Want a classic British trifle that’s easy to slice and serve and has a fun twist?! Introducing the show-stopping no bake Sherry Trifle Cheesecake! It’s got all the flavours of a traditional trifle with sherry soaked strawberries, Bird’s custard and real cream topping! Brilliant!
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I don’t really like being like other people. And I’ve decided that I don’t want my trifle to be like other trifles. So I sat and scratched my head and came up with 74 ideas on how to twist a classic. And then I decided “cheesecake”! The layers formed in my mind’s eye and I simply knew I was onto a winner.
3 mini sized experiments later to get the perfect set custard cheesecake layer and my creation was born. I also experimented with getting the amount of sherry involved just right. That was no hardship I can assure you!
Sherry Trifle Cheesecake? How?!
I couldn’t rightly incorporate sherry soaked lady finger cakes into a cheesecake. So the base layer became a traditional cheesecake base of buttery biscuits.
Now I know that jelly in a trifle is somewhat up for debate/controversial. But I am not here to debate the make up of a traditional British trifle. I’m here to create tasty bakes. So a jelly layer was a no brainer for me. I’ve gone for strawberry because that’s my favourite. And I think the most retro.
Fresh fruit gets encased in the jelly just like the classic. Again I’ve kept things easy and opted for strawberries. Fresh and frozen both work great.
And then we get to the really fun hybrid custard/cheesecake layer! For some serious 70s retro vibes I wanted to really make the most of custard powder custard. It has such a distinctive flavour. The layer has turned out to be a taste sensation with all the smoothness you’d expect from a rich cheesecake.
I didn’t go so retro that I used dream topping for the final layer! I’ve opted for fresh whipped cream (just pure unsweetened cream) and some fun glace cherries and sprinkles. The whole thing is so camp I just couldn’t not!
How to Serve No Bake Trifle Cheesecake
A traditional British trifle in a big glass dish with all of its layers is simply beautiful. But once you go in to serve the first portion, it basically looks like a big old mess. The joy of my trifle cheesecake is that you can cut one portion and it still looks delicious and glorious with each slice taken.
The other joy of a classic trifle is that you don’t need to serve anything with it. It already comes with both custard and cream! And my cheesecake is no different. Which makes it very very simple to serve as an easy prep ahead dessert.
Just like a regular trifle, this Trifle Cheesecake does need to be refrigerated. But it is much nicer to eat at room temperature. So please make sure that you take it out of the fridge at least half an hour before serving. If eaten when very cold, the flavours are dulled and thats just a real shame.
Make British Trifle Cheesecake into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
A good sherry trifle is ideal at many times of the year. It’s an easy buffet item or dessert for any celebration, BBQ or birthday party. But as we all know, a great trifle is almost a given for many at Christmas.
Whether you have it on Christmas Day itself, at a festive party or after the cold cuts on Boxing Day, I have lots of suggestions for what to serve! Try some of these Christmas classics:
- Wet Brined Roast Turkey
- Pigs in Blankets (Bacon Wrapped Sausages)
- Sausagemeat Stuffing
- Roast Potatoes
- The Best Roast Parsnips
- Vichy Carrots with Thyme
- Roast Sweet Potatoes
- Bread Sauce
- Get Ahead Gravy From Scratch
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Boozy Trifle Cheesecake
The kind of strawberries you use will probably depend on the time of year that you’re making the cheesecake. If it is summer then fresh strawberries will be abundant in which case do use them.
But out of season I use frozen strawberries. I do make sure that they’re whole rather than sliced. And I thaw them before starting. But other than that, I think they’re are actually great in this recipe.
You can easily switch the fruit for something else and change the overall flavour of the trifle. Check out my notes further below about the jelly flavours too.
I am pretty cheap and I don’t have expensive fancy sherry in the house. I use good old Bristol Cream. You can honestly use whichever variety you have in the house/prefer.
If you don’t want to use alcohol and fancy a teetotal no bake cheesecake, you can substitute orange juice. Or skip the strawberry soaking step entirely and just use more water in the jelly.
Custard powder is a very British ingredient. And I appreciate that you might struggle to get hold of it outside of the UK. But please scour the internet until you find some. Because custard powder really is the flavour of this retro cheesecake.
I don’t mind if you want to use Bird’s custard powder or an own brand version. But you must make sure that you are using the regular type that you add sugar and milk to. The instant stuff that just needs hot water is both disgusting in its natural form and entirely untested in this recipe.
