Summer Berry Trifle

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Champagne_Glass_Image_courtesy_of_eyehook_com

Red and White are the inspiration for today’s dessert, the by-product of an under-acknowledged patriotism as I planned the menu to commemorate Singapore’s independence last month.

Ever one to pile on the ‘kitsch’ factor for the fun of it, we decorated our tiny cottage with the Singapore flag printed on paper fans from Daiso, in a rather sad attempt to replicate the zealousness with which Singapore’s apartment blocks are usually decorated in the weeks leading to up to August 9. These red berry and white chocolate trifles fit the theme perfectly, especially paired with an irresistible white chocolate mousse. Like the pavlovas, this is another simple ‘make-ahead’ dessert for your next dinner party, perfect for freeing up your time to pamper your guests and focus on the other elements of the menu.

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Raspberries and strawberries are coated in sugar, then layered with a light and creamy white chocolate mousse and topped with a sponge cake drizzled with raspberry sauce, each element working together to balance out the tart and the sweet, supported by slices of sponge cake to provide just the right amount of structure. I especially liked the silky smooth mousse, which was creamy and light enough without being too overwhelming on the palate.

While trifles are traditionally served in a glass to showcase its many layers, the chocolate mousse and raspberry sauce in this particular trifle were a little too busy socializing with each other to form neat, distinguishable layers, opting instead for a surrealist, streaked appearance. Perhaps it felt compelled to match these very fashionable LSA glass tumblers, which, straight out of the refrigerator, felt like ice-cubes in the hand filled with a luscious berry-white-chocolate mush.

Red Berry-White Chocolate Trifle (adapted from Emily Luchetti’s A Passion For Desserts)
Makes 6 to 8 servings

The trifle cake used in this recipe is an excellent substitute for any recipe calling for sponge fingers. You will only use about a quarter of the cake produced with the following recipe for the trifle, the rest can be cling-wrapped and frozen for future uses.

Trifle Cake:
Makes one 15-by-10-by-1-inch cake

1¼ cup all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 large eggs, separated
1¼ cups sugar
5 tablespoons very hot water
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C. Grease the bottom of a 15-by-10-by 1-inch jelly-roll pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar and high speed until thick and smooth, which should take about 2 minutes with a stand mixer or 4 minutes with a handheld mixer. Reduce to low speed and add the hot water and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to high and whip until it forms a thick mixture, which should take about a minute. Stir in the dry ingredients on low speed.

In another bowl with an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form (1 minute with an electric mixer, 2 minutes with a handheld mixer). Fold in the egg whites into the egg yolk and flour batter, then spread the batter evenly and gently into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for about 20 minutes, or until it turns gold brown and springs back lightly when touched. Let it cool to room temperature, then remove the cake by running a knife around the inside edge of the pan and inverting it onto a counter. Lift the pan and gently peel off the parchment paper.

White Chocolate Mousse:
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
3 tablespoons water
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until fully incorporated, then stir in the Grand Marnier, water and lemon juice. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the bottom does not touch the water. Whisk the eggs briskly until thick and the mixture has tripled in volume, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove bowl from stove and whisk in the white chocolate until smooth. Let the mousse cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then stir into the white chocolate.

Berry sauce:
12 ounces raspberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons caster sugar, more if needed

Puree the berries in a food processor and strain the liquid in a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the seeds. Stir in the sugar and taste, add more tablespoons if the sauce isn’t sweet enough.

To assemble:
¼ trifle cake
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar

Half the trifle cake horizontally, to get two pieces of cake each half-inch thick. Hull and slice the strawberries into small pieces. Stir them with half of the raspberries and the sugar. Taste – if they’re not sweet enough, add more sugar.

Place a spoonful of berries in the bottom of each wine or parfait glass. Spread a layer of the white chocolate mousse over the berries. Cut the cake pieces to fit in a single layer over the cream, then spread the berry sauce over the cake, completely covering it. Continue layering the berries, mousse, cake and berry sauce until you finish with a layer of mouse on top. Arrange the remaining raspberries on the top of the trifles and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

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