A Cool English Treat by Marilyn Brant
I wanted to write about something literary in regards to Austen. Or at least about something decently pop-culture-ish. But I’m just too hot. My brain is melting in this uncharacteristic (for Chicago) 100+ degree heat and, with it, any ideas I might have had about the analysis of classical works.
Then again, if you happen to be melting as well, perhaps what we all really need is a cool English treat — to enjoy in the air conditioning — as we marvel at Jane Austen’s ability to dream up so many memorable characters and such fabulous plot lines without the comforts of central air, ice-making refrigerator-freezers or Starbucks’ Blended Mocha Frappucinos.
I say that we definitely need to celebrate her fortitude and her genius and raise our, umm, spoons in toast of her. Right?!
Yeah, just go with me on this.
For those who’ve never tasted it, English trifle is scrumptious and it’s a dessert I adore. Traditionally made in layers with sponge cake, custard, fruit and whipped cream, I like to make it with just a teensy bit of sherry, too. (See how the “toasting” is appropriate now?) Anyone who knows me, though, realizes I’m hardly the next Julia Child. I don’t do complicated recipes if I can avoid it, so I have an incredibly easy version of this dessert that I make (see below). However, if you’d like to try something a little fancier by a more skilled baker, check out this trifle recipe, too. In the meantime, here’s my super-fast, just-grab-the-ingredients-at-the-grocery-store-and-assemble recipe:
Marilyn’s Easy English Trifle:
1 angel food cake (ready-made), divided into halves
1 large package fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
1 container Cool Whip, refrigerated (if frozen, defrost it first)
8 individual vanilla pudding cups
Sherry to taste
Layer 1/3 of the strawberries on the bottom of a large, clear serving bowl, put half of the angel food cake on top of that (pull it into chunks so the strawberries are covered with cake), douse it with a little sherry. Then spread 4 of the puddings onto the cake layer and put half of the Cool Whip on top of that. Repeat with the next 1/3 of strawberries, the second half of the angel food cake, more sherry (!!), the last 4 puddings and the remainder of the Cool Whip. Use the final 1/3 of the strawberries to decorate the top. ENJOY!
As part of a JASNA-WI event one year, we had English trifle as our dessert and it was a light and delicious way to celebrate our beloved Jane. What about you? Have you tried it? Made it yourself? And do you have a favorite summertime dessert that keeps you cool on broiling days? Please share!
**For readers who are curious, A Summer in Europe and On Any Given Sundae are my two most summery novels… One takes place on a European travel adventure and the other in a Wisconsin ice cream parlor. So, if you’re in the mood for some fun in the sun — and a little hot romance — please check them out!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!