The best way I can characterize the combination of the teeth-achingly intense flavors going on in this frozen trifle is to describe it as something similar to a pint of Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra ice cream...but minus all that pesky vanilla ice cream. Who eats vanilla ice cream anyway?
Let's just quickly run down the components of this 'your dentist will love me for creating cavities' sugar-fest trifle:
1st layer: dangerously moist chocolate cake drenched in Frangelico (aka Drunk Cake)
2nd layer: heavy sprinkling of Hershey's HEATH English Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
3rd layer: salted caramel (home made!)
4th layer: salted caramel pudding (home made, cha-ching!)
NEXT, repeat again with the 4 layers, then top with Frangelico-infused dark chocolate ganache, and finally garnish with MORE salted caramel & toffee.
Really, need I say anymore.
A couple weeks back I was pleasantly surprised to have received an email from Aveem Foods who invited me to take part in the Aveem Challenge, a competition for food bloggers, writers, and cooks across Dubai. The challenge itself was pretty straight forward. Aveem delivered 3kg of sugar to my door (2kg brown sugar, 1 kg white) and said 'get to work, whip up a signature personal creation!'
The possibilities are endless, am I right? This was a open-ended contest, the only rule...use sugar.
Aveem, my kind of people.
So rather than doing another typical tart or cake, I took this challenge pretty serious. I wanted to create something that truly called for sugar as the main ingredient.
Then it came to me. Caramel. Caramel = sugar. Bingo.
But do what with caramel? Caramel sandwiched sugar cookies? Lots of sugar, but not very exciting. No, I needed to stay in my realm. My happy place. Trifles.
If you follow my blog you know I'm a lover of the trifle. Trifle's have all the qualities of cake, great textures, beautiful presentation. And huge portions. Yay's all around.
Before I proceed with the recipe, let me just say this trifle needs to be frozen before serving. Initially I didn't intend for this to be a frozen treat. After I was finished with the photography I sat with my goofy grin and a spoon to dig in. I gave myself an army-sized portion and I realized I had caramel soup in my bowl. However this is some-what normal with trifles, the presentation is in the 'before' not after. Serving trifle is not like slicing a beautiful piece of cake. It's almost impossible to photograph and have it look...hmm...delicate.
Feeling a bit weak in the knees I placed the trifle dish in the freezer to sort out my next course of action. About an hour later I took it back out and dug out another serving for inspection. This time the trifle remained layered. The caramel was thick but not frozen. The pudding. Oh it was better than ice cream.
Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance.
As for winning the Aveem Challenge, I will keep you posted.
However I already feel like a winner, nothing like drunken cake, caramel, and boozy ganache for a girl to feel like a super-sized star.
Frozen Fudgy Caramel Extreme Trifle
For the cake:
One 9x13 inch chocolate cake prepared and cooled (you will probably have extra left over depending on the size of your trifle dish. I used Hershey's 'Perfectly Chocolate' Chocolate Cake, my go-to chocolate cake recipe).
3/4 cup Frangelico liqueur (or Bailey's/Amaretto, whatever you have on-hand)
For the salted caramel pudding:
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup water
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used half semi sweet, half dark chocolate)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Frangelico liqueur
One batch Salted Caramel sauce, room temperature. Set aside 1/8 cup sauce for garnish. Divide the remaining sauce into two equal batches.
One bag Hershey's HEATH English Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits. Set aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Divide the remaining toffee bits into two equal portions.
After the chocolate cake has cooled to room temperature, take a fork and gently poke holes all over the cake. *If you are making the same Hershey's cake I recommended, you can skip this step. Once baked the cake becomes so soft that trying to poke it with a fork will only damage/rip the surface.
Using a pastry brush, cover the entire cake evenly with the 3/4 cup Frangelico. Cover cake with plastic wrap and leave to marinate over-night, or at least 6-8 hours prior to assembling.
To prepare the salted caramel pudding, whisk 1/2 cup milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 2 1/2 cups of milk until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg yolks on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
To make the caramel, stir the brown sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat, and cook without stirring until an instant read thermometer reads
210 – 220 degrees. Remove from heat.
With stand mixer at low speed, gradually whisk in the hot milk and cornstarch mixture into the eggs.
Slowly add the caramel and whisk to combine.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat, until it thickens (coats back of a spoon) and a thermometer registers 175 degrees Fahrenheit, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in the butter, rum, and salt.
Pour through a sieve if necessary.
To avoid a film/skin from forming on top of the pudding, cover the top with a piece of plastic wrap, then again cover bowl with lid or another tight layer of plastic wrap.
Allow pudding to cool slightly, cover and chill for 4 to 5 hours.
Place a layer of cake in the bottom of your trifle dish. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup to help ensure it's even and smooth.
If you have any spills/spots on the glass while filling your dish be sure to wipe them clean with a damp paper towel.
Next sprinkle a layer of the HEATH English Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits.
Transfer the room temperature salted caramel sauce to a measuring cup with a spout. Gently pour an even layer of caramel sauce over the toffee bits. Be sure to pour close to the edge of your dish so the caramel sauce layer will be prominent.
Place trifle dish in the fridge for about an hour until the caramel sauce firms. If you try to pour the salted caramel pudding over the salted caramel sauce it will sink and you won't get pretty little layers.
Once the caramel sauce has firmed, take HALF of the salted caramel pudding and spread over the caramel sauce layer. Use the back of a large spoon to ensure it's smooth and even.
Repeat with another layer or cake, Toffee bits, and salted caramel sauce. Place the dish back in the fridge to firm up the second layer of salted caramel sauce. Once the sauce is firm, remove from the fridge and cover with the remaining salted caramel pudding.
Place dish back in the fridge while you prepare the ganache.
For the ganache, place chocolate chips in a heat-safe bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream and butter to a simmering boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Let the chocolate and cream mixture sit for about 5 minutes, without stirring.
Stir gently to combine. It will take a few minutes to come together, just keep stirring.
Once smooth, add the Frangelico and stir to combine.
Allow to cool to room temperature.
Remove trifle dish from refrigerator. Transfer room temperature ganche. to a measuring cup with a spout. Pour evenly over the salted caramel pudding. Place back in the fridge until firm, about 1 hour.
Depending on the size of your trifle dish you can pour the entire batch of ganache. I used about 3/4 of the portion. Refrigerate any left-overs.
*To make truffles, roll the left over, chilled ganche into balls and dust with cocoa or espresso powder.
Remove trifle dish from refrigerator. Garnish with the remaining room temperature 1/8 cup caramel sauce. I placed the sauce inside a piping bag to create the horizontal lines.
Thank you President for the ginormous piping bags...I think I could pipe my husband head-to-toe with one of these, stick a candle in his head and sing Happy Birthday.
To easily fill your piping bags, place bag (with tip in place, I used a number 2) inside a tall plastic cup. Fold the top of the bag over the edge of the cup and fill with the sauce.
If you don't have piping bags on hand, alternatively transfer the sauce into a small zip lock sandwich baggie (zip it shut!), cut off a tiny piece of one corner and use to pipe whatever design you wish.
Garnish the edge of the trifle dish with the remaining 1/4 cup HEATH Toffee Bits. Place in the freezer for 1 hour to firm up and serve.
I kept the remaining trifle in the freezer as well. The layers hold together much better while frozen. To re-serve, remove from the freezer about 30 minutes prior to serving (so it's easier to spoon out).
salted caramel pudding recipe courtesy of Portuguese Girl Cooks
ganache recipe courtesy of Joy of Baking