Trifle and a Twist
By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist
Trifle is one of my favorite desserts — to eat and to
prepare for guests.
This is a traditional English “pudding,” as my
favorite authority, Theodora Fitzgibbon, an Irish food writer, describes
She says the “excellence” of the trifle depends
entirely on the “quality of the custard used and the amount of sherry
poured over the sponge cakes.” A crystal trifle bowl is standard equipment
in an English or Irish kitchen.
With the help of a blender and microwave oven, I put
the English version together in about 15 minutes. Once a bit tedious — all
that stirring over the double boiler — the custard-making can be sped up.
When I see “double boiler” in a recipe, I move on. In fact, mine is
relegated to somewhere in the basement.
We’re suggesting two trifles, one a traditional
recipe and a newer version with just a bit of rum and varied with fresh
fruits layered with custard and crumbled cookies. Mrs. Fitzgibbon likely
would not approve of my custard — but it’s fast — and both trifles are
cup half and half
T rum, optional
reduced-fat whipped topping or 1 cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened
pkg. crisp coconut cookies, about 16
kiwis, peeled, cut in half and sliced
can pineapple slices, drained and cut in half, reserve juice and 2 slices
cup fresh blueberries, if desired
cup flaked coconut, if desired
strawberries, if desired
Directions: Microwave Method – In large microwaveable bowl,
place milk, half and half, and cook on high in microwave for about 6
minutes. Meanwhile in blender, place sugar, cornstarch, salt and eggs. Blend
until smooth. When milk is scalded, pour slowly into blender and blend with
egg mixture while pouring. After milk is combined with eggs, return to
microwave and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat when
thick. Stir in vanilla and rum, if using. Refrigerate until chilled.
Conventional Method – In medium saucepan, stir together milk, half
and half, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Over medium heat, bring to boil,
stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. In small bowl, beat eggs.
Gradually stir about 1⁄2 cup of the hot milk mixture into eggs until
well blended. Pour egg mixture in saucepan. Continue cooking, stirring
constantly, until thick and smooth and temperature reaches 160˚. Remove
from heat, stir in vanilla and rum, if using. Chill until ready to assemble.
Then add rum. To assemble trifle use a clear bowl, preferably with straight
sides. Spoon about one-fourth of the pudding into the glass bowl. Line sides
of bowl with coconut cookies, standing on end (pudding will hold them up).
Dip bananas in reserved pineapple juice. Layer bananas over pudding. Arrange
kiwi half slices on top of each cookie. Break remaining cookies into large
pieces. Layer on top of custard. Top with pineapple, then custard,
blueberries (if using), spread with custard. Sprinkle with coconut and
remaining cookie crumbs. Top with remaining custard. Cover and refrigerate
overnight. Before serving, top with whipped topping or sweetened whipped
cream. Garnish with fresh strawberries and pineapple. Serves
cup raspberry preserves
cup cream sherry (or less)
cup whipping cream
T confectioners’ sugar
cup sliced almonds
Directions: Conventional method – Scald milk in top of double
boiler over simmering water. Beat eggs in small bowl or blender. Add sugar
and salt. Slowly blend half of the milk into the egg mixture, beating
constantly. Return to double boiler and cook, stirring constantly, until
custard lightly coats a metal spoon. Remove from heat and stir in
Microwave method – Place milk in microwaveable bowl in microwave
oven and cook on high for about 6 minutes. Beat eggs in blender. Gradually,
pour milk into the egg mixture in a blender. Blend until frothy. Return
mixture to microwave oven and cook for about 2 minutes or until it coats a
spoon well. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. To Assemble: Slice pound
cake and spread with raspberry preserves. Place in bottom of bowl. Sprinkle
with sherry. Cover with custard layer. Repeat layers ending with custard.
Top with whipped cream or topping before refrigerating or just before
serving. Spread cream over top of trifle. Garnish with sliced almonds on
top. Serves 6 to 8.