The original of this Nigella Lawson recipe, from her cookbook Feast (Hyperion 2004), yielded enough to feed 16. This is adapted for a smaller crowd, while upping the custard ratio and swapping devil's food cake for chocolate pound cake. The result is a stunning Black Forest twist on the classic. Note, this is an overnight preparation.
Makes 8 servings
12 ounces purchased or made-from-a-box devil's food cake
1/4 cup black cherry jam
1/4 cup cherry brandy
1 cup jarred sour cherries, drained
For The Custard
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped (plus more for grating)
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
For The Topping
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
Slice the chocolate cake about 1/2-inch thick and make jam sandwiches with the cherry jam. Line the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl with the sandwiches. Pour the cherry brandy over the sandwiches and top with the drained cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to macerate for about 20 minutes while you make the custard.
For the custard, melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4 minutes. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted. Once the chocolate is melted, set aside.
Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl, whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, and pour the custard back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the custard thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring all the time and making sure it doesn't boil. (The custard should coat the back of a wooden spoon when it's ready and should be thick when warm, but it does continue to thicken as it cools.) Pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set, covered in plastic wrap overnight.
When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream with confectioners' sugar and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate chocolate over the top.