ladyfinger dessert recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Sometimes new recipes just sort of happen. I was finally having a few friends over for dinner. I was pondering dessert- I do that a lot these days- ponder.

I remembered a package of ladyfingers that I originally got to make tiramisu. I worried they might be getting stale. I hate to waste food. I opened up one of the packages and ate one. It was fine. Nice and crisp.

I want to just say something about ladyfingers. There are two types I see in stores around here, soft or crisp. The soft ones are smaller and cake-like and found in bakeries in grocery stores. Like sponge cake. The other ladyfingers are crisp and larger. I find them at Italian stores and sometimes at specialty grocery stores. The ladyfingers you want for this recipe are the larger, crisp ladyfingers.

I had fresh strawberries and decided to combine them with the ladyfingers to make a sort of shortcake. Made sense to me. I pondered a little longer about what other ingredients to add. I wanted the cookies to soften, but not to get mushy. I knew the strawberries, when combined with sugar, would create juice. The decision to add pudding was for extra richness.

Then I thought about what else to include. Chocolate seemed like a nice flavor choice. I had a jar of hazelnut spread. (That is my way of not using the brand name Nutella.) Just in case you didn’t know what I was talking about. I had a fresh jar- 13 oz. -and used about half a jar in the dessert. I could have added more, but I was still happy with the pop of flavor the spread added. If you make this dessert- feel free to add as much spread as you like.

I was happy with how it came out. The ladyfingers were soft, not mushy. They actually were kind of fluffy. The flavors blended so nicely. Great summer dessert. Light and refreshing, but kind of rich, too.

One friend said she almost expected me to top the shortcake with blueberries as I added the whipped cream topping. She thought that would make a nice addition for the 4th of July. I agree. You could easily combine blueberries with strawberries, cherries or raspberries.

Once I was serving dessert, another friend asked there were bananas in it. I hadn’t. This recipe would be lovely made with sliced bananas, or other fruits. Peaches would work well, too.

Finally, the name. I decided to call it a shortcake-trifle. One of my friends- they are a chatty group- said she thought it was a trifle. When I looked at it, I could see why she thought that. So call it what you like- shortcake, trifle, shortcake-trifle- or just dessert. No matter what you call it, I assure you, your friends and family are going to love it. As an added bonus, it is pretty simple to make, with a minimal amount of cooking. Even less if you opt to use pre-made pudding.

Here is the recipe. Enjoy!!

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

1½ – 2 pounds strawberries, washed, stemmed and sliced

½ c. sugar

24 ladyfingers

1 recipe vanilla pudding- recipe follows

¾ c. Hazelnut chocolate spread

Whipped cream or whipped topping

Combine strawberries with the sugar and set aside. Make the pudding, if you haven’t already. You can use premade pudding. You’ll need 2-3 cups of pudding. I had some leftover from the recipe I made. In a 9×9-inch baking dish, place one layer of the cookies. You might have to trim them a little to fit. I had 2 rows of 6 cookies, but I had to break off a little for the second row to fit. Spoon over half of the strawberries, with some of the liquid in the bowl. Spread a layer of pudding over the berries. For the next layer, spread some of the hazelnut spread over each lady finger before putting it in the pan. When you put them in the pan, place them with the spread on the under side. Add another layer of the pudding, then top with the rest of the strawberries. Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve. You can do all this up to 2 days ahead. Before serving, remove cover and top with whipped cream or any whipped topping you like. Serves 6-8. 

Vanilla Pudding

1 c. sugar

½ c. cornstarch

½ t. salt

3 ¾ c. half and half

1 T. vanilla- or a little more

2 T. butter

Combine dry ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk in half and half and vanilla until well mixed. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to bubble and get thickened. Mixture will get pretty thick. Turn down heat to keep it from scorching. As soon as pudding is thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Place pudding in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. Makes about 4 cups.        


Start by layering strawberries over a base of ladyfingers
Once layers are done, chill until ready to top with whipped cream
Ready to serve

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