It’s the new year and, no doubt, there will be those who are not interested in a new recipe for a dessert. And there will be some, like me, who for one reason or another must leave alcohol alone. So, this recipe is going out into the world to be greeted by a third contingent, the one that likes trifle but is quite convinced that what I’m about to describe is ‘not a real trifle’. That, to me, is the sign of a classic dish. In any case, this was a special dessert in my youth and it still holds its own.
Sponge cake or sponge fingers — 6 oz.
Sherry — sweet is best — 1/4 cup or to taste
Raspberry jello — about a pint
Fruit — this can be fresh strawberries/raspberries or a can (10 oz.) of fruit cocktail
6 egg yolks
1½ cups of heavy cream warmed
½ cup sugar
1Tbsp vanilla extract
Mix the sugar, vanilla extract and the egg yolks in a bowl. Then add the warmed cream nice and slowly. Pour through a sieve back into the saucepan and cook gently for about 20 minutes. With custard it’s always “low and slow”. You can make this while the jello is setting. See below.
Whipped cream (optional)
In a clear bowl, line the bottom with the sponge and drizzle the sherry over it. Give it a minute to soak in. Then add the fruit. Fresh fruit may be preferred but I have no objections to a drained can of fruit cocktail.
Next pour over the dissolved jello and let it set. You can put it in the fridge to help it along.
When the jello has set, gently pour over the warm custard and, again, put in the fridge to set.
Now you may want to decorate with whipped cream and sprinkles or just with sprinkles on the set custard.
The idea is that this should look festive and a little decadent, so fruit cocktail is a nice colorful touch along with the red jello and the yellow custard and, of course, the sprinkles. There are special trifle bowls that you can use, and they are a nice touch, but any clear bowl that allows you to see the different layers will work.
A more sophisticated version can be made with fresh seasonal fruit, homemade sponge or sometimes a different liquor, such as kirschwasser. You’ll also see recipes that go the other direction and ask for a custard made from a powder such as Bird’s Custard. There are some that have a nostalgic longing for such things but you are really much better of with a homemade custard.
You can omit the sherry if you wish but the sprinkles are mandatory.