Monday, December 30, 2019

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

I was wandering Lidl or Aldi and came across a large jar of sour cherries, and it brought to mind this ancient recipe of Nigella Lawson's show where she makes a chocolate cherry trifle, in her inviting, no stress way of making the viewer feel they can cook or bake just as easily as she can! (You can see that original video and see what I mean.) The unfortunate thing in my household is that I'm the only person who loves cherries, so I knew I'd need to make it for the annual library holiday lunch. I feel like it was a good choice; I saw a few people go back for seconds.

Nigella buys small chocolate pound cakes from the store but I didn't have that option; I did however have an aging chocolate cake mix in the pantry, and made this pound cake recipe using it as the base. It was just fine and worked well. A few notes at the end of this post about other differences I picked up along the way.

Chocolate Cherry Trifle


2 (approximately 12 ounces each) chocolate pound cakes
1/2 cup black cherry jam
1/2 cup cherry brandy
2 cups drained bottled sour cherries (recommended: Morello)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 cups heavy cream
1-ounce bittersweet chocolate
Special Equipment: Large wide trifle bowl


  1. Slice the chocolate pound cake and make jam sandwiches with the cherry jam, and layer the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl. Pour over the cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up, and then top with the drained cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.
  2. Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4 minutes. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, ser aside while you get on with the custard.
  3. In a saucepan warm the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the custard pan into the cold water and
  4. whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis.
  5. The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick, so don't panic so much that you stop cooking while it is still runny. Admittedly, it continues to thicken as it cools and also when it's chilling in the refrigerator. Once it is ready, pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  6. When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set, covered in plastic wrap overnight.
  7. When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream for the topping and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate the chocolate over the top. 
Notes from JennyBakes:

The custard made me nervous and I feel I undercooked it, but I was worried from this recipe that it would get too thick or burned. I sure wish they included a temperature!

I added a little powdered sugar to the whipped cream because I felt strange adding it unsweetened.

Since this was a daytime function, I replaced the cherry brandy with the cherry juice from the canned cherries, but did put 2 tbsp of kirsch to make up the 1/2 cup. This way there was plenty of flavor but not an overwhelming amount of alcohol.

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