10 December, 2012

A Very Harry Christmas, Day 10: Chocolate Custard Trifle with Toffee Crunch

This was a no brainer of a choice to include when I read through the recipe.  Chocolate, chocolate...a little whipped cream and toffee....and yet MORE chocolate.  I'm sold!

I will mention that this recipe takes multiple steps, and can be time consuming if you're too timid to double the recipe for the chocolate custard filling and the chocolate coating....the custard has to cool completely before its layered on top of the chocolate coating and so on.  The recipe as written tells you to go to other pages and use parts of previous recipes in order to assemble this trifle.  But, it is SO worth the effort.  You do NOT have to be Jamie Oliver or Paula Deen to figure this sucker out.  Let's get started shall we!?

Chocolate Custard Trifle with Toffee Crunch
1 recipe Chocolate Cake from Harry's First Birthday Cake, baked and cooled (Chapter 4)
1 recipe Chocolate Glaze from Chocolate Éclairs, prepared with 1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 recipe Chocolate Pastry Cream from Chocolate Éclairs, prepared and chilled
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. toffee bits

Chocolate Cake
¾ c. boiling water
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
½ c. packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Whisk together the boiling water, cocoa powder, and instant coffee in a measuring cup or small bowl until smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until incorporated and scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the hot cocoa mixture and beat until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour mixture and stir on the slowest speed until combined. 

Finish by scraping the bottom of the bowl with a spatula and folding it in. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, until the cakes feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Be careful, as this cake over bakes easily. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze
½ c. heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

To make the glaze, combine the cream and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stopping the microwave and stirring every 30 seconds; then stir until smooth. Cool until it is thick enough to spread.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
1 c. whole milk
½ c. heavy cream or whole milk
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. sugar
Pinch salt
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 T. butter ONLY if using all milk, no heavy cream

To make the pastry cream, combine the milk, heavy cream if using, cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until hot but not bubbling. Reduce the heat. Slowly pour ½ cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly, then pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan while stirring constantly.

Return the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbling. Remove from the heat.

Add the vanilla and chocolate (and butter, if using all milk). Stir to combine. Pour the mixture through a sieve, using a rubber spatula to push it through. Cover the surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold, or up to 2 days.

Now...to assemble this delicacy.....

Place 1 cake layer in the bottom of a round 9-inch serving dish, preferably clear glass, about 3 inches deep. Eat the other cake layer as you work.  (I did NOT eat the other cake...  I decided to just make another trifle right on top of that one in my deep trifle dish.  Pictures below show how it looks with the single layer recipe and with the second cake and layers on top.)

First, I found something in my kitchen that was just a tad smaller than the circumference of my trifle bowl...it ended up being the lid from my sugar canister on the counter.  I had my Mister hold the lid over the cake layer while I used a marker to trace the lids edges onto the wax paper.

Then I took a very sharp knife and cut along the black line.  Save the middle disc for the other cake layer...unless you followed the directions and ate the other layer while you were assembling the trifle.  Save the trimmings in case you have gaps to fill in the trifle bowl!!

If there is room between the cake layer and the edges of the trifle bowl, fill them in with the strips of trimming that you set aside...  Now you're ready to pour the warm chocolate glaze on top and set it in the fridge to set.

Pour the glaze over the cake layer and spread to the edges of the dish. Allow it to harden (you can refrigerate it for a few minutes to speed it up), then pour the pastry cream on top of the glaze and spread it to the edges. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, or up to 2 days.

Before serving, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Remove the plastic wrap and spread or pipe the whipped cream over the chocolate pastry cream. Sprinkle the toffee bits on top and serve.

Recipe as written, single layer trifle.  Look at the beautiful layers!

 A whole cup of toffee goes on the top.  Mmmmm!!
As I said, I decided not to follow the portion of directions that told me to "eat the other cake layer as you work", instead I doubled down on this delight and repeated the steps of layering as directed.

I couldn't wait to dig into this beauty....and neither could anyone else in the house.  I had started a close roasting operation in the oven for Sunday dinner...beef roast, mixed baby potatoes, sweet onion, garlic, carrot and apple cider vinegar.  This would be PERFECT for our Sunday dinner dessert!  But really...there is NO such thing as a time when it ISN'T time for scrumliness like this!

There is NO way to get this out of a trifle dish or bowl and have it still be "pretty" lol...  I know, I tried.  But, what it lacks in looks on a plate is SO makes up for in taste and texture!  The cake layers are SO moist and very chocolate-y.  The custard is very creamy, rich and smooth; so is the whipped cream layer.  The one thing I couldn't have cared less about was the toffee.  It didn't seem to belong.  Sure, it added a crunch that wouldn't have been there otherwise, but it just didn't match the rest of the dessert and the same flavor could have been accomplished by a liberal drizzle of some caramel sauce.   

*Omm nomm nomm*  

Forgive me, I am "taste testing" as I type...  I was going to mention that the gargantuan portion you see there wasn't something I would be able to get down in one sitting but lol...my tummy is proving me wrong on that score.  It is very sweet, but it is SO worth it!  This would be a beautiful centerpiece dessert for the Christmas table, no question.  You'd have your guests begging for it by the end of the meal!  I hope you take the time to try this recipe; don't be intimidated by the prep work.  Just make sure you get after it a day before you want to serve it so everything has time to set up properly.  It is well worth the effort and perhaps you'll discover some new improve skills for the kitchen you didn't know you had!  I know I did.  Cheers!!  

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