Wednesday 7 December 2022

cherry, chocolate and coconut trifle

It's mid December, the tree is up, lights are twinkling, it must be trifle time! I received a beautiful Christmas hamper from Snowgoose, filled with cheese, cherries and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. I built a fabulous cheese board with cherries and a few festive treats, then indulged my cherry ripe trifle fantasy. The trifle followed my trusty formula; jelly base, a custard/mousse layer, a mound of softly whipped cream, some crisp meringues, and a tumble of fruit. 

The Christmas 2022 iteration goes like this, cherry and champagne jelly, chocolate bavarois, whipped cream and coconut meringues.  You'll need to pit your cherries, I use a nifty cherry pitter, it takes a while and makes a mess but is not at all difficult. If you don't have a cherry pitter, use a small knife to cut the cherries in half and prise out the pits. Summer in Sydney can be a bit humid, if your meringues are a bit sticky, don't worry, it will just add a little chew, this trifle/pavlova hybrid is always a hit. Have a large trifle bowl sparkling clean, ready to go.

The layers
(serves 16)

cherry jelly, recipe below
chocolate bavarois, recipe below
600ml whipped cream
coconut meringues, recipe below
additional cherries to serve

• follow the instructions for the jelly and bavarois layers, and the meringues below
• when you ready to serve, top the bavarois with roughly half the whipped cream, a handful of cherries, and a tumble meringues. Serve immediately with the additional meringues, cherries and cream on the side

cherry jelly

240g caster sugar
500g cherries, pits removed
350ml water
300ml champagne or sparkling white wine
5 platinum strength gelatine leaves

• tip the sugar and water into a saucepan, stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil. Add the cherries and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the champagne, take care it will bubble up, simmer for an addition 5 minutes. 
• while the cherries and champagne are simmering, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water. Take the pan off the heat, add the gelatine and stir to dissolve. 
• place a muslin lined sieve over a large bowl, carefully tip the cherry liquid into the sieve, and leave to strain. Do not press the fruit, just leave it to gravity and you should have a nice clear syrup. Pour the syrup into your serving dish, cover and place in the fridge for approximately 6 hours to set. 

chocolate bavarois

250ml milk
4 jumbo egg yolks
225g caster sugar
150g semi dark chocolate, finely choppped
2 platinum strength gelatine leaves
300ml thick cream, whipped to soft peaks

• pop the milk in a medium pan and bring to a simmer, meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy, slowly stream in the hot milk, whisking as you go. Return to the pan, over a low heat, stir continually until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, take off the heat
• meanwhile soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes, squeeze out the excess water, then add to the hot custard and stir to dissolve. Pour the custard through a sieve into a clean bowl, tip in the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted and the custard is a uniform colour. Sit the bowl on top of a larger bowl filled with ice to cool, stirring every couple of minutes. 
• after 10-15 minutes the custard should feel cool, using your whisk, fold in the whipped cream
• carefully pour the bavarois over your jelly layer, it should level itself, you can help it along with a gentle shake, or smooth with a palette knife or the back of a spoon
• cover and return to the fridge to set, approximately 4 hours

coconut meringues

4 egg whites
220g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
40g coconut flakes

• pre-heat oven to 100ºC, line 2 baking sheets with baking paper
 put the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer, lightly whisk together to break up the sugar
 place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, make sure the bowl does not touch the water, whisk the egg whites until the sugar has dissolved, they have increased in volume and feel hot
 put the bowl on the stand mixer, add the cream of tartar and whisk until the egg whites are marshmallowy and cool
 drop tablespoons of meringue onto the lined trays, sprinkle liberally with the coconut flakes, and bake for approximately an hour, until the meringues feel crisp and dry
 store in an airtight container, the meringues will keep for 2 weeks

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