Recipe: Italo-Franco-Australian Berry Trifle

It is no secret on this blog that I am very fond of Josephine’s beautiful French tea shop in Brunswick.  What I have perhaps not mentioned about Josephine’s is that in addition to her beautiful macarons, crème brulées, tarts, savouries and other handmade goodies, she also stocks a small collection of imported French goodies.

Among other things, these include Rose de Reims biscuits, which are a pink biscuit, rather like a small, elegant sponge finger, designed to be dipped in champagne.  They do not, alas, taste like roses, but they did instantly inspire in me a desire to make a pink version of my berry-mi-su trifle (which I could have sworn I wrote about here, but can no longer find anywhere on this site), spiked with rosewater and champagne.

So I did.  I dipped the pink biscuits into champagne from a tiny bottle I was given a few years ago, combined mascarpone and ricotta with a little sugar, and layered the whole lot with mixed berries tossed a little rose syrup.

And it was delicious – light and fresh and unexpectedly alcoholic, a delicious meal for a hot day.

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Your shopping list

600 g mixed berries (prepared weight, any kind)
2 tsp rose syrup
250 mascarpone
250 ricotta (light ricotta works and then you can pretend this is healthy!)
50 g sugar
200ml champagne or chardonnay or any sparkling white
125g rose de renne biscuits (or sponge fingers)

Now what will you do with it?

I pretty much gave the recipe in the introduction, but here goes…

Prepare your berries – hull and halve strawberries, wash and pat dry raspberries, blackberries, etc.  You know how to do this.  Toss them in a bowl with a little rose syrup, or if you don’t have that, a teaspoon of rosewater and a tablespoon of sugar.

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Mix the mascarpone, ricotta and sugar together in another bowl.

Pour the champagne into a shallow bowl, and dip about half the biscuits into it, one at a time, for a count of three or so, so that they soak up the champagne but do not dissolve into it.  Place the biscuits in the bottom of a serving dish in a single layer as you take them out of the champagne.  Stop dipping when the bottom of the dish is covered!

Spread a bit less than half the mascarpone mixture over this layer, and scatter with a bit fewer than half of the berries.

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Dunk the rest of the biscuits, top with the rest of the mascarpone and the rest of the berries.  Put in the fridge until you are ready to eat everything.  You could sift icing sugar over the top or scatter it with mint leaves but it is lovely as is.  Also far more alcoholic than it ought to be.

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Variations

Well, it doesn’t have any nuts in it.  And it’s vegetarian.  But the whole point of this dish is the mascarpone/ricotta and the pretty biscuits, so veganising it is just not going to be feasible.  Making it gluten-free is also unlikely, unless someone has invented a gluten-free sponge finger.

You could vary the flavours – it would be fun to make this dish purple, with blueberries and blackberries, and macerate them with a little violet syrup.

If you had violet syrup.

I really need to track down violet syrup now…

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