Thinking that I would have too much to do on Christmas day, I decided not to make a dessert and bought the frozen chocolate bar dessert that Heston Blumenthal designed for Waitrose. But at the last minute I found out I was having two extra guests for dinner on Christmas Eve - I had invited one but she hadn't replied, then called me to ask if when she came she could bring someone else - so I thought it would be nice to have something sweet for dessert that day. And I do like making homemade puddings!
A trifle is traditional at Christmas but I detest traditional trifles and I'm pretty sure my boyfriend doesn't like it either, so I started thinking about things we do both like - namely chocolate - and how I could incorporate this into a trifle. I also remembered I'd bought a Terry's chocolate orange when it was on offer at only £1 and put it in the cupboard intending to use it in baking or to decorate a cake. So I came up with this chocolate orange cheesecake: instead of trifle sponges it has a layer of chocolate brownie as the base, then a layer of orange jelly (to which I added some tinned mandarin oranges just to be a little bit traditional), and then a layer of chocolate orange mousse, topped with whipped double cream and decorated with Terry's chocolate orange slices.
Start by making the chocolate brownie base - it's a good idea to make this the day before you want to serve the trifle as the jelly, which goes on top, needs time to set. This is the recipe I used for the chocolate brownie; I found it made about twice the quantity that I needed (I'm not entirely sure of the capacity of my serving dish but I'd estimate about three litres or more) but that was fine because we enjoyed eating the leftover brownie!
Chocolate Brownie Base
The recipe came from BBC Good Food though I altered it slightly to use chocolate containing hazelnuts, which worked really well, and I didn't add the additional chopped milk and white chocolate.
185g dark chocolate
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
275g caster sugar
Preheat oven to 175C. Melt the chocolate and half the butter in the microwave.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, beat in the eggs and sugar and then the chocolate, melted butter and the rest of the butter.
Grease and line a square 8 inch cake tin and pour in the mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. I needed to cook mine for a little longer as the mixture was quite deep in the tin. When the brownies were cooked, they were still lovely and fudgy in the middle.
Chocolate Orange Mousse Layer
My recipe was inspired by this one on All Recipes. You need:
4 eggs, separated
250g plain chocolate, melted
juice and grated zest of 1 orange
In a bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until fluffy then whisk in the melted chocolate. Then whisk in the orange zest and juice. Finally fold in the egg whites and place in the fridge to set.
To assemble the trifle
Break or cut up the chocolate brownie and place the pieces in the bottom of a serving dish. Make up an orange jelly according to the packet instructions and leave in the fridge for an hour or more until the jelly is still runny but just starting to set a little - this will prevent it all from soaking into the chocolate brownies. When you are ready, open a tin of mandarin orange segments and sprinkle over the top of the brownies then pour over the jelly. Leave in the fridge overnight to set.
Spoon the chocolate mousse once it has set on top of the jelly layer.
Whisk some double cream and spoon on the top and decorate with Terry's chocolate orange slices.
So my recipe inspired by the movie was always just going to be something Christmassy, so I am sending Heather my chocolate orange Christmas trifle.