A beautiful layered dessert from Food Network chef Nigella Lawson.
2 chocolate loaf cakes (each approx. 350 g)
7 oz. black cherry jam
1/2 cup cherry brandy
10-12 oz. bottled Morello cherries, drained
100 g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups double cream
8 eggs yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
1-1/3 oz. cocoa
3 cups double cream
30 g dark chocolate, as before
Step 1: Slice the chocolate loaves or cake and make jam sandwiches with the cherry jam. Layer into the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Pour over the cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up, and then tip in the drained cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.
Step 2: Chop up the chocolate and melt on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4. Or you can stick the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Once the chocolate's melted, leave to one side while you get on with the custard.
Step 3: Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan, and whisk the yolks, sugar and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl, whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan.
Step 4: Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the custard pan into the cold water and whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis.
Step 5: The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick, so don't panic so much that you stop cooking while it's still runny. Admittedly, it carries on thickening as it cools and then when it's chilling in the fridge. Once it's ready, pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with plastic wrap to stop it forming a skin.
Step 6: When the custard is cold, pour and scrape it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the fridge to set, covered in plastic wrap, overnight.
Step 7: When you are ready to decorate, whip the cream for the topping softly and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate the chocolate over the top. Let people fall upon it with greed and gratitude. They will go home happy.
Reprinted with permission from Nigella Lawson's Feast: Food That Celebrates Life (2006 Knopf Canada).