This mocha and almond trifle is made with chopped cookies and almonds layered with two kinds of custard — one with amaretto liqueur; the other with coffee liqueur. The inspiration started with a photo. The finished dessert turned out to be something else because, believe or not, it was partially made with “failed cookies.”
What failed cookies?
Last Sunday, Sam saw photos of “Coraline” cookies and wanted to make them. Coraline? You know, the Neil Gaiman book about the little girl who had a duplicate family from another dimension? The duplicate mother and father had buttons for their eyes. So… “Coraline” cookies.
Anyway, since the Coraline cookies did not have a recipe but only illustrations for shaping the dough into buttons, I made a basic butter cookie dough and used that. Sam shaped the dough before the cookies were baked, the centers rose during baking and the ridged edges were not as pronounced as we wanted. The cookies tasted fabulous but Sam lost interest in dipping them in colored frosting because they weren’t so perfect. I packed some for them to bring to the condo and what was left at home, I made into this dessert.
Now, you don’t have to bake butter cookies just to make this dessert. You can use store bought butter cookies. It’s up to you.
About the trifle part in the title. There are endless variations of the trifle but, basically:
Trifle is a dessert dish made from thick (or often solidified) custard, fruit, sponge cake, fruit juice or gelatin, and whipped cream. These ingredients are usually arranged in alternating layers.
Warning: This dessert has booze. Which is what gives it the depth that makes it so rich and delicious.
Final warning: Very addictive. You might want to allot two servings per person. I am not kidding.
Mocha and almond trifle
- Make the custard. Lightly beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.
- Stir the cornstarch into the milk. Heat, stirring, until slightly thickened.
- Pour slowly into the egg-sugar mixture while whisking non-stop. You are tempering the egg yolks so they stay smooth.
- Pour the mixture back into the pan. Add the cream and salt. Cook, stirring, until thick and coats the back of a spoon. That means the custard sticks to the back of a spoon and when you drag your finger through it, the pattern remains (note to self: take photos of “coats the back of a spoon” next time).
- Divide the cooked custard into two portions.
- Into the first portion, stir in the coffee, cocoa powder and coffee liqueur.
- Into the second portion, stir in the amaretto liqueur.
- Place the cookies and almonds on a chopping board. Roughly chop. I like to have small and not-so-small pieces for contrast in texture.
- Now, the assembly. Take four small glasses, each with a capacity of about 1/2 cup.
- Place a few teaspoonfuls of the cookie-almond mixture at the bottom.
- Cover the cookie-almond mixture with about three teaspoonfuls of the coffee-flavored custard.
- Add another layer of the cookie-almond mixture and top that with the almond-flavored custard.
- Then, another layer of cookies and almonds followed by the coffee-flavored custard. The glasses should be almost full at this point. Drop the remaining almond-flavored custard right down the center of the top layer of coffee-flavored custard.
- Sprinkle whatever remains of the cookies and almonds on top. Finally, dust lightly with cocoa powder.
- Chill for at least two hours to allow the custard to set and thicken some more.