Espresso Martini Trifle

Serves: 6-8 Ready in: 20 minutes + 6 hours chilling

Trifle is best made at least 6 hours ahead so it has time to soak and the flavours infuse. I use store bought custard and cake so it's super easy to assemble. I've made it using a 2 layer chocolate sponge and also chocolate unfilled Swiss roll. The sponge was just enough cake, the Swiss roll fractionally more than I needed, here in NZ we don't have a lot of choice in the supermarket bakery so I tested both options and they both work. I've only tried it with Kahlua, if you use a different coffee liqueur you may have a different result.


  • 350g approx. chocolate sponge cake, trifle sponge, or chocolate Swiss roll unfilled – see tips
  • 500ml vanilla custard – store bought
  • 4 tsp granulated instant coffee
  • 100ml coffee liqueur – I use Kahlua
  • 500ml cream
  • 1 dessert spoon icing sugar
  • a grating of chocolate or chocolate coffee beans - to decorate optional


        Break the cake into chunks and place ½ in the base of a trifle dish.

        Pour the custard into a bowl then spoon around ½ a cup into a separate small bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the instant coffee to the ½ cup of custard and mix well. When the coffee is mostly dissolved fold it into the remaining custard. Don’t worry if there are a few undissolved flecks of coffee they’ll dissolve in a few minutes.

        Pour 300ml of the cream into another bowl, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of instant coffee and beat until soft peaks form, beat in the icing sugar, and set aside.  

        Drizzle 50ml of the coffee liqueur over the cake, give the coffee custard a final stir then drizzle ½ over the cake. Pour in all the coffee cream.

        Add remaining cake and drizzle with remaining coffee liqueur. Spoon on remaining coffee custard ensuring all the cake is covered. Place in the fridge to chill for 6 hours or overnight. 

        Before serving whip remaining 200ml of cream and spoon over the top. Decorate with grated chocolate of coffee beans if desired.


        Trifle tends to settle in the bowl while its resting in the fridge so I don’t add the final layer of cream till just before I serve it so the bowl stays looking nice. You can definitely finish the assembly ahead if you want to.


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