Refrigeration time: 6 hours or overnight, plus 2 hours on day of serving
For the custard
butter, for greasing
4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
40g (1½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (3 tbsp)
½ tsp vanilla extract
300ml (10 fl oz) single/table cream (1¼ cups)
300ml (10 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
For the topping
4–6 tbsp golden caster/superfine sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
100g (3½ oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (½ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch
You will also need 6 x 150ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup) heatproof ramekins
For the custard
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) gas 3.
Lightly grease ramekins with butter and put to one side.
Boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, line a deep-sided ovenproof dish or small roasting tin/pan with a layer of kitchen paper and sit the six ramekins on the paper (the paper prevents the ramekins from slipping).
Next pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.
While the cream is cooling, put the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Then gradually pour in the cream, while whisking at the same time, until the cream and egg mixture is blended together. Strain the custard into a jug and then divide amongst the six ramekins.
Carefully pour enough of the boiling water into the ovenproof dish or roasting tin/pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as the custard still needs to have a slight wobble to it. Remove the dish from the oven and leave the ramekins in the water until the water has cooled.
Now take the ramekin dishes out of the water, cover them and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
Sprinkle 2–3 teaspoons of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin. The sugar needs to cover the custard completely.
Now caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.
Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.
For the topping, without using a chef’s blowtorch
First, have a piece of parchment paper ready on the counter top. Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar. Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved. Then increase the heat to medium–high. Without stirring, leave the sugar to bubble fiercely. When the bubbling lessens and the sugar has turned a pale straw colour it will be ready. Carefully, pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.
Now turn on the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to become really hot.
The caramel will have hardened on cooling. Break it into small pieces and blitz in a food processor or blender until there are really fine granules (finer than caster sugar). Sprinkle evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.
Put the ramekins on a baking tray and place under the heat source, as close as possible. Cook for less than a minute, not letting the sugar burn. The heat just needs to melt the sugar.
Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.
142ml (5 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (⅔ cup)
150g Greek yogurt (⅔ cup)
4 rounded tsp dark muscovado/soft dark brown sugar
14g (½ oz) blanched almonds (12)
You will need 4 glass dessert dishes for this recipe.
Wash and stone the plums. If they are small, leave them halved but if they are large, cut into quarters. Put them in a wide, shallow pan with the sugar, one half of the vanilla pod, strips of lemon peel and 1 tablespoon water. Then bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Now reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and continue cooking until the plums are soft but still keeping their shape, about 10–15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, put the cream in a small pan with the remaining half of vanilla pod. Heat until it just begins to simmer and then pour into a bowl and leave to cool. Cover and chill until needed.
Next put the almonds in a small frying pan/skillet and, over a gentle heat, toast until they are just beginning to turn colour and smell nutty. Toss them frequently. Leave to cool and then chop.
Once the plums are cool, discard the vanilla pod and lemon strips. Test for sweetness. Adding 2 teaspoons of caster/superfine sugar if they are still a little tart. Spoon the plums and juice into the four glass dishes.
Now remove the vanilla pod from the chilled cream and add the yogurt. Whisk gently until the mixture has softly thickened and holds its shape. Then spoon the cream mixture over the plums and level the surface.
Sprinkle 1 rounded teaspoon of the muscovado/soft dark brown sugar over the cream in each pot.
Sprinkle over the chopped almonds.
Cover and chill for 3 hours. (The sugar on the top will have melted.)
This is a really light trifle. Not what you normally think of as a trifle although it uses the same ingredients. It’s very refreshing for a summer dessert and looks good too.
This very light summer trifle has a selection of seasonal fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, black and red currants, tossed in a fruit purée and surrounded with little boozy sponge fingers coated in a vanilla custard.
Pour the milk in a small pan and add the vanilla pod or vanilla extract. Slowly heat on the lowest setting for 10 minutes, without boiling.
Meanwhile put the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk in the sugar to make a paste.
Slowly stir the milk and vanilla into the egg and sugar until the mixture is smooth. Return the custard to the pan and stir, over a low heat, until it begins to thicken. Do not let it boil. You want it to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and cool.
Meanwhile, cut each sponge finger in half and lay in a shallow bowl. Drizzle over the wine or sherry.
Now wash and pat dry the fruits. Remove the currants from their stalks, hull and halve the strawberries. Set aside half the berries and currants, picking out the best. Put the remainder in a food processor or blender and add the wine and sugar. Purée until smooth and then, using the back of a spoon, push through a plastic sieve to remove the pulp. Once the purée is pressed through, wipe the underside of the sieve with the spoon to get all the remaining sauce.
Roughly chop the pistachio nuts or walnuts.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and then fold in the cooled custard.
Now to arrange the plates. Carefully toss the reserved fruit with half the purée and spoon into the centre of each plate.
Divide the sponge fingers between the plates arranging them around the edge.
Pour the custard over half of each the sponge finger then sprinkle the nuts on top.
Pour the remaining purée over the fruit and serve.
12-cup bun or muffin tin lined with 9 or 12 paper baking cases. (The standard size baking cases are smaller in the U.K. and so the mixture will be enough to make 12. Being larger in North America, they will only make 9.)
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)
Sift the flour into a bowl and put to one side.
Lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl using a balloon whisk. Again, put to one side.
Now cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy using a free-standing mixer or hand-held electric mixer.
Next, gradually beat in the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Fold in the remaining flour adding the milk to make a soft consistency.
Spoon into the baking cases, filling them two-thirds full.
Bake for 15–18 minutes until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched with the tip of the finger.
Leave for one minute and then remove the cakes to a cooling rack to become cold.
For the buttercream filling
Beat the butter until it is really soft.
Slowly add half the icing/powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Then beat in the remaining sugar along with the vanilla extract until soft and creamy.
Cut a cone from the centre of each cake using a small pointed knife held at angle. Cut each cone in half to create two wings.
Next, spoon a generous portion of buttercream into each hole and carefully place each pair of ‘wings’ on top with the cut edges facing down into the buttercream.