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trifle in all its glory


Looking for a pretty dessert to impress and feed a crowd?  Then a trifle is what you’re looking for.  Never heard of a trifle?  Trifle is a dessert made with thick custard, fruit, cake (generally sponge cake), and usually some sort of liqueur. The ingredients are arranged in layers beginning with the fruit on the bottom.  I purchased my trifle bowl at Crate and Barrel, but have seen all sorts of versions around, including this 4-in1 Pedestal Cake Sand and Dome Cover. Of course, you don’t have to go out and purchase a special dish, just use any large clear bowl that will show off the lovely layers.

When making the lemon curd, the safest way to slowly and evenly cook the eggs without them scrambling is by using a double boiler. This does not need to be a special piece of equipment.  A bowl and a saucepan are all you need.  Simmer water is in the saucepan, which is filled about 1/3 full.  The bowl with the curd mixture is then placed on top of the pan, taking care to be sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.  This allows the curd to cook slowly and there is no need to strain the curd once it is thickened.  I prefer to use a whisk to combine the ingredients in the bowl, but then switch to a heat-resistant rubber spatula while cooking in the mixture.  The spatula does a more efficient job of moving the mixture without allowing for hot spots.

My liquor of choice for this trifle is Limoncello, which is an Italian lemon liqueur originally produced in Southern Italy. It is made with the lemon zest of the Sorrento lemon, 100-proof alcohol, and simple syrup.  It is made by extracting the essential oils from the lemon zest by soaking in the high-proof spirits over a long period of time and then diluting with simple syrup.  The end result is a pretty yellow in color and is sweet and lemony but not at all sour since it does not contain any actual lemon juice. You can purchase Limoncello in any liquor store and many grocery stores.  It is simple to make your own too, any lemon variety will do, you do not need to search out Sorrento lemons.  There are dozens of recipes online and it makes a much-appreciated gift, if you get busy now, you can have it ready for the holidays… hint, hint!

Lemon and Berry Trifle

6 egg yolks
1 cups sugar
Zest and juice of 4 lemons
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

6 cups mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Limoncello liqueur

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 pound lemon bread or pound cake or an angel food cake, cut into 1/2 slices
Fresh mint for garnish

Whisk yolks, sugar, lemon zest, and juice in a large metal bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Stir constantly with a heat-resistant rubber spatula until thickened, about 12 minutes. Add butter pieces a few at a time, stirring until each addition is melted.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes, then place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the top of the lemon curd and refrigerate until completely chilled.

cooking curd in double boiler - macerating berries - trifle ingredients

cooking curd in a double boiler – macerating berries – trifle ingredients

While the curd is chilling, prepare the berries; pick over blueberries and raspberries and place in a large glass bowl, add sliced strawberries.  Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with the limoncello, toss gently, cover, and leave at room temperature to allow the berries to release some of their juices.

Once the lemon curd is completely chilled, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold in the curd.

Place 1/3 of the berries in the bottom of the trifle bowl.  Place cake slices on top to cover completely in one layer.  Spoon on 1/2 of the lemon curd.  Repeat with 1/3 berries, another layer of cake, and remaining curd, finishing with the remaining 1/3 of the berries.  Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  May be made 24 hours in advance.

Serves 12

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1 comment

1 Crystal { 02.05.11 at 2:08 AM }

The trifle looks amazing – I am not normally a huge fan of trifle but that is very appealing indeed. I think my kids would love it. Shame I would have to leave the liquer out though!

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