Limoncello sponge finger trifle recipe

A fresh twist on a classic dessert.
Limoncello sponge finger trifle
Photography Chris Warnes / Styling John Mangila
Photography: Chris Warnes

Serves 16-20

A quintessentially Australian celebration dish, mastering this simple trifle recipe will give you a crowd-pleasing dessert that makes an impressive centrepiece at any gathering.

Our twist on this classic dessert brings a new dimension to both the flavours and the colour of the sweet – a fresh lemon flavour to the sponge, topped with custard and a crown of blond chocolate curls.

The best part? You can make this showstopper well in advance, leaving you free to enjoy lunch with your guests!


  • 1/2 cup cornflour

  • 1L milk

  • 8 eggs

  • 2 tbsp finely grated lemon

  • zest, plus extra for serving

  • 1 cup caster sugar

  • 1/2 cup limoncello or citron vodka

  • 250g mascarpone

  • 300ml thickened cream, whipped

  • 600g sponge finger biscuits (savoiardi)

  • 225g pkt white chocolate melts, melted

  • Extra whipped cream, to serve


  • 3/4 cup limoncello or citron vodka

  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 3/4 cups caster sugar


1. Whisk cornflour with 1 cup of the milk in a stockpot until smooth. Add remaining milk, eggs, zest, sugar and limoncello and whisk until smooth. Place over a medium heat and cook, whisking almost constantly, for 10-12 minutes or until smooth and very thick.

2. Allow to cool in pot for 15 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin forming. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap, then sit bowl in a large bowl of iced water to cool quickly before chilling in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.

3. To make syrup, put limoncello, juice, water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir over a medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

4. Whisk custard until smooth. If it is too firm and becomes lumpy, stand at room temperature for 30 minutes then whisk again or use an electric mixer. Add mascarpone and whisk until smooth. Add whipped cream and fold in until just combined.

5. Reserve 5 sponge fingers for the top. Divide remaining sponge fingers into 3 lots. Dip one-third, 2 at a time, in syrup and cover the base of a 5-litre glass trifle bowl with 2 layers of sponge fingers. Cover with one-third of the custard. Repeat layering with two more double layers of sponge fingers and custard. Place reserved sponge fingers, dipped in syrup, on top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

6. Meanwhile, to make chocolate curls, place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure bottom of bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir until melted. Spread chocolate over a smooth flat board (back of a clean metal tray is ideal) until about 30cm x 25cm.

7. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until firm but not rock hard. Use a curved ice-cream scoop to drag from top to bottom through chocolate to form curls. If chocolate cracks while making curls, leave out of fridge to soften slightly. Curls can be made up to 1 week ahead and kept in the fridge in a sealed container.

8. Spoon whipped cream on top of trifle. Sprinkle with extra zest and top with chocolate curls to serve.


Trifle can be assembled, covered and refrigerated, without cream and chocolate curls, a day ahead. Any leftover trifle will keep in the fridge for up to two days.

Make a smaller 2.5 litre trifle by halving recipe and making 2 layers only. To serve 8-10.

Try using:

salt&pepper ‘Salut’ 26cm trifle bowl, $44.95, Myer

With a wider base and shallow sides, this glass trifle bowl allows for fewer layers without compromising on the spectacular display. SHOP NOW

Maxwell & Williams ‘Diamante’ 20cm footed trifle bowl, $39.95m Myer

With a sturdy base and elegant silhouette, this glass trifle bowl comes gift boxed to make the perfect engagement, housewarming or wedding gift for passionate bakers. SHOP NOW

Marie Claire ‘Jardin Champetre’ trifle bowl 20cm Clover, $24 (RRP $59.99), Robin’s Kitchen

Gift boxed and gorgeous, this softly curved glass trifle bowl makes a celebration of any dessert (and the clever contemporary markings also serve as a guide for layering!) SHOP NOW

Villa Massa Limoncello 500mL, $45.99, Dan Murphy’s

Infused with the freshness of lemon, Limoncello liqueur makes a delightful digestif to sip after dinner or add to vodka or gin cocktails for a splash of zesty fun. SHOP NOW

Sophie Conran serving spoon, $32.50 (was $65.00), David Jones

Designed in Portmeirion studios in Stoke on Trent, England, there’ll be no more digging around to mess up your beautiful creation, hot or cold. Serve up in style with a touch of bling from this pretty porcelain-handled serving spoon. SHOP NOW

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