This dessert, one of my favourites, is a pudding of largesse ideal for a celebratory or festive occasion. Dig in with a big spoon to spoil your guests and let them go back for seconds.
Cherries are a luxurious fruit and while I hang out for fresh ones sometime prior to Christmas I use frozen ones often for desserts and baking. When I buy frozen I seek out New Zealand fruit, as it is plumper and more luscious than imported fruit.
Sour cherries, often asked for in American and Eastern European recipes, present more complex flavours than sweet cherries when cooked. As far as I know sweet varieties are the only cherries grown in New Zealand. So when I cook with cherries I compensate for the sweetness by adding acidity and/or alcohol.
AMARETTO AND SWEET CHERRY TRIFLE
Serves 10 to 12
Choose a large trifle bowl, with 3.1-litre to 3.5-litre volume, to make this dessert in. If you have the room, make up to three days ahead and store covered in refrigerator.
300ml (1 cup + 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) amaretto (almond flavoured liqueur)
100g (1/3 cup) sugar
80ml (5 Tbsp + 1 tsp) water
1kg (4 cups) mascarpone
30ml (2 tbsp) amaretto
11/2 tsp almond extract or essence
4 egg whites
100g (1/2 cup less 2 tsp) caster sugar
18 ladyfinger biscuits (also known as Savoiardi biscuits found in specialty section of supermarket)
Sweet Cherry Compote (recipe follows)
10g (1 Tbsp + 2/3 tsp) gelatine powder
To make amaretto syrup: Pour first measure amaretto into a small pot and add sugar and water. Place over a low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and simmer for seven to 10 minutes or until it looks syrupy. Remove from heat and cool.
Place mascarpone, second measure amaretto and almond extract into a bowl and whisk until creamy and smooth.
Place egg whites into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a whisk and whisk until just fluffy. Add caster sugar and whisk until shiny and stiff. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into mascarpone and mix until entirely combined and mascarpone is light. Add remaining egg white mixture and fold in until just combined.
Spoon half mascarpone mixture into trifle bowl and evenly spread using a spatula.
Take half of ladyfingers, quickly dip both sides into amaretto syrup (don't saturate) and place on top of mascarpone, cutting some ladyfingers to fill gaps.
Strain Sweet Cherry Compote. Reserve cherries and cherry syrup separately. Evenly spoon half the cherries on top of ladyfingers and slowly drizzle 50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) cherry syrup over cherries. Top with second half of mascarpone mixture and smooth out.
Take remaining ladyfingers, quickly dip into amaretto syrup and place on mascarpone. Place remaining cherries on top and drizzle 50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) cherry syrup over the cherries.
Place in refrigerator while you make the jelly topping.
To make jelly: Pour remaining cherry syrup into a jug and measure 500ml (2 cups).
Pour 30ml of measured syrup into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatine over the top. Stir well and set aside for 10 minutes or until gelatine has absorbed syrup and formed a sponge.
Pour remaining syrup into a small pot and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave to sit for 2-3 minutes. Pour into bowl. Add gelatine sponge and stir until gelatine is dissolved.
Place in refrigerator for 20 to 40 minutes, stirring three or four times to encourage even cooling, until nearly but not quite set.
Slowly pour half of jelly over the top layer of cherries, filling gaps. Gently shake bowl to settle jelly. Pour in remaining jelly to make a smooth top layer.
Return to refrigerator to set overnight.
SWEET CHERRY COMPOTE
Pinot noir, orange juice and black or red currant jelly adds complexity to the flavour of the sweet cherries.
500ml (2 cups) pinot noir
150ml (2/3 cup less 1 Tbsp) freshly squeezed orange juice
200ml black or red currant jelly (as in jelly preserves)
40g (4 Tbsp) sugar
800g (120) sweet cherries (pitted frozen cherries, thawed, or in season pitted fresh cherries)
40ml (2 Tbsp + 2 tsp) cherry brandy
Pour pinot noir, orange juice and jelly into a small non-reactive saucepan and set over a low heat. Add sugar and stir over a low heat until sugar and jelly are dissolved.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until reduced by one-third and syrupy.
Add cherries and cherry brandy and simmer for a further three or four minutes or until cherries are just beginning to soften. Cool.
- The Dominion Post
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