The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 28 December 2005

Trifle matters

I volunteered to bring dessert to both my parents' Christmas eve dinner and to Rob's mum's Christmas lunch, and was quite impressed with how both turned out. Both trifles are quite different, and although I liked the Peach/mango one more than the Black forest trifle, Rob said he preferred the Black forest one. The fact that the Peach/mango one is lighter and less rich and creamy may have something to do with the differences in our opinions.

These trifle recipes are non-alcoholic but you can definitely replace the juice/syrup with a sweet alcohol or liquer of your choice if you wish to. I don't like the taste of alcohol and have never liked it in my food hence I don't use alcohol in my cooking. Also, you need to use a stale-ish cake (sponge, madeira, muffins - whatever you want, really) in trifles so the cake can absorb the moisture from the remaining ingredients without turning mushy. I prepared these trifles one day in advance to allow the flavours to integrate and develop.

Remember, with trifles, anything goes! Don't be afraid to experiment.

Peach/mango trifle

I made a plain cake for the base of this trifle a few days prior to making the trifle. Opened a can of Goulburn Valley 'Peaches in Mango' and reserved some of the mango juice to pour over the cake base of the trifle. Using a combination of the mango juice from the canned fruits, 100% apple mango juice and gelatin, a relatively hard jelly (~500mL) was set and chopped into smaller pieces (with the intention that it would still hold its shape rather than disintegrate when it's chopped into smaller pieces). The cake muffins were then sliced into 1cm thick pieces, slathered with fruit jam between two pieces and placed one layer of these 'jammed' pieces at the bottom of a glass bowl. The reserved mango juice from the canned peaches were poured over the cake base, and a layer of peaches and chopped jelly were then placed on top of the base.

I chose to use Brownes Dessert-style 'Mango Passion' yoghurt as the next layer instead of custard because it had the right thick consistency I wanted (as opposed to the liquidy custard you buy at supermarkets) and also because the flavour complements the fruits I have used in this trifle. If you have enough ingredients for another set of layer, by all means chuck them on. I wanted to keep this trifle light so I chose not to finish it off with cream. Instead, I sprinkled chopped cashews on the yoghurt layer. This was a nice and light dessert to finish off a big meal.

Black Forest Trifle

For this trifle, I made a chocolate cake (just by adding cocoa powder to the ingredients used for the plain cake). I bought a packet of port wine flavoured jelly and used less water than suggested on the packet instructions to make a harder jelly, but the jelly was still a bit too floopy for my liking. The cake was sliced into 1cm slices, slathered with fruit jam in between two slices and placed at the bottom of a glass bowl. The syrup/juice from big jar of morello cherries were poured over the cake base for moisture, then a layer of morello cherries and port wine jelly were placed on top.

For the custard layer, I still wanted a thick custard so I decided to make the custard from scratch - i.e. using milk, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and some cornflour. I am so glad the custard did not curdle and I didn't even have to use a sieve which some of the custard recipes I'd looked at instructed to do. Yay! Rob said it tastes just like custard. The custard did not thicken up as much as I wanted, but it was definitely better than the ones you buy at the shops. Use remaining ingredients (if any) for another set of layer. I finished the Black Forest Trifle of with whipped chocolate cream/mousse from a can and decorated with fresh cherries. The trifle was very visually appealing and received several compliments from those who saw it before it was mauled (it's unfortunate that a trifle cannot maintain its good looks after a servings have been taken from the bowl).

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