According to the Macquarie dictionary, a trifle is "an article or thing of small value; a matter of slight importance; a trivial or insignificant affair or circumstance." As in, "don't worry, it's just a trifle" or "it was no effort, only a trifle". Well, after making this dessert, I am here to tell you that no dish was ever so poorly named as the "trifle"? It should be called "the stupendous", "the abundance" or possibly even "the time-consuming raving beauty". It is certainly the most awe-inspiring dessert I have ever made. The one thing it wasn't was a "trifle".
Melinda at Melbourne Larder started me thinking about this trifle after she gave it her seal of approval last month in our "We Made It" challenge. Then the planets collided. I had promised to make some dessert for a family get together for Chinese New Year, and the idea of this trifle kept playing on my mind. Sadly I had missed the dark berry season, however raspberries were available and they were (comparatively) inexpensive. They were also the perfect red for Chinese New Year. Decision made. I then substituted Chambord (raspberry liqueur) for the Creme de Mure called for in the recipe.
The biggest issue with this recipe is the time it takes. To make it, you need to resign yourself to the best part of a day spent near the kitchen, the day before you plan to serve it. Not that the recipe is that difficult or time consuming, but there is a lot of setting and resting time in its construction. But it is definitely worth the investment in both berries and time. The only thing I was unhappy with was the sponge which I thought was a bit hard. I suspect that was my own fault. Instead of baking in one large tin, I split the mixture into two round cake tins that were the right size for my bowl. I should have reduced the baking time and I didn't, so my sponge was certainly on the firm side. Oh well, nothing that a bit of cream and liqeuer didn't solve....
As you can see from the picture, the end result is definitely designed for a party. It's a dessert that Melinda describes as a showstopper, and it certainly is. The recipe was the cover of the Gourmet Traveller in Dec/Jan - they obviously felt it was the perfect festive dessert as well.
Just don't call it a trifle.
Dark Berry Trifle adapted from Gourmet Traveller
1.5 kg blackberries or mulberries, plus extra to serve (I used raspberries)
300 gm caster sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
10 gelatine leaves (titanium strength), softened in cold water for 5 minutes
300 ml pink moscato
1 lemon, juice only
330 ml crème de mûre (I used Chambord)
1.25 kg crème fraîche
150 ml milk, or enough to thin
2 lemons, finely grated rind only
40 gm (¼ cup) pure icing sugar, sifted
8 eggs, at room temperature
250 gm raw caster sugar
250 gm plain flour, sieved
50 gm butter, melted and cooled
For sponge, preheat oven to 175C. Whisk eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until tripled in volume (7 minutes). Fold through flour in batches, fold in butter, pour into a 28cm-square cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake until golden and centre springs back when pressed (20-25 minutes). Cool in tin, turn out, halve sponge horizontally, trim each half to fit a 6 litre-capacity glass bowl, then remove from bowl and set aside, reserving trimmings.
Meanwhile, combine 1kg berries, sugar, 1 vanilla bean and seeds and 1.1 litres water in a large saucepan, simmer over low heat until infused (50 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve (discard solids), transfer 1 litre hot liquid to a bowl (reserve remainder). Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to bowl, stir to dissolve. Add moscato, lemon juice and 80ml crème de mûre. Strain half into trifle bowl, scatter over 250gm berries and refrigerate until set (2-2½ hours). Chill remaining berry jelly, removing from refrigerator if it starts to set.
Reduce remaining liquid over high heat until syrupy (10-15 minutes), refrigerate until required.
Meanwhile, combine crème fraîche, milk, rind, icing sugar and remaining vanilla seeds in a bowl, adding extra milk if necessary until spreadable. Spread one-third over set jelly, top with a sponge round, fill any gaps with trimmings, drizzle with 125ml crème de mûre. Scatter over remaining berries, pour over remaining jelly (mixture should be starting to set). Refrigerate until set (2-2½ hours). Top with half the remaining crème fraîche mixture, then remaining sponge. Drizzle with remaining crème de mûre, top with remaining crème fraîche mixture. Cover, refrigerate overnight. Serve scattered with extra berries and drizzled with blackberry syrup.
Note You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. Crème de mûre is a blackberry liqueur available from good bottle shops. If unavailable, substitute crème de cassis. You can use frozen blackberries for the jelly and the syrup.