Taste & Tell: Memorial Day Treats

I am a complete sucker for the little holidays (don't get me wrong I enjoy the larger ones as well) but it is always exciting to orchestrate small gatherings and cook delicious food to go along with.

Berry trifles have been a go to of mine since I was about 10 and was just learning the ways of the kitchen. They are delectable and sweet and always seem fulfilling once you have had a serving (or 2). I love making them this time of year because they typically have my favorite rich berries (which are in season) and a ton of sugar via homemade cool whip and cake. Here are the ingredients and directions for my fellow list makers and wannabe chefs ..like myself ;)!

*** I opt to serve this dessert in a clear glass bowl or trifle dish to show off its beautiful (and colorful) layers. I also prepare it a day in advance! ***

(I originally found this recipe via Zoe Nathan, Santa Monica-based baker and pastry chef.)

Ingredients:

For The Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For The Trifle

3 pints (2 pounds, 4 ounces) strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for cream
Pinch of salt
1 loaf brioche, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch slices
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 cups mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Here is how to make the pastry cream: In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cream, salt, and vanilla bean. Bring to just under a boil. In a second bowl, whisk together cornstarch and sugar, then whisk in eggs. Add a ladle of hot liquid to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat twice, then whisk egg mixture into remaining milk mixture in pot.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until it begins to bubble and get thick (typically about 2 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve, then whisk in butter. Place thd plastic wrap directly onto surface of the cream and refrigerate until chilled (at least 2 hours and up to overnight). Whisk to loosen before using.

To assemble the trifle: Mash strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Brush brioche with syrup and tear into large pieces. Layer bread in bottom of a 14-cup (5-by-7-inch) trifle dish or bowl. Spread 1 generous cup macerated berries over top, then 1 cup pastry cream and 1 cup whole berries. Repeat layering twice more. Refrigerate overnight.

Whip heavy cream to medium peaks with 1 tablespoon sugar and spoon over top. Garnish with fresh berries and enjoy!

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