This trifle recipe has been my go-to for some time. It’s an absolute beauty, and while there are quite a number of steps, you can do all of them over the course of a few days then bring it all together on the day you want to serve it. If you’re strapped for time, skip the sponge below and buy one. The custard in this trifle is actually a white chocolate brûlée recipe, so that’s worth remembering if you want to make it as a standalone dessert.
125 g (4½ oz) caster sugar
125 g (4½ oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50 g (1¾ oz) unsalted butter, melted
White Chocolate Custard
2 cups (500 ml/17 fl oz) cream
50 ml (1¾ fl oz) milk
100 g (3½ oz) sugar
½ vanilla bean, split in half lengthways
80 g (3 oz) white chocolate, roughly chopped
5 egg yolks
Black Doris Plum Jelly
1 x 850 g tin Black Doris plums
100 ml (3½ fl oz) port
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 dried allspice berries
½ cinnamon stick, broken in half
finely grated zest of ½ orange
3 gelatine leaves
400 g rhubarb stalks, roughly chopped
¼ cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) orange juice
¼ cup (55 g/2 oz) sugar
To Assemble and Serve
2 tablespoons Black Doris plum or raspberry jam
½ cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) port (optional)
300 ml (10½ fl oz) cream, whipped
80 g (3 oz) white chocolate
80 g (3 oz) milk chocolate
To make the sponge, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease one springform round (22 cm/8½ in) sponge tin with butter and a dusting of flour.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using a handheld electric whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar on medium-high speed for at least 10 minutes, until the mixture is light and airy and forms a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted. Scrape out into your largest bowl, then sift in the flour and gently but quickly fold through to combine. Follow with the melted butter, folding through in the same manner.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 30–40 minutes. Test the sponge by pressing it lightly in the centre—it should gently spring back. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack. Keep in an airtight container until required.
Preheat your oven to 130°C (250°F).
To make the white chocolate custard, pour the cream and milk into a saucepan. Add the sugar and vanilla bean and place over medium heat. Bring up to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add these along with the white chocolate to the hot cream. Stir until combined and smooth.
Add the yolks to a large bowl. Take a whisk and very slowly combine the hot cream into the yolks, beating continuously, until incorporated. Pour the custard through a fine sieve into a couple of suitable ovenproof dishes that will fit inside a high-sided roasting pan. Pour hot water into the pan until it comes three quarters of the way up the side of the custard dishes. Cover with tinfoil and place in the centre of your oven.
Check after 20 minutes, then at 10-minute intervals until set. The custard is ready when it is still a little nervous in the centre. Remove from the water bath and let cool at room temperature before placing in the fridge until required.
To make the Black Doris plum jelly, drain the plums over a bowl to catch the juice. Keep the plums for later in the recipe. Measure out 2½ cups (625 ml/21½ fl oz) of the plum juice and pour into a saucepan. Add the port, brown sugar, cloves, allspice, cinnamon stick and orange zest. Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain off and discard the solids and keep the hot liquid.
Bloom the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the water from the gelatine, then stir into the hot liquid. Pour into a dish and place in the refrigerator to set.
For the stewed rhubarb, place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook down, stirring occasionally, for 20–30 minutes until nicely stewed. Remove from the heat and let cool, then refrigerate until required.
To put the trifle together, cut the sponge cakes into 3.5 cm (1½ in) strips. Take a large trifle bowl and line the bottom of each with the sponge strips.
Pour the jam and port into a bowl and mix until combined. Brush the jam and port mix onto the sponge. Cut the reserved plums into quarters and discard any pips. Arrange the plums and rhubarb over the top of the sponge, then top with plum jelly.
Now carefully spread the white chocolate custard over the fruit and jelly. Follow with the whipped cream. Place the trifle in the refrigerator.
To garnish, melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure the bowl does not touch the water). Pour onto an oven tray and spread out with a spatula until thinly covered. Do the same with the milk chocolate, spreading it out on a separate oven tray. Refrigerate and let set for 10 minutes. Remove and take a large knife and scrape it towards you over the chocolate to create thin rolls of delicate white and milk chocolate. Sprinkle over the trifle.
To serve, take a large spoon and scoop out portions of the trifle, making sure you dig down to the bottom of the trifle dish so each portion has all the components of the pudding.
Recipes and Images from Eat Up New Zealand by Al Brown