Saturday, June 5, 2010

An Afternoon Bridal Shower: Lemon Berry White Chocolate Trifle




So I before I get on to the really important stuff (like bridal shower fun and delicious desserts) I thought I would preface this post with a little disclaimer: I think I been experiencing a bout of dessert compulsion.  As recently as just a few months ago, I was expending almost all of my culinary energy tossing together fresh salads, eating fish, and simmering healthy soups.  I would have said that I definitely prefer to cook rather than bake. Then love came to town (aka my boyfriend and his sweet tooth) and kicked my nutritious disciplined eating to the curb.  If you force me to choose, I would always pick my adorable Norwegian over vegetables, and when push comes to shove he really is a very healthy eater.  But somehow since he left last month, I haven't been able to stop making sweet treats!  I am getting lost in a tangent here; the point is, I have no plans to turn this into a dessert blog so don't be confused by the number of sugary posts from last month, or any cakes that I post in the next few weeks.

Now, on to the bridal shower!  


In case you are just tuning in, I went home to Cleveland, Ohio last weekend for a bridal shower and bachelorette party for one of my dearest college friends.  There are seven of us bridesmaids, and we all worked together to plan this elegant extravaganza, and in my humble opinion (although I think the other ladies present would agree) everything turned out to be truly perfect.  

The weather was amazing, with a clear blue cloudless sky and bright sunshine to greet us.  So many friends and family of the bride were able to attend, which made for a really friendly and lively afternoon.  Everywhere you looked, there were beautiful smiling faces of well-dressed women chatting together, either catching up on life with old friends or getting to know new friends.  And of course, we were all doting on the star of the day, the lovely bride.          




As I mentioned in my last post, the mother of one of the other bridesmaids was generous enough to host the shower at her home, and it turned out to be an ideal venue: plenty of room both outside and inside, and absolutely charming to boot.  They did an amazing job of decorating everything with intricately embroidered tablecloths, patterned paisley napkins, brightly colored flowers, and cherished family china.  We started the afternoon outside where Judy and her mother had set up tables so everyone could enjoy lunch, and we followed up with gifts, games, and dessert inside.


I can't take any credit for the lovely decor or the flawless organization (masterfully planned by the maid of honor), but I can say that I made enough food to feed a small army... or twenty-some bridal shower guests.  Since I only flew into Cleveland on the red-eye the morning before the shower, putting together all this food (and somehow squeezing in a dress fitting and dinner with the bridal party) in about 24 hours seems crazy in retrospect; at the time it was just a lot of fun!  And I can also say that I wouldn't have been able to get it all done without my two wonderful sous-chefs (thanks mom and dad!). The other bridesmaids provided all the beverages, as well as a veggie platter, a fruit plate, hummus with dip, and cute applesauce cupcakes.  

Since the colors for the wedding are yellow and blue, we decided to try to have as many foods fit with the theme color-wise and flavor-wise.  So, without further ado, here is the master menu that I whipped up for the shower: 


Mixed Greens with Berries and Pecans, and Sweet Poppyseed Vinaigrette

Assorted Tea Sandwiches:
Smoked Salmon with Herbed Lemon-Garlic Cheese
Honey-roasted Turkey with Tart Cherry Goat Cheese
Cucumber with Dill
Radish with Salted Butter and Chives

Lemon Cheesecake Squares topped with Blackberries and Mint

Lemon Berry Trifle with White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse 



Mixed Greens with Berries and Pecans, and Sweet Poppyseed Vinaigrette

(Sadly, no photos for now of the tea sandwiches)

Lemon Cheesecake Squares topped with Blackberries and Mint

(Applesauce cupcakes courtesy of Kat!)

Lemon Berry Trifle with White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse



Who could resist this spread?

I started the day before, by first doing all the shopping to get the ingredients, and then working on the individual components of the trifle, since that required by far the most work.  You might think I am crazy, but I made the ladyfingers as well as the lemon curd from scratch, plus the white chocolate mascarpone mousse.  I know I could have bought the ladyfingers and curd, but this was a labor of love for my friend and I wanted it to be perfect! (for more about striving for perfection, keep reading below...)

But for now, the big question... was it perfect???  Well, I think I might as well throw all modesty out the window here, and just tell it like it is: 

This trifle was incredible, astonishing, beautiful, and totally delicious.  

I am not sure I have ever been prouder of something I have created, and it is especially satisfying that I made it all from scratch.  However, I think I derive the most happiness from knowing that all the guests really enjoyed it and that I was able to make something so special for my friend.  Overall we had more that enough food for all the ladies, and I think everyone was throughly satisfied.  And most importantly, the bride ate well and had a lovely day.  



Striving for perfection with this trifle...

