Friday, September 14, 2012



Do not cease to drink beer, to eat, to intoxicate thyself, 
to make love, and to celebrate the good days. 
Egyptian proverb 

There is something dangerous and sexy about drink. Bubbles that tickle the nose, bite the back of the throat; a feverish flush crawling up your neck, coercing you to let down your hair, laughter bubbling up uncontrollably. Heat like a flow of lava over the tongue, burning a path down the gullet, clawing at your chest. Fumes rushing up into your head, behind your eyes, seething, foggy warmth clouding your thoughts and all reason. A powerful blast of sexy is drink; shimmering gold or pink or deep jewel red, wrap your hands around the sensuous curve of a glass, breath in the heady bouquet, the electrifying scent, a fusion of fruit and earth and the devil that makes your head spin, makes you think of things, creates desire that burns like the liquid as it courses through your body.
Why the fascination with drink? Why the necessity to imbibe, to ring in each holiday, to toast each celebration with something boozy? There’s no way around it, drink is the very essence of conviviality. We pop corks, the spicy sweet blaze of alcohol rushes into the glass amid laughter and merriment with each milestone, each festive event. Refined and savage, sophisticated and fierce, a glass of something straight up or a mad inventive cocktail brings a dash of hospitality, a splash of romance, an infusion of cheer. And out of nothing but a feeling of wellbeing, a burning passion, we toast our beloved, nothing but the best, the booziest will do.

Worthless people live only to eat and drink; 
people of worth eat and drink only to live. 
 – Socrates 

One would think that after twenty-five years and more of living in France that having a drink, a flute of bubbly, a glass of wine, a splash of brandy or a drop of grappa, would have sunken into the trite and meaningless, like a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. A banality, a glass of red for lunch, a glass of white with dinner, wine drunken like water to wash down a meal. A sweet sip of Cointreau, the burning heat of brandy, the tickle of Champagne, popping corks whenever the mood hits, everyday, yes, the liquor flows like water in France.

But no. No matter how often we partake, no matter how many bottles line our kitchen shelves, no matter how many corks fill our utensil drawer, a drink is still something special; it is downright celebratory. Birthdays or anniversaries, New Year’s eve or a personal success, what better way to celebrate than with….booze! And there are so many things to fete, so many people to honor. The applause is loud, the memories are great, we raise a glass to commend and praise, to congratulate and rejoice. Big or small, in this mad, wild, uncertain world we live in, every little pleasure, milestones both large and small, the chance to share joy with others, pat friends on the back or triumph with loved ones, there is such delight in raising a tumbler, hearing the click click of glasses meeting, the charm and comfort of sharing a drink with friends and strangers.

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it. 
Mae West 

Therefore, each and every Friday I dash excitedly over to my friend Barb’s wonderful blog Creative Culinary to discover what new cocktail she has concocted for The Friday Cocktail hour. And each Friday, I sit back and savor her words and images, sit back, close my eyes and imagine that I am holding one of her cocktails, surrounded by girlfriends on her terrace while the warm sunshine filters through the trees. Or maybe at a noisy, rambunctious party or even something a tad more solemn. Or curled up with the one I love the most to quietly exult in whatever we have accomplished together.

And this week, Barb is celebrating – celebrating! – one year of Friday Cocktail and we are pulling out the booze! But as Barb’s Friday cocktails are not just cocktails, as Barb spikes dessert after glorious dessert – from Blueberry Basil Martini Pops to Sicilian Chocolate Gelato with Bourbon and Strawberry Ricotta Gelato Fizz – she has shown us that something boozy doesn’t have to be liquid! So to help Barb celebrate the one-year anniversary of her Friday Cocktail, I have created a Chocolate Berry Rum Trifle. A dense Chocolate Fudge Chiffon Cake, a mix of blueberries and cherries in their juice (and why not a splash of Cointreau?), a Rum-Infused Vanilla Pastry Cream and clouds of whipped cream make one hell of a festive treat!

And now you scoot on over to Creative Culinary and check out all the boozy delights, cocktails and desserts, that we have all brought to the party! Happy Cocktail Anniversary, Barb!

Favorite boozy treats from Life's a Feast:

 Cherry Prosecco GranitĂ 


Chocolate Rum Bundt Cake

Gâteau Nantais

Chocolate Orange Grand Marnier Madeleines

Orange Cointreau Brownie Tiramisu

 NOTE: Drink sensibly and always in moderation.


From Abigail Serves, Choicest Recipes Presented by Sisters of Abigail No. 3, United Order of True Sisters, Albany, New York, 1956 – of which my Great Aunt Mae Cohen was co-chairman

¾ cup (scant 200 ml) boiling water
½ cup (50 g) unsweetened cocoa
1 ¾ cup lightly spooned into measuring cup and levelled (220 g) cake flour
1 ¾ cup (350 g) sugar
3 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
7 medium or large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Have ready an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.

