“I would like a recipe for a Trifle,” said my friend across the table, amidst the shouts and chatter of about 50 kids, playing at the birthday party. It was almost like a demand as summer calls for creamy desserts and what is creamier and more summery than a fruit trifle. My go-to recipe, one I have developed and made for years, is a strawberry trifle as berries in Cyprus are in abundance during the winter and spring months. So I had to improvise and make one with all the lovely summer fruits, like peaches, plums and grapes.
At my amazing local fruit shop, I always purchase the best, freshest, sweetest fruits. And since I wanted nothing out of a can for my trifle I got juicy peaches, nectarines and sweet grapes. Peaches and nectarines don’t extract as many juices as strawberries, when macerated in sugar. So I added some peach juice for extra moisture and some Grand Marnier as I like my trifle a little bit boozy.
“I have to tell you, I’m not making my own sponge cake”, she said with determination, as if she wanted to point out that not everyone lives in the kitchen like me, and that I should not hold it against her. But she knew I would protest intensely with even a hint of using ready-made vanilla pudding mix or custard. The reason simply being that making your own vanilla custard is neither time consuming, nor it requires special skills. And don’t get me started on the difference in taste.
I absolutely LOVE this trifle. Not too sweet, with the freshness of all those lovely fruits and the creamy vanilla custard, it makes the perfect dessert on a hot summer night. It will be on top of my summery desserts list. And I’m pretty sure my friend will love it too.
- 1 x 23cm round sponge cake
- 3 Tbs strawberry jam (you can also use peach or apricot jam)
- 2 peaches, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
- 2 nectarines, cut into bite size pieces (no peeling needed)
- 1 ½ cup seedless white grapes, sliced in half
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 7 Tbs peach juice
- 2 Tbs Grand Marnier
For the vanilla cream
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup cream
- 2 eggs plus 4 egg yolks
- 6 Tbs sugar
- 4 Tbs corn flour
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 60 grams unsalted butter
For the topping
- 100 grams mascarpone (optional)
- 1 cup cream (use 1 ½ cups of cream if you are not using the mascarpone)
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
Prepare the fruit. Put all fruit pieces in a bowl and add the sugar, peach juice and Grand Marnier. Mix everything together and then divide into two bowls, making sure you have roughly the same amount of fruit-juices ratio, in each bowl. Let it stand for 1 hour. During this time, the fruits will release their juices.
Split the sponge cake in half. Spread the jam on the cut side of one sponge and sandwich with the other.
Make the vanilla cream. Put the milk, cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolks with the corn flour and vanilla until combined. When milk mixture starts to boil, remove from the heat and pour into the egg mixture, in a steady stream while beating constantly. Return mixture into saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly, preferably with a whisk until cream thickens (whisk quicker as it thickens to make sure cream if free of lumps). Take cream off the heat and add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted and combined.
Divide cream into two bowls. Cover surface of cream with plastic wrap (this will prevent a skin from forming). Let the cream cool a little.
Make the topping. Put the mascarpone in a bowl of a stand mixer with about half the cream. Whisk lightly, not too much to loosen the mascarpone. Add the remaining cream and sugar and beat until creamy but not too thick. Set aside until needed.
Assemble the trifle. Cut the sandwiched sponge cake into 3 cm cubes. Put half the cubes over the base of a trifle dish. Pour over the contents of one of the fruit bowls. Cover with one bowl vanilla cream. Continue with the remaining sponge cake cubes, fruit and vanilla cream. Finish with the mascarpone topping.
Chill trifle at least 6 hours before serving.