Trifle, Italian style

Lemon Blackberry Trifle

Lemon Blackberry Trifle

This recipe comes to me by way of the priestess, nay, the goddess of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson.  I’ve been a fan and fanatical advocate of the raven-haired Brit since her show Nigella Bites, with her impeccable style, spot on palate, and slightly subversive humour.  And no one can make love to a spoon the way she can.  I did meet her once and we had a little chat.  To be perfectly accurate, I met her along with maybe 3000 other fans at a book signing.  Despite the mob, she remained regal and warm in her chartreuse twin set, offering a genuine smile to all.

Nigella LawsonI must admit her cookbook prose have had a profound inspiration on my own desire to write.  I’ve savoured each and every one of her publications, reading them more like novels rather than as a resource.  I enjoy her informative preambles mixed with the regional vernacular (splodge, nubbled, blitzed) and simple recipes with inspired flavours.  She blends cultures and style with no apology.  One region she loves to explore is Italy, from crostini to dolce.  …Hence, this recipe, slightly modified, from her publication Forever Summer…

jam sandwiches

This is everything a trifle should be:  rich, oozing, cool, and creamy.  It’s also easy to make (please forgive the ready-made ingredients) and best if made well ahead of serving, rendering it perfect for easy entertaining.  The Italian inspiration comes from the ingredients: crunchy amaretti biscuits, sweet and puckering limoncello, and standing in for custard is a silky mascarpone mousse with blackberries providing a blistering contrast. 


The measurements are offered more as a guideline, with the size of your trifle bowl influencing the proportions.  For these photos, I used my oval porcelain casserole dish that I usually employ for mac and cheese, although it is most presentable in a glass trifle bowl (my own having disappeared after attending a potluck and not to be seen since).

Recipe on following page…

Trifle, Italian style

100g (half a package) amaretti biscuits
6-8 small sponge cakes, lady fingers, pound cake, or anything equivalent
1 jar blackcurrant jam
150 ml limoncello
juice from ½ a lemon
700g (four ½ pint containers) blackberries, washed and drained
2 eggs, separated
100g sugar
1 475g container mascarpone
30g flaked almonds
  • Whir the amaretti biscuits in a food processor or lock them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin until they are reduced to rubble.
  • Make jam sandwiches out of the cakes by splitting them in half, smearing jam in between, and reassembling them.  Aim to use up about ¾ of the jar of jam.  If using a loaf or pound cake, slice it like bread and proceed to make the sandwiches.
  • Line the bottom of your serving bowl with the sandwiches, wodging them together to ensure there are no obvious gaps.  No need for neatness as it will soon turn into a soggy mess.
  • Sprinkle ¾ of the amaretti crumbs on top of the cakes and then drizzle with 100ml of the limoncello.
  • Heat the remainder of the jam with the lemon juice gently on a low heat in a medium saucepan.  When melted, add the blackberries and heat until warmed through and the berries begin to release their juices.  Carefully tumble these over the amaretti/jam cakes in the serving bowl and put aside.
  • Using a stand mixer, whisk the two egg yolks and half the sugar until it gets to a lemony mousse consistency, about 5 minutes.   On low, whisk in about ¼ of the mascarpone.  Then gently fold in the rest along with the remaining 50ml limoncello.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the two egg whites and the rest of the sugar until firm and glossy, about 4 minutes.  Gently fold into the mascarpone mixture and then spread gently over the blackberries.
  • Wrap with cling film and set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, and up to a day before serving.   Remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving.
  • At some point, you’ll want to toast the flaked almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until bronzed.  Keep an eye on them because they can scorch quickly.  Scatter over the trifle along with the leftover amaretti crumbs and voila!  Scoop and serve.

Serves 8, with second helpings for some

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07 2009

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