Two of the great pleasures of life and the Christmas season are good friends and good food, and I got to experience both of them this year.
Living in England so long I got addicted to many things about that green and pleasant land, not least the fabulous array of English Christmas puddings. So in homage I made a trifle this year and brought it to my friends for our dessert… check it out:
Here’s my recipe:
There are four roughly equal layers to this dessert, most all of them saturated with alcohol… and of course many variations on the basic theme are possible; all equally delicious.
I recommend using a glass (so you can see the beautiful layers), straight-sided bowl, about 8" deep. Line your container with lady fingers, cutting them to fit the bottom and sides. Sprinkle liberally with alcohol – I used Grand Marnier, but you can use any liqueur, sherry, or dessert wine.
First Layer: Fruit. About 2 inches (or 1/4 of your container) of fresh or drained tinned fruit, macerated in the liqueur of your choice. I used fresh blackberries, raspberries and strawberries with a little baker’s sugar (to taste), a healthy splash of Grand Marnier and a few gratings of orange zest, and left it to macerate at room temperature for about an hour (less or more is fine). Leave some perfect fruit to use as decoration on the top.
Second Layer: Jelly (aka ‘Jello’, in American) – I used wild strawberry, with blueberry-pomegranate juice instead of water. Make it about 2 1/2 hours ahead of the rest of the dessert in a separate bowl, and add it on top of the fruit layer when it’s already started to set but is not yet hard. Refrigerate the trifle for a couple of hours at this point until the jelly/o is completely set.
Third Layer: Custard. You can make the custard from scratch, use a mix, open a can or purchase it ready-made, but make sure it is quite thick, and has cooled to at least room temperature before using. When you’re making it, mix in a bit of liqueur (Grand Marnier again, in this case) and a bit of orange zest or thin-sliced candied orange peel. Spread the custard evenly over the jello layer. Refrigerate until it’s quite firmly set.
Fourth (Last) Layer: Whipped Cream. Whip heavy cream until it is quite firm – watch that it doesn’t turn to butter – adding Grand Marnier, baker’s sugar, and orange zest or candied peel as you go. Pile on top of the custard to the very top and refrigerate the trifle until just before you’re ready to serve.
Decoration: Just before you’re ready to serve, decorate the top of the trifle. I used fresh raspberries, tiny pieces of lemon peel, slivered almonds, chocolate sprinkles and pomegranate seeds, but I’m kind of excessive, even in a season infamous for excess. 🙂 Chocolate curls or shavings are also nice.