Blackberry and mascarpone trifle

As I had lots of blackberries left over from making my brioche pizza, I decided to use them up by creating that most underrated of desserts, a trifle. For some reason, trifle only makes an appearance on British dinner tables at Christmas when, often heavily laced with sherry and tinned fruit, it is not exactly a culinary wunderkind. However, a properly made trifle with homemade custard and fresh fruit can be a thing of beauty. The recipe that led to this discovery was Hugh F-W’s ‘Blackcurrant trifle’ in his book “River Cottage Everyday,” a simple concoction of fruit puree, sponge, custard and cream that tastes exquisite.

The recipe below (adapted from Marcus Wareing and published in the September 2010 issue of Delicious Magazine) takes it to the next level by using gelatine but I still used Hugh’s Genoese recipe for the sponge. The Genoese recipe can be found here (you only need half the quantity for the trifle) but you can easily use shop-bought sponge fingers for a much easier version. If you don’t fancy using gelatine, then you can leave it out but the layers of the trifle won’t be so defined. If you decide to omit the gelatine, add a teaspoon of cornflour to the sugar when making the custard which will help it to set a little more.

Blackberry and mascarpone trifle (adapted from Marcus Wareing, published in Delicious Magazine September 2010)

Makes 4

For the blackberry layer

  • 600g blackberries, a few reserved for decoration
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 75g Genoese sponge or sponge fingers, cut into cubes
  • 100ml blackberry or blackcurrant liqueur
  • 3 gelatine leaves

For the custard

  • 250ml full cream milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 gelatine leaves
  • 1 vanilla pod, split open

For the cream

  • 125g mascarpone
  • 75g double cream
  • 25g icing sugar

1. Heat 450g of the blackberries with the sugar and a tablespoon of water in a pan for 10 minutes until the fruit starts to break down. Puree in a food processor and pass through a sieve to remove any skin/seeds.

2. Add the liqueur to the blackberry liquid, pour back into the pan and heat gently. Soak the 3 gelatine leaves in cold water until soft, squeeze dry and add to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir to dissolve the gelatine. Distribute the sponge cubes and remaining blackberries among 4 glasses and pour over the blackberry liquid. Refrigerate until set.

3. For the custard, heat the milk and vanilla pod in a pan to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, then add a little hot milk to the yolks, whisk briefly and add this mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk. Whisk constantly over a low heat until thickened. Soak the remaining 2 gelatine leaves in cold water until softened, squeeze dry, add to the custard and stir to dissolve. Pass the custard through a sieve and allow to cool a little before pouring into the glasses, on top of the set fruit mixture. Refrigerate until set.

4. Whisk the mascarpone with the cream and icing sugar until thickened. Spread over the top of each glass with a palette knife or spatula. Decorate with the reserved blackberries.

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