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Trifle: Tips, Techniques, Recipes


La Niña
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We had trifle for Thanksgiving. A total hit with everyone.

Ours, I should say my wife's, is is a traditional English version. It just can't be beat! She is from the North of England and really knows what she's doing.

I'll be persuading her to post the recipe in the next few days.

As to seasonality; yes it is better in the summer with fresh berries, but frozen work well & you can usually get pretty good fresh strawberries.

Traditionally a trifle is topped with toasted almonds, but they can be left off or sprinkled over each individual portion.

If you try this you'll love it!

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In New Zealand, trifle is a must at Christmas but we mostly seem to have kissed adieu to the trad English sherry version these days.

Right now, I am already nearly trifled out with the demand at seasonal parties that started a few weeks ago. Our most popular are my own Passionfruit/Mango/Pineapple Trifle and the following, one of many Nigella does that can be recommended. ( I love links....saves the inumerable typo's I make :biggrin: )

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_34700,00.html

I have also done this with fresh raspberries and raspberry preserves with Framboise drizzled over the cake. As little or as much as you dare! ( or can afford of course).

I also do a tiramisu with chocolate and raspberries, and it is a great success. Almost a trifle! :smile:

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Using what's in season is the best idea. I like the idea of roasted pears. Orange is underrated as a fruit. I can imagine orange chunks, grand marnier, and a zabliogne as custard. Bit of mint maybe.

Trifle means an insignificant thing, but it can be very elegant with a good combination of flavours. Good booze, good fruit. good cake, and cream.

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If you want to be really traditional omit the fruit, English trifles were developed from fools around 1755 and consisted of sponge, custard and cream often with a syllabub topping which would have contained alcohol.The fruit came later.

You could always go with the seventies classic- a layer of butterscotch Angel Delight

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Argh!! These imitations are a great mistake.

Trifle is, and must be:

Sponge (genoese) soaked in sherry. Swiss roll is acceptable provided it is the sort without creme, and looks nice in a glass dish. Not Lady fingers - those are for charlotte.

Raspberries. Tinned or frozen or even jam are better than fresh. Strawberries are a mistake and go mushy. Any other fruit is a travesty.

Custard, Birds Eye, made thick.

Whipped Cream

As to decoration opinion is divided and family tradition comes in. Most agree on glace cherries, Glace Angelica available. Some allow chocolate curls. I like hundreds and thousands, but the colours melt into the cream. Silver balls are too flash, and crunchy.

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Simon Hopkinson, who I often turn to for advice on these 70's dinner party dishes that I grew up with, says in his book "The Prawn Cocktail Years" '......No glace cherries or hundreds and thousands, please, just angelica and silver balls. This is classy Trifle'.

However, much as I love Simon Hopkinson, I have to go with my instinct here and agree with Jackal in that trifle is not really a dish that benefits much from tweaking, innovation or the use of fresh fruit and unusual liqueurs..... it's perfect made with tinned custard and fruit, whipped cream and with some very basic decoration.

Edited by Rachellindsay (log)
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I don't see any need to freeze trifle in time - custard itself was an innovation at one point in the trifle timeline, and it's a whimsical sort of dish anway.

So, to avoid the dreariness of making one's own birthday cake, I considered persiancook's ideas, and made a family (low liquor!) trifle.

Base: Dab of custard, then sponge sprinkled with grenadine and pomegranate seeds.

Mid-layer: baked pears (they were Good Stuff, nice pears received as a gift, peeled and cut in pieces, and baked very simply till the corners browned and the juice caramelized), Mid-layer: more cake, pear juices, peach brandy

Top layer: Not-too-thick egg-yolk custard (I can't buy custard powder here, even if I wanted to make it from a box), so as to soak into the sponge a little and run down the sides.

Topping: Whipped cream with pomegranate seeds mixed into it, and more pomegranate seeds and some toasted almond flakes over the top. I really think it needed silver cachous too, not to mention small gilded cupids :raz: , but we enjoyed it.

Edited by helenjp (log)
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Great suggestions.....keep them coming

How do you do your roasted pears?

I use Bosc pears. I peel and dice them and toss them with a bit of lemon juice and sugar. Then I roast them at 400F for 45-50 minutes, until they just start to turn golden around the edges.

I actually prefer the ladyfingers to sponge cake for this particular trifle. I find their texture more compatible with the pears.

I would be happy to PM you the recipe.

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Argh!! These imitations are a great mistake.

Trifle is, and must be:

Sponge (genoese) soaked in sherry. Swiss roll is acceptable provided it is the sort without creme, and looks nice in a glass dish. Not Lady fingers - those are for charlotte.

Raspberries. Tinned or frozen or even jam are better than fresh. Strawberries are a mistake and go mushy. Any other fruit is a travesty.

Custard, Birds Eye, made thick.

