Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chocolate and cherry birthday trifle


I love the idea of English trifle. It is a perfect stress free dessert, where you layer moistened cake slices with fruits, jam, custard and cream, choosing all the combinations as your mood suggests. You let it sit in the fridge for a bit and dive in. It's perfect if you are feeding many people as you can easily make a lot of it. And if you assemble it in a glass serving bowl you get double pleasure.

That day I came home at 10 pm from the second Afisha Eda food festival. Last year I enjoyed watching all the classes and loved the whole event. This time I gave a little class myself and didn't get to watch much, but I'm still very happy of course. It was so great to see many familiar faces and overall to spend a day in this vibrant atmosphere filled with the most interesting people and ventures in the Moscow gastronomy.

If I'm eating trifle out, my favorite one in Moscow is the banana and vanilla pudding at Upside down cake bakery. That's where I learned about the whole idea of this dessert which made me start to make it myself.

We made a peach and raspberry trifle at the festival and then I moved home to make another one. My bro just had his 13th birthday and we thought this time a trifle will play the role of a birthday cake. He absolutely loves chocolate, so I chose to make the chocolate and cherry trifle.

It is very deep dark chocolaty with intense sweet and sour cherry. I first made it following the idea of my beloved Nigella. After that we made it several times and adapted a bit to our taste.

As I said it is very easy. Best made the day before serving and best assembled in a glass transparent bowl. However if you only have 3-4 hours before serving and your bowl is not transparent (as mine), please do go ahead.

Chocolate and cherry trifle (adapted from Nigella Lawson)

serves 12

For the base:
350 g good ready made chocolate cake (preferably with no flavorings and icings), sliced a little thinner than 1 cm
200 g of thick cherry jam

For the cherry topping:
400 g fresh or frozen pitted cherries
3 table spoons of sugar
100 ml of water
50 ml of Kahlua / Cointreau or other liqueur of your choice

For the chocolate custard:
100 g dark chocolate (around 70% coco), roughly chopped
6 egg yolks
75 g sugar
20 g coco powder
300 ml of milk
200 ml of whipping cream 33-35%

For the cream topping:
300 ml of whipping cream 33-35%, chilled in the fridge
2 table spoons of icing sugar
1 tea spoon of vanilla
1 table spoon of Kahlua / Cointreau or other liqueur of your choice
a bit of dark chocolate (for decoration)

It makes sense to start from making the chocolate custard (as it needs some time to cool down). Melt the chocolate on a water bath. To do so you need to place the chocolate into a bowl and set the bowl over a pan of slowly simmering water (the bowl shouldn't touch the water). Let the chocolate melt, helping it a little bit with a spatula. Take the chocolate off the water bath and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks with 75 g of sugar. Whisk in the coco powder.

Combine 300 ml of milk and 200 ml of cream in a medium pan and bring to a boil. Pour the milk milk mixture into the egg yolks, while continuing to whisk.

Return the milk and egg mixture to the pan and set it over very low heat. Heat gently stirring constantly with a spatula till the custard thickens. Pour into the bowl with melted chocolate and whisk till combined and glossy. Set aside and let cool.

It makes sense to fill a large bowl with cold water and set it next to you while you are cooking the custard. If you overheat the custard a little it might start to curdle (become granular in texture). If you see this happening, just take the pan off the heat as soon as you can and plunge the bottom of the pan into your cold water. Whisk the custard to cool it down fast. If you still can see the granules after that you can blend or process the custard and get rid of them.

When the custard is done you can move to making cherry topping. Combine the cherries, sugar and water in a small pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes under lid. Remove from heat and pour in 50 ml Kahlua / Cointreau or other liqueur of your choice. Set aside.

Now you can assemble the trifle. Spread the cherry jam over half of your cake slices and make "sandwiches" covering them with the second half. Cover the bottom of you serving bowl with the sandwiches. Do not worry if it looks not ideal, just squeeze them in. After they are covered with all the toppings they will melt into delicious even base.

Spread the cherries over the cake base and pour the cherry liquid over, making sure you moisten all the cake slices.

Pour the chocolate custard over the cherries. Cover the trifle with plastic film and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours (better overnight).

Before serving you can make the last cream topping. Whip the cream with icing sugar till you get soft peaks consistency. Pour in vanilla and 2 table spoons of Kahlua / Cointreau or other liqueur of your choice and mix with a spatula.

Take the trifle out of the fridge, remove the film. Spread the cream over the trifle, sprinkle with a little grated chocolate and serve. Do not worry about having perfect serving pieces. It is even better to use glasses or little bowls. It is meant to be humble.

It will safely store for a couple of days in the fridge and become even tastier.


Food feast of Afisha Eda (Афиша: Праздник Еды)
Upside down cake bakery

Sticky toffee pudding
Spicy hot cake with sticky toffee sauce
Brownies with dulce de leche
Apple cobbler with Cheddar cheese
Spanish hot chocolate
Cinnamon hot chocolate


  1. Chocolate is great but I still love the original version with the much subtler flavours of custard, sliced almonds, strawberry jam and sponge cake. :)