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Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle For When It's Too Damned Hot

It's summer. It's a bazillion degrees out there, you are invited to a BBQ and BAM!
You are asked if you could bring dessert. If it were just your own family, you would throw a fiver at them and tell them to run to the store and bring back a bag of Mr Freezies but that isn't going to cut it.

There is no way you are turning on the oven, so baking anything is immediately out. You could do an ice cream thing but you would have had to start planning that yesterday and you have to transport it without it melting all over the place. You could stop at the store and pick something up on the way to the party, which is actually a perfectly acceptable option but I have a job to do here, so, for today, that is out too.

That leaves a trifle. Sure, you can make all of the elements yourself if you want, but why would you want to do that in this heat? Trifle requires no special skills, no craftiness and it is almost impossible to mess up but it looks like you took tons of time and effort and is a real show stopper right up until the point where you have to serve it because it really is just a delicious bowl full of sweet slop but, by then, everyone is so excited about tasting it that they don't care about the way it looks.

Think of this more as a blue print, than a recipe.

You can leave out the rhubarb, although I think that tartness provided needed balance in what can often be an overwhelmingly sweet dessert. You can substitute lime curd or grapefruit curd for the lemon, you can switch the angel food cake for pound cake, sponge cake or even leftover birthday cake that is starting to go stale. If you can't find devon cream (or creme anglaise) you can substitute some vanilla pudding that you beat a bit of milk into to make it a bit runnier. Fee free to use oreo crumbs and instead of shaved dark chocolate, feel free to crush up a skor bar or something.

The bottom line is that when you are throwing cake, whipped cream and fruit together to have a party in a bowl, the world is your oyster. Trust me, this dish is like desserts for dummies 101 with the lowest bar being just slopping it all in a bowl so that it takes great but doesn't look all that hot to something like this from the over achievers who have nothing better to do with their time :

So, relax, work with the ingredients you have on hand and throw one of these together the next time you are on dessert duty and then sit back and soak in the love.

** I used lots of President's Choice products but if you are in the States, Trader Joe has a great lemon curd, you can get Devon Cream at stores like Wegmans, Whole Foods or even on amazon. When you find some, buy a few jars or cans and keep it in your pantry.

Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle

you can prep all of the ingredients well in advance and just assemble the whole thing a few hours in advance. If you want to be able to assemble it and leave it for longer than about 5 hours, sub the angel food cake for a heartier pound cake. You can certainly use more of any of the ingredients so feel free to use even more whipped cream or berries or cookie crumbs, just don't use any less.

    serves 8-10

Stewed Rhubarb:
580 grams (1.5 lbs) rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar
juice from 1 orange
zest from 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla

900 grams (2 lbs lbs) strawberries (reserve about 226 g - 1/2 lb for the top)
1 tbls chambord or other flavoured liqueur
1/4 cup sugar

Lemon Cream:
50ml (2 cups) whipping cream
2 tbls sugar
250 ml (1 cup) lemon curd (I used PC Black Label Lemon Curd )

1 400g (14oz) can Devonshire Custard (I used PC )

1 large angel food cake (I used Farmer's Market from Loblaws)

1 cup of cookie crumbs (I used Mary MacLeod's Butterscotch Shortbread Crumbs)

a chunk of  dark chocolate

Make rhubarb:
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and zest with vanilla in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, let cook for about 10 minutes and then let cool to room temp before putting it in the fridge to chill.

Cut up 1.5 lbs of strawberries and toss with the sugar and chambord and set aside to macerate for at least half an  hour.

Whip the whipping cream (I do it in my stand mixer) with 2 tbls sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the lemon curd and set aside.

To assemble:

Cut the angel food cake up into rough cubes and get a big, glass bowl. You want to be able to see the layers so you should always use a clear bowl. How many layers you make also depends on you but want at least two, preferably three layers so divide up the ingredients accordingly. It will all depend on the dimensions of your bowl.

Put a handful of cubed cake on the bottom. Spread a layer of whipped lemon cream and then spoon on some of the berries and spread around. Top that with a layer of chilled rhubarb, spread that around evenly and then drizzle the devon cream on top of that, finishing the layer with about 1/3 of the cookie crumbs.

Repeat for another layer or two and then top the whole thing with the rest of the cake chunks and a final layer of whipped lemon cream. Sprinkle the last of the cookie crumbs on the top of that and then arrange the remaining 1/2 lb of berries around the top. You can slice them, you can half them - just make it pretty and you are good to go. Keep it in the fridge until serving time. With angel food cake, I don't like to let the trifle sit all day when I use angel food cake as it get soggy so I would do it no more than 5 or 6 hours ahead of time.

Right before serving, top the whole shebang with some shaved dark chocolate using a vegetable peeper because you can.

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