Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Holidays Overseas - Austrian and British Holiday Desserts!

One of my best friends moved to London several years ago and has enjoyed numerous new treats in her new(ish) hometown. Some of them were winners (as seen below!), some of them not so much (not a fan of the mince meat pies). As a special guest feature, she's provided some delicious sounding desserts from her holiday adventures in England and Austria. Thanks Lanie!

This looks like a good recipe to use for a trifle since it shows you where you can alter it to personalize to your own tastes. T's mom makes hers with cake, fruit cocktail, sherry, and a red jelly/jello layer on the bottom, a custard layer, and a whipped cream layer on top. To ensure the layered effect you have to refrigerate inbetween layers for an hour or so or until it's set.

This is the trifle from celebrations at various homes and from the 1952 Queen's Coronation street parties. You can make in individual dishes or in one big bowl, glass preferred. If you use two layers of jelly/Jell-o, also use large, relatively shallow container or the trifle will be too high for serving easily.

Build in the following layers:
Sponge-type cake (pound cake will do) either crumbled or cut in pieces to fit bottom of container, perhaps an inch or so, give or take.

Gently pour GOOD sherry over (e.g., Harvey's Bristol Cream) until cake is nicely soaked. Stale cake is really good because it soaks up more sherry. As noted in other recipes, Swiss or jelly roll cut in slices is appropriate, especially in a glass bowl because it looks pretty if you put halves around the sides as well.

Optional - sprinkle thinly sliced or slivered almonds over soaked cake.

Pour on a layer of jelly/Jell-o. Wait until it has cooled and has just started to set, otherwise pieces of cake and almonds will float in it. Keep a close eye - you know how fast it sets once it starts! To hurry the process, after jelly/Jell-o is dissolved in HALF required boiling water, use part ice cubes for remainder and put in fridge. If it's a Chistmas trifle you might want to use red jelly/Jell-o. You may also include fruit in this layer, such as canned sliced peaches or bananas, fresh strawberries or raspberries are also nice, if you can find them.

Optional - after first layer of jelly/Jell-o has set, you may pour over another layer, possibly green this time, also with or without fruit, canned or fresh, also on edge of setting (you do not want layers to bleed or fruit to sink.)

Optional - custard, cooled before pouring, otherwise jelly layer bleeds into it. Cool thoroughly before using whipped cream.

Whipped cream - spread and made fancy with basketweave by pulling a fork over the surface, or piped. Garnish with sliced almonds or walnuts and glace/candied cherries. If you can find it, use crystallised/candied angelica for stems and leaves on cherry flowers. Keep it fairly simple.

When serving be sure and scoop up the sherry-soaked cake with each portion. It's the best part!

(Perhaps you've experienced this chocolate decadence before... now try making it at home)

One of Austria's most famous cakes, created in 1832 by master baker Franz Sacher to please the prince. Later his descendants built and operated the Sacher Hotel and made this delicious cake their specialty.

Preperation time: 2 hours
Baking/cooking time: 1 hour
Serves 12

5 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 stick plus 3 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
12 oz. apricot jam at room temperature

Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by cutting waxed paper the exact size of the base of the pan. (Measure the circle for the base by putting the pan on top of the waxed paper and drawing a circle around it.) Then cut a 29X2 1/4-inch strip for the sides. Insert waxed paper in the pan.

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a double boiler, heat the chocolate until melted. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar. Add melted chocolate, then add egg yolks, one at a time, beating continuously until creamy. In another bowl, sift flour and baking powder together. In a third bowl, using clean beaters, beat egg whites and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Add egg whites to chocolate mixture. Sift flour mixture onto the eggwhites, a little at a time. Fold egg whites and flour carefully into chocolate mixture.

Pour into prepared pan, spreading batter evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes. (Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.). Remove cake from oven, remove springform rim, carefully peel off side paper, allow cake to cool slightly.
Turn onto a cake plate and remove base of pan and waxed paper. Slice cake horizontally, spread bottom later with jam, and replace top layer.

Chocolate Icing:
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. butter
a few drops fresh lemon juice
8 to 10 tbsp. hot water

Melt chocolate in double boiler. Add powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, and hot water - one tbsp. at a time - to get right consistency for spreading on a cake. While icing is still hot, spread over top and sides of cake, and allow icing to cool completely.

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