Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas Choc-Berry Bonanaza!

Every year, my work colleagues and I get together for a big Christmas morning tea. A lot of us really enjoy cooking, so people tend to bake up a storm with all sorts of tasty delights to share (and we always over cater, so we inevitably end up inviting everyone in the building to come down and join us so nothing goes to waste) Usually I make something savoury - a vegetable tart, savoury muffins, little meatballs and dipping sauce - stuff like that.

This year I looked in the fridge and realised I had lots of beautiful seasonal fruit and thought I would base my dish around that and do something sweet. I also wanted something that looked a bit festive, so my first thought was a traditional trifle, made with jelly and custard - just like we always seemed to have at Christmas when I was a kid. Then I was thinking that a rich berry mousse might be nice. In the end I came up with my version of a trifle that merged both ideas - a white chocolate and berry mousse trifle. I was really happy with how it turned it, and it tasted really delicious. It is pretty rich, and you would serve smallish portions, so you could feed quite a big group of people with a trifle the size of mine - not that big.

Although it was really easy to put together, ideally you need to start the recipe a day ahead. This means that everything can set properly. This is important, as the mousse is not one of those super firm style mixtures. It does not contain gelatin, so although the mousse does firm up enough to hold together nicely, it has a fairly soft texture that requires chilling overnight.

So, what did I do? First, I used a couple of packets of good old fashioned Aeroplane Port Wine Jelly and made it according to the instructions. I poured this into a trifle dish and added a handful of berries over the bottom. Then, I let the jelly set until firm.

Next, I made up a big batch of white chocolate mousse. (You will find the recipe below) When it was done, I divided the mixture in half, and to one of the bowls of mixture I added just under a cup of fresh, pureed raspberries. You could probably use frozen ones, but I would drain them really well before pureeing them, as all of the extra moisture may cause issues with the mousse setting. The next step was to cut 2 pieces of sponge cake to the size of the trifle bowl, and gently push it down onto the jelly layer, brushing it with some strawberry liqueur when I was finished.

After the first sponge layer was in place, I poured the raspberry mousse into the bowl - then the second layer of sponge, a brush with the liqueur again, and then the plain white chocolate mousse over that. The trifle then went in to the fridge overnight to set, covered in plastic wrap. I decorated the trifle just prior to serving with fresh strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

 White Chocolate and Berry Mousse Trifle
This would be a really nice do-ahead Christmas dessert - either as a large dish, or in small individual serves. I was thinking of lots of summery variations to this - passionfruit and mango, coconut and lime, peach and raspberry. Alternatively, you could ditch the fruit focus and make it with dark chocolate, kirsch liqueur and cherries, to make a sort of black forest trifle. All of that would be easy to adapt.

Here is my basic white chocolate mousse recipe to get you started. You could easily serve it as a mousse on it's own - or do what I did and make it the basis for another dessert.

White Chocolate Mousse

You will need: 350g White Chocolate, 1/3 cup milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the good stuff - not the faux "essence"), 3 large eggs separated, 375ml Cream.

Method: Melt the chocolate, milk and vanilla in a double boiler (or do what I do and use a small metal mixing bowl sitting over a pan of boiling water. Make sure the water isn't touching the bowl, or it will be too hot and the mixture may go too far and harden) Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

While the chocolate is cooling, whip the cream until firm. Set aside.

Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture and whisk together well - the warmth of the mixture will gently cook the eggs to form a sort of custard like consistency.

Take a very clean and dry metal bowl and beat the egg whites until firm. Remember that egg whites will not firm up when beaten if there is even a tiny amount of oil/butter or other fat in the bowl - even some residue in a plastic bowl will ruin them - which is why we never whip our egg whites in plastic. It doesn't hurt to be a bit OCD with your metal bowl either and give it a couple of good washes to make sure it is super clean.

Now fold the cream and the chocolate mixture together until combined.

Next, gently fold through the egg whites through the cream/chocolate mixture. Spoon into dessert cups or use as part of a trifle or gateaux like I did.

Variations: You could of course use dark chocolate or any other kind that takes your fancy for this mousse. You can also turn this in to a fruit flavoured mousse by making up the white chocolate version, but adding about a cup of fruit puree to the mixture. I used just under a cup of fresh pureed raspberries for the raspberry mousse in my trifle. Mango or passionfruit would be a lovely alternative.

This recipe serves 6 people as individual servings. Double the recipe if you are using the mousse for a trifle or dessert like mine, and you want a couple of layers.


  1. Dear GG - a lovely light alternative for Xmas pudding thank you. I have a question. I am a bit challenged in terms of kitchen equipment and generally make do but one of the recipes I am going to try and emulate for Xmas lunch (balsamic infused cherry sauce/dressing for my grilled/baked skin on salmon fillets) requires a blender to chop it all up first - could I simply cover in water, bring to boil and melt them down that way????

  2. Hi lovely - I think that would work fine, as long as you just cut everything as small as you can manage to start with - then perhaps a small amount of water to bind it all and then simmer. You can always add a little more water if it is too thick, but avoid going crazy with too much water first up., in case it is too thin in texture.The result will be a bit more rustic looking I'd imagine, but I'm sure that would't be a problem.The tastes are all still there! Sounds lovely! XX

  3. A stunning looking trifle! Looks delicious :D