A Trifle More Please

One of my personal chef clients uncharacteristically asked me if I would mind substituting their usual dinner entrees with items they could serve at a weekend brunch. Of course! I thought. It’s a nice change for me to make breakfast dishes.

They love protein, so quiche with some locally made breakfast sausage, sauteed mushrooms, and cheddar cheese was a sure pick. They love potato pancakes, so I made some with a bit of grated carrot, and some sour cream and homemade applesauce on the side. A green salad with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and goat cheese was easy for them to assemble on their own that morning, dressed with a maple apple cider vinaigrette I made.

The last item was inspired by something I made for my kids a few weekends ago. I had tried a new pancake recipe which turned out very thick cakes. There were a bunch left over so I cut them into squares and layered them with some juicy, macerated strawberries, Greek-style whole milk vanilla yogurt, and whipped cream. My kids didn’t even know they were eating those leftover pancakes.

When it came time to coming up with a fourth dish for the brunch, I started thinking about trifles (or fools as they are sometimes called). I did some research and learned that they’ve been around since at least the 1500′s. Traditional trifles were English desserts made from layering whipped cream, egg custard, fruit, and sponge cake soaked with some kind of alcohol like Madeira wine, sweet sherry, or port. Nowadays, while still layered, trifle recipes vary widely. They may or may not contain alcohol, often include jelly or gelatin as well, and may contain ingredients like lemon curd, pumpkin, coffee, fruit sauces, yogurt, jams, cookies, granola, nuts, and chocolate.

The trifle I ended up making for my clients started with a layer of Moosehead Gingerbread from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. This was followed by some whole milk Greek yogurt sweetened with maple syrup and thinned a little with apple cider. Next was a layer of canned pears I got at the farmer’s market this summer and on top was whipped cream. Of course I made it in a clear bowl so show off the layers. Since this family lives close by, I made the cake ahead of time, assembled the trifle in the morning, and dropped it off within a couple of hours of making it.