Whipped Cream

As to decoration opinion is divided and family tradition comes in. Most agree on glace cherries, Glace Angelica available. Some allow chocolate curls. I like hundreds and thousands, but the colours melt into the cream. Silver balls are too flash, and crunchy.

Thanks for the input on the classcial formula from Great Britain, jackal10! I do like this classic version in the wintertime; we use a good raspberry jam, and I like toasted sliced almonds on top.

Another source for non-traditional trifles are the baking books of Emily Luchetti. She seems to be quite fond of trifles and has included variations in many of her books. In "Stars Desserts" she has a tropical version which might also be nice in the winter--spongecake, passionfruit liqueur, mango sauce, pineapple juice, dark rum, coconut milk, etc... She has a nice roasted pear trifle in one of her books as well, I think. Some of her summer versions are blueberry and lemon and one with peaches, blackberry sauce and raspberry sauce. The fresh peaches are folded into a mascarpone almond custard.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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My family's version (which I'll be serving, yet again, for Christmas):

First layer:

Sponge cake or soft cake lady fingers sandwiched with raspberry jam (if using lady fingers cut them in half lengthwise and lay them in the glass bowl---glass bowl essential---such that the ribbon of jam can be seen), sprinkled with sherry.

Second layer:

Boiled custard (as neither tinned custard nor custard powder is widely available here, and my mother would sooner have cut off her arm than use custard powder).

Repeat first and second layers if bowl depth permits.

Top with whipped cream, garnish with fresh raspberries and mint.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Oh, and my vote for worst trifle ever was that made by an English colleague here that called for raspberry jello (yes, gelatin from a box) somehow mixed into the tinned custard. I can't recall the source of the cake, and that's probably for the best.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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That tiramisu eggnog trifle that Kevin linked to above is really delicious. One might argue that it's more tiramisu than trifle, but one can't argue about its deliciousness. It's pretty, and people love it.

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Any other fruit is a travesty.

I know raspberries are traditional. Unfortunately, because of the "no seed" limitation, I must substitute another fruit. Pears are in season here, so I am thinking that that would be an option.

Jackal - do you use raspberry jam to coat your pieces of sponge cake, or do you just soak then in sherry?

Abra - I am sure that the majority of my guests would love the tiramisu eggnog trifle. The picture looks gorgeous. However, one of my few taste dislikes is coffee, so that counts it out for me!

Life is short, eat dessert first

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If you really are wanting to go with the raspberry jam, sans seeds, just push it through a sieve.

My Mum always made a fresh uncooked raspberry jam for her trifle. Always! But then, we only ever ate trifle in raspberry season.

She used to make a genoise, spread with the fresh jam, rollup and slice. Some of the rolls were decoratively placed in bottom and around sides of her best crystal bowl, liberally sprinkled with canned fruit syrup ( mostly peaches) mixed with sherry, sliced canned peaches placed on top, a good amount of sherry laced hot custard onto that, more slices of cake, juice and sherry, peaches, custard. Cooled, plastic wrapped and then refrigerated until next day.

Then came the crowning glory. Unsweetened whipped cream piped in huge rosettes, drizzles of fresh passionfruit pulp and whole strawberries. Usually had some angelica in the garden for some greenery otherwise she had been known to use strawberry leaves!!

In later years she actually sprinkled the top with praline as well. I thought she was so adventurous...lol

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  • 1 year later...

Ok, I have to admit that my trifles are "semi-homemade" and not really the real thing, but I need inventive help, here, please!

When I make a "trifle" I use frozen , canned or fresh fruit, macerated with some wine or booze, instant pudding, and whipped cream (or usually Cool Whip :blush:) and a prepared cake, like pound cake. The people I cook for don't have sophisticated tastes, they can rarely tell the difference between Cool Whip and whipped cream, and, dear heaven, Cool Whip is SO much cheaper! (Yeah, I know it's nasty, but THEY don't care!) So far, I have done a Vanilla cake with vanilla pudding, mixed (frozen) berries with Marsala wine and topping, one with blueberries and peaches the same way, and a chocolate one with chocolate "cream cake", raspberries ans strawberries, chocolate pudding and whipped topping. I need ideas for more inventive fillings, seasonings and over the whipped topping sprinkles. I sort of have a pumkin "not pie" one in mind , but these folks love this fake stuff; help with ideas, please!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Why don't you educate these people? I don't understand what you are trying to accomplish. Who is your target audience? Why do "these folks like the fake stuff,"?

Without an understanding of what you wish to accomplish, how can we provide ideas for more inventive fillings, toppings, etc.?

What's wrong with fresh fruit cooked with simple syrup? Frozen fruit the same way? More exotic fruits the same?

Why cool whip over freshly whipped cream? I don't get it.

Motochef! Enjoying fine food while motorcycle touring.

Motoblog! Motochef's Notes, Comments and Points of Interest

Motochef!