Strawberry Jelly Cubes
Do you know the kind that I mean? Not the packets of crystals or the snack pots of ready to eat jelly. You need the proper old fashioned palm of the hand sized pack of jelly cubes here. Try not to eat them, I know some people are into that!
Here is where you can switch up the flavour of the trifle. Raspberry is an obvious substitute. And I know that many people like an orange trifle. But most options will work. Just be sure to also switch the strawberries for the relevant fruit. Unless you’re a masochist and choose lemon or lime. In which case stick with strawberries!
I use light cream cheese the vast majority of the time. But for a cheesecake you really need to use a full fat version. You do not need the expensive branded version however. I’m actually the biggest fan of the cream cheese from Lidl, I think it’s better than Philly.
Glace Cherries & Sprinkles
How you decorate your trifle is a weirdly personal thing. For me glace cherries are a non negotiable element. And sprinkles felt like a natural next step. But feel free to use whatever you like!
This is the kind of recipe where I actually had to do proper testing because the quantities and ratios of ingredients really do matter. Each layer of this sherry trifle cheesecake needs to be solid enough to support the next. And also taste great. So please don’t fiddle too much.
I have made a couple of suggestions about about changing the flavour of the fruit and/or jelly. And I’ve given some options for making an alcohol free trifle cheesecake.
The other easy option is to change the biscuit that you’re using in the base. As a classic trifle uses lady fingers are a sort of vaguely tasteless sponge, I chose to use the relatively mild flavoured shortbread for the base.
But if you want to go a little wild you could use anything from chocolate digestives to ginger nuts or even a hobnob. Just make sure that you use a hard biscuit and not a soft cookie.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
To make this trifle cheesecake I do use jelly that include gelatine which is not suitable for vegetarians.
So to make it vegetarian suitable, you will need to use a vegetarian jelly. These are readily available. You need to use half the amount of suggested liquid to make the jelly set enough to support the other layers.
There are many dairy based ingredients in this recipe. All can be substituted and I’ve listed these below in the allergen section. Combined with veggie/vegan jelly, this will make the recipe suitable for vegans.
You may also wish to check any sprinkles that you use as they can sometimes include a coating derived from animals (shellac).
Make it Allergy Friendly
This sherry trifle cheesecake recipe is free from egg and nuts. However…
Egg Free: Bird’s custard powder is egg free (Mr Bird invented it especially for his wife who was allergic to eggs – fun fact). But I can’t guarantee other brands so please do check the label. The same is true for shortbread.
There is no need for shortbread to have egg in the recipe but it is always best to check.
Gluten Free: Please again heed my warning for custard powder. It should be made from maize/cornflour and therefore be gluten free. But it is always best to check.
The shortbread will almost certainly be made with wheat flour. But gluten free versions can easily be found and substituted.
Dairy Free: There are quite a few dairy/dairy containing ingredients in this recipe. As there are many dairy free substitutes now available, you should be able to substitute them all. But please note that I have not tested any of these swaps.
- Shortbread Biscuits
- Salted Butter
- Cream Cheese
- Double Cream (Heavy Cream)
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Sherry Trifle Cheesecake
Please do not be put off by what looks like a quite lengthy equipment list for this recipe. The vast majority of things that you’ll need are standard kitchen items like a chopping board, mixing bowls, spatulas, a sieve and measuring scales.
The most specific item you will need is a 8″/20cm Springform Cake Tin. While I am often very loosey-goosey with my recipes and equipment, for this recipe to work you do need this specific size. You could potentially get away with using a loose bottomed cake pan rather than a springform however.
A electric hand mixer or stand mixer will be your friend for this cheesecake recipe. To get the custard cheesecake layer truly lump free, you really need some electrical assistance. And quite honestly I’m not too fond of hand whipping cream either.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
This recipe requires some patience. Each layer needs to set before the next one is added. In the recipe I’ve specified the minimum time needed to allow each layer to set. But you can easily leave each layer longer. Just make sure that it is properly covered and refrigerated.
This does mean that you can start making the cheesecake up to 3 or so days in advance. You can add everything up to the cheesecake layer. The cream and garnishes really do want to only be added on the day the cheesecake will be served.
Sadly, just like the original, this trifle alternative does not freeze well.
I don’t understand the question! Only joking. Leftovers will be fine in the fridge for a couple of days if properly covered. I wouldn’t keep it for much longer than this as the fresh cream won’t last well. It’s a case of “the fresher the better with this one”.
