Trifle with black currants and cherries and almond custard

Cherry and black currant trifle

Cherry and black currant trifle

Isaac just walked into the room with a tear-stained face and said, “Do you want me to run away?” Such has been our morning that I didn’t say, “Of course not, darling.” I didn’t even laugh. He wants to go fishing, desperately. And despite the dodgy ethics of a vegetarian fishing, we’ll take him, but first he has to write in his summer journal. It’s torture, I tell you! He drew a brilliant picture of himself imagining himself fishing. I said, now write about what kind of fish you want to catch. How can he be expected to know what kind of fish he might catch? He’s incensed at the absurdity of the situation. (Has he read Mcelligot’s pool? Of course he has.) I said, write about how angry you are that I won’t take you fishing…it’s okay to write about being angry. He burst into tears and said he didn’t want to write about me being mean. And now that he’s done trying to physically wrestle me from my chair and is yelling “I HAVE TO GO FISHING,” from a slightly greater distance, I will tell you that it strikes me as funny that I don’t want to go fishing at all, but I do want to write. What seems like a horrible punishment to him is my idea of a good time. He can maybe imagine a little polluted pool leading to the sea, and all of the strange and wonderful fish he might catch there, and I can imagine a tepid tide pool of my mind, cluttered and messy, holding every little thing that floats on shore. But maybe I’ll follow some bright silvery ideas into the waves, whole schools of well-organized shinily nimble words, and they’ll lead somewhere cool and quiet, with an underwater glow and an echoing resonance. And I’ll capture them all, somehow, without doing them any harm, and I’ll be able to take them and share them with others. “If I wait long enough; if I’m patient and cool, Who knows what I’ll catch in McElligot’s Pool!”

Isaac is finished raging and writing and talking about fishing like some kind of shot glass-sized Ernest Eemingway. And now the story is done and I have a promise to keep. We’ll head to the creek, and I’ll stand up to my ankles in cool water and watch the boys splash through pools of sunlight and shadow. They’ll catch minnows and water-strider spiders, and I’ll write a story in my head with all of the words swimming around there, and when we leave, we’ll let them all go, the fish and the words, and they’ll swim away into the shadowy depths.

Trifle! Why trifle? Because I made Malcolm two birthday cakes, and we couldn’t possibly eat all the cake. So for some reason it made sense to take some sweet thing we couldn’t possibly eat all of, and add lots more sweet things, and make it even bigger. Yes it did. I soaked the cake in rum, and then I added some black currants that I’d simmered in sugar till they were almost like a jam (you could just use black currant jam, if you don’t happen to have a black currant bush in your backyard.) I poured almond custard over all of this, then I added lots of fresh cherries and globs of whipped cream. Globs!! It was really tasty!

Here’s Tread Water by De La Soul

ALMOND CUSTARD

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 t vanilla
1 t almond essence
1 egg
pinch salt

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk, almond and vanilla.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk the egg and sugar and salt until frothy.

Whisking all the while, pour the milk into the eggs in a thin stream. Return the mixture to the medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Warm, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Five or ten minutes, I think.

Pour into a bowl, stirring constantly. Put the bowl in a pan of cold water, whisking all the while, to cool the mixture down. Cover and chill in the fridge 5 hours to overnight.

THE TRIFLE

Leftover cake–2 or 3 cups worth, in 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup rum, sherry, or any other beverage you like
1/2 cup black currants simmered with sugar and water and then allowed to cool or black currant jam. (Or blackberry jam, or blueberry jam, or cherry jam…)
1 1/2 cups pitted chopped cherries
1 cup heavy cream whipped and sweetened with a pinch of powdered sugar

Put the cake in a large bowl. Sprinkle the rum over. Spoon the black currants or jam over the cake. Pour the custard over everything. Cherries on top of custard. Whipped cream on top of cherries. And that’s it!!

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