Mocha Raspberry Trifle

MOCHA AND RASPBERRY TRIFLE

Definitely not Ye Olde English Classic, but very delicious
and very contemporary. Using store-bought sponge cake (ask
for it at your supermarket bakery) or pound cakes
simplifies assembly.

For syrup
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy

For mocha pastry cream
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream

For assembly
2 purchased 8-inch-diameter, 1- to 1 1/4-inch-thick round sponge cakes, each cut horizontally in half
3/4 cup raspberry preserves (about 10 ounces)
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (unthawed)
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons red currant jelly, melted with 1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Red currant bunches or red grape clusters (optional)

Make syrup:

Combine 3 tablespoons water and sugar in small saucepan.
Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar
dissolves. Remove from heat. Mix in Cognac. Cool.

Make mocha pastry cream:

Combine milk and espresso powder in heavy medium saucepan.
Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to
simmer. Remove from heat. Discard bean.Using electric
mixer, beat yolks and sugar in large bowl until very thick,
about 3 minutes. Sift in cornstarch; beat to blend well.
Gradually beat hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Return
mixture to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture
comes to boil, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add
chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is
smooth. Transfer to medium bowl. Place plastic wrap
directly onto surface of pastry cream. Refrigerate until
cold, about 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover syrup
and store at room temperature. Keep pastry cream
refrigerated.)

Whisk cold pastry cream until smooth. Using electric mixer,
beat whipping cream in large bowl until medium-stiff peaks
form. Transfer 1 1/2 cups whipped cream to another medium
bowl; set aside to use as topping. Stir 1/3 of remaining
whipped cream from large bowl into pastry cream to lighten.
Fold remaining whipped cream from large bowl into pastry
cream in 2 additions.

Assemble:

Place 1 cake layer in bottom of 8-inch-diameter, 3-quart
trifle bowl. Brush 1/4 of syrup over cake. Spread 3
tablespoons raspberry preserves over cake. Spread 1 cup
pastry cream over. Arrange 1/2 cup fresh or frozen
raspberries atop pastry cream. Repeat layering 3 times with
remaining cake layers, syrup, preserves, pastry cream and 1
1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries.

Spread reserved 1 1/2 cups whipped cream over trifle. Top
whipped cream with 2 cups fresh raspberries. Lightly brush
red currant jelly mixture over raspberries. Sprinkle with 1
1/2 teaspoons sugar. Garnish with red currant bunches or
grape clusters, if desired. Cover and refrigerate at least
3 hours. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Keep
refrigerated.)

Serves 12.