NATCHITOCHES, La., December 23, 2012 —We all know people who love to plan and prepare elaborate dinners. They whip out a seven-course dinner for 20, create personal table decorations, and have the house looking like a Christmas wonderland, complete with children dressed as elves.
We love and hate these people. We want to be included on their guest list, since otherwise we’ll be sprinkling crispy canned onion bits on a tuna casserole, throwing on a bit of parsley, and finding that we’ve exhausted our short and tawdry list of culinary tricks.
That’s also why we hate them – they hold us up to our friends and families as utterly inadequate in the kitchen. They show up at the office Christmas party with a buche de noel, and there we are with a bowl of five-layer dip from five cans.
Well, it’s time to take back some pride and expand our list of tawdry tricks. It isn’t hard to make a buche de noel if you know how to do it, but we need something that’s easy if you don’t know how to do it and that looks just as amazing. And this trifle is just the thing. It’s as easy as whipping cream.
4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
1 pound white chocolate (the real stuff, like Lindt, not “summer coating” or vanilla flavored “white chocolate chips”), broken into small pieces
8 ounces mascarpone cheese (a soft Italian cheese sort of like cream cheese, sold in 8-16 ounce tubs at most supermarkets), room temperature.
2 teaspoons chocolate liqueur (I like Godiva)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 packages ladyfingers (many trifle recipes that use ladyfingers call for 7 ounces, because oddly enough the cookies come in 7-ounce packages; it’s never enough) (If you can’t find ladyfingers or want use something else, you can use slices of your own or a store-bought pound cake. I once used chocolate pound cake in this recipe, and it was excellent.)
18 ounces partly thawed frozen, unsweetened raspberries
3 containers (about a pound) fresh raspberries, washed and dried.
To prepare the trifle:
Simmer 1 ½ cups of cream in a medium saucepan. Remove the saucepan from heat, add the chopped white chocolate, then stir until all the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Whisk in the mascarpone until smooth.
In a large bowl, beat the remaining cream with a teaspoon of chocolate liqueur until soft peaks form. Fold in the white chocolate-mascarpone mixture.
In a small saucepan, stir water and sugar together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then add the remaining teaspoon of chocolate liqueur. Remove from heat, then begin dipping the ladyfingers into the syrup and placing them around the bottom of a trifle bowl or other large glass bowl until it’s covered.
Spoon about a quarter of the frozen berries over the ladyfingers, then a quarter of the white chocolate whipping cream. Dip more ladyfingers in the syrup and arrange in a layer over the cream, then cover with a quarter of the frozen berries and a quarter of the cream, then repeat for two more layers to use up all the ladyfingers, frozen berries and cream.
Now top the entire thing with the fresh raspberries. For some added flourish, grate some dark chocolate over the raspberries, or arrange fresh roses or chocolate leaves around the edge of the trifle. (Chocolate leaves are fussy, but you can make them months ahead of time, or simply not use them at all.)
This trifle takes less than an hour to prepare. It should sit in the refrigerator for a few hours, and you can make it a day ahead. Easy and “do-ahead” are great features of a holiday dessert. And it’s delicious. We serve this every year at a dessert party, and we bring it back every year by popular demand.
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