Well one year I made the birthday cake and a variety of other desserts, and as my guests where eating, one uncle, not to name names Ujo Mladen, said "they're all nice, but we've had all of these before". Well ever since then, although I do repeat some desserts I have to introduce at least one new dessert, just for him.
So this Citrus Meringue Trifle was the new dessert for this birthday. Well it impressed, my family seem to love citrus base desserts, I know I do, and this is a good one. My uncle loved it, he actually took the left over trifle home so I know I did good that day (now I have to start thinking what I will make for my daughters upcoming birthday).
Back to the trifle, I also made this for another gathering recently and it was loved just as much, it really is the perfect balance between tart and sweet. And the citrus flavour leaves you with a really nice taste in your mouth.
Lemon Curd is really easy to make and the homemade curd is always better than the store bought one, so please don't try and cut corners, make the curd it is worth it. Also the curd can be made up to 2 days before you are going to make the trifle, so make it ahead of time so you don't have to do everything in one day. Just place in a sterilized jar and keep it in the refrigerator, until needed.
Sponge finger biscuits come in various thicknesses. The one pictured is quite a thick biscuit so I made 2 layers for this trifle. Previously I found a brand that has a very thin sponge finger biscuit, so for that trifle I made 3 layers as you want the filling and biscuit layers to be proportional. This recipe is for the two layered version, so adjust things if you are making it in 3 layers.
The icing sugar in the filling I have made 80-100g as the amount of sugar will depend on the sweetness of the orange juice. If the oranges are really sour, you will need to add more icing sugar, if they are sweet, just add the 80g. Taste the filling and adjust it to your liking. Just remember not to over sweeten the filling as the meringue on top will add a bit more sweetness to the trifle.
The meringue can be made 3-4 hours in advance, but in all honesty it is so easy to make, you could make it just before serving and for extra theatrics blow torch it in front of your guests, that always impresses people, and it also sends a lovely aroma around the house. You could also, if really pushed for time, make the meringue the day before as it does hold its shape well, just don't cover it when refrigerating.
I have given the size of the dish I make this in, but in all honesty use whatever you have at home, as long as at is of a similar size, it will be okay. I used a 24cm square dish that is 5cm high. But you can easily use a rectangle shaped dish of similar size.
This really does need to be made a day in advance to allow for the flavours to develop and for the biscuits to soften. Do not make it if you can't do it earlier as you will end up with a dry trifle if you rush it, learnt that the hard way. I did try serving it the day I made it, and it was not great.
The trifle can be served with a spoon, as a trifle, where you just scoop of dollops of trifle, or it slices up really well, as it holds it shape, if sliced like a cake, as pictured.
A citrus flavoured liqueur, such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Limoncello can be added to this recipe. Just omit 1/3 cup (80ml) of the orange juice from the 'for the biscuits' step and add in the liqueur instead. It doesn't need it, but if you like a boozy trifle, do it.
I normally always state where I get my recipes from, but this recipe I have had as a clipping from a magazine for years now and I just don't know where I got it from.
So this ones for my uncle who keeps me on my toes each year by making me better myself in the dessert department.
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (80g) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
For the biscuits:
1 cup (250ml) orange juice
3/4 cup (180ml) lemon curd
2 x 250g packets sponge finger biscuits
1/2 cup (125ml) orange juice
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
3 x 250g packets cream cheese
80g-100g icing sugar mixture
300ml thickened cream, whipped
4 egg whites
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
Lemon Curd: Place the whole eggs, the yolks and the sugar in a medium saucepan, whisk until smooth. Turn on the heat to low, add the butter, lemon zest and juice, whisk continuously until it has thickened. Pour into a sterilized jar and refrigerate until needed. You can, if you like, strain the lemon curd through a fine sieve into the jar, to remove any of the zest, but I don't bother.
Filling: Place the cream in a small bowl of an electric mixer, beat until thick but not stiff. Set aside.
Using the same beaters, no need to wash them, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer, until smooth. Add the orange and lemon juice, beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream.
For the biscuits: Combine the 1 cup of orange juice and 3/4 cup of the lemon curd in a small saucepan, stir over a low heat until smooth, allow to cool. Divide the orange mixture evenly between 2 bowls, this ensure both biscuit layers get the same amount of the orange mixture. Dip half the biscuits into one of the orange mixture bowls. Place the biscuits in a single layer over the base of a deep heatproof dish about 24cm x 24cm x 5cm in size. If you have any leftover orange mixture in the first bowl, use a pastry brush and brush it onto the biscuits.
Spread half of the filling over the biscuit layer.
Dip the remaining biscuits into the second bowl of the orange mixture, place these in a single layer over the filling. Brush any leftover orange mixture onto the biscuits.
Top the biscuits with the remaining filling. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Meringue: Beat the egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. This takes about a minute. Now gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, allow 30 seconds to a minute between sugar additions, beat until the sugar has dissolved and you have a thick glossy meringue.
Top the trifle with the meringue, fluff it up in swirls. Now using a blow torch, caramelise the meringue all over. You could bake or grill in a moderate oven for 3-5 minutes until browned if you don't have a blow torch, but do buy one, if you can, they are really handy in the kitchen. If not serving immediately, refrigerate uncovered, until needed.
To serve, either serve it up as a trifle or slice up like a cake.
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