Layered Trifle Cheesecake Tips
It is really worth spending time getting the lining of the tin just right. To line the springform tin with clingfilm, I line the bottom and sides separately.
Be careful that you don’t split the bag when crushing the biscuits. It is a good idea to wrap the bag in a tea towel.
Be gentle and take your time when adding each layer. It is very easy to undo lots of hard work by being too rough or fast.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Sherry Trifle Cheesecake
- Offset Spatula
- 250 g Strawberries
- 90 ml Sherry
- 200 g Shortbread Biscuits
- 75 g Salted Butter
- 2 tsp Lemon Zest
- 50 g Custard Powder
- 25 g Cornflour (Cornstarch)
- 300 ml Milk
- 135 g Strawberry Jelly Cubes
- 180 ml Boiling Water
- 90 ml Cold Water
- 100 g Icing Sugar (Confectioner's Sugar)
- 300 g Cream Cheese
- 250 ml Double Cream (Heavy Cream)
- 8 Glace Cherries
- 1 tsp Sprinkles – Optional
Soak the Strawberries:
- Hull 250g Strawberries by slicing off the top and any greenery then lay them whole in a shallow dish. You want to use a dish that they just fit in.
- Pour over 90ml Sherry and set the strawberries aside to soak.
Make the Base:
- Crush 200g Shortbread Biscuits into crumbs. You can do this by putting them in a bag and bashing with a rolling pin or using a processor.
- Put 75g Butter into a small bowl and microwave until just melted. Alternatively, you can melt it in a small pan on the hob.
- Mix the melted butter and 1 tsp Lemon Zest with the crushed shortbread biscuits. It should look a little like wet sand.
- Line a 20cm deep springform cake pan with clingfilm. Take your time as it isn’t the easiest of jobs. Tip the shortbread crumb mixture into the pan.
- Gently press the crumbs into a flat and even layer over the bottom of the pan. Again it is worth taking your time with this job. You can use an offset spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to help you. The layer wants to be fairly compact once you’re finished.
- Put the base into the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
Make the Custard:
- Add 50g Custard Powder and 25g Cornflour to a medium mixing bowl. Also add 1 tsp Lemon Zest.
- Start to add 300ml Milk a little at a time (about 1 tbsp at a time). Keep mixing until you have a smooth lump free paste.
- You can then add in the rest of the milk much more quickly.
- Microwave for 3 minutes and whisk. If the custard isn’t yet very thick, keep microwaving for 30 seconds at a time. If you can’t microwave, heat in a saucepan over a medium heat until it is very thick.
- Set the custard aside to cool down. Cover it with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. The clingfilm must touch the custard not just cover over the bowl.
Make the Jelly:
- Pop the kettle on to boil.
- Break up 135g Strawberry Jelly Cubes into a medium bowl. Use a pair of scissors and chop the natural sized cubes into at least 4 smaller cubes. This is so they dissolve properly as we will not be using the full amount of hot water and we need all the help we can get.
- Measure and pour over 180ml Boiling Water. Stir stir stir until the jelly has fully dissolved.
- Measure in 90ml Cold Water and strain in the sherry from the soaking strawberries. Stir thoroughly and set aside for a moment.
- Lay the now strained strawberries onto the chilled shortbread base. Try to be fairly even with this and don’t place any too near the edge.
- Carefully and slowly pour in the liquid jelly mixture. You might have to coax one or two strawberries back into their places. Chill the jelly layer for at least 2 hours.
Make the Cheesecake:
- Take the cooled custard and sieve in 100g Icing Sugar. Add 300g Cream Cheese and whisk together.
- It is best if you can use an electric whisk or stand mixer here. You can beat it by hand but you will have to work hard to get the mixture very smooth.
- Carefully spoon the cheesecake mix on top of the set jelly layer. If they jelly isn’t set yet then wait until it has.
- Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to press the cheesecake into all of the corners and create a smooth layer. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Finish the Cheesecake:
- Whisk 250ml Double Cream until soft peak stage. Again I recommend using an electric whisk but be careful as it is very easy to overwhip cream.
- Spread about a quarter of the cream onto the top of the set cheesecake layer. Then very carefully unmould the cheesecake from the pan. Remove all of the clingfilm too. Put the cheesecake onto your serving plate.
- Use a piping bag and large star nozzle to pipe the remaining cream around the edge of the cheesecake. I went with 16 mounds to keep things simple. You can just mound it and swirl it if you don’t want to pipe.
- Garnish with 8 Glace Cherries and sprinkle on 1 tsp Sprinkles if using.
- And serve!