My mum’s recipe for a traditional Irish sherry trifle and a gorgeous mac and cheese 

My grandchildren adore the build up to Christmas, the more they are involved the more excited they become. 

They love to decorate the Christmas tree and squabble over where each and every bauble should hang. We play lots of cheesy Christmas music and they compete with each other with renditions of their favourite Christmas carols. 

We unpack the figures for the crib and solemnly reassemble it, chatting about the real story of Christmas as Jesus, Mary and Joseph are positioned in the midst of the straw, fresh moss and lichen in the little thatched crib made by a kindly neighbour in his carpentry workshop over three decades ago.

On Christmas Eve we continue the family traditions. We light the Christmas candle in the window to guide Joseph and Mary as they search for shelter.

How lovely is it to pop into a church and sit quietly for a few minutes in the midst of all the craziness, then gather round the fire to count one’s blessings and remember loved ones and others less fortunate in these tumultuous times.

Christmas Eve is a big celebration in many countries but here it’s still Christmas Day. Santa will come here tonight, so how about a simple, comforting dinner for all the family.

Let’s have a big bowl of steamy mushroom mac and cheese … a bubbly potato gratin with little bacon lardons or chorizo might also appeal to all the family, followed by a lightly dressed salad of winter leaves to make you feel less full so you can tuck into a bowl of proper trifle with a generous glug of sweet sherry or a few mince pies.

Or graze on one of those charcuterie and cheese boards that are all the rage now.

Have a lovely, peaceful Christmas and many blessings for 2023.

Traditional Irish Sherry Trifle

This sherry trifle is a Chrismas classic for good reason. For a posher version, line the glass bowl with slices of Swiss roll.

Preparation Time

5 hours 30 mins

Total Time

5 hours 30 mins


  • 450g approx. homemade sponge cake or trifle sponges

  • 225g good quality raspberry…


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