Strawberry Trifles

Strawberry season has arrived! I quickly snatched up a few pints of the first locally grown strawberries when I saw them on sale at the farmer’s market this week. I’m a big fan of trifles because they’re very easy to make and always look so pretty with all their colourful layers.  This trifle can also be made with raspberries, blueberries, or any combination of seasonal berries. I love making this dessert in mason jars, but you can also assemble it in a large trifle or glass bowl if you prefer.

Ingredients:

  • One Ciambellone (Italian sponge cake), cut into 1 inch cubes

For the strawberry compote:

  • 4 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  •  2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Method:

  1. Make the strawberry compote: combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon zest in a small sauce pan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer mixture for 15-20 minutes, until thickened. Pour compote into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cooled completely.
  3. Make the pastry cream: in a sauce pan over medium heat, bring milk to a boil.
  4. While you wait for the milk to boil, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, egg, egg yolks, vanilla and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth, making sure there are no lumps of cornstarch remaining.
  5. As soon as the milk starts to bubble, remove it from the heat. Slowly pour a few ladlefuls of hot milk into the egg mixture to temper, whisking constantly. Once the mixture has been tempered, pour it back into the saucepan with the milk and return it to the heat.
  6. Bring custard to a boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. This should take about 2 minutes. Once the mixture boils, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for an additional minute.
  7. Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the butter. Whisk until the butter is completely incorporated.
  8. Pour custard into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic wrap to touch the surface of the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool.
  9. Once the custard has cooled and set, gently fold in the whipping cream.
  10. To assemble the trifle, place a layer of sponge cake at the bottom of your mason jar. Next, spoon the pastry cream over the sponge cake, followed by a layer of strawberry compote. Repeat the layers until you have reached the top of your jar.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Yield: Ten mason jar trifles or one large trifle

 

 

 

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(Healthy) No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

My oldest son came home from school one day with a recipe he’d read about in his language arts class.  It was for no-bake cookies.  He really wanted to try it out, so we did.  The cookies were delicious and super kid-friendly since they required no oven time … but they were loaded with butter and sugar.  I was sure I could come up with a similar recipe, but minus all the fat and refined sugar.  Here is my “healthy” version of no-bake cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp milk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey

Method:

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the oatmeal, cocoa powder, flax seeds and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter, milk, vanilla and honey.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until fully combined.
  5. Roll the mixture into small balls, about the size of golf balls, and place on baking sheet.
  6. Chill for 30 minutes.
  7. You can store the energy bites in an air tight container in the fridge for up to one week.

*Yield: About 15 balls

 


Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese is an Italian dessert that layers custard and sponge cake or cookies — resembling a trifle.  This version is a very retro dessert that my favourite aunt, Lisa, taught me how to make when I was a little girl.  My aunt’s birthday is coming up so I decided to share this recipe on my blog in honour of her!  The great thing about this recipe is that it is a no-bake dessert that requires only a few simple ingredients, and you can make it ahead of time. The original version of this recipe uses just straight-up Vermouth to dip the cookies, but that was a little too boozy for me so I’ve diluted the wine with simple syrup.  If you want a trifle with more punch, you can certainly skip the simple syrup and use one cup of Vermouth instead.  Happy Birthday, Zizi Lisa!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Vermouth or sweet Marsala wine
  • 1 90g package instant vanilla pudding, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 90g package instant chocolate pudding, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 350g package Social Tea cookies
  • cocoa powder or powdered sugar, for sprinkling.

Method:

  1. Prepare the simple syrup: bring the water to a boil and add the sugar, cooking until the sugar is dissolved.  Cool syrup completely.
  2. Stir the Vermouth into the simple syrup.
  3. Dip the cookies into the simple syrup mixture and line the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish with a layer of cookies.
  4. Spread about 1/2 of the vanilla pudding on top of the cookie layer.  Repeat the process, using chocolate pudding this time.  Continue with the cookie layers and the alternating chocolate and vanilla pudding layers, ending with a layer of pudding.
  5. Cover the trifle with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
  6. Sprinkle with a little cocoa powder or powdered sugar just before serving.

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