Queenie Cooks: Strawberry Shortcake/Cheesecake Trifle

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: December 1, 2018 | 3:45 p.m.

Just call me Santa this week, because my somewhat harrowing Thanksgiving experiment can easily become your Christmas triumph!  Here’s what happened.

In my family everyone brings something for Thanksgiving dinner, and this year I wanted to take something different and special that the whole family would love.  Well, for some reason, I’d always felt a bit intimidated by trifles.  But I took out my beautiful trifle bowl – a gift which  for years I’d mostly used to store birthday candles and little bottles of colorful sprinkles and the like, and started searching for the perfect trifle recipe. Almost immediately, I stumbled across what I can only call a Strawberry Shortcake/Cheesecake Trifle.   Mama loves strawberry shortcake, one brother and at least one nephew are particularly partial of cheesecake. This recipe had both.  What’s not to love?  

Fresh strawberries, sliced and waiting for the sugar about to be stirred in to draw out the juice.

A quick trip to the kitchen revealed that the only listed ingredient  I had on hand was a little sugar.  Period.    So two days before Thanksgiving I went to local grocery store and, Surprise!  Not a strawberry in sight.   The next morning – less than 24 hours before Thanksgiving dinner – I called WalMart because I KNEW that they would have some.  They did, in fact, have strawberries, but “only a few”  because all the wildfires in California basically wiped out the crop. After a bit of pleading, the nice guy in produce agreed to put back 2 quarts for me, and I headed out to pick them up, along with a frozen pound cake and a little extra sugar, “Just in case.”  Well you’d have figured that by noon on the day before Thanksgiving everyone would have finished shopping for food and be at home cooking and waiting for Black Friday sales the next day, right?  WRONG.  

My first clue that I might be in trouble was discovering that in every line in that huge parking lot, cars were parked all the way down to those last “nobody ever parks here” spaces. Well I pulled into one of those and hiked down to the store, only to find that shoppers were EVERYWHERE, all rushing around sporting everything from frowns to outright glares.  I soon learned why.  The nice produce guy retrieved my strawberries which he had hidden away in the back, as promised.  But out in the aisles, there wasn’t a single strawberry in sight.  And after that, things got ugly. Besides the fact that I was the only person in the whole place with beautiful, red strawberries glowing like a beacon in my cart, It turned out that they were running out of EVERYTHING, and folks were not happy.  

Fresh strawberries, juice-soaked pound cake squares, and lighter-than-air cheesecake & whipped cream filling ready to make the luscious layers

I looked – and looked – and looked for a frozen name-brand pound cake (the one that “nobody doesn’t like”) because I just didn’t have the time or energy to make one from scratch. After about 15 minutes scouring the frozen food section I finally found someone who worked there.  He led me to a bottom freezer shelf, reached way into the shadows in the back and pulled out one precious, LARGE size pound cake.  It was twice as big as what I needed, but I wasn’t about to quibble over size. I quickly tossed the pound cake into the cart with the strawberries, seriously wishing that I had worn a coat – or maybe a big poncho – to cover up my little stash as I headed to the sugar aisle.  

OK.  You won’t believe this.  But the day before Thanksgiving, well, you know those long, deep shelves generally loaded with all brands and sizes of packages of sugar?  Empty.  I’m talking “milk shelf when a hurricane is on the way” empty.  The only sugar to be found was a couple of little sprinkles of scattered grains – maybe a tablespoonful if you got out a whisk broom and dustpan.  Between the mumbles and the scowls from people standing there staring aghast at the wreckage, I did the only logical thing and got out of there FAST. Yessiree, I raced to the front of the store, flung some cash at the check-out lady, and hiked – no, I was more like speed-walking by now – back to my vehicle and headed home to put together my Strawberry Shortcake/Cheesecake Trifle.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Would I do it again?  In a skinny minute.  But you’d better believe that next time, I’ll make sure to procure all the ingredients well before the holiday.  

Sprinkle a little sugar on the berries for sparkle, and it’s table-ready!

And speaking of holidays, remember when I said that this could be your Christmas secret weapon this year?  Well, besides being gorgeous – and delicious – it really is easy to make!  The only ingredients are fresh strawberries, cream cheese, whipping cream, orange juice, and a pound cake.  Yes, I strongly recommend buying a good, frozen pound cake.  Of course you can make your own, but with the holidays, who has time? And once you bury the little cake squares underneath all the strawberries and whipped cream/cream cheese layers, no one will ever know – or care – that you didn’t make it from scratch. As for the whipped cream, no – do not substitute the “ready made” containers of that in the frozen section.  It’s just not the same as what Grandma Evelyn used to make in the heavy, ceramic crock she kept in the freezer exclusively for that purpose.  (It’s still in the family.)  Well, with a good mixer, I promise you can make wonderful, homemade whipped cream just like Grandma used to make, and in less than half the time that old hand-cranked “egg beater” required. 

As for the finished product, it is absolutely delicious!  My family LOVED it – and I’ll bet yours will, too.  And if you’re heading to a holiday gathering and need to take “a little something” – this will make you the star of the show.  If you don’t have a trifle bowl, it’ll work just fine in any clear glass bowl.  So go ahead! As the old commercial said, “Try it!  You’ll like it!”  And please do email me at smilinatyanow@aol.com and let me know how yours turns out. Enjoy! 

Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake Trifle

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced 
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 1 loaf (10-3/4 ounces) frozen pound cake, thawed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • In a bowl, toss strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.

In another bowl, beat softened cream cheese, orange juice and remaining sugar until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream; set aside.

Drain strawberries, reserving juice; set the berries aside. Gently toss cake cubes with reserved juice. Place half of the cake in a 4-qt. trifle dish or serving bowl. Top with a third of the cream cheese mixture, then half of the strawberries. Repeat layers. Top with remaining cream cheese mixture. Garnish with strawberries if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  (I refrigerated it overnight and it was perfect, even after an hour’s drive to the farm.)  

Look for Queenie Cooks weekly for recipes that are generally simple to prepare, require relatively few (and easy to find) ingredients, and usually budget friendly as well. We all have to eat. Let’s have some FUN with it!  

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