Mulled wine pear trifle
Serves 12-14 | prep 50 mins | total time
For the pears and jelly
- 6-8 small ripe but firm pears, peeled (we used Conference)
- 1 x 75cl bottle fruity red wine such as a Shiraz
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 175g caster sugar
- pared zest of 1 lemon
- pared zest and juice of 1 orange
- 5 sheets Dr Oetker leaf gelatine
For the custard
- 350ml whole milk
- 200ml double cream
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 5 large egg yolks
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 35g cornflour
For the gilded nuts
- 75g caster sugar
- 75g blanched almonds
- 1 x pack of gold leaf (2 sheets)
For the trifle
- 1 x 285g Madeira cake
- 5 tbsp sweet sherry (we used pale cream)
- 400ml double cream
- 30g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp brandy
The caramelised nuts can be made 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight container. Make the poached pears up to 2 days ahead. Assemble the trifle up to the end of step 6 a day ahead and keep chilled.
- At least 1 day ahead, poach the pears. Put them in a large pan with the wine, 250ml water, the spices, sugar, zests and orange juice. Bring to the boil, cover; simmer gently for 20 minutes until the pears are tender. Remove from the heat; cool completely in the wine for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Next make the custard. Heat 300ml milk and cream in a pan with the bay leaves until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the gilded nuts. Put the sugar in a small frying pan, place over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan frequently (but not stirring, as this can cause the sugar to crystallise), until the sugar has dissolved and turned into golden brown. Add the almonds, stirring gently to coat in the caramel and cook gently for a final 2 minutes to caramelise them. Tip out onto a sheet of oiled foil and leave to cool and set.
Tip Use the remainder of the spiced syrup as a basis for mulled wine – add to a bottle or two of red wine and heat gently, adding water or orange juice to dilute if you like. You can replace the homemade bay-infused custard with 1 x 500g tub chilled custard in step 8. This is softer set, so there's no need to add any milk to it before pouring it on top of the jelly.
- Once the milk has infused, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, vanilla and cornflour. Bring the flavoured milk almost back to the boil, then strain, discarding the bay leaves, over the egg yolk mixture, stirring for 2-3 mins until smooth. Pour back into the rinsed-out pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until you have a thick custard. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingflim, pressing down on the surface, cool for 30 mins, then chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- The next morning (or at least several hours before serving), lift the pears out of the mulled wine, strain and discard the spices. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes until softened. Measure 100ml of the mulled wine into a small pan and bring to the boil, and measure another 550ml into a large bowl. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the hot wine in the pan, stirring until melted, then pour this into the 550ml mulled wine. Chill in the fridge until almost set (about 2-3 hours).
- Cut the Madeira cake into roughly 2cm cubes and put in the base of a 1.8-2 litre trifle dish. Drizzle with the sherry.
- Halve the pears and scoop out the cores with a melon baller or teaspoon. Trim to remove the stalks and base, and pat dry on kitchen paper. Reserve two halves for the top of the trifle, then arrange the rest around the sides of the trifle bowl, cut-side facing outwards, then carefully pour in the nearly set jelly. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 2 hours, until set completely.
- Beat the remaining 50ml of milk into the cooled custard to loosen until smooth then pour this over the set jelly. Lightly whip the cream and sugar with the brandy until just holding its shape then pile onto the custard. Chill until ready to serve.
- Cut the reserved pears into thin wedges and arrange on top of the trifle. Break up the caramelised nuts and scatter over. Use a small dry brush to attach pieces of gold leaf to the nuts just before serving.
This takes a bit of planning – but it's worth it!