As Christmas draws closer, we are consumed by thoughts of melancholy and a deep, insatiable yearning for holidays past, both in light of some recent events that have made everyone’s spirits dull and owing in part to the fact that love made a world of difference when people cared enough to notice. Yet, things must go on, as we endeavor to seek strength in our daily blessings, and in the smiles of our little ones.
It often seems only like yesterday when the holidays meant so much more than just fancy dinners and presents, or jazzy cards to send out to people. The sheer positivity in the air and the warmth of the people around us far surpassed the material pleasures. And today we believe ever more strongly that sharing food with those we love, those who matter and those who are in need of it, is the greatest gift we can give.
This fruitcake trifle is an ode to that sentiment, just as much as it is to the Christmases of yore that were spent doing simple things, like indulging a little..and giving, a little. It is suggestive of the local bakery plum cakes, of homemade, old-fashioned custard and cream-topped fruit salads, and in curious ways, even of the warm, cardamom-scented teas that were served as accompaniments to late evening snacks, just before the carol singers tiptoed their way through the communities.
Vanilla-flecked Fruitcake Trifle
- 1 Pound prepared fruitcake
- 1/3 Cup orange juice or rum
- 1/3 Cup strawberry jam or orange marmalade
- Vanilla Bean Custard (Recipe follows)
- ¼ Cup roasted cashews and a few cranberries for topping
- Cut the fruitcake into ½” cubes. Spread about a third of the cubed cake at the bottom of a glass bowl or trifle dish.
- Lightly sprinkle the cubes with about 2 Tablespoons of the orange juice or rum.
- Warm the jam/marmalade for about 20-30 seconds in the microwave to loosen it. Drizzle about 2 Tablespoons of the warm jam/marmalade all over the cake.
- Next spoon about a third of the custard over the cake layer.
- Repeat with the cake, orange-juice/rum, jam/marmalade and custard two more times, ending with a layer of custard.
- Chill the pudding for a few hours.
- Garnish with the roasted cashews and cranberries and serve cold.
- 1 Vanilla bean or substitute 2 Teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 Cups+2 Tablespoons whole milk
- 1 Egg
- ¼ Cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch/cornflour
- Bring 3 cups of milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
- Meanwhile beat the egg in a small bowl. Whisk in the sugar, cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons milk until smooth.
- Make a slit in the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the hot milk. Whisk to break them up and mix into the milk. If using vanilla extract, skip this step.
- Take the milk off the heat and whisk in the egg mixture. Continue whisking and return the pot to low heat. Simmer for about 6-7 minutes, stirring often so that the custard does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Switch off the heat.
- If you are using vanilla extract, stir it in now.
- Cool the custard to room temperature before using in the trifle, stirring often to avoid formation of a skin.
Find more Indian-inspired recipes using everyday ingredients in our new eBook – MANGO MASALA: 60 Indian Recipes From Your Local Supermarket..now available on Amazon.com.