Black forest ‘forest’ trifle
- November 2023
- Serves 6-8
- Hands-on time 1 hour 20 min, plus cooling and chilling. Oven time 18 min
This dramatic dessert embraces the elements of a black forest gateau – cherries, chocolate and kirsch – using layers similar to a trifle. The base is a dense, rich chocolate cake with syrupy cherry compote and chocolate custard on top. Gilded upside-down rosemary sprigs are an easy way to add some festive drama when you bring it to the table.
- 60g (34g saturated)
- 43g (31g sugars)
- 200g frozen cherries
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 tbsp cherry brandy or kirsch, plus an extra splash
- 10 bourbon biscuits
- About 10 rosemary sprigs
- Edible glitter and/or gold leaf to decorate (optional)
For the custard layer
- 120ml whole milk
- 200ml double cream
- 2 medium free-range egg yolks
- 40g golden caster sugar
- 120g dark chocolate (70%), chopped
For the cake base
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra to grease
- 40g dark chocolate (70%)
- 50g plain flour
- 20g cocoa powder
- 50g golden caster sugar
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 medium free-range egg
- 30g soured cream
For the cream layer
- 400ml double cream
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 80g soured cream
- 15cm cake tin
- Approx 20cm glass serving bowl
- For the custard, pour the milk and cream into a pan. Put over a medium heat and warm through, stirring every now and then to stop it catching. In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to beat the egg yolks and sugar together until combined and a little paler. Once the milk is steaming hot and quivering (but not quite boiling), gradually pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined.
- Pour the mixture back into the pan and put over a low-medium heat. Use a rubber spatula to gently stir the mixt as it heats through (you don’t want to add bubbles of air). Cook gently until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spatula (about 5 minutes). It should reach 82°C when it’s ready. To check, dunk the spatula in the custard then push a finger across it – if the line you’ve created holds for a few seconds it’s ready. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, then pour the custard over. Leave for 1 minute to melt, then stir to make a chocolate custard. Leave to cool, cover with baking paper touching the surface and chill for at least 2 hours.
- For the cake, heat the oven to 150°C fan/gas 3½ and grease and line the cake tin base with oil and baking paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water), then leave to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt. In a jug, whisk the 2 tbsp oil and the egg until combined, then stir in the soured cream. Pour the wet ingredients and melted chocolate into the dry, then stir to combine. Pour in 40ml just-boiled water (you can use the water from the pan used to melt the chocolate) and mix. Tip the batter into the prepared tin, then bake for 16-18 minutes until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out with only a few damp crumbs. Set the tin on a wire rack to cool.
- Put the frozen cherries, icing sugar and brandy or kirsch in a small pan over a medium heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes until syrupy but the cherries are still holding their shape. Set aside to cool.
- Whizz the bourbon biscuits in a small food processor or crush with a pestle and mortar to make crumbs that look like soil.
- When you’re ready to assemble, prepare the cream. Put the double cream and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk to soft peaks (that flop over when you remove the whisk), then fold in the soured cream.
- Remove the cake from the tin and cut into 6 wedges. Arrange the wedges in a circular shape that mirrors the shape of the baked cake (cutting it into wedges helps it fit the bowl). Spoon over another splash of booze, then top with the cherry mix. Spread with the chocolate custard, then top with the cream. Chill for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours if making ahead).
- When you’re ready to serve, scatter over the bourbon crumb. Carefully remove some leaves from the tops of the rosemary sprigs, then turn upside down and poke the leaf-free ends into the bourbon ‘soil’ so they look like Christmas trees. If you like, spray with edible glitter or decorate with gold leaf.
Don’t waste it As long as the glitter or gold leaf is edible, you can rinse the rosemary sprigs to use in another dish.
Make the pud to the end of step 7 up to 1 day ahead – add the ‘soil’ and trees at the last minute.
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