Thursday, December 09, 2004

English Trifle: A Reigning Classic

from Food & Wine magazine, December 1984

I can't tell you how many times I've looked through stack and stacks of
different cooking magazines trying to find this recipe. I made another
attempt today and finally located it in an issue without a cover or an

A celebration in England is usually graced with a trifle as the
reigning dessert. A holiday feast would very likely boast a grand
version presented in an elegant bowl of lead crystal. It would be the
hostess' favorite concoction, which would no doubt contain sherry or
brandy, and chopped nuts, ratafia biscuits or macaroons, custard, heavy
cream and possibly raspberries in season. The recipe below is a Winter
version. Prepare the ladyfingers and macaroons in advance, but wait to
assemble the ingredients until a few hours ahead on the day on which it
is to be served.



2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1 tablespoon grated orange zest


3 navel oranges
About 18 ladyfingers (recipe follows)
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
6 tablespoon medium-dry sherry
5 60 6 dozen macaroons (recipe follow)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon chopped walnuts (I omit these)
1 cup heavy cream

To make the custard: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the
milk with the sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

In a medium bowl, mix the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk and the cornstarch
until it forms a smooth paste. Stir in the boiling milk, scrape the
mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from
the heat.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks and vanilla until blended. Gradually
stir in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture. Immediately stir back
into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan; the egg yolks will
thicken slightly on contact with the hot liquid.

Scrape the custard into a bowl and beat or whisk until cooled. This
lightens the custard and prevents a skin from forming. Stir in the
orange liqueur and orange zest.

To assemble the trifle: With a microplane, from 1 of the oranges
coarsely grate enough to measure 1 tablespoon; set aside for garnish.
Using a small sharp knife, peel the oranges and cut on either side of
the dividing membranes to remove each section without any skin. Spread
the flat sides of the ladyfingers with jam.

Arrange about 6 of the ladyfingers, jam-side up, in the bottom of a
2-quart deep glass bowl or souffle dish. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoon of
Sherry. Scatter about one-third of the orange sections over the
ladyfingers and top evenly with about 1 dozen of the macaroons.
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the nuts and spoon on one-third of the custard
to complete the first layer of the trifle. Repeat 2 more times to make
3 layers. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, until chilled.

Shortly before serving, whip the cream, then cover the surface of the
trifle with it. Decorate with the remaining 2 tablespoons walnuts, the
orange zest and about a dozen of the remaining macaroons.

Serves 10


These will keep well stored in an airtight container at room
temperature for several days or frozen for several months.

3 eggs, separated
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange-flower water or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and continue to
beat until stiff peaks form.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
until the mixture is thick enough to fall back in a ribbon when the
beaters are lifted, about 3 minutes.

Stir the orange-flower water into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the
flour until blended. Fold in the beaten egg whites until no streaks of
white remain; do not over-mix.

Using a pastry bag with a plain 3/4-inch (#9) tip, pipe narrow 3-inch
strips of the batter onto a large parchment-lined or buttered and
floured baking sheet. Shift the confectioners' sugar over the
ladyfingers. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden. Let cool.

Makes about 18


Since high humidity softens crisp macaroon, make them on a dry day.
They may be stored for several days in an airtight container.

2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds (about 2 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 325. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in the sugar, then fold in the almonds.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Drop 1/2 teaspoonfuls of the
mixture about 1 inch apart onto the sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the
temperature to 200. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and let the
macaroons dry in the closed oven until crisp throughout, preferably

Makes 5 to 6 dozen

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