Holy. Cow. Girl (or Boy, I guess), you have got to make this. It's so easy. It's a pantry-cleaner and a crowd-pleaser. Plus, you have the option to make it very low-calorie!
And never, in my experience, has something so easy looked so good. So slaved-over. So June Cleaveresque.
I call this the "Easy Pantry Trifle" because truly, it's SO easy (I set it all up the night before and then assembled it in like, 2 minutes the next day), and you literally can mix and match flavors of whatever's in your pantry. And it's a trifle because, um, well, that's what it is.
Here's what I used:
1 package of cook and serve chocolate pudding (you could just as easily do instant and any flavor; even the sugar-free, low-calorie ones work)
1 boxed mix of Devil's Food Cake, prepared as directed and baked in a 9"x13" pan (you could easily pick up a pre-made pound cake or angel food cake-- bonus-- angel food cake is low in calories!)
1 big package lite cool whip (again, any kind would work here)
3/4 box of Nilla Wafers, crushed (any kind of cookie would work)
The night before, I baked the cake and set it aside, covered. Then I made the pudding, covered it, and refrigerated it. I put the cookies in a Ziplock bag and crushed them with a rolling pin, then set them in the fridge with the pudding. Why? I don't know why. I also took the cool whip out of the freezer and thawed it in the fridge. I only had the smaller package of cool whip, but I would definitely say go for the big one. That stuff is GOOD.
The next day, as dinner cooked, I cut the cake into about 1" cubes, which was easy to do since I wasn't cutting it when it was piping hot, as I usually do (I know, shame on me). I first put down a layer of the cake cubes, all around the bottom of the trifle bowl. Empty spaces are OK if they aren't huge. Then I spooned a layer of pudding, making sure it seeped between the cracks in the cake cubes. Then I added a cool whip layer, then topped that with a crumb layer. I continued this pattern again, and then I was out of room. So I put one more layer of cake cubes around the outside, this time not filling in the center, then poured the rest of the crumbs into the center of the top. I covered it with plastic wrap and refrigerated it.
It got Hband's approval, and it looked impressive, what with the layers and all.
By the way, I had about 1/4 of the cake left over, so you can use that for mini-trifles if you have mini-trifle bowls, or just eat the cubes and feed them to your husband who is laying on his recliner watching TV, like I did.
Here's what's great about this dessert though, besides the fact that it is DELICIOUS: I just made it up, the night before, with whatever I had. I was like, Hey, I have pudding. And cake mix. And cool whip. And what cookies do I have? Mint Oreos and Nilla Wafers. "Hey Mike! Which cookie crumbs do you want on the trifle-- mint Oreos or Nilla Wafers?" "NILLA WAFERS!" "OK then."
And that was that.
Here were some other ideas of flavor combos you could try:
Low-calorie: use lite cool whip and sugar free vanilla pudding, and angel food cake. Add berries, too!
Decadent: use devil's food cake or brownies, cool whip, and dark chocolate pudding. Add caramel sauce and Heath bar pieces or Reese's, crumbled, and Oreo crumbs. WOW.
Sundae: use cool whip, any kind of cake, and vanilla pudding. Add hot fudge, bananas, crushed peanuts, and those delicious cherries I can't spell!
Nutty: use pound cake or angel food cake and pistachio pudding, with cool whip. Add crushed pistachios for crunch.
OMG: try brownies, chocolate, or vanilla cake, with cool whip and chocolate pudding and NUTELLA. Yes, Nutella. Crush up some of those hazelnut candies-- Rocher? Is that what they're called?
S'mores: use chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, marshmallow fluff, and graham cracker crumbs.
Just think of all the combos! It's practically endless, with all the cookie choices! What combo would you try?