Holiday Trifle

Holiday Trifle

If you’re still looking for a show-stopping dessert to bring to the last few holiday parties of the season, consider trifle, an elegant dessert made from layers of sponge cake, fruit preserves, custard, and whipped cream. I’ll always love the version my mom makes – store-bought angel food cake, instant vanilla pudding, and Polaner’s all-natural raspberry jam – but this season I thought I’d up the ante and make a festive, homemade version, with an orange-scented sponge cake, bright and tangy cranberry-raspberry-pear jam, and a thick almond-flavored custard. If you’re pressed for time, skip making the cake from scratch and substitute in your favorite brand of angel-food cake or ladyfingers.

Holiday Trifle

Serves 15-20

Ingredients

For the sponge cake:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/3 c. plus 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 c. plus 2 TBS sifted cake flour

For the preserves:

  • 4 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • zest and juice of 1 navel orange
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries,  rinsed
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries

For the custard:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 6 TBS sugar
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

To assemble:

  • 2 c. whipping cream

Preparation

For the sponge cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Place a circle of parchment paper in 2 9-inch round cake pans or butter and flour the pans.
  2. Separate the eggs one at a time, placing the egg whites in a medium bowl and the egg yolks in a large bowl. Be sure that no egg yolk whatsoever gets into the egg whites, or they will not whip properly.
  3. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. While still beating, slowly pour in the 1/3 c. sugar. Beat until stiff, shiny peaks are formed. Set aside.
  4. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 c. sugar, the vanilla, and the orange extract, until yolks are thick and pale yellow. Sift the cake flour over the top of the egg yolks but do not stir in. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture, until just combined. Fold in the remaining egg whites in two additions, mixing until just combined. Scrape an equal amount of the batter into each of the two prepared pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until top of cake springs back when touched. Run a knife around the edge of the pans and invert to remove cakes. Let cool completely.

For the preserves:

  1. Combine the pears, orange zest, orange juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears are soft and have a jam-like consistency, about 10-15 minutes. Add the cranberries, raspberries, and 1/2 c. water to the pot and continue to cook until cranberries have broken down and the sauce is thick and jammy, another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.

For the custard:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the cornstarch and 1/4 c. of the milk and whisk to combine.
  2. Combine the remaining milk and the heavy cream together in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once it has reached a simmer, temper the eggs by slowly pouring the hot milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream, whisking the egg mixture vigorously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Still whisking the eggs, pour the custard back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Whisk continuously until the custard begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Once the custard has reached a pudding-like consistency, remove from heat and whisk in the almond and vanilla extracts. Pour into a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

To assemble:

  1. Whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  2. Tear the cakes into bite sized pieces. Make a single layer of cake on the bottom of the trifle bowl. Top with 1/3 of the fruit preserves, followed by 1/3 of the custard and 1/3 of the whipped cream. Repeat all layers two more times. Refrigerate the trifle until it is time to serve.

Cake recipe adapted slightly from Joy of Cooking.

Like what you read? Tell us!





Join the Discussion