I recently had a slice from a bowl of what was presented as a cake containing:

  • Soft biscuits
  • Cheesecake
  • Raisins
  • Strawberry jelly

The design was as you would see in a bowl of traditional trifle.

I called this dessert a trifle because of the soft biscuits and jelly top layer, but is this Correct or is it more accurately a cheesecake?

  • 1
    What do you mean by the second layer being "cheesecake"? I doubt that it was a complete, baked cheesecake with crust and filling. Do you mean that it was a cheese-based semi-solid mass? If yes, what kind of cheese - philadelphia-style cream cheese, quark, ricotta, something else? Was it baked?
    – rumtscho
    Jan 5, 2023 at 12:26
  • In my definition, a trifle is pretty much anything where you combine various dessert components in a bowl, especially if said dessert components don't ordinarily go together. Although whipped cream really ought to be added for it to be a good trifle.
    – Marti
    Jan 5, 2023 at 16:24
  • @rumtscho funnily enough I had "cheesecake cream" for the first time recently. That's basically cream cheese and cream whipped together and sweetened (recipe - like a fridge-set cheesecake but lighter. It was a very good accompaniment to orange and almond cake. Deconstructed desserts also seem to be quite common at the moment.
    – Chris H
    Jan 5, 2023 at 16:45

2 Answers 2


Questions like 'does this thing count as X' are hard to answer because terms for food don't generally have strict definitions and they vary hugely between regions and cultures. It's most useful to be pragmatic, to try to describe food in a helpful way that doesn't confuse people or lead them to expect the wrong thing.

As a British English speaker, what you've described doesn't sound like what I would expect from the name 'trifle', because in a trifle I would expect:

  • Sponge or biscuits (AmE cookies), usually soaked in something alcoholic or at least moist. I'm not sure from your description if that is what you have here.
  • Jelly (AmE Jello) with or without fruit.
  • A somewhat set custard. Absent here as you note.
  • Whipped cream.

You mention cheesecake which is normally a baked or set cream cheese mixture, so I assume that the overall experience of the food is substantially different to a typical trifle. But if you're trying to convey the visuals, then something layered in a bowl certainly looks more trifle-like than the typical cheesecake. Use the words that you think will be helpful.


Foods don't always categorise tidily, and this seems to be a sort of hybrid. I'd say it's closer to a cheesecake.

Cheesecakes can have a variety of bases, though soft biscuits are rare. They can also have a jelly topping, or, as in my profile picture a thickened fruit topping (cooked blueberries with arrowroot in that case).

In trifle, the biscuits or cake in the bottom layer are normally soakedin the jelly; with some common choices that's the only reason they're soft.

Trifle also usually has whipped cream, no cheese, though whipped mascarpone or cream cheese could easily be used.

Overall I'd probably call it a cheesecake trifle (I wouldn't call it a cake, perhaps a dessert).

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