Um.... YUM! I just finished eating this and I keep eyeing the trifle bowl weighing whether or not I should have more. Here's what I did:
I began, thinking I would make a charlotte. I got a new mould and I really wanted to use it. But, I also didn't want to make a huge amount of dessert. Unless company comes over, I cook for only two people. So I made a small trifle instead of a large charlotte.
(I apologize for not taking photos of the process. I got "in the zone" and totally spaced it.)
3 eggs separated
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*optional confectioners sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment draw out three 6-inch circles.
2. Beat the egg whites, adding around half the sugar halfway thru beating. Beat to stiff peaks.
3. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until they are light yellow and hold a ribbon.
4. Add the yolks to the whites, add the vanilla, and lightly fold them together. Sift the flour over the mixture and fold that in too. Be careful not to mix out the air which you have so lovingly incorporated. This cake has no chemical leavening; it is only the fluffiness of the eggs which gives it structure.
5. Transfer the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip. Fill in the circles you drew starting from the center. Bake the rounds for 15 to 20 minutes. I cracked the oven open halfway thru cooking to let the steam escape (Thanks Martha Stewart for that tip!). They are done when they are very lightly golden and lightly dry.
I use often use Martha Stewart's recipe from Pies and Tarts. It is wonderful, but it uses only egg yolks. There are whole egg varieties, but I stick with what I like. I also made 2/3 of this recipe for the dessert. Strange perhaps, but it was just the right amount.
1 cup milk (I only had nonfat and it worked well)
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1/2 Tbs of vanilla bean paste)
1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs all purpose flour
1 tsp butter *optional*
Scald the milk with the vanilla bean. Mix the yolks, cornstarch, flour, and sugar in a little bowl. Briskly whisk in a good slosh of the milk into the yolks to temper them. Then pour this back into the pan and cook, whisking constantly, until the cream thickens. Don't let it boil or the eggs will curdle and the bottom may scorch. Pour it into a bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap, and allow to cool.
1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. I just heated it in the microwave minute by minute until the sugar was completely dissolved. I let is cool off and then added a few tablespoons of brandy.
Heavy whipping cream with a tiny bit of sugar. "Just enough to convince it that it's a dessert," as Jamie Oliver says. I also added a pinch of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of rose water.
PEACHES: I used two. I also peeled off the skin. You can either dip them in boiling water to loosen the skin, or, as I do, you can wash them in hot water and lightly massage the skin until it feels loose. Then you can peel it off easily with the help of a pairing knife. I sliced them thinly in order to fan them out.
So, now comes the easy bit. You layer it. Take a round of the cookie, and brush it with the syrup to soften and flavor it. Then put a layer of the crème patisserie, then a layer of peaches. Nest the Chantilly cream. Then the soaked cookie again, pastry cream, peached, whipped cream, and finally top it off with a cookie.
I was having a little too much fun with the pastry bag, so I made some traditionally shaped lady fingers instead of making a third round. That is why mine doesn't have a nice "hat" in the photo.
The components of this dessert can easily be made ahead of time and put together at the last minute. I wouldn't stack it too much ahead of time as the peaches will begin to release their liquid.
This is super duper delicious. I'm making it again. Definitely.