Inspired by the same sinfully sensational ingredients as a Black Forest Gateau, namely several layers of chocolate genoise, Kirsch flavored Morello cherries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings, Nigella Lawson has created a recipe for Black Cherry Trifle that is both beautiful to look at and achingly delicious to eat. I made this glorious 'pud' for a post Christmas lunch, and was given a thumping endorsement by all. My husband even raised his empty plate, and nodded approvingly — is there any better praise?
Nigella suggests cheating and buying some chocolate cake and then tweaking it to make it your own. "I'm all for making life easier, and what makes my life easier when I have a crowd coming for supper, is to buy something and then make it even better. Once liquor and fruits are added, no one will tell the difference!" So taking a culinary cue from Nigella, I bought two loaves of good quality chocolate cake from Summerhill Market, a jar of Bonne Maman cherry preserves, M'Lord pitted bing cherries and a bottle of cherry brandy to start the cakey bit of the trifle recipe.
Chocolate cake from Summerhill Market, Bonne Maman cherry preserves,
M'Lord pitted cherries and McGuiness cherry brandy
Drain the pitted cherries
The chocolate cake is sliced into generous portions, about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick, then slathered with heaping spoonfuls of cherry preserves, to make crude looking sandwiches, which are then squished into the bottom of a trifle bowl. Cherry brandy is then poured overtop of the cake, which is soaked up into one glorious boozy base. Nigella suggested using about 1/2 cup of brandy, but I tripled that and could have used a little more — the cake is very dense and forgives a multitude of brandy 'sins'. Nigella said "soak the cake", so that's what I did, with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cherry brandy. If you wanted a non-alcoholic trifle, you could use the leftover cherry juice instead.
Slice the cake into thick pieces, generously spread with cherry preserves
to make thick 'sandwiches' then press into the bottom of a trifle bowl
Although Nigella likes to make her own custard, I grew up with Bird's instant crème anglaise, and think it's great, so I cheated on this part of her recipe, but I did add the good quality chocolate and cocoa. If you have the time, and want to make custard from scratch, you can follow Nigella's recipe. Both versions take about half an hour to prepare.
I cheated with the custard and used Bird's instant powder,
but found a lovely block of Callebaut milk chocolate to make the
chocolate custard extra chocolatey, along with Fry's premium cocoa
4-ounces of grated Callebaut chocolate...
...melted in a saucepan, which took only a minute or two
Bird's custard powder, sugar and whole milk stirred over medium heat
for about half an hour...
...until it becomes lovely and thick
Once the custard has thickened, it should be chilled to allow it to cool down. Placing a sheet of cling film over the custard will prevent it from getting an unsightly skin on top. When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and then place in the refrigerator to set, covered in cling wrap overnight. When ready to decorate, softly whip some heavy 35% cream and gently spread a big dollop of thick whipped cream overtop of the custard, finish with a grating of good quality chocolate and serve. This is truly heaven in a bowl.
Modified from a recipe by Nigella Lawson
2 chocolate pound cakes, about 12 oz each
1/2 cup black cherry jam - I used the whole jar, about 1 cup
1/2 cup cherry brandy - I used 1 1/2 cups and it was perfect!
2 cups drained sour cherries (Nigella recommends Morello) - I used 4 1/2 cups
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
1 1/3 cups whole milk plus 1 tablespoon
1 1/3 cups heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups whipping cream
1 oz Bittersweet Chocolate grated
Slice the chocolate pound cake into thick pieces and spread generously with cherry jam, rather like making big jam sandwiches, and layer in the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl, squishing the cake down. Then pour over the cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up. Nigella suggests using 1/2 cup but I used at least triple that and could have used more — trifle should be boozy! Nigella suggests topping with all of the drained cherries, being sure to push some against the side of the bowl, because that's what you'll see when the trifle is served. (In hindsight, I would save half of the cherries to layer on top of the custard, prior to serving). Cover with cling wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.
Melt 4-ounces of chocolate in a saucepan, over medium-low. Once the chocolate is melted, set aside while you get on with the custard.
In a saucepan warm the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan.
Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick, so don't panic so much that you stop cooking while it is still runny. Admittedly, it continues to thicken as it cools and also when it's chilling in the refrigerator. Once it is ready, pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set, covered in cling wrap overnight. (If you've saved half the cherries, top the custard with them at this point). When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream for the topping and spread it gently over the layer of custard, and grate some good quality chocolate over top, and serve. Thanks Nigella, for my new favourite dessert!
"Whatever the question is, the answer is always trifle"
- Nigella Lawson -