Recipe: mini chocolate raspberry trifles

Spotting romantic gestures from my husband requires the expert eye that comes after almost 14 years of being together. I knew to expect this from our first Valentine’s night out together. Trudging around Shepherd’s Bush, totally unprepared, from restaurant to restaurant hunting for a table, we ended up in the usual curry house. Apart from one equally unromantic tryst, which believe me, does so not count, in the Trocadero the previous year, I’d never had anyone to share Valentine’s day with so I didn’t know about restaurants being booked up, so I just put it down to the 14th falling on a Friday that year.  

After that we got better at booking restaurants.  Until the year we moved to our current home when we were trying to save money, we always went out somewhere to eat.  Never anywhere flash, convenience normally wins out for us but I resolved that we’d never spend Valentine’s in the bog standard curry house ever again.  We saved that for normal Fridays.

My husband likes to play a game where he memorises each restaurant we went to for Valentine’s for each year we have been together. For the first six or seven years we managed to recall them all but now we’ve been together longer it gets more difficult and I do regret not writing the list down.  The ones I can remember are Los Molinos Tapas Bar at Brook Green, somewhere near Olympia that was nice but shut down almost straight afterwards, Balzac’s French restaurant on Wood Lane (sadly also gone) and more recently, Trattoria La Ruga in Walthamstow Village.

First Valentines at home – just after we’d got moved house and got married.

Our most likely Valentine’s Day restaurant these days is Le Chat Noir… AKA our dining room which when in home restaurant mode is so nicknamed after a restaurant we discovered once on holiday, Le Velo Noir in Noirmoutier-en-isle, France.  We would normally celebrate our Valentine’s on the Friday nearest to the 14th when we can get my mother to Ted-sit.  Only this year, what does loving husband do on said Friday? He arranges a reunion with university friends in Leicester.

I didn’t mind too much, after all he was back at home on the actual 14th and my mom came anyway so we sat watching Lost together eating Weight Watcher’s pizza.  When my husband came home yesterday, he’d done one of his rare romantic gestures and brought me back a lovely pink apron covered in cupcakes.  I love it. And he’d replaced my split green silicon spatula. Now there’s thoughtful for you.

So tonight is the 14th and we’ve exchanged cards and kisses but I’m ashamed to say I have no romantic meal planned. There’s a bottle of something pink and fizzy downstairs but I can’t even drink that these days unless I want to pay the consequences afterwards. It’s been a very tiring week making and selling over 200 cupcakes for Cake A Difference so I need to put my feet up. Preferably on someone’s lap.

Ingredients for Chocolate and Raspberry Trifles 
Makes 4 wine glass sized individual desserts
For the jelly 
1 sachet of sugar free raspberry jelly (you can use normal jelly if you prefer)
150g raspberries
Some leftover pieces of chocolate sponge, maximum of 2-3 cupcake bases worth 

For the custard 
200ml single cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
2-3 heaped tbsp cornflour
A touch of pink gel food colouring (optional)
50g raspberries

For the chocolate cream topping
180ml double cream
1 tbsp cocoa powder

For the chocolate ganache decoration: 40g dark chocolate broken into squares
25ml cream (single or double, doesn’t matter)

Method: 1. Make up your sugar free jelly in a plastic jug using 400ml boiling water from the kettle. My sachet said to use a pint of water but I prefer a firmer set so always use less than the instructions say.  Allow to cool until lukewarm.
2. Pour the liquid jelly equally between four wine glasses. Allow 100mls per glass.  Drop 5-6 raspberries into each glass.
3. Slice your chocolate sponge pieces into chunks around 2cm thick and no more than 8cm wide. You will need around 8 pieces of sponge. Lay the sponge pieces gently on the surface of the jellies submerging them slightly beneath the liquid with your finger.  Allow to cool completely and then leave in the fridge for 3-4 hours to set.

4. To make the custard, heat the cream in a medium size saucepan until it’s about to come to the boil then turn down. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla extract until thick and creamy. Stir in the cream mixture beating all the while and then returning to a low to moderate heat. Stir continuously for 8-10 minutes.
5.To thicken, decant a spoonful of the milky egg liquid into a glass and mix with 1 tbsp of cornflour.  Return this to the pan and continue to stir on a moderate heat. Repeat with a further table spoon of cornflour until the custard goes very thick. It might be a little lumpy but don’t worry about that as we will be blending it soon.
6. When the custard is completely cold, stir in a few drops of pink food colouring and drop in the remaining raspberries.  Use a hand blender to blend in the raspberries and this will also sort out any lumps in the custard.

7. To make the chocolate topping, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler with the cream. When mixed thoroughly, pour the chocolate out onto a piece of baking parchment on a tray.  Allow to cool and solidify.  When completely cold and solid, use a table knife to scrape at the surface and make flakes or cut small pieces that you will later sprinkle on top of the trifles. 8. Remove the jellies from the fridge and spoon equal amounts of custard into the glasses.
9. Beat your double cream and cocoa powder with an electric mixer until it stands in peaks.  You can either spoon directly on top of the custards or pipe it on with a star nozzle for a retro effect.
10. Spike pieces of the chocolate ganache into the cream.  Return to the fridge to chill thoroughly. Serve cold. They will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days so you can make them ahead for an impressive dessert.

My red backdrop today is inspired by the film poster for Trois Couleurs: Rouge

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