So originally, we had tossed around ideas for food for the shower, and someone suggested getting a big cake from a local bakery.  I foolishly suggested I could make a trifle.  At this time I had never made a trifle in my life, and did not even own a trifle dish (a good plan, right?).  However, I had a grandiose idea that I could make something like this.  I didn't want a trifle with layered bright colors like fourth of July; that is more suited to a summer party.  I also knew I wanted to make the components from scratch (which meant making ladyfingers).  So I mulled around some ideas in my head, discussed with some foodie friends, and threw together this dish, which seemed more monochromatic and more elegant.  I did a trial run for some friends (aka a good excuse for a dinner party), and this was the first version: 


My first concept was pretty good, both visually and in taste, but I was glad I did a trial dish.  My first try at the mousse failed, the curd was slightly too tart, and the cream I used to decorate the top didn't hold its shape well enough.  Plus I didn't really care for the look of the lemon curls. (Yes, I am being nit-picky.)  So tweaked my lemon curd recipe, added some gelatin to the whipped cream (better, but not great), and improvised the topping by using some flowers.  Making this against a deadline was was nerve-wracking, but transporting it in the car for 45 minutes across town was worse.  Luckily, it arrived with no damage, and I think I got the flavors spot on.  This dish was my baby, and I think she is beautiful. :)  


***Also, I will post the recipes for the cheesecake squares and the tea sandwiches soon!

Lemon Berry White Chocolate Trifle 
Inspired by this beauty


Ok, so I am going tell you how to make this whole thing from scratch, and then at the end I will list all the shortcuts you can take if you want to whip this up in a jiffy.  Either way, the white chocolate mousse needs to set for at least 3 hours before you can layer it in the trifle, so be sure to plan ahead.  


Ladyfingers:
(ingredients and recipe from Daring Bakers)


White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse:
7 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup limoncello
1/3 cup water
8-8.8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream


Lemon Curd Cream(makes 3 cups):
15 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
About 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 sticks butter 
1 cup chilled whipping cream


About 5 cups fresh blueberries (more if desired)
1 1/2-2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
Flowers for decoration (optional)


First, start out by making the ladyfingers; you can find the whole recipe here.  Be sure to measure out your dish size (if you have a 12-cup trifle dish, it will likely be 8 inches in diameter), and pipe out the batter for the ladyfingers to fit inside the dish easily.  


Next, make the white chocolate mousse.  In the top of a double boiler, combine first three ingredients and mix until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl, and gradually whisk in mascarpone cheese.  The mixture should be slightly cooled by now, but let set until lukewarm.  Whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks, and then fold it into the chocolate-cheese mixture very gently, and in about 4-5 separate additions.  The mixture will be smooth and velvety when you finish.  Cover and chill for at least 3 hours (or overnight).   


While the mousse sets up, make the lemon curd.  In a medium saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest.   Lightly beat the egg yolks, then cook with constant stirring over medium-low heat until curd is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Make sure you do not boil the mixture.  (Will take 15-20 minutes.)  Reduce the heat to very low, and add the butter a few pieces at a time, stirring to incorporate each one before adding the next.  The curd should be very thick at this point. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, transfer to a small bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it down on the surface of the curd.  Cool in the fridge.  When completely cooled, transfer it to a larger bowl.  Beat the whipping cream until it forms soft peaks, and then fold all of it into the lemon curd in several additions.  The curd-cream will be smooth and light.


Now you should have everything ready to assemble the trifle.  Arrange the ladyfingers on the bottom of the dish, rounded side down, to cover most of the surface.  Mine looked like this: 



Next, add about 1/3 of the lemon curd cream, spreading it over the entire surface, making the layer look thickest on the edge of the dish (center should have a thinner layer).  Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups blueberries over the lemon curd, keeping them slightly away from the very edge of the dish.



Cover the curd-cream with about 1/3 of the white chocolate mousse, again, spreading it most thickly on the edge of the dish. (You want to be sure you can see distinct layers on the outside.)  Repeat this process of layering 3 more more times to fill the dish.  The mixture should come almost all the way up to the top, but not completely (the top is covered with the whipped cream). 

To decorate, beat the remaining chilled heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form; add the sugar and gelatin, and beat again.  Transfer some of the whipped cream to the trifle dish, and smooth over the top completely.



Transfer the remaining whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip, and decorate the top as you prefer.  If you like, add decorative elements such as flowers, lemon curls, or more berries.  Keep chilled until serving.

***If you want to make this trifle less labor-intensive, buy the ladyfingers (the ones from Trader Joe's are pretty good), and use purchased lemon curd.  Then all you would need to do is make the mousse and whip the cream.  

53 comments:

  1. Amazing: everything is amazing! And the chocolate and mascarpone mousse....Do you still have a slice for me?! mmmmh....

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  2. That trifle should be an art piece. Seriously, it is so gorgeous! It must taste great.

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  3. Everything looks heavenly! I would have eaten a lot from all of these irresistible dishes if I had been there. It sounds like you had great time together. And never heard of a bridal shower before. Thanks for this information.

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  4. Looks beautiful and perfect and lovely and refreshing! Trifles are so pretty, and yours certainly looks a success! What a nice party :)

    Jessie
    http://www.themessiekitchen.com/

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  5. This trifle is just amazing! Excellent job:)

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  6. Looks so wonderful! I think I am going to try making the trifle!!

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  7. That triffle looks divine. What fun you all had!

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  8. The trifle is lovely and I bet you had a fun time! Desserts will always rule over healthy food. They always make for pretty pics!

