Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dessert: Cranberry Trifle

The very gracious Mr. and Mrs. Fleming invited us over for dinner last night and when I asked what I could bring, Mrs. Fleming suggested dessert. Since I'm not a baker (as previously noted), I was at a loss for what to make. Luckily, the December issue of Everyday Food arrived this week (I know, I seriously am obsessed) and on the cover was a luscious looking Cranberry Trifle.

The trifle, a layered dessert with three elements (cranberry compote, store-bought pound cake and a creamy cream cheese whipped cream) comes together quickly and easily. First, you simmer cranberries, water, sugar and ginger for about 8 minutes, until the cranberries start to burst. Let that cool completely while you prepare a mixture of cream cheese, brown sugar, regular sugar, vanilla and heavy cream using a stand mixer. Then cut up the pound cake and begin the assembly process: first a layer of pound cake, then a layer of cranberry compote, then a layer of whipped topping, repeating the layering process two more times.

A couple of notes: I used gingerbread pound cake instead of vanilla pound cake and the tasters all agreed that it was an upgrade. Other substitutions: light cream cheese for regular cream cheese and jarred pureed ginger for chopped fresh ginger. Also, I made only half the called for amount of cranberry compote and used only 12 ounces of cake, but made the full portion of whipped topping and it still made enough dessert to serve at least 8 people if not more. Using a trifle dish is a nice because you can see all of the layers through the glass. I have a really pretty trifle dish (thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Meyer!) but if you don't have one, any reasonably high-sided baking dish will do. Finally, I think it would work nicely with chocolate pound cake and cherries as well. Maybe I'll try that combination next!

Everyday Food Magazine, December 2008
Serves 12, Prep Time 35 Minutes, Total Time: 35 Minutes + Chilling

2 bags (12 oz each) cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbs finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 bar (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 homemade or store-bought all butter pound cakes (12 oz each), cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
Candied Orange Zest (below) for garnish (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, 2 cups granulated sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium, cook until cranberries begin to burst, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let compote cool completely.

Make cream filling. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla on high until well combined. With mixer on medium, gradually add heavy cream; continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Arrange 1/3 of cake in a 3-quart serving dish. Spoon 1/3 of compote over cake; spread to sides of dish. Dollop 1/3 of cream filling over compote; spread to sides of dish. Repeat twice, ending with cream filling. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 1 day). Garnish with Candied Orange Zest if desired.

In a medium sauce pan, bring 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, Add zest of 1 orange (peeled into long strips with a vegetable peeler), simmer, swirling occasionally, until zest is tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a plate. Dredge zest in sugar and thinly slice.

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