Cook the apples and cranberries:
In a 10-inch straight-sided skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally at first and then more frequently, until the apples are nicely browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Add 3 Tbs. water to the pan, remove it from the heat, and stir to incorporate some of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add half of the cranberries, the maple syrup, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and 2 Tbs. water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower the heat to medium low, and simmer until the syrup has thickened a little and most of the cranberries have popped, about 2 minutes. Add the other half of the cranberries and simmer until about half of the new cranberries have popped, 2 to 3 minutes more. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the ginger. Let cool to room temperature.
Make the whipped cream:
Using a chilled bowl and beaters, whip the heavy cream and vanilla with a hand-held or stand mixer on medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar and continue whipping until soft peaks form, another 1 to 2 minutes. Refrigerate if not using right away.
Using a serrated knife, cut the ginger cake into 3/4-inch cubes. Portion about half of the cake among eight 10-ounce glasses. Portion about half of the whipped cream among the glasses, spooning it over and around the cake, and top with about half of the apple mixture. Repeat with another layer of cake, whipped cream, and apples. (You may have some leftover cake.)
Make Ahead Tips
The apple mixture can be made a day ahead and refrigerated (return it to room temperature before using). The cream can be whipped an hour before using. The trifles can be assembled and refrigerated up to 2 hours ahead.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Scott Phillips