The group I was traveling with had dinner at the home of a very lovely family somewhere outside of Wolverhampton.
I don't remember much else about dinner or the family (hey, it was a long time ago), but I sure do remember dessert.
I had no idea what the heck a trifle was, but I sure knew that I was in love.
Even a couple of decades later-ish, the memory of that trifle is still strong in my memory.
So, when my niece tweeted me a picture of a trifle and asked if I could make her one while she was in town, there was only one right answer... It's a little known fact that Aunt Cher takes requests. She was smart enough to figure it out on her own.
Fortunately, her request was for a dessert where I had the proper serving dish sitting in my pantry (compliments of my sister - who I am pretty sure has made it one of her life missions to ensure that I have presentable serving dishes).
I think trifle is a great dish to customize to the seasons - gingerbread and cinnamon cream in the winter, pears and pastry cream in the fall, blueberries and lemon curd in late summer... Just go wild with it...
In this version, a yogurt loaf cake (or pound cake) is topped with fresh summer fruit and a whipped cream cheese mixture. I know this isn't 100% traditional/ authentic (please don't call the trifle police on me); but after one bite, I don't think anyone is going to start complaining. If they do, grab the fork right out of their hands and claim their plate for your own.
Summer Fruit Trifle
Adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs granulated sugar
2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 Tbs vanilla extract
4 nectarines or peaches, pitted and sliced into 8 pieces
2 pints fresh berries (any combination of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbs apricot jam
3 Tbs spiced rum
20 ounces of pound cake or other loaf cake cut into 1" chunks (I like to use this one)
In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a flat beater, beat together cream cheese and half cup of sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy - about 3 minutes. Don't skimp on this step - it makes a difference. Switch to the whisk attachment and slowly beat in heavy cream at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Can be made a couple hours ahead - cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a medium bowl, combine all fruit, cinnamon and remaining 2 Tbs sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together rum and jam until smooth.
In a 3-quart trifle dish, arrange ~1/3 of the cake in the bottom of the dish. Brush 1/3 (3 Tbs of the jam mixture). Top with 1/3 of the fruit mixture (~2 cups). Spread 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture on top. Top with another 1/3 of cake, followed by another 3 Tbs of jam mixture - followed by another 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture, followed by another 2 cups of fruit. Top with remaining cake, followed by remaining jam, cream cheese mixture and fruit. (*If you are feeling especially artistic, the last 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture can be placed in a pastry bag and piped on)
Cover well and refrigerate for 3-6 hours before serving.