Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Christmas, Beef Wellington, and Dark Chocolate Cherry Trifle with Grand Marnier...

A few inches of fresh snow dusted Colorado on Christmas Eve, giving us a white Christmas the next morning.  It was a peaceful and beautiful day.

For our Christmas Eve dinner, Jamie and I made Beef Wellington (recipe by Tyler Florence) with herbed fingerling potatoes.  The tenderloin beef was succulent and buttery, although I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea of the prosciutto and puff pastry wrapped around it.  I think I prefer a more simple preparation, like a nice sear on the steak giving it a fantastic crust.  Jamie also made pork and lamb-stuffed Cabbage Rolls, called Holupki, a Polish dish his grandma used to make every Christmas.  They were rich from the lamb but light-tasting from a touch of vinegar.

There were a few not-so-peaceful moments where I was afraid our kitchen was going to burn down - while Jamie was making the sauce for the beef wellington, he poured half a cup of bourbon into a pan, said "stand back" to unsuspecting me, and proceeded to light it on fire!  This trick may not be that hazardous in a professional kitchen, but our stove sits just inches beneath the microwave and a few upper cabinets, and the flames shot up 3 feet high, instantly setting off the smoke detector.  It all happened so fast that I didn't have time to take a picture - I was too worried about our kitchen going up in flames - but the sauce did taste fantastic.

And for dessert, I made a rich, moist and dark Chocolate Cherry Trifle, soaked in Grand Marnier.  The homemade chocolate cake was so dark it was almost black, and the finished trifle tasted so luxurious with the chocolate, Grand Marnier, sweet cherries and cool whipped cream.

That night, I set out milk and cookies - chocolate chip pecan shortbread - for Santa, and the next morning I was happy to see that he'd sampled them.  That Christmas morning we slept in late before opening presents, making Cinnamon Rolls with a Salted Caramel frosting, and then spending the afternoon watching our favorite Christmas movies.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and it always makes me a little sad when it's over, but I know I have next year to look forward to...

I hope you all had a beautiful, peaceful and happy holiday.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Trifle with Grand Marnier
printable recipe

  • Dark Chocolate Cake, cooled (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped (or mini chocolate chips)
  • Cherry Filling, cooled (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Note:  For an alcohol-free version, toss the cake with coffee or a flavored syrup instead of the Grand Marnier.

Set out a large glass trifle bowl.

In a large bowl, crumble the chocolate cake with a fork, then drizzle with the Grand Marnier.  Toss with the fork to moisten evenly.  Set aside.

Whip the whipping cream with the powdered sugar until medium peaks form.

Spoon 1/3 of the chocolate cake into the bottom of the trifle bowl.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the chopped chocolate.  Top with 1/2 of the cherry filling.  Top with 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Repeat.  Spoon the rest of the chocolate cake on top, then the rest of the whipped cream.  Garnish with a few cake crumbs, chocolate curls or chopped chocolate.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dark Chocolate Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, "Special Dark" cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine then beat for three minutes on medium speed.  Scrape the bowl down and gently stir in the boiling water - the batter will be very thin.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for 28-33 minutes, or until the center of each cake springs back when gently touched.  Set the pan on a wire rack, cover with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.

Cherry Filling
  • 2 pounds frozen sweet black cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar, corn starch, salt and water.  Simmer over medium low heat to dissolve the sugar and thaw the cherries.  When the mixture is juicy, increase heat to medium.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 1-2 minutes until thick like pie filling.  Remove from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier.

Cool completely before assembling the trifle.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen