Chocolate and strawberries are traditional Valentine’s Day desserts, so here’s an easy strawberry trifle to make if you are craving something light, fruity and not too sweet – and it’s much better than my low-fat chocolate brownie disaster. As an added plus, it’s not so much made as assembled, requiring only three ingredients, cake, instant custard and strawberries.
Grocery store strawberries are not so good this time of year in Canada, so I mixed them with some strawberry freezer jam from last summer. (Click here for blog link). As I use No Sugar Pectin in my freezer jam, it’s more of a strawberry puree than a sweet jam, but you can also mush up the strawberries and add sugar to taste.
For the cake you can use those mini golden cakes from the grocery store or angel food cake, but I had some leftover cake which had been in the freezer for awhile but when thawed it was just as fresh as the day I made it.
The last time I made this dessert I used French vanilla pudding cups, but this time I decided to use the more traditional custard. I bought a package of instant custard from The British Shop, a brand recommended by the owner as I figured the British must know their custards (she also told me last year the shop spent $20,000 on import fees).
Just add 360ml of BOILING Water and stir for a minute and Voila – a nice and creamy custard. (Next time I might add a teaspoon of Vanilla extract as it was fairly bland).
As I’ve just spent a fairly productive week cleaning out the basement storage areas and reorganizing things, including some old family heirlooms and crystal, I decided to use my grandmother’s parfait glasses.
I never met my grandmother as my dad’s parents both died before I was born, but I’ve often wondered what her life was like. She married in 1919 and as an older mom had her kids at 37, 40 and 41 and died fairly young at age 65, after breaking a hip. So it’s possible these glasses are a hundred years old – maybe they were part of her wedding trousseau? My mother said they were in the old farmhouse when she got married in 1952. Or they may even have been from my great grandmother Ellen farther back in 1900, part of a collection of crystal from the Edwardian age, of which I have several pieces. I remember my mother using the matching glasses at family dinners along with her good china, but they are so thin and delicate they require hand-washing. There are only seven parfait glasses left, plus two with small handles which look like they might be hot toddy glasses. Anyway, I felt they deserved an outing sometime this century!
I crumbled the cake in the bottom, then layered the strawberries and custard, then cake again (I could have used more cake), custard and more strawberries on top. You can also garnish with whipped cream and a strawberry, but I ran out of room.
The parfait glasses seem tiny, so I suspect portion sizes were smaller back in the days of Downton Abbey. The same with plates – compare this new red Rachel Ray plate to the older pink plate from the thrift shop.
The same with supersized restaurant plates. While it’s customary to want to fill your plate, maybe that isn’t such a good idea anymore?
This makes a nice light dessert after a big meal. There’s something to be said for moderation and family tradition, and strawberries in the middle of winter!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
PS. For those of you who are mad for plaid like I am, the plaid charger plates are from Michael’s craft store, after Christmas sale – $1.50 each vs regular $8. (600 words)