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Spiced plum, cherry and coffee trifle with cardamom crumb

Need a Christmas dessert to impress? Look here.

By Ismat Awan
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 30 mins cooking (plus chilling, cooling)
  • Serves 10 - 12
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Heady with spice, coffee and summer fruit, this cheerful trifle is a lot of fun to put together. (And to make things a little easier, we've used store-bought sponge and Madeira cakes for the base.) It's made for Christmas dessert.

Ingredients

  • 900 gm store-bought cakes (see note)
Spiced plum and cherry compote
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 4 cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 220 gm gm (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 6 blood plums, stones removed and quartered
  • 300 gm cherries, pitted and halved, plus extra whole cherries to serve
Cardamom crumb
  • 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 75 gm (⅓ cup) demerara sugar
  • 110 gm unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp milk
Coffee syrup
Mascarpone cream
  • 500 gm mascarpone
  • 600 ml thickened cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean extract
  • 80 gm (½ cup) icing sugar, sifted

Method

  • 1
    For spiced plum and cherry compote, place spices, ginger and bay in the centre of a piece of muslin cloth, then secure with kitchen string. Place 500ml water and sugar in a large saucepan and stir over low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add plums and cherries and cook, stirring occasionally, until plums are tender but still hold their shape (30 minutes). Set aside and cool to room temperature; remove and discard spice bundle. Transfer plums and cooking liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate until required.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a large oven tray with baking paper. For cardamom crumb, sift flour, baking powder, cardamom and ¼ tsp fine salt into a large bowl. Stir in demerara sugar, then rub in butter and milk with fingertips until clumps form. Scatter mixture over prepared tray. Bake, occasionally tossing and breaking up the mixture, until golden and crisp (20-25 minutes). Set aside to cool completely then store in an airtight container until required.
  • 3
    For coffee syrup, bring 250ml water to the boil in a small saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir until sugar and coffee dissolve. Transfer to a jar; cool, then refrigerate until required.
  • 4
    For mascarpone cream, whisk ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (3-5 minutes). Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • 5
    To assemble trifle, trim outsides of sponge and Maderia cakes. Cut one sponge in half, brush with coffee syrup, then place in 2.5-litre glass trifle bowl, pushing sponge flush up against the side, leaving a gap in the centre. Cut the second sponge into thirds. Brush the middle section with coffee syrup and use to fill the sponge cake gap. Cut the remaining thirds of sponge and the Maderia cake into 3cm cubes.
  • 6
    Remove plums and cherries from compote with a slotted spoon, then place over the sponge layer and drizzle with a little compote juice. Top with half the mascarpone cream and scatter with some of the cardamom crumbs. Brush cake cubes with remaining coffee syrup and place over mascarpone cream. Scatter over more cardamom crumb, before finishing with remaining cream, some more cardamom crumb and extra cherries. Refrigerate for 20 minutes for flavours to meld.

Notes

For store-bought cake, we used 460gm double unfilled sponge and 450gm Madeira cake. Spiced plum and cherry compote, cardamom crumb and coffee syrup can be made a day ahead.