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The Trifle Tower

Mini Port Trifles

The first thing that I did to the poor old sherry trifle was to replace the sherry with a thyme-infused port reduction. In this I was inspired by a recipe for raspberry meringue in Catherine Fulvio’s [1] new book, Catherine’s Family Kitchen [2], which features raspberries soaked in red wine with honey and thyme. I also left out the jelly part of the trifle, but I did add custard, and I used yoghurt instead of cream (but that’s just my preference, go ahead and use cream if you like or, better still, some mascarpone).

I also made free-standing individual servings, using queen cakes [3] (i.e. plain, undecorated buns or cupcakes) as the sponge base. For these, I generally use a plain madeira mixture and the formula learned from my mother: four, four, six, two, beat and beat until you’re blue (meaning 4oz sugar, 4oz butter, 6 oz self raising flour, two eggs and liberal application of a wooden spoon).

For the custard, you can use a good quality readymade custard if you like, or, even nicer, make your own crème anglaise [4].

You’ll need:

  • 600ml ruby port
  • 5 tblsp honey
  • 2 x 7-8cm sprigs of thyme
  • 6 plums, halved
  • 12 queen cakes
  • 125ml pouring custard
  • 4 tblsp natural yoghurt
  • 12 walnut halves, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • zest of one lemon

You’ll also need:

  • A heavy-based saucepan for making the port reduction

The Steps:

  • Place the port, honey and thyme in a heavy saucepan, and place over a medium heat. When the honey has dissolved, add the halved plums. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the plums, then bring the port back to a boil and allow it to boil and reduce for about 20 minutes or until the liquid had reduce to about one third of it’s original amount.
  • To assemble the mini-trifles: Slice the tops off the queen cakes and set aside. Place the cake bases onto serving plates, drizzle the bases with about one third of the port reduction, top each with a plum half, then drizzle with another third of the port. Top with the custard and then the yoghurt. Scatter with the lemon zest and chopped walnuts. Top each with the reserved lids of the queen cakes and drizzle with the remaining port.

The Variations:

  • Lots of variations possible – you could, for example, replace the plums with raspberries and/or replace the yoghurt with whipped cream, say, or some mascarpone.

The Results:

  • Makes 12 mini-trifles