Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chocolate Covered Gluttony

Thanksgiving crept up on me, thanks to not being worked to death with holiday prep. For the first time both parents are in Ireland instead of just my dad, and I am spending Thanksgiving at my sister in law Andrea's family, just around the corner from me. My sister in law's mother is an awesome cook as is Andrea who is cooking the turkey this year. I've offered to bring food but was told just to show up and eat. I feel bloated already.

The other brother called me up out of the blue and invited me to his house for brunch on Friday. I am bringing my version of an incredible dessert from my one of my favorite chefs Nigella Lawson from her cookbook Feasts. Chocolate Cherry Trifle. Nigella writes "Let people fall upon it with greed and gratitude. They will go home happy."

She ain't kiddin'. I made this last year for work and got these amazed and blissful thank yous from my coworkers. Here is her recipe:

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

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 cling wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.

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.

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 whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis.

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.

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 cling wrap overnight.

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. Let people fall upon it with greed and gratitude. They will go home happy.

You can substitute chocolate cake for chocolate pound cake to make it lighter, and good chocolate pudding for custard. I add Hershey's Cherry Cordial Kisses for decoration.