Sunday, February 14, 2010

Date Night Dessert - Nigella's Chocolate Pudding Trifle with Strawberry 'Liquor'

You didn't think I was just going to give you pulled pork for Valentine's Day, did you?

Here is a simplified version of Nigella's chocolate trifle. You can use any pound cake recipe you love or even a store bought one (I have great luck with Entenmann's marble loaf.) With all of that strawberry liquor and chocolate pudding on top, you could probably use cardboard and find it delicous. It's damn magic that custard, I tell you.

Confession - I didn't even know what trifle was until I saw Nigella make it on an episode of Nigella Bites. Which is strange because trifle is also a traditional southern dessert in the US. I guess it just flew by me somehow while growing up in Texas. In fact if someone had asked me what trifle was, before seeing said episode, I'd have said, 'a disgusting English dessert containing meat."

Well, thank goodness for Nigella, once again, as this is my favorite, favorite naughty thing to dive into when the devil's on your shoulder. And I'm sorry but a good Valentine's Day may be all about love, but a great Valentine's Day involves the devil.

The shortcut I referred to earlier is to make a quick 'strawberry liquor' by mixing strawberry jam, Amaretto, and vanilla extract together and pouring it over the layered cake pieces. Nigella makes 'sandwiches' with jam and cake - I just mix and pour this over the cake layers. It's easier and adds to the 'carpe diem' factor that this treat exudes in spades. Top with whipped cream, extra berries and seize the day, or night.

Nigella's Chocolate Pudding Trifle with Strawberry 'Liquor'
Serves 3 (though technically, 6 - see note below.) Easily doubled.
* It's worth mentioning that I don't know a human being who can actually finish one serving of this - it's that rich. That said, I like serving it in glasses, so I kept the servings per glass. You can easily cover leftovers in plastic wrap and return them to the fridge until the next day, as we do. OR embrace the date night concept and share a glass between you.

Custard Ingredients and Instructions:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
2/3 cup plus half a tablespoon milk
2/3 cup plus half a tablespoon heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus half a tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/6 cup cocoa

Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 1 minute, though it will probably need a little more. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, set it aside while you start the custard.

In a saucepan warm the milk and cream over low heat, being careful to not let it form a skin (stirring prevents this.) Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, extract, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl in three batches, swiftly whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture to prevent the eggs from curdling. 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. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the custard pan into the cold water and whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis. Once thickened (your spoon should leave a wake in its path), set aside and let cool for 15 minutes (stirring a time or two to keep it from developing a skin.) Meanwhile, get on with assembling your trifles - ingredients/further instructions below.

2 1/2 inch slices of pound cake, either vanilla, chocolate, or marbled, cut into quarters

Strawberry Liquor:
3 tablespoons strawberry jam (seedless)
2 tablespoons Amaretto (almond liquor)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

couple handfuls fresh raspberries, plus extra for garnish
Fresh whipped cream or cool whip, for topping
3 wine glasses, goblets, or martini glasses for serving

Divide the cake pieces between your 3 serving glasses, overlapping them slightly. Carefully stick your raspberries down around the sides of the glasses so they look pretty - either between the cake and glass or wherever they fit but so that you can see them. Make the strawberry liquor by stirring together the jam, amaretto, and vanilla combining well. Divide that up between the glasses, pouring over the cake and letting some drip down the sides to the bottom. Repeat with the slightly cooled chocolate custard. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight before serving.

Just before serving, garnish with either fresh whipped cream or cool whip, extra raspberries and mint leaves if you have any.

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