For the last couple of years, I have been in charge of making dessert for The Neighbour's annual Xmas dinner. They throw a big dinner party for out of town friends and their in town sister with other people added to the guest list each year. We are fortunate enough to be included because it is always an impressive feast and tons of fun. Every guest gets a stocking filled with homemade cookies and a beautiful, hand painted ornament. Last year I made two desserts because it is always a crowd of at least 11 or 12 people but they were both a lot of work and both required slicing and plating and felt too formal for this type of gathering. This year I wanted to make one dessert that would be substantial enough to feed a big crowd, easy to serve and not require pretty plating. Since this is basically three desserts in one, big bowl and requires nothing more than a big spoon and a shallow bowl, it fit the bill.
At first, I was going to just make my Rum and Eggnog Tres Leches Cake , which is already very festive but I felt the need to ramp it up a notch. Since the cake is already soaked, why not throw together a trifle? It's like it was invented for trifle, to be honest. The only change to the actual cake was to replace the dark rum with spiced rum, but, otherwise, the cake remained unchanged. Some crushed up spekulas was thrown in for crunch and texture and a ring of berries in the middle just for a pop of colour. You can make your own pudding, from scratch, if you like but I used a box of jello vanilla pudding made with eggnog instead of milk and it was perfect and I will do it again, dammit. I honestly think that this is THE ultimate Christmas dessert. It is a bowl full of Christmas.
I had cake and a bit of pudding etc leftover so I made a couple little individual trifles for The Kid and I think I might even serve them like that the next time because they were pretty adorable. As much as I think the whole "dessert in a jar" thing is probably getting tired, how cute would a dozen of these in a small jar be?
The sugared berries was just me totally showing off.
Rum and Eggnog Tres Leches Trifle
1 box vanilla pudding mix (I KNOW I KNOW)
2 cups eggnog
2 cups whipped cream in total
250g crushed up spekulas cookies (also called speculaas, spekulatius, or speculoos)
about 125g blueberries
1 egg white and a tiny splash of lemon or lime juice
about 100 grams of blueberries
sugar (up to you. I used a mix of blue sanding sugar and plain white sugar)
So, click that link up there and go and make the cake and soak it overnight (or at least all day if you wait to make it the day of)
At least a few hours before serving, make the vanilla pudding mix (I KNOW ALREADY) but sub in eggnog for the milk (the kind of I used called for 2 cups of milk which I think will be pretty standard).
Set the pudding aside and whip up 1 cup of heavy cream until you get stiff peaks. Fold that whipped cream into the eggnog pudding and set aside.
Make your sugared fruit by whisking the egg white with a tiny splash of the citrus juice until frothy. Using a clean, small paint brush, brush a little bit of egg white on each berry and then roll it around in a little bowl of sugar. I like the mix of the blueberries half in plain white sugar and the other half in the coarse blue sanding sugar.
Set them aside on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry - it takes about 4-6 hours to dry completely.
To assemble, either the night before or earlier in the day on serving day:
Use a big, glass bowl of some kind. It must be clear glass so your guests can ooh and ahh over the beautiful layers.
Cut your soaked cakes into chunks and line the bottom of the bowl with a layer of cake. Make sure you fill the gaps with chunks of cake - it doesn't have to be neat. Next, spoon on half of the pudding mixture and use a spatula to spread that evenly over the cake. Now, sprinkle 1/2 of your crushed spekulas cookies evenly over the pudding, making sure that you get them right up to the edges of the glass so they will show in the finished trifle. Make a second layer of cake chunks, then pudding and now sprinkle all of your blueberries over the pudding, again being sure that you ring the layer with them so they will show through the glass. Scatter the rest of the crushed cookies and then top with a final layer of cake chunks. At this point, you cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for the rest of the day.
Make your sugared fruit now because it has to sit and dry for at least a few hours. To make them you need to whip up the egg white with a splash of lemon or lime juice till frothy. Put your sanding sugar and your regular sugar into small, shallow bowls. Using a small paintbrush, brush each berry, individually, with a bit of egg white and then roll in the desired sugar. Set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet and when they are all done (I know, it's tedious work but look at how pretty it is!) set that aside for the rest of the day to dry.
Okay, time to serve this baby up!
Whip the second cup of heavy cream and when it reaches nice, stiff peaks, spread that over the top of the trifle (i don't sweeten the whipped cream because the dessert is plenty sweet already but that is up to you). Artfully arrange your sparkling, sugared fruit over the top and dig in.