Spiced Shiraz Poached Pear Trifle

This showpiece of a trifle ticks all the festive boxes, with layers of delicious spiced flavours and textures topped with a jewel like crown of red poached pears. An impressive finale to any ocassion.

The bowl provides a perfect window to the layers of cherry wine jelly, vanilla bean custard, ginger sponge and cream mingled with more of those spicy pears and topped with a buttery cinnamon crumble and mini meringues

Claudia Anton – thesugarologist

You will need:

  • One trifle bowl or large glass bowl.
  • Room in the fridge to chill the trifle.

Claudia used a 5 itre sized bowl from Wilkie brothers – which holds a very decent quantity of trifle to feed a large family

Spiced Shiraz Poached Pear Trifle

Sour Cherry Jelly

500g frozen sour cherries
1000 ml apple juice (clear type) or red grape juice
50g sugar
approximately 12-13 leaves of gelatine (gold strength)

Heat the cherries, apple juice and sugar to simmering point, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 mins. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit for another 10 minutes before straining into a large jug.
The fruit can be pressed lightly to release a little juice, just not too hard or the jelly will become cloudy.
Allow the liquid to cool down to a warm temperature, then measure the quantity.
You will need 3 gelatine leaves per 250ml of liquid.
Soak the leaves for 5 minutes in cold water. Squeeze out the water and stir the gelatine into the warm cherry liquid until dissolved.
Place a 250ml glass upside down in the centre of the trifle bowl – this helps to support the heavier ingredients on top. Pour the warm jelly into the base of the bowl and allow it to set overnight.

* Note that dark cherries can be substituted for sour cherries and will produce a sweeter jelly.
A little lemon juice can be added in this case to balance the flavour of the jelly.

Shiraz Poached Pears

6 poaching pears (such as Beurre Bosc)
1 bottle of shiraz
150g raw sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
6 cardamon pods
5 cloves
4 slices of orange

Heat up the wine with the sugar and spices in a large deep pot, just big enough to hold the pears.
Peel the pears leaving the stalks intact.
Place the pears sitting upright, snuggly in the pot. It can help to trim the bottom a little to help them sit up.
Add a little water if the pears aren’t quite covered.
Cover the pears with a cartouche and simmer for 25minutes. Allow the pears to cool in the poaching liquid.
Save 3 of the best looking pears for the top and slice the rest to use in the trifle. Make sure you keep the poaching liquid to soak the sponge pieces.

Vanilla bean custard

200g raw sugar
8 egg yolks
70g cornflour
2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 split vanilla bean
1 litre milk
300ml cream
pinch of salt

Pour the milk and cream in a saucepan with the vanilla bean paste or split vanilla bean.
If using a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add them to the milk. Rinse the bean and keep for making vanilla sugar.
Heat the milk over medium heat until just about to boil, stirring occasionally to stop it catching on the bottom of the saucepan.
While the milk is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and pale. Whisk in the cornflour and salt.
Add a little of the hot milk to the egg yolks and whisk together, then add the rest of the milk and mix well before pouring everything back into the saucepan.
Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat and bring the custard to boil. Boil for a minute to thicken.
Cool in a bowl covered in cling film and allow the custard to cool before layering.

Cinnamon Almond Crumble

100g unsalted butter – cubed and chilled
125g plain flour
75g brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
good pinch sea salt flakes
60g flaked almonds

Whizz together all the ingredients except for the almonds in a food processor until just combined and of a crumbly consistency. Remove into a bowl and stir in the almonds. Spread the crumble onto a tray, squeezing it into little chunks as you do so.
Bake at 190 deg C FF for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool. Break up any larger pieces.

Ginger sponge

4 eggs
125g raw caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
pinch salt
100g plain flour
15g cornflour
2 teaspoons ginger powder
pinch of nutmeg
40g unsalted butter , melted and cooled

Grease and line the base of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper. Sift together the flour, cornflour, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
Gently whisk the eggs, vanilla and sugar over a double boiler until warm (42 degrees C).
Transfer to a mixer with a whisk attachment and beat on high until the mixture is pale, thick and creamy. (around 6 minutes)
Sift over the flour mixture in portions and fold in to the egg foam. Mix a 1/4 cup of the mixture with the butter then fold it into the batter until just incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at 180 deg C fan forced, for around 20 mins or until springy in the middle.

Cool sponge in the tin for 10 minutes before inverting it on a tray. Cool before use.

Mini meringues

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 cardamon pods

Line one or two baking trays wit baking paper. Wipe out a clean metal of glass mixing bowl with vinegar.
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are starting to foam.
Gradually sprinkle in the sugar while beating, and continue to beat until stiff and all of the sugar has dissolved.
Grind the pods to a powder, removing any husks. Mix into the meringue at the end.
Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe out small kisses onto the lined tray.

Bake at 90-100 deg C for 1 1/2 hours or until crisp. Turn down if starting to brown.
Store until ready to use.

Whipped chantilly cream

600ml thickened cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons caster sugar

Beat together ingredients until soft peaks have formed. Chill.

To decorate:

Extra cinnamon sticks and whole star anise.

To assemble the trifle:

Break apart the cooled ginger sponge and spread over the set layer of cherry jelly. Remove any overly dry areas of crust.
Spoon some reserved poaching liquid over the sponge to soak generously. A little fortified spirit (port, Pedro Ximenez, muscat) could be sprinkled over the sponge at this point too if desired (for adults)
Top the sponge with the cooled custard.
Arrange the sliced poached pears over the custard layer then top with peaks of whipped cream, focussing on piling more round the edges.
Arrange the whole poached pears in the middle of the bowl and decorate the top of the trifle with scattered crumble and meringues, along with cinnamons sticks and star anise.

Keep chilled until ready to serve.

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