I brought this to a Christmas party last night. Unless you suddenly get laid off from your job and are injected with gallons of extra energy at the same time, I don't necessarily advise making it. It was delicious--eggy, vanilla cake; cranberry jam; orange-scented custard;, and cognac syrup, fit snugly into a (newly purchased) trifle dish and soaking up each other's flavors.
Loretta helped me "paint" the cake with syrup and jam. It took me twice as long, but she acted like I just flew her to Disney World. She kept crinkling up her nose, smiling her biggest smile, and saying, "Mom, what can I do now?"
Despite that cute story, I'm still warning you to think twice--maybe three times--before you spend all your precious time so flagrantly. You have to make the cake, and you need THREE baking sheets to do it. Then you make the jam and custard (which, despite my years of cooking experience, I still find nerve-wracking). Then you assemble the damn thing, which has never been my forte. I'm all thumbs when it comes to making things look pretty. Rustic is more my thing.
But it turned out, I reverently carried it on my lap to the party, and it garnered the desired oohs and ahs when I unveiled it. And it tasted....how should I describe it? Like Christmas in a bowl. A really good Christmas, when it snows on Christmas Eve, you have a week's vacation coming up, and someone gives you an iPhone (totally hypothetical).
On the way home, we loaded tired kids into the car and I put my licked-clean new trifle bowl on the floor. We took a sharp corner and it fell down and shattered against the door. Yancey said, "Well, that was one-hit wonder." Looks like I won't be making another trifle this year (or maybe decade), but it was a wonder nonetheless.
P.S. If you want a little taste of the magic without the insanity, read my Cranberry Vanilla Jam guest post on Eralda's blog, The Split Pea.
Cranberry Cognac Trifle
Thankfully, I was able to find this on Epicurious. I wasn't about to type it out for the 1 reader that might think about making it. Not to mention the carpal tunnel that would ensue. The recipe jauntily says something like, "You can make this over several days and assemble it eight hours before serving!" Like that's supposed to make you feel better.
Find the recipe here