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Sunday, May 2, 2010

HCB: Saint Honore Trifle

Whenever I think about trifle, I always think about that episode of Friends where Rachel made a trifle that turned out into a disaster. Do you know that episode? The other page of the recipe was stuck together so she made a trifle that is part a dessert but consist of ground beef. Ross said it tasted like feet and could hardly swallow it. As you can probably guessed, Joey loved it and he ate it heartily :).

My trifle is not going to contain ground beef, mind you. And it also does not taste like feet LOL.

A little background story...

I was not planning to make this trifle. For one thing, I don't have a trifle bowl, and not planning on getting one. Second excuse is that I have had trifle before and was not impressed (though you think by now I should trust Rose to change my opinion). But then I told myself, the recipe is 5 pages long! Somehow the idea of making 5 pages long trifle does not appeal to me. Why, you say, how could I think that way. Well that's just how I feel, this week at least :). Final reason was the spun sugar. Looks delicate and well, I tend to wreck delicate things...

I don't remember exactly what convinced me. Perhaps because it's been much discussed lately by the HCB. And also , isn't it the whole point of being in a baking group, to try new things and challenges! So I told myself that this trifle is worth the adventure, even if I have to spend the whole day for it (and in fact, it takes me about 4 1/2 hours to do).

10 AM. Making the beurre noisette. Halfway through waiting for the darn butter to brown - which takes forever - I thought to myself, I should have skipped it. I thought also of cheating and increasing the temperature, but the last time I did this, I burned the butter. So I persevered and waited. And then finally, oh my oh my... the butter turned into this golden brown thing that has such an amazing indescribably smell. Seriously, I had no idea butter could smell this good! I had to resist the temptation of dipping a piece of bread into it.

Next, I combined eggs and sugar and whisked them away above simmering water until lukewarm. Then they are whipped at high speed for 5 minutes until tripled and thick. One cup of egg is sacrificed into the beurre noisette goddess. Then a sifted mixture of flour and cornstarch are folded into the egg mixture until combined, followed by the folding the beurre noisette mixture.

Since I am planning on serving the trifle in wine glasses, I baked the cake in a cupcake pan. Only have 1 pan and only needed 1 as I've only made 1/4 recipe. I filled up each cavity of the pan up to almost full and the cake baked up really nice and spongy. And when it almost finished baking, the smell of heavenly beurre noisette appeared again, yum!

I'll skip telling you the sugar and strawberries part as it's easy and self- explanatory. I used the strawberries as-is (no sugar added) as they look pretty ripe. Plus, I like my strawberries to have a little bit tartness in it.

12 PM. Next is the Chiboust cream. I have a couple of vanilla seeds stashed. The seeds were scraped into the milk while the pods are swimming in fridge with the cream. Milk were brought to a boil while the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla seeds are combined. Then the gelatin and cornstarch, and next is the hot milk is slowly added. The whole concoction is then returned to the stove and cooked until thickened. Add in the vanilla and grand marnier, then cooled to room temperature. To speed the cooling process, I placed it in an ice bath. It took 15 minutes to cool it. Then I whip the cream and fold in the pastry cream.

1.30 PM. Now the fun part: composing the cake. I put some sliced strawberries at the bottom of each wine glass, put a dollop of cream, then one layer of cake, a generous portion of boozey sugar syrup, then repeat again with the strawberries, cream, cake, syrup. Once all 3 glasses are decorated, I stored it in the fridge while I make the whipped cream.

I decided on making the gelatin-stabilized whipped cream (p.446) since we won't be eating all the trifle on the same day. It's pretty similar method as the whipped cream.

Now comes the most anticipated part. And when I say anticipated, I mean with fear and well fear.

Let me begin by sharing a picture of my "work area" for the spun sugar. I don't subscribe to newspapers, so on the floor are junk mails. On the counter are my 2 wooden dowels - otherwise known as wooden chopsticks. Then you see my weapon of choice: 2 small forks taped side by side. I didn't have the heart to cut a whisk. It's not about the price, I know I can get one at a discount store for under $5. I feel it's cruel to cut whisks. Thankfully Rose gave the alternative to use forks :).

