The good old trifle – it’s as much a summer institution down here in Kiwi-land as jandals and barbeques.
And, while some people might question why we love this centuries old layered dessert so much, the fact is it’s a firmly established culinary favourite (thanks to our British forebears) and one that’s not set to change any time soon.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with trifle, it’s basically sponge (usually soaked in alcohol), fruit, custard, jelly and cream. Rather a hotch-potch of ingredients you might think but, weirdly, it all comes together remarkably well. Of course, there are a host of variations but, by and large, the combinations always add up to the same equation – something spongey, something fruity, and something creamy.
I was rather intrigued by this version, which I spotted on New Zealand’s Fisher & Paykel’s website recently. With its sparkling wine jelly, savoiardi biscuits and mascarpone cream, it practically screamed elegance. And, while I reckon you can never go past the stock standard sponge, fruit jelly and custard combo, I figured it might be nice to try it out at least once.
And, I’m glad I did. It was truly yummy, if not quite ‘classic’. I especially loved the luxuriously thick mascarpone cream and the wine jelly (which was fun to make) lent quite a distinctive, but complementary, flavour.
I would make one suggestion however. My family and I felt the trifle was just a bit lacking in sweetness. After all, raspberries are naturally tart, the wine jelly was tangy, and the mascarpone cream wasn’t sweetened (though I decided last minute to sweeten it). If I made this again, I’d either add some white chocolate shavings over top, or otherwise fold some melted white chocolate into the mascarpone cream. Then, I reckon, it would be perfection.
Oh, and by the way… trifle ALWAYS needs time to mature in the fridge. I leave mine for about 24 hours before serving, but actually it tastes even better 36-48 hours later. How do I know this? Coz I always reserve a plate of it for breakfast the following morning. Enjoy!
- 1/2 bottle sparkling wine (375ml / 12.6 fl oz) - I used a sweet Moscato
- 20g (0.7 oz) gelatin mixed with 2 tbsp boiling water
- 2 tbsp sugar (optional, depending on how sweet your wine is)
- 500g (17.6 oz) frozen raspberries
- 2 tbsp icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), or to taste
- 250g (8.8 oz) mascarpone
- 500g (17.6 oz) fresh cream
- 2-3 tbsp icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- Lady finger biscuits (savoiardi) - as many as will fit comfortably in your bowl (I used about 20)
- Fresh or frozen berries, and shaved white chocolate
- Add the boiling water to the gelatin powder and sugar and stir to dissolve.*
- Add this gelatin/water/sugar mixture to the sparkling wine. Whisk gently to combine.
- Pour the sparkling wine jelly mixture into a dish lined with plastic wrap (I found a loaf tin worked well). Refrigerate until the jelly sets. Once set, cut it into cubes, about 2cm or 1 inch square.
- Add half the berries and 2 tbsp icing sugar (adjust this depending on the tartness of the raspberries) to a saucepan and heat gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to break down the berries so that it becomes like a sauce. Then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the pips. Put the sauce aside.
- Put the other half of the berries into a bowl to defrost.
- Whisk the fresh cream with the mascarpone and icing sugar. You want a thick consistency but be careful not to over mix. When it's ready, it will hold its shape but not be stiff.
- Layer according to your own preference and bowl size (see notes for how I did it). When adding your lady finger biscuits, soak them in the berry sauce first until they're well coated, but not soggy (if your berry sauce is thick, I found it useful to add a dash of the remaining sparkling wine to thin it out a bit).
- Once your trifle is layered (including the mascarpone cream), lay a piece of plastic wrap over top and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, but preferably overnight (this will give it the time it needs for the flavours to amalgamate).
- Close to serving time, garnish with the defrosted berries or fresh berries and some white chocolate shavings to serve.
**You can assemble the trifle in any way that works best for your bowl. Personally, I added about half the lady fingers in first, then half the raspberries, the remaining lady fingers and then the remaining raspberries. Then I added the jelly over top, and the mascarpone cream last.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting