One man’s trifle is another man’s heaping, delicious dessert. Or woman’s. Or child’s. You get it.
I’m calling it “deconstructed,” not because I think literary critics from the 1980s are awesome, but because I skipped the custard and booze in the recipe. I’m not big on custard and not everyone I was feeding this to is big on booze.
Another great thing about Isigny-Ste-Mere whipped cream in a can? It keeps for freaking ever. You can always pull together a fancy-looking dessert by opening a sleeve of stale cookies, soaking some fruit in something (I used maple syrup and lemon juice — you can use booze) and squirting said whipped cream all over it. Presto! Voila! (I can’t be bothered with the accent marks — even now that I know where to find them.) Instant frou-frou dessert.
OK, I didn’t use stale cookies either. I had a failed layer of marble cake in the freezer and some chocolate madeleine cookies that refused to exit the pans. (I didn’t realize you had to HIT the tin to get the cookies out! What kind of cookies make life so complicated? French ones, of course!)
Now that I’m writing this, subconsciously I was probably thinking of Proust, who was deconstructed for me in college, and who wrote his entire seven-volume opus based on something he remembered while dipping a madeleine in herbal tea. Except that part comes later. The opener (which you can read here) is all about insomnia. Proust was probably the most neurotic person who ever lived and boy can he construct a gorgeous sentence — the kind that your Microsoft Word would flag as an obscene run-on. I like my writers nice and crazy like that. The more I read other peoples’ WordPress blogs, the harder it is for me to stomach the cheerful ones. I know, bad energy, blah blah blah. Maybe that happy, upbeat BS is their reality, but maybe it’s not — maybe it’s an extension of the entire Facebook culture that seems to be turning everyone into their own publicist, with online updates that are really just press releases about how fabulous their lives are (subtext: compared to yours). Fine, if that’s what you’re looking for. I am a publicist by trade so when I am reading for pleasure, I’m uncompromising in my search for honesty, even if it’s not always pretty.
Speaking of heavy — back to the heavy dessert! If you aren’t familiar with the whole family of desserts that call themselves trifle, check this out. Trifle has an interesting history as a the first resort of the lazy cook and I like that about it, in addition to its alternate names like Tipsy Parson and its close familial relationship to Fool. Like my favorite writers, Trifle is rich, tasty, and completely candid — served in a tall glass for utter transparency.
2 boxes of berries or about 2 – 4 cups of any kind of fruit (as long as it is ripe) — I used two kinds of raspberries
1 cup of citrus juice or booze to macerate the fruit
2 – 3 tablespoons of sugar or maple syrup if you are obsessed with the glycemic index, like me
Either of sleeve of cookies or a stale cake, cut into cubes
1 can of whipped cream or 2 – 3 cups of hand-whipped cream, sweetened with added vanilla
A glass serving bowl that looks like a giant cocktail or parfait glass — barring that, consider making individual trifles in tall ice cream glasses
Wash the fruit and combine with citrus or booze and maple syrup (or sugar). Set aside for a few hours. Cut up the cake or crumble the cookies. Not every kind of cookie works for this. Lady fingers are the classic for this recipe so keep that in mind. I believe Nila Wafers are also a good fit. Layer the fruit mixture (once it’s ready) with the cake and whipped cream, reserving enough so you can top the whole thing with cream. If the cake is really stale, you might want to combine with the macerated fruit a few hours beforehand. Ditto dry cookies.
As a topper, I also added these funny chocolate stick cookies I found in the drugstore, in the $1 section. They were fantastic, made by Royal Dansk, who make those butter cookies we used to give my ex’s grandmother every year. The ones I used are called “Luxury Wafers” and they are actually made in Denmark! What a bargain, at a buck.
Other exciting variations on this recipe might include chocolate-flavored whipped cream (either buy a can or add cocoa powder as you are whipping), crumbled-up Oreos, and let’s face it, what else do you need?