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"These Folks" are not foodies, they're members of a fraternal organization to which I belong. They basically don't know from good food, and it's less expensive for me not to educate them. I do what I can get away with and still hear people tell me they like what I make. I know it's fake, but they don't care. I'm not at all financially secure enough to try and convert large quantities of people to "good food" Yes, what I make for them is mediocre by my standards, but they like it. I'm just looking for interesting sounding combinations, please. :rolleyes: Mostly it's a financial thing. When I do fresh fruit, or frozen, I will, as I said, macerate it with sugar and a bit of wine, so the juices will flow on their own. Then I soak the prepared cake with the juice and layer in the fruit and pudding and top with the "much less expensive" whipped topping.

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I make sorta-trifles a lot, too. They're my go-to take along fruity desserts...

I make homemade pound cake, let it sit a day, then cube it. I brush it with equal parts of amaretto and orange juice, then layer it with (here's where I cheat) vanilla instant pudding or white chocolate flavored, fresh raspberries, blueberries, and thawed frozen strawberries. I run half the strawberries through the food processer with a bit of sugar to make something of a coulis, to bind it. So, into my trifle bowl goes moistened boozy cake cubes, pudding, berries-sauce, cake, pudding, fresh whipped cream (the real deal!) and a layer of the most attractive berries scattered across the top.

It's a hit, everywhere it goes, but I totally fake it with the pudding. I really can't be bothered to make a custard for something that gets lost with everything else. I've faked it futher with Entemann's poundcake, and while good in a pinch, I felt it lacked.

Just for myself, because I craved it, I did the same thing with just banannas. I was dying for a banana dessert, and my husband hates that good ol' southern banana pudding, so I made a banana only trifle, with cake, amaretto (but I bet rum would kick ass!), vanilla pudding, and whipped cream.

If you diced a mango and added it with the banana, maybe a squeeze of lime in with the orange and amaretto (or rum...or Malibu!)...shredded coconut layered within...wow. I think I just talked myself into a new version of my trifle.

Edited by Lilija (log)
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How about changing it slowly like making flavored whipped cream or cool whip... with chopped mint or almond extract or anything else. or lemon zest or lime zest. It would make a difference to what you have already and it's not that much more expensive. Or sprinkle some toasted nuts to it. Almonds, pine nuts, walnut... I'll try to think of some other things and come back to this.

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normally an Oz trifle has a layer of jelly (jello) over stale cake smeared with jam (jelly!) and sloshed with sherry....I make up the jelly (jello) using fruit juice and booze instead of water and spoon it over the cake when it is quasi-set, then custard, fruit etc etc..sometimes crumble macaroons in there somewhere :smile: ...

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This might be a bit too creative for them, but I love matcha trifle. It's best if you can use matcha-flavoured cake, but matcha "whipped cream" might do, and sprinkle in some adzuki beans amongst the layers.

Or faux tiramisu trifle would be nice--add some kahlua to the pudding and/or "whipped cream", and sprinkle some onto the cake, too.

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Is there a different concept of 'trifle' in the US to the UK?

The reason I'm asking is that you haven't mentioned jello (jelly) as a composite ingredient to your trifles.

A cheap and cheerful easy to assemble classic English trifle served to gatherings of non-demanding diners would consist of layers of:

Sponge - either slices of fresh sponge, like your pound cake, or dried biscuits/cookies (such as ratafia/amaretti) also called 'trifle biscuits' which become moist once the other ingredients are added.

The sponge layer is often doused with some alcohol/liqueur (rum, framboise etc..)

Jelly & fruit - Jello is made up with hot water, fruit is added, this is then poured over the sponge layer and allowed to cool and set. All kinds of flavoured jello can be used and the choice of fruit is pretty much limitless - strawberry jello with canned mandarin segments or canned 'fruit cocktail', Pineapple jello with slices of pineapple & mango, lime jello with canned grapes and slices of kiwi fruit, raspberry jello with canned peach slices, orange jello with stewed rhubarb (a ginger liqueur over the base of this one would be good)... seriously, combinations are limitless

Custard - Any commercial custard can be used. Tinned powdered custard which is mixed with hot water is very popular in England. It's simplicity to make and very cheap, especially in large quantities. Once made (make it as thick as you can), allow it to cool before pouring it over the set jello layer.

Whipped cream (or Cool Whip if preferred) - With all that custard, you won't need to have that much cream, so hopefully, you won't need to resort to Cool Whip.

Extra fruit and toppings - do what you like at this point - slices of fresh bananas, strawberries, grated orange zest, chocolate, sprinkles, and then there's the option of adding sauce - raspberry, chocolate, fudge, etc...

-----

I'm sure once you work out which jellos and fruit are available to you throughout the seasons and you start being creative with combinations, you'll come up with a different possibility for every week of the year to suit your budget.

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