If you were around in the 90s in the Dominican Republic, you probably remember a famous dessert from a local chain of ice cream parlors that was very popular: tarta helada. I've taken inspiration from it and dulce frío (Dominican trifle) to make this amazing ice cream dessert.
By- Last reviewed . Published Jun 22, 2006
Why we ❤️ it
Say you want to serve something that looks fancy, but you don't really have the time for a long, multi-step recipe. I feel ya. For those occasions, I make this cute ice cream trifle dessert, a dessert that it's a whole lot easier to make than it seems.
You can make it even a day before and have it ready for when guests arrive. It makes the perfect summer dessert. Doesn't that all sound amazing?
Tarta helada is a dessert that combines a layer of cake and layers of ice cream. In the Dominican Republic, it became a very popular birthday cake sold at a very popular chain of ice cream parlors, and typically combined layers of cake, ice cream, and meringue.
This tarta helada recipe was inspired by dulce frío, or Dominican trifle, one of my favorite Dominican desserts. What makes it even better is that you do not need to bake anything, and can adapt it to your own taste.
Ice cream trifle with fruit.
- Another thing I love about this tarta helada recipe is that it is very flexible: You can change the fruits to use, use canned fruit, or fresh fruit and fresh berries.
- For decoration, I used pitted cherries (the type that comes in jars), and some leftover strawberries. Get creative!
- I used an equal mixture of canned peaches, fresh strawberries, and fresh, pitted cherries for the fruit. Whichever fruit you use, make sure they taste well together and are very soft.
- You can also change the flavor of the ice cream or use whipped cream instead of meringue.
- You can use store-bought pound cake for the bottom, Maria crackers can also be layered for the bottom.
- If you want to use whipped cream instead of meringue (the meringue makes the ice cream a lot airier, I love it with ice cream), you can use the appropriate steps in this recipe.
- If you are serving only grownups, Add ¼ cup of dark rum or your favorite liqueur to the fruit instead of using vanilla extract. Pick a liqueur that goes well with the other flavors.
- If you are not serving to kids, consider adding rum or a bit of your favorite liqueur to the fruits.
- If you want to prepare this dessert a couple of hours in advance, prepare the meringue beforehand and keep covered in the fridge, along with the ladyfingers covered with fruit. Don't freeze for more than 30 minutes; otherwise, the fruit will freeze hard too, and that definitely does not work.
About this recipe
This is the perfect dessert to serve for summer, or any time that you are preparing a complex meal, and can squeeze barely enough time for dessert. It has the right combination of textures, from the crispy ladyfingers to the airy meringue, and several in between.
What do you think?
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Tarta Helada [Recipe + Video] Easy Ice Cream Trifle
1. Layer fruit and ladyfingers
- Mix fruit, vanilla extract (or liqueur), and sugar. Place the ladyfingers in a square mold (I used a 6" x 9" [15 x 22 cm] one). Spread the fruit on top of the ladyfingers in an even layer. Chill for an hour, the ladyfingers will soak in some of the fruit juice in the meantime.
2. Layer ice cream
- When it's time to serve, take the ice cream out of the freezer. Spread the ice cream on top of the fruit, careful to keep an even layer. If the ice cream is too hard, wait a couple of minutes for it to soften a bit. Freeze for 30 minutes to re-harden the ice cream.
3. Layer meringue
- Make the meringue (per recipe in the link above) in the meantime. Once the 30 minutes have passed, cover the ice cream with the meringue.
4. Decorate and serve
- Immediately after making the meringue layer, decorate with fruits, and serve right away.
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.