Hey guys! Good to see you again! I’ve been a little MIA around here lately, but I’ve just been gone. Like, A LOT. Out livin’ life and seein’ the sights and not really cooking too much because dinner has mostly been consisting of me eating Wawa hoagies standing up at my kitchen counter at 10PM. True story. [Sorry, that was a serious run on sentence]
My most recent adventure was a “ski” weekend in the Poconos with a big group of friends from my neighborhood. I put the word ski in quotes because I didn’t actually go skiing. I don’t ski. I love trying new things but if there are two things I’ve learned about myself over the past almost 27 years its that I definitely don’t like cold weather and I’m definitely not coordinated. Skiing just ain’t for me.
What I am coordinated enough to master though, is a long weekend of lounging around at a mountain house. It was actually the perfect weekend in my books. We got up early on Saturday morning and I made a big breakfast for the skiers before they went out to hit the slopes. The next few glorious hours consisted of me stretching out in a window seat, simultaneously sipping a coffee and a mimosa, while reading the book I’ve been neglecting due to busyness [ugh, such a terrible excuse] and enjoying the view of the snow drifted forest that flanked the property. I followed that up with a run on the back country roads and a trip into town with Roommate. After grabbing a drink at one of the local establishments, we headed back to the house to prepare dinner for the hungry boys [and girl!].
While cooking can be something of a chore to most people, I actually find it to be a complete and therapeutic joy. There are few things I love as much as taking to the kitchen and creating something out of virtually nothing. There are probably even fewer things I adore as much as serving a meal to a crowd. It doesn’t even have to be a crowd, really just serving a meal to anyone. Food is most definitely my love language and my absolute favorite way to show someone that I care. Roommate and I had a blast putting together an Italian feast [and splitting a bottle of red] for our friends while they were out on the mountain all day.
For appetizers we served a spread of cured meats and cheeses, olives, pickled veggies, and whipped ricotta with grilled bread. The main course was pasta with meat sauce, sweet sausage with peppers and onions, and tons of grilled vegetables. And for dessert? Now this is what I’m really excited to tell you about! I made my own twist on tiramisu. Instead of the typical combination of lady fingers and boozey glaze, I turned my tiramisu into a trifle layering a sweet cinnamony cake with espresso mousse, chocolate chips, and marscapone whipped cream. Total creamy decadence. This is definitely a make-ahead dessert, but it keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for a few days, so feel free to break the process up to keep it from turning intimidating.
- 1 boxed yellow cake mix, made to package instructions
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 2 Tbs espresso powder*
- 4 oz mini chocolate chips
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese**
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Large trifle dish
*Use espresso powder, not instant coffee. I buy my espresso powder at William and Sonoma.
**If you can’t find mascarpone cheese, use 8 oz whipped cream cheese [that’s what I did here!]
Prepare the yellow cake in a 9×13 pan according to the package instructions, adding 1 tsp of cinnamon to the batter. Let the cake cool completely and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
To make the mousse, fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar on high speed for 3 minutes or until light in color and very thick. In a saucepan heat 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 Tbs of espresso powder over low heat until very hot, but not quite simmering. Stirring vigurously the whole time to keep to keep the eggs from scrambling, slowly pour the hot cream into the eggs in the mixer. Transfer the whole mixture back to the saucepan and heat, stirring the whole time, over low heat for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Transfer it to a bowl, and allow it to cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, whip 1 1/2 cups of cream in a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Remove the espresso custard from the refrigerator and gently fold the whipped cream into it until it is evenly distributed. Be sure not to mix aggressively so as not to let the air out of the cream. Return the mousse to the refrigerator to chill for another 2 hours [or overnight]. It will thicken considerably, but don’t worry if it is still a little bit runny.
To make the mascarpone whipped cream, combine an 8 oz package of mascarpone cheese or whipped cream cheese with 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks form.
To assemble the trifle, layer 1/3 of the cake cubes in the bottle of the dish. Top the cake with 1/3 of the espresso mousse, 1/3 of the chocolate chips, and 1/3 of the whipped cream. Continue the layering two more times, ending with the whipped cream on top. Garnish with additional chocolate chips, chocolate shavings [like I did!], or whole espresso beans.
I like this trifle best when it has been chilled in the refrigerator over night, but it’s totally fine to serve it immediately!
The recipe is an original but I used my favorite Betty Crocker mousse as a starter.
Let food be your love language!