A Trifle Too Much

When I made Chel and Invis’ ivy vanilla wedding cake, I ended up with a lot of leftover ingredients.

For one thing, I had an enormous amount of actual cake itself, left from when I cut the rounded tops off the tiers.  I had enough to create a whole other cake if I so desired.  I had 12 egg yolks left from separating the whites.  And I bought wayyy too much whipping cream.

I don’t know about you, but that screams TRIFLE to me.  A LOT of trifle.  So I sent out an email to ten of my nearest and dearest:

You guys busy Sunday night?

I have leftover bits from the wedding cake and too much whipping cream and a bunch of yolks waiting to be made into custard, so I was thinking I’d make a trifle. 

HOWEVER,

I can’t make said trifle unless I have plenty of people to eat it, because it’s going to be huge.  Spouses and significant others are welcome.

Bell central, 8PMish, SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY?

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Stef wrote back not five minutes later:

TRIFLE I LOVE TRIFLE. You absolutely will not need to worry about the number of attendees required for consumption. I think I have a special funnel/hose device specifically designed for consuming trifle. When I was a child, Dad would park outside events at the church and we’d decide to go in based on how many different trifles I could smell. I can tell you exactly how tipsy a tipsy trifle is from 40 yards (+/- 10 proof). I suspect trifle is responsible for any love of jesus I may have; during my churchgoing days as much of 17% of my body weight was derived from eating trifles on feast days, high holies, birthdays, vestry meetings, and Sundays.

After that, it was easy to get a “yes” from every invitee, even if some of them didn’t know what trifle was.  Kristopf and his lady friend even said they would show up “a trifle early.”  Ha.

If you don’t know what trifle is, just click the Wikipedia hyperlink above where I talk about screaming trifle.  Because it’s a British invention, I figured I should go to the BBC website for a real proper custard recipe.  I modified it, of course.

So I have my 12 egg yolks.  The recipe calls for 8 but this makes it extra custard-y.  Add to that 2oz granulated sugar and 4 teaspoons corn starch.Whisk that silly.  Leave it to come to room temperature.In a large saucepan, bring a large amount of dairy product (1250mL) to a simmer on low heat.  I used half whipping cream and half milk.Pour that hot milk into your yolks, a little at a time, whisking all the while.  You don’t want the yolks to curdle or cook, so this is why it’s crucial that they are warmed up gradually.Pour that back into the pot and bring to a simmer again, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened.  Then you can remove that from the heat and allow it to cool completely.While that’s cooling, you can prepare your other ingredients.  Here I washed and sliced 2 pints each fresh raspberries and strawberries.I also had to improvise a trifle bowl, because my mother doesn’t own one either.  These jars, however, will do.  They used to hold battery acid.  Now they house random collections of sea-related items.  Don’t worry, I washed the jar first.When your custard is cool, get everything else you need handy.  I whipped up 500mL whipping cream, adding a bit of sugar and some maple extract.  I pulled down the brandy from the liquor cabinet.  Trifle is traditionally made with sweet sherry but we were out.  I also heated up a 750mL jar of raspberry jam in the microwave until it was nice and runny.

Now we begin.

Start by crumbling a layer of your cake in the bottom of your bowl (or jar).  Traditional trifle uses sponge cake, but slightly stale wedding cake tops work just peachy.

Drizzle about an ounce of brandy over that.  You can use juice or soda instead of booze, but you need liquid to make the cake mushy.  Mushy is key.

Then some jam.

Then custard, whipped cream, and fruit.

Repeat that again.

And again.  Make sure to use all your ingredients.  No need to measure.  Top with extra fruit.

Look at those lovely layers.

Chill that in the refrigerator for a few hours until your trifle party arrives.

Shall we trifle?  As you can see, Stef was first at the jar.  And last.

Let’s trifle with some trifle.

And there was absolutely NONE left when we were done.

 

 

 

Delicious Disaster

Well.

I should know by now that experimenting with recipes before a dinner party is not a good idea.  But who else can I experiment on but my hapless dinner guests?

My goal was a dense, gooey, flourless chocolate cake, maybe with a glossy dark chocolate ganache poured over top.  I thought I had found the ideal recipe here.  It had four simple ingredients and no-nonsense instructions.  It even gave me the opportunity to use my kitchen scale, which had long sat unused.  Working in metric is such fun.

I’ll give you the recipe here, and then you can see for yourself how things went horribly wrong.

Preheat your oven to 180°C (that’s about 350°F for those of you who don’t have both measures on your ovens).  Grease (with lots and lots of butter) a 22cm/9″ cake pan and set that aside.

Measure yourself out 250g dark chocolate and chop that sucker into pieces.

Melt that in a double boiler with 100g butter until smooth.  Remove from the heat.

Separate 4 large eggs.  Sift 175g icing sugar into a bowl, add the 4 yolks, and whisk until pale and creamy.

Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture.

In yet another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until soft peaks form.

Using a metal spoon, gradually fold the whites into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into the greased pan.  Mine nearly filled it, so I put a pizza pan underneath to catch any spills.  I needn’t have worried, it turns out.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the surface begins to crack but the centre is still gooey.

Alas, though the cake baked up perfectly and smelled divine, it wouldn’t come out of the pan, no sir.  Not at all.  I don’t even think lining the pan with parchment paper would have helped.

This is it after it cooled.

I ended up with warm, gooey, dense chocolate cake bits in a pile on a plate.

With three hours until the dinner guests arrived, the Pie said, “Well, you have time to make another cake.”

I gave him a dark look.

“Or,” he says, backtracking, “you could make a trifle?”

Huzzah!  Dessert is saved!  Another floor pizza crisis averted.

Of course, having never made trifle in my life (I save that duty for my mother-in-law, because Mrs. Nice does it so well), I do not own a trifle bowl.  Not to worry, I will improvise.  Though I wouldn’t mind getting a trifle bowl someday, hint, hint …

Trifle is all about the layers.  The traditional version is a sponge cake, usually soaked with some form of alcohol, like brandy or sherry, topped with fruit, custard, and whipping cream in alternating layers.  In a straight-sided container like a trifle bowl you can see all the layers and the effect is quite pretty.

This being a chocolate cake, I thought the custard would be inappropriate.  If I had more time, I would have made chocolate pudding as a substitute for the custard, but I didn’t have the time needed for the pudding to set.  Instead, I opted for a strawberry fruit sauce with drizzled melted chocolate between the layers of whipped cream, and topped with fresh raspberries.  I drizzled a wee bit of Grand Marnier over the cake and let that sink in.

When I made the fruit sauce I added a little bit of corn starch just so it would thicken, and then I made sure to let it cool.

I added butter to the melted chocolate so that when it cooled it wouldn’t be as hard as it was originally.

I also added a wee bit of cream of tartar to my whipped cream so that it would hold its shape better while chilling in the refrigerator.

Then I did my layering …

Gooey cake.  Drizzled chocolate.  Strawberry goodness.  Whipped cream.  Repeat.

Drop a handful or two of fresh raspberries on top and drizzle the remaining chocolate all over and we’re set.

The layering doesn’t look as pretty from the side but we have to sacrifice aesthetics sometimes.  Chill that sucker for a couple hours then feed it to your unsuspecting dinner guests with a sob story about your failed dessert.