The grand thing about cooking is you can eat your mistakes. -Julia Child

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cherry-Vanilla Trifle

So I had a bit of a bakingsplosion the other night.  I was making cupcakes and my oven decided that it preferred baking things at 375 instead of 325.  Which meant my cupcakes puffed up too high too fast and spilled out of their little muffin cups.  They looked like giant portabella mushrooms.  I didn't have time to bake another batch so I just trimmed off the excess and iced them and called it a day.  But that meant I had a bowl full of cake scraps, and I can't bring myself to throw edible food away, so I needed to figure out what to do with 2 cups of crumbled cake.

Trifle, of course.  Trifle doesn't care if your cake comes out ugly, misshapen, etc.  The cake really isn't the star here, but just one layer of tastiness that comes together to make a pretty dessert.  Use any kind of cake, cake-like cookies, brownies, or other baked-goods leftovers you have on hand.  The other layers are usually pudding, fruit, and whipped cream.  Cherries are in season here and I couldn't resist buying some of the pretty red orbs at the farmer's market, so they were the chosen fruit.

Cherry-Vanilla Trifle
By Me
Serves 2 

Printable Version

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups cake crumbles, ladyfingers, madelines, etc.
Cherry-Vanilla Compote, recipe follows
Pastry Cream, recipe follows

Chill mixing bowl and whisk/mixer beaters.  Pour chilled cream into bowl and beat just until soft peaks form.  (You can tell this by lifting your whisk out of the cream and turning it upside down.  If the cream holds a peaked shape but folds a bit at the top and/or moves if you lightly tap the whisk - this is "soft peaks".  If the peaks don't budge when you tap the whisk, then the "stiff peaks" stage has been reached.)  Add the vanilla extract and sugar and beat until barely at the "stiff peaks" stage.  Be careful not to overwhip!  Cream will jump from soft peaks to stiff very quickly.
In individual clear dessert dishes, spread about 1/3 of the cake crumbles to make a layer.  Top with a layer of cherry compote, then a layer of pastry cream.  Repeat the layers and top with whipped cream.

Cherry-Vanilla Compote
By Me

1 lb cherries, pitted and halved
juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cointreau
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, bring cherries, lemon juice and sugar to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.  In a small bowl, stir together cointreau and cornstarch.  Add mixture to cherries and stir.  Return to a boil and boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Set aside to cool.

Pastry Cream
Adapted from Bakewise (currently my favorite baking book)

1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean (seeds scraped out and added simultaneously)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg yolks

Add the milk, cream, and vanilla to a medium saucepan.  Warm over medium heat until mixture begins to steam.
In a second saucepan, stir together sugar, salt, and cornstarch.
Pour the milk mixture into the second saucepan, whisking to combine.
Place this second saucepan over the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Make sure to scrape the bottom while stirring.  Continue to stir and cook/boil until custard thickens.  (My favorite quote from the original recipe applies here: "This will be very thick and go blop, blop....")
Remove from heat and cool.

Verdict?  So good.  Absolutely flavor-filled yet very comforting.  The pastry cream is like a richer, smoother, and creamier version of pudding that really pulls everything together.  The cherry compote holds together well enough to make a pretty layer.  And you can never go wrong when there is cake and whipped cream involved.  In my opinion, at least.


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