Friday, January 2, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! A trifle, I say, for 2009!

Lady fingers.... this was my first attempt at making them and they came out a little thin but they tasted great...crisp, light and so Ladyfingery!

Here are the Ladyfingers broken up in the assigned trifle bowl ready to be 'dressed' with chopped crystallized ginger, unfrozen organic cherries, a squeeze of lemon and 'jelly' made from concentrated cheery, or even cherry, juice thickened with 'Natural Desserts' all natural unflavoured jel dessert instead of animal gelatin, as is usual, so our trifle is vegetarian.

The finished trifle...a layer of jelly and fruit and cake, a layer of homemade creme patisserie (pastry cream/custard that 'sets' when cold) and a layer of whipped cream with a little sugar and crystallized ginger scattered in a random but considered fashion. Ta Dah!!! Delicious!!!

Ladyfingers from 'The Martha Stewart Cookbook' Makes about need extra to eat, of course, other than those you are putting in the trifle......
3 eggs seperated
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2/3 cup sifted cake flour (or 2/3 cup regualr flour minus 1 tablespoon if you don't have cake flour...I never do!)
confectioner's/icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 300F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip.
1. Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar until mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a trail on the surface of the egg mixture when the whisk is lifted out.
2. In a seperate bowl whisk the egg whites with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and pinch of salt until stiff but not dry.
3. Fold the egg whites ever so gently into the yolk mixture alternating with the sifted careful not to overmix...fold until all flour and whites are just incorporated. The batter must remain as light and fluffy as possible.
4. Spoon the batter into the pastry bag and pipe onto parchment in lengths of 4" x 1 1/2" wide.
5. Using a fine sieve dust the fingers thickly with confectioners/icing sugar.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, they are done when they are slightly beige in colour and firm but tender.
7. Cool on wire racks before using in the trifle.
FINALLY, I have found a pastry cream that actually sets when cold, I tried about 3 other recipes that SAID the custard would set when cold but they didn't...this one WORKS!!!, and really well but you have to be vigilant!
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of regular flour
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (cornflour for the Brits)
1. Combine the milk, vanilla and 1/4 cup of sugar in a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. In a bowl beat the egg and extra yolks with the remaining sugar until thick.
3. Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch into yolk mixture and beat until well mixed and smooth.
4. Beat half the hot milk into the yolk mix until combined and smooth.
5. Then pour this into the remaining hot mixture in the pan.
6. HERE IS THE VIGILANT PART, keep your eyeballs peeled and whisk moving like the clappers!!! Bring the custard to a quick boil, whisking, whisking, whisking and as soon as it thickens..., take off the heat and whisk until it starts to cool....put pan in a bowl of cold water and continue to whisk until don't have to do it non-stop, but pretty often to prevent a skin from forming....when I was little if there was a skin on the custard it made me gag, so don't go there!!!
Now here is the confusing a Brit jelly means Jello not jam. I decided to use a vegetarian jelling agent and found a great one at the local Food Co-op by 'Natural Desserts' works really well and FAST....starts to set-up whilst it is still hot so beware of that as you go along. I used one packet and set one US pint of 'jelly' with it ie 16 fl oz not 20 fl oz for a British I took about 10 fl oz of concentrated cherry juice and added 6 oz water to make up the liquid...I made the juice stronger than the instructions said for more flavour in the jelly......but don't make the jelly the rest of the recipe to know what to do in what order.
1. Make the Ladyfingers, let them cool and break them up into the bottom of the chosen GLASS trifle want to be able to appreciate the layers.
2. Make the custard and let it cool without letting it get a skin...YUCK!!!
3. Assemble the unfrozen cherries, as many as you like, and chop the crystallized ginger, and sprinkle with a little lemon juice for ZING, and scatter them over the Ladyfingers.
4. NOW make the jelly, whisk a little til cool and starting to thicken and then pour over the Ladyfingers, cherries and ginger.
5. Let the jelly set.
6. Spoon the custard over the jelly bit.
7. Whip lashings of cream...the best you can find, preferably from Jersey cows and either 'dollop' over the custard or pipe as I did.
8. Garnish with more chopped crystallized ginger.
The combination of jelly, fruit, custard and whipped cream is divine and sublime if done well, when I was growing up in Manchester, England Mum made trifles from a packet and they were pretty grim but not this is subtle and cloud like and not horribly can make any flavour combination of fruit and jelly(o) you inventive....some people do raspberry jelly and bananas, strawberries and strawberry jelly(o)....some people like to sprinkle cream sherry on the Ladyfingers before you put on the fruit and jelly(o)....some people use jam instead of jelly(o). Let me know what you come up with...I just liked the idea of cherry and ginger, and there you have it!!!
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