Trifle is one of my favourite desserts, I think remaining at the top of the list because I limit myself to one per year. This year, two really because *spoiler alert* we shot this in November and you can be sure I’ll be having another trifle on the 24th of December.
It’s easy – like really easy to do. And for some reason, I find that with a trifle, shortcuts and cheats work. The sum is far greater than the parts. I’m sure if you did everything the right, full length way it would also be incredible but I don’t think that’s a desirable route this time of year. Besides, at this point in the meal everyone is about ready to burst and is completely soused. It’s the perfect time for some tomfoolery at the table.
The trifle comes off eating as a light dessert because of the airiness of the cream. The store-bought cake that makes up the heft is soaked in merry making amounts of booze meaning it resembles little of its former self, and the cheaters custard just melds everything together. Simply referring to this as a custard is a cheat really. The corn starch in it, in my opinion disqualifies it from being a custard but like I said, it’s not the time to be playing around with scalding milk and egg yolks in the kitchen. If things were to separate on me this late in the game, it would seriously jeopardize my annual trifle intake and that’s unacceptable.
I have to say this variation of trifle, with its bourbon, chocolate and espresso comes from my desire to not have to make two desserts at Christmas. The New York Times’ Melissa Clark published an incredible recipe for a Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake in 2008 and upon first making it, it became a staple of our Christmas table. I wasn’t willing to stop making or eating trifle though, so this is my solution. I’m sure the bunt cake would be over-the-top in this trifle but the cake is so perfect on its own, with barely a dusting of icing sugar, it would be a crime to make it solely to have here. Go with plain chocolate cake and to drive my point home about using any store bought cake you can find, I will say unashamed that I used frozen double chocolate, pre-sliced Sara Lee pound cake.
Bourbon-Soaked Chocolate and Espresso Trifle
For the custard:
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
500ml whole milk (3.25% M.F.)
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
For the whipped cream:
500ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 x 306g chocolate loaf cakes, sliced
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
In a medium saucepan whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks then slowly add the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for approximately 20 minutes until the custard is thick. Add the espresso powder and whisk again to dissolve. Refrigerate with plastic wrap resting directly on the surface of the custard to avoid it developing a skin. Cool completely before proceeding with the rest of the trifle.
Whip the cream and icing sugar together to form stiff peaks.
To assemble the trifle, start by adding a couple of tablespoons of the custard to the bottom of a trifle bowl and arrange a layer of cake over top. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the bourbon then a layer, approximately 1/4 of the custard, followed by 1/4 of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers, finishing with a thick layer of whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate and refrigerate until ready to serve.