Afters shock: Bill Granger's guide to Christmas desserts
A trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Sunday 22 December 2013
What makes a trifle for you? Growing up, my mum’s consisted of bought components layered together – Swiss roll, custard, and jelly out of a sachet. I can’t say I remember it with much fondness… Actually, the further I get from those early memories with my trifles, the better!
If you’re in the camp that believes custard is essential, you might be better off looking up a Delia recipe than reading on. Since clicking that a tiramisu is essentially a trifle, I’ve completely embraced the custard-less route.
The three recipes here cover pretty much every Christmas scenario. One large booze-free one the whole family can enjoy; little cute individual ones for smaller gatherings; and the last-minute-assembly trifle, ideal if the turkey and veg have left no space for desserts in the fridge.
Berry jelly, brownie and vanilla ice-cream trifle
Is this a trifle or a sundae? I’m not sure it matters. All I’m certain is that it’s delicious. I like to ensure maximum gooeyness by making my own brownie, but feel free to cheat by buying them in. Serves 6
- For the jelly
- 5 gelatine leaves
- 600g frozen mixed berries
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp crème de cassis (optional)
For the brownie
- 200g butter
- 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 135g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 100g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 500g vanilla ice-cream
For the jelly, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water, until softened. Place 300g of the berries, the sugar and 200ml of water in a small pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Mash roughly with the back of a fork and strain the liquid into a large measuring jug. Squeeze out any excess water from the gelatine and add to the jug. Stir until completely dissolved. Add the cassis (if using) and enough cold water to make 550ml. Place the remaining 300g of berries in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Pour in the jelly mixture, cover and chill for 4 hours, or until set.
For the brownie, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Line a 22cm square tin with baking paper. Melt the butter and most of the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Place the sugar, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the eggs and chocolate mix and stir until combined. Fold through the remaining chopped chocolate. k Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out on to a wire rack. When cool, cut into squares.
Layer the jelly, brownie and ice-cream into individual bowls or glasses and serve immediately.
Clementine curd, mascarpone cream and savoiardi biscuits
Clementine curd, mascarpone cream and savoiardi biscuits (Laura Edwards)
There’s a lightness and freshness to these mini trifles that I really love. The recipe will make way more curd than you’ll need, but I guess being left with half a jar of yumminess in the fridge can only be a good thing. Serves 4
For the curd
- 3 eggs, plus 1 yolk
- 125ml clementine juice, plus the finely grated zest of 3 clementines
- Juice and grated zest 1 lemon
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, cubed
For the mascarpone cream
- 250g mascarpone
- 300ml double cream
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 10 savoiardi biscuits
- 2 tbsp Marsala
- 1 clementine, zest in strips and juice
- Pomegranate seeds
To make the clementine curd, place the eggs and yolk in a small pan and beat lightly with a fork. Add the clementine juice and zest, lemon juice and zest and sugar. Place over a low heat and whisk continuously for 8 to 10 minutes, until thickened.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pour into a sterilised jar and cover.
For the mascarpone cream, place the mascarpone in a large bowl. Add the cream and icing sugar and beat with an electric whisk until the mixture is smooth and holds its shape.
Break the biscuits up into a shallow dish. Combine the Marsala and clementine juice and drizzle over the biscuits. Place a layer of biscuits at the base of 4 glasses. Top with a layer of clementine curd then a layer of cream. Repeat the layers. Chill in the fridge, topping with pomegranate seeds and clementine zest just before serving. These are best eaten within 12 hours of making.
Spiced pear, pannetone and toffee-cream trifle
Spiced pear, pannetone and toffee-cream trifle: ‘You can spike the toffee cream with some sherry or Marsala if you like’ (Laura Edwards)
You can spike the cream with some sherry or Marsala if you like. I prefer to leave it out and sip my drink out of a glass. Serves 8
For the pears
- 160g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
- ½ lemon, in wedges
- 1 star anise
- 5 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 small firm pears, peeled, quartered and cored
For the caramel cream
- 450ml double cream
- 150ml thick Greek yoghurt
- 4 tbsp thick toffee sauce or dulce de leche
- 200g panettone, cut into chunks
For the pears, combine the sugar, vanilla paste, lemon and spices in a pan with 500ml of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Carefully lower in the pears and poach on a very slow simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just tender. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon; retain the poaching liquid. When the pears are cool enough to handle, quarter and core. Cut into large chunks.
For the caramel cream, place the double cream, yoghurt and 2 tbsp of thick toffee sauce into a large bowl. Whisk with an electric whisk until thick and holding its shape.
Give the panettone chunks a quick dip in the pear poaching liquid. Combine the pear and panettone in a large trifle dish or bowl. Top with the toffee cream. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp of toffee sauce and swirl through the cream with the back of a spoon. Chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours to set before serving. It will keep for 24 hours in the fridge.
Bill’s restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 75 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
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