It is pretty hard to go wrong with this weeks selection. It combines two of my favorite things, gorgeous Gateau Saint Honore and luscious trifle. After my first trip to England I sort of went nuts for all things British and one of those things was trifle. I don’t entirely understand what makes a trifle British but I fell hook, line and sinker for them and had great fun playing around with different components and making my own variations. My favorite combination was (is) a chocolate cake with an orange pastry cream and layered with fresh whole berry cranberry sauce. It sounds a bit odd but it sure is delicious. At any rate, this trifle is spectacular.
I viewed this trifle (or any triffle for that matter) and an assembly job. I like these kinds of desserts because they allow me to make the various components throughout the week when I have the time and come the weekend all I have to do is spend a few minutes assembling them into this fantastic dessert. There are a lot of components to this one and a few of them are a bit time consuming because of the cooling and wait time but none of them is at all difficult. No matter how much work or time is involved there is one moment in the creation of this dessert that makes any effort you need to exert totally worth it. I am sure most of you already know what I am talking about. It is that glorious moment when pure vanilla is combined with warm beurre noisette. That one brief, sublime, exhilarating, erotic, down right orgasmic moment makes this entire dessert worth any amount of effort. The second that vanilla hit the warm butter it let out such an intense and incredible aroma. My whole kitchen was filled with it and I am not kidding, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I got goosebumps on my arms. I thought I was going to pass out from ecstasy, it was so intense. I had to sit and catch my breath and when I did, I noticed that that heavenly aroma was still lingering in the air. I took a deep breath and just sat there filling my lungs with that incredible aroma. I knew at that moment that this dessert was a winner.
I began with the butter cake. Beurre noisette is warmed and then pure vanilla extract is added. Beware here, this can be life changing. Eggs and sugar are combined and whisked together and then heated over simmering water until luke warm. They are then beaten with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer for at least 5 minutes until tripled in volume and thick. One cup of the eggs is folded into the butter mixture. Flour and cornstarch are sifted together and then sifted in two additions over the beaten egg mixture and folded in. Then the butter mixture is folded in and the batter is divided between 2 nine inch cake pans and baked. Mine were done after 25 minutes at 325 degrees in my convection oven.
While the cakes were baking I made the syrup. Sugar and water are combined until dissolved and them brought to the boil. The pan is covered and allowed to cool to room temperature. Then the Grand Marnier is stirred in and the syrup is stored in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Next came the pastry cream. The seeds were scraped from the vanilla beans and added to the sugar and combined. The pods were added to the cream and chilled. The milk was brought to a boil, covered and kept hot. The sugar, vanilla seeds and egg yolks were beaten to combine, then the cornstarch and gelatin were added. Then the hot milk was gradually added. This mixture was then returned to the heat and cooked until thick. The Grand Marnier and vanilla was stirred in and the cream left to cool to room temperature. The chilled cream was whipped to soft peaks and then folded into the cooled vanilla cream. It was now ready for use.
The strawberries were hulled and sliced and since mine were sweet enough for my taste I omitted the extra sugar. The orange marmalade and Grand Marnier were combined and stirred until reaching a spreadable consistency.
To assemble the dessert, I cut the cake layers to fit my trifle bowl snuggly. Removed the top and bottom crust and sliced each layer in half. I spread one layer with the marmalade and set it in the bottom of the trifle bowl. I brushed the top with the Grand Marnier syrup and then added a layer of Chiboust pastry cream, then a layer of strawberries. I continued this way until all the layers had been added. Then I topped the entire thing with a layer of whipped cream and more strawberries. I omitted the spun sugar since no one in my family is especially fond of it and every time I make it they spend a half hour picking it off so I left it off this time but do try it because it isn’t hard to do and makes a lovely presentation.
This was just an incredible dessert and I urge you all to experiment with your own combinations of cake and creams and fruit. You too will be a triffle addict. Enjoy.
Next Up: Gateau Breton