Wednesday, December 31, 2014

English Trifle

One of our holiday traditions is to make and enjoy an English Trifle. My hubby spent two years serving an LDS mission in the midlands of England and North Wales, and trifle became one of his favorite things. This is an almost authentic version, using ingredients readily found here, but if you have access to an English pantry, I include those ingredients below. One year we had a friend visit from England, and she taught us how to make trifle. Since then I have figured out how to replicate it as closely as possible with ingredients from my local Smith's.

First off, here is what you need to make a  berry trifle:

a white cake mix (or ready-made sponge cake from a British pantry)
2 small boxes of Jell-o gelatin, raspberry flavor (or English "Jelly")
one bag of frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries & blueberries)
1 large box Cook & Serve Jell-o pudding, vanilla flavor (Bird's Custard powder is one English variety)
1 pint of whipping cream
powdered sugar & vanilla

24 hours before you want to serve the trifle, mix the white cake mix according to the package directions and bake in a Bundt pan. Transfer the cake to a plate, then leave it uncovered and let it sit out overnight. The next morning, slice about 1/2 the cake into 1-inch slices and stand them upright in the bottom of a trifle bowl. I usually end up with about 10 slices of cake in my bowl. Leave a little space in between slices. Fill the spaces with the frozen berries, like so:

I like to try to make it look pretty.  :)

Once that step is done, mix the raspberry gelatin with 2 cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Then stir in 2 cups of cold water. Pour the gelatin slowly over the cake and berries so it can soak in.

Now cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until the gelatin is set. This will take a few hours. Meanwhile, prepare the cook & serve pudding according to the directions on the package and then cover the surface of the pudding with plastic and let it chill in the fridge until the trifle is ready. If you can get English custard powder, make that, but if you can't, cook & serve pudding comes closer than the instant version. It's worth doing.

The set jello layer with the custard layer added.
Finally, whip the pint of cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla if desired. It doesn't need to be overly sweet with all the other sweetness going on in the other layers. Pour the pudding/custard on top of the set cake/berries/gelatin layer, then top that with the whipped cream. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two hours. Trifle is best the same day it's assembled, but leftovers can be enjoyed the next day--if there are any. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Soft Molasses Gingersnaps

One year, one of my awesome neighbors delivered a plate of these gingersnaps. And oh boy, they were the best gingersnaps I'd ever had. Soft, chewy and delicious. My whole family loved them. So naturally, I begged asked her nicely for the recipe, and she was kind enough to share. I did tweak it just a tad, using half white and half brown sugar instead of all white sugar. The recipe also has a range for the amount of cloves, and I use the maximum amount.

Soft Molasses Gingersnaps
1/4 c. softened butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ginger
2 c. flour
1/3 c. granulated sugar for rolling

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. Blend in molasses and egg. Combine dry ingredients together in a smaller bowl, then add all at once to wet ingredients. Mix well. Form dough into 1" balls (makes a small cookie) and roll in granulated sugar. Place balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes for a soft & chewy cookie. For a crispier cookie, bake 10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

***For all the diabetics out there, two of these cookies made from 1" balls costs a total of 23 carbs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Wedding

Our daughter was married last Saturday. 12-13-14! And it was the most awesome day ever.

When they set the date, she and her fiance decided that they wanted a winter theme, without it being "Christmasy." So we set out to accomplish that. A whole heck of a lot went into it, but it was worth it.

We started with this:

and this:

and my smart hubby worked up this:

From there we purchased 300 yards of white gossamer, 100 yards of gold gossamer, and about one dozen second-hand Christmas trees. Not to mention a giant fan cover, loads of heavy gauge wire, tablecloths, table runners and other various things. We rented black lanterns and borrowed lots of white lights.

And we turned all of that (and more) into this:

After the wedding luncheon, we switched things up a little and added some lights to the center of the canopy, like this:

We were able to pretty much transform the space, and our daughter and son-in-law were really happy with how it turned out. Much thanks to family and friends of both the bride and groom for helping us pull it off! 

Colors: evergreen, blush, gold and cranberry
Centerpieces: wood rounds, evergreen of various types, blush roses, berries and cedar roses
Chair sashes: 1 1/2 yds of gold gossamer