As I’ve mentioned before, trifles are a firm New Zealand favourite. While you’ll virtually never find them on trendy restaurant menus, they continue to show up on Kiwi dinner tables over the summer months and have done so for many decades.
I won’t wax on lyrical about the trifle, other than to say that if you pair the right flavours together and give it enough time to chill, it’s a comforting and delicious pudding. And, presented in all its colourful glory in a glass or crystal bowl, it’s a feast for the eyes (though never quite as pretty once dumped onto a pudding plate!).
I stitched together this recipe from various sources, using a small box of cherries I picked up at the market as a starting point. To that, I added the amaretti/cocoa crumb from my Amaretti & Mascarpone Cups recipe (with Kirsch instead of brandy), and the custard from my Peach & Sherry Trifle recipe. The cherries, which always seem to be sweet in New Zealand, were simply thickened with a little cornflour and flavoured with Kirsch and vanilla. However, if you’re lucky enough to have sour cherries, you could add a few tablespoons of Morello Cherry Jam/Preserve instead of the cornflour to both thicken and sweeten them up.
The great thing about trifle is that you can mix and match your own ingredients – just add fruit or liqueur-soaked sponge, cake or biscuits in the base, followed by some fresh or cooked fruit (or fruit in jelly), topped with a layer of custard and then cream on the top. To make it easy on yourself, you can use store-bought items instead of making each component. Either way, ensure you chill it for at least 12 to 24 hours, otherwise it will taste a little bland and won’t be firm enough to hold it’s layered shape. Enjoy!
CHERRY, AMARETTI & KIRSCH TRIFLE
For the Cherry Compote:
- 700 g cherries (unpitted)
- 2 tsp* cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Kirsch (or 1/4 teaspoon almond essence)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
For the Vanilla Bean custard:
- 10 fl oz cream
- 10 fl oz milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 2 oz caster sugar
- 1.5 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
For the Amaretti Crumb:
- 1-1/2 cups amaretti biscuits roughly crumbled (use your hands)
- 3 Tbsp Kirsch
- 2 tsp good quality cocoa powder
For the topping:
- 300 ml heavy cream (lightly whipped)
- Cocoa powder, to sprinkle
For the Cherry Compote:
- Stone and roughly chop the cherries. Put the cherries in a saucepan with the cornflour and lemon juice. Stir over a moderate heat until the cherries start to soften but keep their shape. Lift out the cherries with a slotted spoon and turn up the heat to moderately high. Simmer until it starts to thicken a little and coats the back of a spoon. Take off the heat, cool and stir in Kirsch, vanilla and salt. Add in the cherries and stir to combine. Put aside to cool (store in the fridge if using later).
For the Vanilla Bean Custard:
- In preparation, make an ice bath by putting ice cubes and a small amount of cold water into a large bowl and resting a smaller metal or glass bowl in the ice. Set a fine mesh strainer over the top.
- Place the cream and milk into a medium sized heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean lengthways with a small sharp knife and use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds. Add both the pods and the seeds to the cream and milk. Heat the cream and milk to just simmering.
- While the cream mixture is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, caster sugar and cornflour in a large bowl, until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Once the cream mixture is hot, slowly pour it onto the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve back into the pan. Return the saucepan to a low heat and gently cook the custard, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon (170-175°F or 77-80°C, if you’re using a thermometer). Do not boil or it will curdle.
- Once the custard is cooked, remove it from the heat and immediately strain the custard into the bowl set over ice. Whisk the custard until it’s cool. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate to firm up.
For the Amaretti Crumb:
- Add the crumbled biscuits to a medium bowl and stir in the Kirsch (I added a tablespoon at a time and combined, before repeating – you want the mix just moistened; not soggy). Add the cocoa powder and stir though.
- Add the amaretti crumbs to the bottom of the trifle bowl. Top with the cherry mixture (if it’s too liquidy, drain off the excess). Spoon over the custard, then layer the cream over top of the custard.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge to chill and firm up for at least 12 hours, preferably 24 hours. Take out of fridge about 20 minutes prior to serving and sprinkle with cocoa powder.
PS: You can make this recipe as individual trifles in glasses if you prefer.