A Mere Trifle?

A mere trifle?

A Trifle fit to grace your Christmas table – Ginger and Poached Pear Trifle with Muscovado Custard and Syllabub Cream.

Ginger and Poached Pear Trifle with Muscovado Custard and Syllabub Cream

This is no mere trifle I can assure you. Even those of  you usually distressed by  the very thought of a trifle will find comfort in this rendition (apologies to Pascal, Pensee no. 136 (Pascal 1932)).  

A succour of sweetly spiced, mellow flavours and gentle textures layered one upon the other. The succulent pears, mingled with slices of spiced gingerbread are gently poached in a ginger syrup containing bay leaf for comfort, and black peppercorns for warmth. The gracious and exotic flavour of the Muscovado custard is gentle on the eye and comforting on the palate. The final layer  – a delicately fragrant syllabub of lightly whipped cream infused with poaching liquid from the pears.

This is a trifle fit to grace your Christmas table.

Ginger and Poached Pear Trifle with Muscovado Custard and Syllabub Cream

Serves  8-10


1 1/2-2 Jamaica ginger cakes, sliced thickly

Poached pears:

6 moderately ripe pears, peeled

Ginger syrup:

300ml white wine

150g white sugar

20g fresh ginger, sliced

10 fresh cloves

5 black peppercorns

3 fresh bay leaves

2 strips of clementine zest, pith removed

Dark muscovado custard:

300ml double cream

200ml milk

3 eggs yolks

60g dark muscovado sugar

2 teaspoon corn flour

Syllabub cream:

300ml double cream

120ml of the cooled pear cooking syrup

To decorate:

Reserved ½ poached pear sliced

1 piece preserved ginger in syrup, sliced

Zest of 1 clementine

Edible gold dusting powder.

1x 1.5-1.75 litre dessert bowl


Poach the pears: Put all of the ingredients for the ginger syrup into a pan large enough to hold the pears. Dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat and then increase the temperature and bring briefly to the boil. Add the peeled pears, spooning syrup over them to coat. Place the lid on the pan, adjust the heat so that the syrup is simmering and cook the pears, turning once for about 15 minutes or until they are just soft. Remove them from the heat and leave to cool in the syrup.

Make the custard:

To make the muscovado custard put the egg yolks, dark muscovado sugar and the corn flour into a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Blend well together pressing out any lumps in the sugar.

Put the milk and cream into a large non-stick pan and over a moderate heat bring to scalding point, stirring occasionally.

When the milk is at scalding point pour it over the egg yolks blending well. Pour the custard back into the pan and over medium-low heat stir until it thickens and begins to bubble. Do not be tempted to speed up this process or the eggs will scramble. Pour the custard into a clean heat proof bowl, cover and cool slightly while you arrange the trifle base.

Putting it together:

Halve and core the poached pears, reserving one pear half for decoration. Slice the remaining pears. Cover the base of the bowl with about 1/3 of the sliced ginger cake. Arrange the second 1/3rd around the sides of the bowl interspersed with slices of poached pear. Pile the remaining cake and pear in layers into the centre of the dish, dousing the cake everything liberally with spoonful’s of the pear poaching liquid (reserving the 120ml for the syllabub).

Pour the warm custard over the top, cover and refrigerate until the custard is cooled and set

To make the ginger syllabub topping:

Pour the 300ml of double cream into a mixing bowl along with the 120ml reserved poaching syrup. Whisk together, beginning on a slow speed and increasing as the cream thickens until it form soft peaks which gently hold their shape. Spoon the syllabub over the set and cooled custard.


Slice the reserved ½ poached pear into 5 or 6 pieces and arrange in the centre of the cream. Place thinly sliced pieces of preserved ginger around the edge of the trifle, scatter with zested clementine and edible gold dust. Refrigerate until required.

Christmas trifle

A mere trifle? This is a comfort of flavours in a bowl. Enjoy!

You might also like these recipes and Christmas posts:

Muscovado Pavlova with maple cream, poached plums, fresh figs and blackberries, topped with maple caramelized pecans

Cake for Breakfast: Clementine Breakfast loaf

A penny for your present, or mind my fingers! Tips to help you chose the right knife to give as a gift.

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