Tonight’s delight is a cherry trifle! With cherry brandy 🙂
The word “trifle” means something of little consequence, insubstantial.
Our trifle is anything but! It’s a gorgeous trifle with multiple layers, colours and textures, with fresh cherries and pistachio nuts.
A layered melange of sponge cake soaked in drink (sherry, brandy or both), covered with jam, custard and cream, the trifle is the quintessential English dessert.
There is no record of the origin of the name trifle but as early as 1598 an Oxford-educated translator, John Florio, referred to “A kinde of clouted creame called a foole or a trifle in English.” In the time of Elizabeth I a trifle was a simple combination of cream and rosewater, flavored with ginger and sugar, a light frothy dessert, closer to a syllabub (cream whipped with fruit juice and liquor) than a trifle.
But by the middle of the 18th century, trifles included ratafia (almond-flavored biscuits) or macaroons soaked in sweet wine, covered with custard and topped with whipped cream. According to the English food writer Elizabeth David, “for nearly a century the syllabub had been keeping company with the trifle and in due course the trifle came to reign in the syllabub’s stead. The syllabub and the trifle were eventually amalgamated to make one glorious sticky mess.”
From above, a trifle looks like a bowl full of whipped cream; from the side, its layers can be seen through the traditional glass serving bowl. The flavors of the sherry, cream and jam blend as in a sweet casserole or soup. Perhaps this is why the Italians call their version of the dish zuppa inglese. Today trifle is a standard dessert in English homes and restaurants, though many people insist that the only place to have a really good trifle is at home. We agree!
The trifle has been in the fridge for about 8 hours to allow the flavours to infuse together and it’s ready for little bears to enjoy 🙂