The bounty from the berry bushes in my backyard has been great this year. I was able to make another quart of red currant jelly just like last year. The raspberry bushes yielded so much fruit that the options for consumption were unlimited. I wanted to make something more special than jam and it was impossible to eat all the berries fresh. I decided upon making a trifle, one of the most elegant and almost bake-free deserts. Instead of one big trifle, I made six individual trifles for a light dessert to end a recent summer gathering. These personal-size trifles are perfect for those who don't like to share dessert and since there are no seconds, they're guilt-free too.
I had never eaten nor ever heard of a trifle until I traveled to England. Once I had a taste of it there, I immediately became a fan. A week wouldn't go by without a need for me to satisfy my craving for the beautifully layered treat. So I ended up becoming a die-hard devotee of store-bought trifles from Marks & Spencer. Sold in little sealed cups, they were the ideal dessert for me who was always on the go. Every time I passed by a store I would be sure to stop in for either a raspberry or strawberry trifle. I was quite the trifle addict.
Since then I haven't been able to find a trifle anywhere to rival the ones I ate in England, that is until I made my own. Most people when they think of trifle picture layers of store-bought pound cake, boxed vanilla pudding, jam, and that faux freezer-section whipped cream. I say you can do much better than that. This recipe features layers of fluffy sponge cake, vanilla custard, freshly ripened raspberries, jam, and real whipped cream. It's my kind of trifle.
If you, like me, have too many raspberries or blackberries on your hands, then I recommend freezing them. To make this trifle I actually froze small batches as the berries ripened. Otherwise I wouldn't have had enough to make the dessert. Simply freeze berries on a tray and once frozen, keep in a resealable bag or deli container. They will at least last for a few months. They are highly enjoyable just popped into the mouth frozen or served with ice cream. If using frozen berries for the trifle, don't defrost, but layer them in the dessert as they are.
Raspberry Mini Trifles
Note: This recipe would also work well for one large trifle. Instead of using a rimmed baking sheet for the sponge cake, divide the batter between two round cake pans and bake for the same amount of time.
for the custard:
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the sponge cake:
8 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted
for the assembly:
2 cups seedless raspberry jam
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
3 pints raspberries
To make the custard, combine milk and heavy cream in a saucepan; bring to a boil.
In a medium bowl, beat together the egg yolks, starch, and sugar until light and creamy. To the bowl, slowly pour the hot liquid. Whisk vigorously to prevent curdling.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and warm over low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, up to 10 minutes.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in vanilla. Chill over a bowl of ice.
To make the sponge cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a rimmed baking sheet, line with parchment paper, and butter again.
In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. By hand, fold in the egg yolk mixture and flour a little at a time until just combined. Spread evenly in the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and springy to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
For the assembly, heat raspberry jam over low heat until runny. Add up to 4 tablespoons water if too thick.
In a stand mixer, whip heavy cream with sugar until stiff peaks form.
Cut 12 rounds out of the sponge cake to fit 6 16-ounce mini trifle dishes or large custard cups. Each mini trifle will have two layers of cake.
Fill each dish with a round of cake. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of custard. Line with about 1/2 cup raspberries. Spoon and spread about 2 tablespoons of jam. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream. Cake scraps can also be used in filling the dish. Repeat process again, making sure to evenly divide remaining ingredients among dishes. Chill trifles for at least 1 to 2 hours or overnight before serving. Yield: 6 mini trifles.