Christmas recipe favourites

What is Christmas without trifle?
My own children never really liked it, but when I was a child we always had trifle for Christmas Day or Boxing Day tea – along with all the other goodies – Christmas cake, mince pies, yule log,  sausage rolls, mounds of ham, and at my dad’s insistence – to accompany the salads, a huge jug of celery sticks  – hate the stuff, personally!
But back to the trifle. This year I made a ‘retro’ version – an ‘homage’ to  a popular drink of the sixties – a ‘rum and black’ – a measure of rum with some blackcurrant cordial – quite sickly, in fact – well, after the third! –  but an excellent base for a trifle.
These are the ingredients for 4 individual trifles:  (obviously there’s scope here to amend / adjust / substitute to allow for personal taste)
1 Pkt blackcurrant jelly (sugar free)
Sponge cake – I found a pkt of 4 blueberry muffins reduced to 59 p – bargain!
Ribena – other cordials are available!
Rum! Of course ! – you only need a couple of spoonfuls – best not to waste it!
Cocoa Powder – 2 lge heaped tbsps
Milk – for the custard which needs to be fairly thick so 3/4 pint of whole or semi skimmed
1 lge tbsp. cornflour to thicken custard
1 tbsp. caster sugar
500 ml double cream
Choc drops or other decoration
Sm punnet fresh blackberries
Blackcurrant jam
Method – well, trifle is more an assembly job than much actual cooking, but it does require some planning – it needs time to chill so it’s not a case of ‘this can be prepared earlier’ more that ‘you NEED to prepare this earlier’  so it can set in stages and chill properly. Do it 1 or 2 days before you need it.
1.    Mix the rum with some cordial and warm through. Soak all the blackberries in this the day before.
2. I don’t like using trifle sponges – too insubstantial, so I used some blueberry muffins I found reduced – perfect. Break into pieces or slice and spread with jam.
3. Divide blackberries  – 2 or 3 in the bottom of each individual trifle dish and leave some for decorating  the top of each trifle.
4. Make up jelly solution and leave to cool.
5. In each dish – place sponge on top of blackberries and pour rum solution from Step 1 on top – you may need to add more to soak sponge. If you don’t want any alcohol – why are you reading this recipe!! No, just kidding – omit the rum! Add the jelly solution and leave somewhere cool to set.
(Next day)
6. Heat 3/4 pint of milk.
7. Blend cornflour to a paste with a little milk. Take the pan off the heat and add the cornflour to thicken into a sauce. Whisk in the cocoa powder and add a very small amount of sugar  – you don’t want this chocolate sauce to be over sweet.
8. Once cooked to a fairly thick consistency allow to cool and then  pour over jelly/sponge mixture.
Allow to cool.
9. This is the fun part – decorating the top!  Whip up some double cream, smooth that over the top and then add whatever decoration you like – the remaining blackberries, steeped in rum and black, obviously, some choc drops and, in my case this year, some little white chocolate and cassis ‘bombs’ I found in a delicatessen on a pre-Christmas trip to Cardiff.

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