2.30 PM. 1/2 recipe of corn syrup and sugar are heated together over medium heat until it boils. Then, I increased the heat and boil until medium amber and 360 degrees. This was the point where I realized that my instant read thermometer only measures up to 300 degrees! Yikes! Let me tell you that I stared at that syrup mixture very intensely, not wishing to miss the milisecond where it turn to medium amber. Once medium amber is reached, poured the syrup into a pyrex cup. I dipped the forks into the cup to check and the caramel fell off the fork in droplets. I waited a few seconds, then checked again. They fell in strings. So I stood on my dining table chair, dipped the forks into the cup and vigorously wave back and forth, hoping the sugar would fall in long threads onto the chopsticks. What ended up happening is that I did have small droplets, even though I tried to move my hands very quickly. Oh well, I continued. Since I only have 1/2 recipe of the syrup, it hardened too quickly, and my forks hardened into it! I managed to pry them away and zapped the syrup for 10 seconds in the microwave. Then I continue to make more spun sugar, using the other chopsticks. This time I was more successful, very little angel’s tears in sight and I started to enjoy this whole business of spinning sugar. At the same time, I poked my pinkie on one of the small sharp edges of the caramel at the edge of the pyrex cup and it started bleeding a little. Right then and there I decided I had enough fun for the day and settled for 2 little curved spun sugar on top of 2 of the wine glasses. My pinkie is okay, not badly damaged, though it still hurts the next morning.

So there you are folks. Not too bad of an adventure of spun sugar. I ended up with one slightly bleeding pinkie, some sugar on the kitchen shelves and dining chair, no sugar on the ceiling. Cleanup is not too bad, the sugar was easy to peel off.

Tasting impressions: Oh my goodness! This trifle is to die for! Seriously!!! Easily an 8 rating, super yummy! The strawberries play a crucial role, in my opinion, as it smells so wonderful. It tastes pretty light, in that I easily eat the whole glass myself in mere minutes. I will definitely make it again, though probably for special occasions. I will definitely use the wine glasses as I like this look a lot.


  1. Jenn! Your trifle and spun sugar is delightful & totally gorgeous!! I love how you did it in a wine glasses! and your spun sugar is perfect!! :)

  2. That first picture is a beauty! I had a little leftover buerre noisette and I used it for an egg and toast this morning. It was the best ever!

  3. that first photo is magazine worthy! great idea to use wine glasses; the trifles look so pretty.

  4. WOW!! This is an AWESOME picture and your trifle looks delicious!! :) Well done!

  5. Beautiful trifles! Is this the first HCB injury?

  6. Wonderful job on the trifle-ettes, Jenn! They look amazing, would like one now, please :)

  7. Faithy, ECL, the wine glass idea came a few days ago and thought it would be interesting to do. It turned out better than I had expected.

    Marie, I should have made more beurre noisette so I can use it for savory things!

    Lois, yes this is the 1st HCB injury. Not bad considering it's my 20-something entry (forgot the exact number).

    Julie, one trifle on it's way to the east coast, :).

  8. Thanks Vicki! Thanks Jill!

  9. Love the idea of using the wine glasses... for next time if we want to make a smaller version ... because I'm still wondering how in the world we are going to tackle that much dessert in the next few days.

    I need to start giving it away to strangers!

    I agree with Jill.. the front pictures is beautiful!

  10. ב''ה

    Love those cups! That's really great! :)

  11. It looks sooo nice, and I love your description on how you made it. I, too, am a bit scared by the spun sugar, but it looks so nice! I even like the little tears on it :-)

  12. I put a link to your post because I am going to follow in your footsteps and do the spun sugar like you did!!

  13. Wow. Wine glasses. So creative! I am definitely going to steal your idea and serve a trifle in a glass at my next dinner party!

  14. Looks amazing Jenn and your pictures are awesome!

  15. Such a great idea to cupcake then wine glass it. Very impressive! And your photos are stunning.

    Adds new meaning to the question of "One glass or two", after dinner? I think two!

  16. Love the large goblets! They look beautiful and your spun sugar divine!


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