Being assigned the task of bringing dessert to a barbecue in the perpetually hot climate of this Equatorial country in which we reside is one of the most stressful things that has ever happened to me. A good sort of stress, but stress all the same.
I mean, the thought of how hot the barbecue itself will get, plus how thirsty people will be, and then topped off with the thought of having the oven on at all… Rh’llor, save us all, cos I can’t take this heat.
Trifles. Cold, creamy, and tart trifles are the answer for warm weather, friends. I mentioned before that my mother’s go-to dessert to prepare is a fruit trifle, with fresh fruits, custard, and a jelly topping. But in keeping with my new year, new things resolution, I decided to try out a different sort of trifle.
Nigella Lawson’s Raspberry Lemongrass trifle, to be exact. I remember sitting through a Nigella Bites marathon on the Food Channel a few months ago, and this was one of the recipes she featured. I coveted it from the get go, and saved the recipe in my little red recipe notebook, but only pulled it out now.
It’s amazing, and I swear you have to try it. It’s amazing. I had no idea what I was missing out on until I tried this recipe. If you can get your hands on store-bought trifle sponges, or a light pound cake, or finger biscuits, then do so for the base of this recipe. If, like me, you are unable to find an acceptable store-bought sponge, then make your own! Recipe below.
- 4 eggs, separated
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 100g all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 200C, line two baking trays with parchment paper, and prepare a piping bag
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add 2 tbsp of the sugar. Continue whipping until stiff and glossy
- In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, remaining sugar, and vanilla until fluffy and pale
- Sift the flour and baking powder and set aside. Fold half of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour, then fold in the remaining egg whites
- Fold in the melted butter at the very end, don’t beat the batter
- Transfer batter into a piping bag, snip off the end, and pipe out short lines onto the baking trays. Be sure to space them evenly, as these tend to spread out (especially if the batter’s been over-mixed)\
- Bake for 8-9 minutes, take them out and cool completely before using for trifle, or store in an airtight container until ready for use
Nigella’s Raspberry Lemongrass Trifle
- 600ml water
- 400g caster sugar
- 60g lemongrass, cut in half lengthwise)
- 350g frozen raspberries, thawed (or is it thawed frozen raspberries?)
- Trifle sponges (Nigella says 16, but I just used however many needed to soak up all the jam)
- 3 tbsp limoncillo (Again, Nigella uses vodka, but I didn’t have any on hand)
- 600ml single cream
- 8 egg yolks (save the egg whites for macarons!)
- 500ml double cream
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- Lemongrass syrup: Make a syrup with the water and 325g of the sugar in a saucepan by bringing them to a boil for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat, and add the lemongrass and allow to infuse for at least half an hour. Next time I will let it infuse for a lot longer, or add more lemongrasss
- Strain the syrup into a jug, and keep the saucepan with the lemongrass inside aside
- Raspberry jam: Measure out 200ml of the syrup into a medium sized saucepan, add the raspberries, and bring to a roiling boil. Let it thicken, and mash the fruit to make a “jam-like consistency”. Let it cool slightly, then dunk the trifle sponges in and then arrange at the bottom of your trifle bowl. I soaked up all the jam. Add the limoncillo or vodka, or skip this bit if you don’t want any alcohol. Then pour about 100ml of the lemongrass syrup over that to let it absorb all the flavour, and reserve the rest
- Custard: Heat the single cream in the pan with the lemongrass until almost boiling, then take it off the heat and infuse for 15 minutes (again, I’ll probably add fresh lemongrass instead of reusing). In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining sugar (75g), then slowly whisk in the cream. THEN, put the custard back into the cleaned out pan, and stir over the heat until the custard thickens, then pour it over the trifle sponges and let it cool, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cream topping: Just before serving, or before you leave for the barbecue, whisk the double cream and vanilla in a cold bowl (I usually pop my kitchenaid mixing bowl and whisk into the freezer for about 5 minutes before I whip cream), until it thickens, then cover the custard layer
- Caramelized lemongrass syrup topping: Heat 250ml of the lemongrass syrup in a saucepan until it turns a golden brown, then drizzle over the cold whipped cream topping to decorate