The Big Geek and I belong to the most amazing gourmet cooking group – we call ourselves “The Ironic Chefs.” The Big Geek’s parents had long belonged to something that they called “The Supper Club”- I was always so impressed by their stories, but envisioned something slightly different. We talked it up with some of our friends, and started in early 2002 with three other couples. We had so. much. fun. We drank a ton of wine. (or on one memorable night, tequila.) There were only two kids in one family at the time, so we were footloose and fancy free. I used to research our recipes for days. And do trial cooking runs. With stuff like veal.
The group has come a long way in 10 years. One couple left, and we added three more couples. That’s 12 adults, and now we’re evenly matched by 12 kids. We have a long and entertaining oral history of mishaps and wonders, funny stories and glorious ones. Three of us have been to the hospital after cooking accidents. We’ve provided food for each other for showers, new babies, illnesses, and funerals.
Every summer we have an all-family barbeque – kids are invited, and it’s a long day of summer fun. Every winter, we have a holiday meal – all the couples, no kids, usually a little fancier. This year’s party theme was a dinner at Hogwarts – so cool, no? Since I have a favorite trifle recipe, we made it, and called it the “Triwizard cup” and topped it with chocolate frogs. :) It’s festive, and if you don’t have someone in your house with an allergy, it can be pretty non-challenging to make.
Eggnog Tiramisu Trifle
2 cups chilled whipping cream 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder 7 tablespoons Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur 2 6.15-ounce or four 3.5-ounce boxes Champagne biscuits or Boudoirs (about 60 crisp ladyfinger cookies)*
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, finely ground in processor
Chocolate Leaves (we made chocolate frogs instead)
Whisk 1 1/3 cups sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup rum, 3 tablespoons brandy, yolks, and nutmeg in metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and candy thermometer inserted into mixture registers 140°F for 3 minutes, about 5 minutes total. Remove bowl from over water. Whisk mascarpone, 1 container at a time, into warm custard until blended.
Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, vanilla, 1 tablespoon brandy, and 1 teaspoon rum in large bowl until cream holds peaks. Fold in mascarpone mixture.
Bring 1 cup water to simmer in small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and espresso powder; stir to dissolve. Mix in liqueur. Submerge 1 biscuit in espresso mixture, turning to coat twice; shake excess liquid back into pan. Place dipped biscuit, sugared side facing out, around bottom side of 14-cup trifle dish, pressing against side of dish (biscuit may break). Repeat with enough biscuits to go around bottom sides of dish once. Dip more biscuits and arrange over bottom of dish to cover.
Spoon 2 cups mascarpone mixture over biscuits; spread to cover. Sprinkle 1/4 cup ground chocolate over, making chocolate visible at sides of dish. Repeat with more biscuits dipped into espresso mixture, mascarpone mixture, and ground chocolate in 2 more layers each. Cover with 1 more layer of dipped biscuits and enough mascarpone mixture to reach top of trifle dish. Sprinkle remaining ground chocolate over, covering completely. Cover and chill overnight.
Gently press stem end of largest chocolate leaves around edge of trifle. Fill center with smaller leaves. (Can be made 8 hours ahead; chill.)
*Available at Italian markets, specialty foods stores, and some supermarkets.