Mini Gingerbread Trifles - The Sweet Rebellion
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Mini Gingerbread Trifles

Trifle is one of my husband’s favourite desserts – and definitely his favourite Christmas dessert. That’s why I have quite a few trifle variations on my blog and couldn’t resist adding another one this year!

This time I thought I’d use some of my favourite gingerbread biscuits to make little gingerbread trifles. Since pears work so well with the spicy ginger flavour of the biscuits, I used those for my fruit layer and then some ginger ale jelly for a little freshness. Of course, a trifle wouldn’t be a trifle without Danone Ultra Mel Vanilla Custard! In order to keep the little gingerbread men visible and not hidden in custard, I thickened it up a bit with gelatine. This also helps keep the layers nice and neat and prevents the cookies from going too soft. A final swirl of whipped cream and you have yourself a very festive, very delicious dessert!  There’s a little crunchy, cream, spicy and sweet in every bite.

P.S. You can get mini gingerbread men cookie cutters at baking stores, but gingerbread stars also look stunning!

(Makes 6)

For the gingerbread:
225g salted butter, softened (1 cup)
200g soft dark brown sugar (1 cup)
1 large egg
175g golden syrup (½ cup)
10ml ground ginger (2 tsp)
12,5ml ground cinnamon (2½ tsp)
5ml ground allspice (1 tsp)
5ml bicarbonate of soda (1 tsp)
540g flour (4 cups)
125ml ginger ale (½ cup), optional

For the pear layer:
2 x 410g of tinned pears in syrup

For the ginger ale jelly:
250ml reserved pear syrup
250ml ginger ale
20ml gelatine (4 tsp)

For the custard layer:
750ml Danone Ultra Mel Vanilla Custard (3 cups), at room temperature
10ml gelatine (2 tsp)
15ml water (1 tbsp)
1 cinnamon stick and a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

For the whipped cream:
250l whipping cream
15ml icing sugar (1 tbsp)
5ml vanilla (1 tsp)


  • To make the gingerbread, beat the butter and sugar together very well, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
  • Beat in the syrup, spices and bicarbonate of soda. Add 1 cup of flour at a time, mixing until just combined. The dough will come together but will be rather soft. Do not add more flour or overwork the dough.
  • Divide the dough into 4 flat discs, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 3 hours (you’ll only need half the dough, the remainder can be frozen for up to 3 months).
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to approximately 0,5cm thick. Cut out at least 30 mini gingerbread men or stars and place on a lined baking tray, about 2 cm apart (as they will spread during baking). Refrigerate again for 20 minutes. Use the offcuts of dough to make a crumble and spread onto a lined baking tray – you’ll need about 2 cups.
  • Bake the cookies and the crumble for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then remove from the tray and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • For the jelly, grease and line a baking tray or large dish (about 20 x 30cm) with clingfilm. Drain the pears and set aside (refrigerate until needed), reserving the syrup. Place about 2 tbsp of syrup in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatine over and leave to bloom for at least 5 minutes.
  • Place 1 cup of syrup into a small saucepan and heat until just boiling. Remove from heat. Add the bloomed gelatine to the hot syrup and stir until completely dissolved. Leave to cool to room temperature, then gently stir in the ginger ale. Pour the jelly mixture into the prepared dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Heat 1 cup of the Danone Ultra Mel Vanilla Custard together with the spices, if using, until the mixture just reaches a boil. Remove from the heat.
  • Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and leave to bloom for at least 5 minutes. Add to the hot custard and stir until completely dissolved. Leave to cool to room temperature, then remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the remaining Danone Ultra Mel Vanilla Custard. Cover with clingfilm, touching it to the surface of the custard, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Whip the cream together with the icing sugar and vanilla essence until you have stiff peaks. Place into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Chop the pears into small cubes.
  • To assemble the trifles, Place 4-5 tbsp of gingerbread crumble in the base of a mini trifle bowl or a straight-sided glass (eg a whiskey tumbler). Top with a layer of pear cubes (you may have some leftover). Carefully dip 4 mini gingerbread men in the ginger ale and place them around the sides of the glass (this is optional but does help the little guys to stick to the glass). Spoon bits of jelly over the fruit, filling in the gaps around the gingerbread men. Top with a layer of custard. The trifles can be stored for up to 1 day in the fridge (covered) at this point.
  • Just before serving, pipe on a swirl of whipped cream and place 1 mini gingerbread man on top!

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