My mother was famous for this trifle. She would dismiss her efforts with a wave of her well-manicured hand: “It’s nothing. So easy.” What she didn’t tell most people was her special trick, in post-Independence, Prohibition-era Bombay, of using Drak-shasava, a herbal fortified wine sold at the chemist’s as an Ayurvedic remedy, which made it all right in the eyes of the booze police. Now, decades later, you can buy fortified wines in Bombay, but I recently took great glee in making Ma’s trifle with Drakshasava for friends there; they couldn’t begin to guess the mystery ingredient.
This is a dessert that requires assembly rather than cooking. For a start, you need a good sponge cake, homemade or bought from a bakery that uses vanilla, not vanillin. Then you need a bottle of the fortified wine of your choice, and some cream for the topping. The only exotic ingredient is the pound of jardalus. Quantities are elastic. Since this is a party dessert, the quantities here are for a group. You should make this trifle at least a day before the event.