Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

Chocolate and raspberry is one of my favorite combinations so one day when my friend Jan Kish suggested a trifle with these ingredients, I fell for it immediately. The dessert is as luscious as it looks. And it is perfect for holiday entertaining because it makes a stunning presentation and it is prepared the day ahead.

I like to have extra dessert at Christmastime because friends and family often drop over after their own traditional holiday dinner.

Prepare the cake, syrup and the crème anglaise 2 days before serving. Assemble the trifle the day before serving. Pipe the topping the day of serving.
Preheat the oven to: 350°F. Baking time: 30 to 35 minutes
KEEPS: The trifle will still be delicious one day after the topping has been added. Since covering it with plastic would ruin its appearance, be sure to cover tightly any aromatic food in the refrigerator to prevent the cream from absorbing other flavors.
volume ounces/pounds grams
Moist Chocolate Génoise
bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt Excellence or Valrhona extra bittersweet 2⅔ 3-ounce bars 8 ounces 227 grams
boiling water 1 liquid cup
8 large eggs liquid cups 14 ounces        400 grams

(weighed without shells)

superfine sugar 1 cup 7 ounces 200 grams
sifted cake flour cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 5.25 ounces 150 grams
Raspberry Syrup
sugar ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons 3 ounces 88 grams
water ¾ liquid cup
Chambord liqueur or water 3 tablespoons
Crème Anglaise
sugar 6 tablespoons 2,63 ounces 75 grams
salt teaspoon
12 large egg yolks 7 fluid ounces 7.75 ounces 223 grams
milk 3 liquid cups
vanilla beans, cut in ½ lengthwise*
fresh raspberries 4 cups ( pints) 1 pound 454 grams
seedless raspberry preserves, divided ½ cup 5 ounces 145 grams
Raspberry Jam Cream Topping
seedless raspberry preserves 1 cup 10 ounces 290 grams
Chambord liqueur or water 1 tablespoon
heavy cream 2 liquid cups
sugar 2 tablespoons 1 ounce 26 grams

*You may substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean, but the bean offers a fuller, more aromatic flavor. If using extract, add it after the sauce is cool. If using a Tahitian bean, use only ¾ of a bean.


Moist Chocolate Génoise

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a heavy saucepan, bring the chocolate and water to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the chocolate thickens to a puddinglike consistency. (If dropped from the spoon, it will pool slightly before disappearing.) Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar, preferably with the whisk beater of a stand mixer, on high speed for 5 minutes or until tripled in volume. (A hand-held mixer may be used but it will be necessary to beat for at least 10 minutes.)

Sift half the flour over the egg mixture and fold it in gently but rapidly with a slotted skimmer or large rubber spatula until some of the flour has disappeared. Fold in the remaining flour until all the flour has disappeared. Fold in the chocolate mixture until incorporated.

Pour the batter immediately into the prepared pans (they will be about two thirds full) and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center enters as easily as it does when inserted closer to the sides. Avoid opening the oven door before the minimum time or the cakes could fall. The cakes rise to the tops of the pans during baking and will sink slightly when done, pulling slightly away from the sides.

Loosen the sides of the cakes with a small metal spatula and unmold them at once onto lightly greased racks. Reinvert the cakes and allow them to cool. The firm upper crusts prevent falling.

When cool, wrap the cakes tightly in plastic wrap (preferably Saran brand) and store them at room temperature overnight.

Raspberry Syrup

In a small saucepan, with a tight-fitting lid, bring the sugar and water to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Cover immediately, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Transfer the syrup to a liquid measuring cup and stir in the liqueur. If the syrup has evaporated slightly, add enough water to equal 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of syrup.

Crème Anglaise

Have a fine strainer suspended over a medium bowl ready near the range.

In a medium-size heavy noncorrodible saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt and yolks until well blended, using a wooden spoon.

In a small saucepan, scald* the milk and vanilla beans. (Or heat in a heatproof 4-cup glass measure in a microwave on high power.) Stir a few tablespoons into the yolk mixture, then gradually add the remaining milk and vanilla beans, stirring constantly.

*Bring just to the boiling point (small bubbles will begin to appear around the edges).

Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, to just below the boiling point (170°F. to 180°F.). Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream; a finger run across the back of a spoon dipped in the mixture will leave a well-defined track. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour into the strainer, scraping up the thickened cream on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla beans and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir to separate the seeds (fingers work best). For maximum flavor, return the pods to the sauce until ready to assemble the trifle.

Cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Makes cups.

Assembling the Trifle

Unwrap the cake layers and remove the top “skin,” or crust, using a serrated knife if necessary. Using a long serrated knife, divide each layer in half horizontally. Use the trifle bowl as a guide for trimming the layers to fit by inverting it over each layer and cutting away the excess cake. Many trifle bowls are smaller at the bottom than at the top. If this is the case, you will need to trim 3 of the layers slightly more to fit the bowl.

Place the 4 cake layers on a clean work surface and spread each with 2 tablespoons of the raspberry preserves. Place one cake round, jam side down, in the trifle bowl. Brush it evenly with one quarter of the syrup (about ¼ cup). Pour one third (about cups) of the crème anglaise over the layer. Sprinkle the crème anglaise with 1 pint of the raspberries.

Continue in the same way with the second and third cake layers, syrup, crème anglaise and raspberries, placing each layer jam side down. Top with the fourth cake layer and brush it with the remaining syrup. Press down gently and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Raspberry Jam Cream Toppin

Refrigerate a mixing bowl and mixer beater for at least 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, place the raspberry jam and whisk in the Chambord or water.

In the chilled bowl, beat the cream and sugar just until beater marks begin to show distinctly in the cream. Add the jam mixture and beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. Immediately, fill the pastry bag with the jam cream and decorate the trifle: Remove the plastic wrap from the trifle and pipe the jam cream in a shell pattern, starting at the edges of the bowl and working toward the center, mounding it more toward the center. (You may also spread the jam cream on top of the trifle in swirls with a rubber spatula.)

Place a few raspberries decoratively on top. Refrigerate the trifle until 1 to 2 hours before serving time.