Inspired by the same decadent ingredients as a Black Forest Gateau, namely several layers of chocolate genoise, Kirsch flavored Morello cherries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings, I made these mini Chocolate & Cherry Black Forest Trifles based on Nigella's Black Cherry Trifle which I served at a large family dinner last year and fell in love with how beautiful, delicious and straight forward the dessert was. This year I made these glorious 'mini-puds' for a small pre-Christmas dinner with friends, and was given a thumping endorsement by all. Nigella suggests cheating and buying some chocolate cake and then tweaking it to make it your own. "I'm all for making life easier, and what makes my life easier when I have a crowd coming for supper, is to buy something and then make it even better. Once liquor and fruits are added, no one will tell the difference!" So taking a culinary cue from Nigella, I bought a loaf of good quality chocolate cake, a tin of M'Lord pitted bing cherries and a bottle of cherry brandy for the cakey bit of the trifle recipe. Although Nigella likes to make her own custard, I grew up with Bird's instant crème anglaise, and think it's great, so I cheated on this part of her recipe too! Finished with a big dollop of thick whipped cream and grated chocolate — this is truly heaven in a bowl.
Mini Chocolate & Cherry Black Forest Trifles
Serves 6 to 8
1 12 oz chocolate pound cake, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cups Cherry Brandy
1 can Bing cherries, in syrup
1 cup whipping cream
1 oz Bittersweet Chocolate grated
1 1/3 cups whole milk plus 1 tbsp
1 1/3 cups heavy cream plus 1 tbsp
8 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tbsp
Place about 6-8 pieces of chocolate cake pieces in the bottom of each serving glass, squishing the cake down a bit, then pour a few glugs of cherry brandy overtop so the cake soaks most of it up — remember trifle should be boozy!
In a saucepan warm the milk and cream until quite hot but not bubbling. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until well blended but not foamy, then gradually pour the hot milk and cream onto the sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Wipe out the saucepan and pour the mixture back into it. Heat gently over medium heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens. Once it's ready, pour over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle glasses.
Meanwhile, drain the cherries, saving the liquid and reserving the cherries separately. Divide the cherries among each of the trifle glasses and top with a tablespoon of the reserved syrup and another dash of cheery brandy. When ready to decorate, whip the cream in a standing mixer until fluffy with stiff peaks, then crown the tops of each trifle with a spoonful of the whipped cream and grate some good quality chocolate over top, and serve.