This Gluten-Free Vegan Strawberry Trifle is easy to make, perfectly sweet, and every bit as rich and indulgent as the traditonal version.
I absolutely love the combination of the sweet and slightly boozy strawberry jelly, gorgeously runny custard and rich, creamy coconut whipped cream – you definitely won’t notice the difference!
The bottom layer starts with a naturally sweetened strawberry compote – all you need to do is chop up some fresh strawberries, then add them to a saucepan with a splash of water, lemon juice and maple syrup. If you’re pressed for time, you can skip this step by using tinned strawberries. If you’d rather not use strawberries, you can use any other berries such as raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, or most other fruit really. Just make sure to adjust the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit you add.
Then all you need to do is add some agar to turn it into a jelly. Not only is agar vegan-friendly, but it’s also happens to make them much healthier, too! Agar is a natural jelly-like substance that comes from algae that grows in the sea. It was first discovered in Japan in the 17th century, where it is known as kanten. It’s very healthy as it’s around 80% fibre.
You will be able to find agar flakes in most local health stores or Asian supermarkets, if not your local supermarket. I use this one by Clearspring, which you can buy in supermarkets and health stores in the UK.
For the custard layer, I used Bird’s Traditional Custard Powder. The ingredients are: Cornflour, Salt, Colour (Annatto), Flavouring – so it’s vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free!
My secret for making it taste delicious without the richness of cow’s milk is this Plenish unsweetened cashew milk that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. It’s become my go-to milk for making hot drinks because it becomes deliciously rich and creamy when it’s heated up. So I decided to use it for this custard, and it didn’t let me down!
I then used coconut whipped cream for the topping. If you’re pressed for time, you could use a thick coconut yogurt (like this vanilla Coyo coconut yogurt) instead, but I’d really recommend making your own coconut whipped cream because there’s no sour, yogurt-y flavour, and it’s much lighter and fluffier. I like to add some vanilla bean powder for extra flavour and add some maple syrup to sweeten (you don’t need very much though, as the coconut is already very naturally sweet).
This trifle is perfect for feeding a crowd at special occasions like birthdays, Christmas or Thanksgiving, but also healthy enough to enjoy whenever you fancy it, even for breakfast!
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
- 200g strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces (or sub any other fruit)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or sugar), to taste
- Splash of sherry, to taste (or sub anything else similar)
- 1 teaspoon agar powder
- 500ml unsweetened cashew milk
- 4 tablespoons custard powder (ensure vegan/gluten-free if necessary)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or sugar), to taste
- 400g tin full fat coconut milk*
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or vanilla extract)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or sugar), to taste
- 1 tablespoons cacao nibs, to decorate
- Place the strawberries in a saucepan with the lemon juice, maple syrup and sherry and cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes, until they have softened and released their juices. Add a splash of water or fruit juice if it's looking a little dry*
- Once the strawberry compote is simmering, add the agar powder and mix well
- Pour the jelly mixture into either one large serving bowl or 8 smaller individual ramekins and leave the jelly to cool and set
- Heat up the milk in a saucepan with the maple syrup
- Dissolve the custard powder in a separate bowl in a little extra milk
- Once the milk in the saucepan is steaming, add a little of the hot milk to the bowl with the dissolved custard powder, mix well and transfer the custard powder mixture to the saucepan
- Mix well and keep heating on a low heat for a few minutes until thickened. If it's looking too thick, add a little extra milk, and if it's looking too thin then add some more custard powder as required - in general, it's better for the custard to be too thick than too thin
- Making sure that the jelly has set completely, pour the custard mixture on top of the jelly mixture and once again, leave to cool and set
- You'll need to keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom. Make sure it is full fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won't happen and you won't be able to make this cream!
- Open the tin upside down - the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid (save this for adding to smoothies)
- Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl with around 3 tablespoons of the water
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy
- Ensuring that the custard has cooled down and set completely, pour the coconut whipped cream on top of the trifle
- Sprinkle with cacao nibs to decorate
- Best served after having been kept in the fridge for a few hours
- Keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days
- *You can use tinned fruit instead if you're pressed for time
- **Use a thick coconut yogurt instead if you're pressed for time