combinations like brownies, pastry cream, etc. While that sounds great to me and I never shy away from rich desserts, these fruity tropical trifles are ideal for summer entertaining. They are light, fresh and (bonus) can be made in advance of when you plan to serve them. I actually made the sponge cake and coconut custard a couple of days before I planned to serve these and just assembled them before our guests arrived. If you find the step of cooking the pineapple odd…so did I. But, David explains in his book that some tropical fruits contain an enzyme that will break down the custard. Briefly cooking the fruit denatures the enzyme so the custard will stay intact. Kiwi were not originally part of this recipe but I thought they would add a nice additional pop of color. After much internet searching I found that kiwi is another of the fruits that contains the custard-busting enzyme, so I cooked it with the pineapple. As it turns out, cooking kiwi makes its vibrant green color kind of blah, so I say you can take or leave the kiwi here. Either way, this is a fun fruity summer dessert that is bit different from the usual trifles.