Here’s a quick look at making a simple trifle. It’s a great way to use up left over components or you can start with freshly made goodies as well. These were put together for a family gathering - transportable and self contained.
Typically a trifle consists of cake cubes (pound, genoise, classic layer or pretty much any kind of cake you’d like to use), an imbibing syrup or fruit sauce to moisten the cake, a creamy layer like pastry cream, whipped mascarpone, lemon curd or chocolate mousse, fruits of choice, or in my case, no fruit at all. I like to include some kind of crunch in the form of cookie crumbs, chopped toasted nuts, crushed nut brittle or caramelized puffed rice for something just a little different. Make your trifle in any size you’d like - a large bowl or individual cups or ramekins. A classic trifle bowl is clear glass and deep so as to show off the layers but anything works!
Remember that Reine de Saba post I wrote awhile back? Well it turns out I had some of the cake in the freezer plus some whipped-cream-lightened cream cheese pastry cream on hand from another project. Since I always have homemade caramel sauce in my fridge and chocolate crunchy crumbs in my freezer, I thought why not create a lovely layered trifle for an easy summer dessert?
The one thing I did make fresh was the caramelized puffed rice - a simple process of stirring together 50 g sugar, 50 g light corn syrup, 25 g unsalted butter and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan, bringing it to a boil and then stirring in 62 g puffed rice.
Spread the mixture out on a Silpat lined sheet pan and bake in a 375ºF oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Let it cool then break into shards. Makes plenty!
I used Arrowhead Mills puffed rice (ingredient: puffed brown rice - no sugar, no salt, no fat) and find it perfect for this. Once caramelized, it reminds me of an ever so lightly sweetened version of Sugar Crisp cereal which I used to love as a kid, only much better! I even added some to my morning shredded wheat and berries for that little extra something. Not a bad way to start the day.
Below you see my cream cheese pastry cream, chocolate crunchy cookie crumbs, caramel and slices of Reine de Saba waiting to be crumbled up.
In go the chunks of chocolate cake, chocolate crunchy crumbs, a drizzle of caramel and a swirl of pastry cream . . . .
. . . . . followed by more cake chunks, crumbs, caramel and a final pastry cream swirl. I added a final dollop of lightened sweetened whipped cream, then into the fridge until ready to serve. These can be assembled several hours ahead or even up to a day (although the chocolate cookie crumbs might get a tad soggy in that case).
I added the caramelized puffed rice on top just before serving to preserve the light crunch.
What a pleasing combo of creamy, chocolate-y, crunchy and lightly sweet - not bad at all.
When making your own trifle, particularly when using an imbibing syrup or fruity sauce, it’s fine (and even recommended) to assemble the evening before or the morning of - that gives plenty of time for cake to soften and flavors meld for a delicious finale to your day.
Have fun with it!