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  9. what an beautiful triffle, I love lemoncello and it goes perfectly with the marscapone, adding white chocolate to it just kicks it up even more!!
    the rest of the food looks just incredible!
    thanks so much for sharing!

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  10. when I think of trifle I see a layered concoction with red berries interspersed; this one is stunning and unusual and I love the touch of the flowers on top; beautiful and impossible to resist dipping a very large spoon into! the shower and the setting is beautiful too, all in all a great party it seems.

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  11. Don't worry about the number of desserts! I've noticed on my blog they get WAY more ooohs and ahhhs than my savory dishes--which are decidedly better! The party and trifle look glorious! There is no better sweet summery combo than lemon and blueberries. This would be a big hit in my house!

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  12. Just gorgeous! If you ever want to make it again, I will be a willing eater.

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  13. Wow, what a wonderful trifle! And flawless execution! Always worth using a pastry bag for stuff like this!

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  14. Great job with the trifle. Fantastic presentation.

    Cheers!

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  15. Wow I am so impressed that you made this! This looks like a professional catering job or maybe a dessert from that fabulous place in San Diego :) Great job! You will have to teach me how to use the pastry bag

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  16. Trifles looks so very pretty!And the mixed greens with berries is fantastic too. Very summery and delightful!

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  17. Impressive stuff! I admire your patience.

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  18. Very very impressive. Everything looks so beautiful :)

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  19. What a beautiful bridal shower. The trifle looks amazing and I love the combination of lemon and white chocolate.

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  20. I am so impressed! Everything looks beautiful. I'm so glad the weather worked out for you because this weekend has certainly not been perfect by any means!

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  21. The trifle looks beautiful (and delicious)! The bride is one lucky lady :)

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  22. So impressive! Beautiful bridal shower... Congrats to your friend! :)

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  23. gorgeous! i'm bookmarking this for a summer treat! love lemon & mascarpone mousse.

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  24. I haven't had trifle in so long. This looks so good!

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  25. Wow! What an amazing gift you gave! That trifle is absolutely elegant. I wish I could have tasted it. Nice work!

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  26. Wow, I'm totally blown away by all you prepared. What an undertaking and even more, what a good friend you are! :-)

    Ironically, I just made a comment on my most recent post that I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate. However, I would totally dig into this trifle since it's accompanied by limoncello and lemon curd. I bet the flavors balanced well together. Great job! :-)

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  27. Beautiful!! I'm planning a bridal shower in August and this is totally inspiring!

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  28. The trifle looks so tempting!! Yum!

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  29. Looks very very tempting and as mentioned very elegant indeed... perfect for the occasion. Best wishes to your friend... thanks for sharing it with us...

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  30. Stunning trifle, and what a wonderful bridal shower! the bride to be is a lucky girl :) I have yet to make my own ladyfingers - so proud of you for making the entire trifle from scratch!

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  31. That is a very pretty trifle. Very impressive.

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  32. What a beautiful shower!

    The trifle is GORGEOUS. absolutely gorgeous.

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  33. Trifle is stunning. Very jealous. I think I might have to make it!

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  34. Amanda! This is a fantastic post! Thanks for all of your kind words for all of the work we all put in. I have no doubt that you took on most of the work with all of that baking, cooking and prep work! Thank you SO much for making the day so delicious!

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  35. I haven't eaten trifle for ages, thanks for reminding me.
    Everything looks so great, your friend is very lucky.

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  36. What a beautiful and elegant spread! The white chocolate trifle looks heavenly! Excellent!

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  37. Thanks for all of the compliments on the trifle! I was so happy to make it for my friend, and I think I am the one who is lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people: both on and off line. :)

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  38. I applaud your effort with the trifle. It's absolutely gorgeous and stood out among other goodies. :)

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  39. Your trifle is beautiful. If only I had the recipe in my possession a few weeks ago when I threw a bridal shower- her colors were blue and yellow too. The bride and my cousin are HUGE UCLA fans.

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  40. I had to check out your blog. I love cilantro! How can anyone dislike it. What a beautiful blog you have and I love the trifle.

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  41. Hi! Thanks so much for your kind comment! Nice to "meet" you. And this goes without saying, but that is the most perfect, gorgeous trifle I have EVER seen! What a lucky bride to have such wonderful friends!

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  42. hey ya,
    this is surely giving me some great ideas for my bridal shower next may-june! thanks so much!!

    jen

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  43. Lovely trifle! It's so beautiful! Congrats to your friend. :)

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  44. What a wonderful occasion! The trifle looks fabulous!

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  45. That's one of the best looking trifles I've ever seen! Such a great recipe for spring or even a baby shower :)

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  46. So much work to make this beauty but in the end I am sure it all pays off. :)

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  47. Now THAT is beautiful food! I bookmarked this for an upcoming baby shower, thanks!

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  48. Oh I know what you mean, before I started my blog I would never make desserts. And I do prefer to cook then bake. But somehow now something switched in my head and I'm even considering going to culinary school for a pastry chef degree. What happened???? Your trifle looks amazing very bridal pretty.

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