Up Close and Personal

When my brother asked me to bring dessert for his Superbowl party, I was more than happy to do it.  I just love desserts!  Eating and making them.  The  fun part is trying to figure out which dessert to prepare.  So, I grabbed a few of my favorite baking books and searched away.  At first I was considering a cookie platter of my usual faves like snicker doodles, brownies and the ubiquitous chocolate chippers.  But then I saw my beautiful, never-before- used trifle dish sitting on the top shelf of my guest bedroom (yes, I’m rather short on kitchen storage space), and a light bulb went off inside my head.  I began the great trifle search and after perusing through a couple books, found a lovely looking one in Sherry Yard’s Dessert By The Yard.  This one looked particularly pleasing because of the blackberries, which I adore.  I also loved the fact that she used a sherry cream custard-based filling which was luscious and light without being too sweet.  Sherry’s original recipe called for baking your own chiffon cake but since I was a bit short on time,  I opted instead for an old childhood favorite, a butter pound cake from the freezer section. (Thank-you Sara Lee)!   This worked out perfectly and your guests don’t even have to know (unless you want to tell them of course).  I also had fun decorating my trifle with blueberries as well as blackberries, and sprinkled the top with crumbled, light chocolate wafers.  I loved this simple to prepare dessert because it put a lot of smiles on my family and friend’s faces at the party, and because it was so darn fun to make. Won’t you give it a try? Please do and enjoy!

English Trifle (adapted from Desserts By The Yard)

For the cake:

One “family size” Sara Lee pound cake (I think Angel Food cake would be delicious too)!

1/2 cup blackberry preserves

1/3 cup sherry


The evening before you want to serve your trifle, spread the top of the cake with the preserves.

Cut the cake into 2-inch cubes.

Line a flat wide bowl (such as a trifle bowl) with the cake, in one layer.  Douse the cake with the 1/3 cup cream sherry.  Cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap, set a plate on top, and place a weight (I used a large can of soup), on top of the plate.  Refrigerate for at least 12 hours or overnight.

For the Creme Baumaniere:

2 and 1/2 cups two percent milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons AP flour

5 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons cream sherry

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks


In a medium non-reactive saucepan, combine the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn off the heat, cover tightly with plastic wrap adn let steep for 15 minutes.

Sift together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the flour onto a piece of parchment paper.  In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks.  Add the sifted dry ingredients and whisk until fluffy.

Bring the milk back to a simmer, uncovered.  Remove from the heat and slowly ladle 1/2 cup into the eggs while whisking.  Once the milk is incorporated into the eggs, whisk them back into thehot milk.  Be sure to scrape all the eggs into the milk with a rubber spatula.  Place the saucepan back over the heat.  Immediately begin to rapidly whisk the pastry cream.  In under a minute, it will boil and begin to thicken.  Continue to whisk for about 3 minutes, until it reaches pudding consistency.  You can test the cream for doneness by tilting the saucepan to one side.  The pastry cream should pull away from the pan completely.

Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surgace to prevent a skin from forming as it cools.  (The pastry cream can be refrigerated for up to 3 days).  Fold in the sherry and the stiffly whipped cream.

Ingredients for assembling the trifle:

1 cup heavy cream

cream sherry to taste

2 pints blackberries and blueberries for garnish

Assembling the Trifle:

Spoon the creme baumaniere over the cake.  Chill for at least 1 hour more in the refrigerator.

With a hand mixer, beat the 1 cup cream until it forms soft peaks.  Flavor it with cream sherry to taste.  Spoon over the trifle and top off with berries;  refrigerate until ready to serve.