Sift the cocoa powder into a small mixing bowl and whisk in the boiling water until smooth. Allow to cool.

Sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and whisk in the oil, the egg yolks, the vanilla and then the cooled cocoa mixture until smooth.

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl (I prefer plastic) and sift on the cream of tartar if using. Whip the whites until very stiff; beat stiffer than for angel food or meringue. Fold the stiff whites carefully into the cake batter with a rubber or silicone spatula until blended. Pour into the tube pan and bake for 55 minutes at 325°F (160°C) and then increase oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue baking for an additional 10 or 15 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Cool the cake in the tube pan upside down before loosening with a long, sharp blade and remove from the pan.


1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 Tbs cornstarch
½ cup (100 g) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbs (30 g) unsalted butter, cubed (at room temperature makes it easier)
The seeds scraped from one vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla
2 – 3 Tbs rum, or to taste

Sift the cornstarch into a small mixing bowl. Dissolve the cornstarch in ¼ cup of the milk; whisk until smooth and there are no lumps. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar and the vanilla seeds in a saucepan. Bring just to a boil; remove from heat.

Place the whole egg with the yolks in a medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture until smooth. Pour the boiling milk in a slow, gradual stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the mixture back to the saucepan.

Whisking constantly, cook over low heat until the pastry cream thickens and comes just to a boil. This should only take a minute or two. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla extract if using.

Whisk the rum into the pastry cream a tablespoon at a time to taste. Allow to cool slightly, whisking or stirring occasionally to keep it creamy and so a skin doesn’t form on the top.


2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
Confectioner’s sugar to taste, about 2 Tbs
¾ - 1 cup berries, fresh, jarred or frozen, sweetened with 2 tsps sugar
1 Tbs Cointreau or Grand Marnier for the fruit, if desired
1 Tbs blanched slivered almonds

Place the berries in a small bowl with about ¼ cup of the juices if using frozen or jarred. Stir the sugar into the berries, add about 1 tsp (or more to taste) of the Cointreau or Grand Marnier and allow to macerate while preparing the pastry cream.

Place a glass or metal bowl with the beaters of an electric mixer in the refrigerator to chill. The bowl must be large enough to hold all of the heavy cream once it is whipped.


Cut 1-inch (2 cm) thick slices of cake and press together, overlapping just slightly, into the bottom of a clear glass serving bowl (mine is approximately 8 inches in diameter): I used 5 slices. You want to see a layer of chocolate cake underneath the layers of pastry and whipped cream. Spoon about ¾ of the spiked berry juices over the cake, allowing the juices to soak into the cake. Spread all of the rum-infused pastry cream on top of the layer of cake slices, making sure all of the gaps around the edges are filled with pastry cream. Spoon ¾ of the berries evenly over the pastry cream.

Add another layer of cake sliced thinner, about ½ - ¾ inch thick.

Whip the heavy whipping cream in the chilled bowl with the chilled beaters, adding 2 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar. Beat until very thick. Mound the whipped cream onto the Trifle, making sure that the whipped cream comes to the edges of the bowl and fills in any gaps around the edges. Just before serving, top with the rest of the berries and about a tablespoon of blanched slivered almonds. If you like you can grate on some chocolate.

Serve immediately. Store any leftover Trifle in the refrigerator, the bowl covered with plastic wrap.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A heavenly trifle! That boozy pastry cream is wonderful. The taste of rum pairs perfectly with that of chocolate.

I'm not a big drinker, but I love to have a few glasses of wine/liquor or a cocktail on Friday and Saturday evening (to celebrate the weekend)...



Bunkycooks said...

I agree that cocktails, a glass of wine or champagne are always celebratory, even if you have wine every day with dinner.

This dessert is beautiful and I can just imagine all of the wonderful flavors together in one bite! Just in time for the weekend...Cheers!

Kiran @ said...

Gorgeous trifle. Almost too gorgeous to eat!

Lisa said...

I think this is the best ways to drink..via dessert! I love trifle and this is a whopper trifle, Jamie! I'd be three sheets to the wind after two bites - but that's PERFECTLY ok ;) *clinking* trifle bowls to celebrate might be fun!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Look at that river of sauce making its way down the snow white cloud of the cream. I could dive head first into it! :D

Maureen said...

I adore trifle - boozy trifle and I agree about Barb's cocktails :)

Lovely photos - I smile with every visit.

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

What a gorgeous dessert Jamie; just wishing I could run over for a bite. Still, has been fun to have you and others join in my celebration; you know I love a bit of boozy in my desserts too.

BTW LOVE the photos; I think I've got some old photos that look eerily similar! Cheers my friend.

Terra said...

This is for sure a perfect cocktail treat to bring to Barb's party! Your trifle really sounds lovely! Hugs, Terra

Amanda said...

Glorious looking trifle, thanks Jamie. Booze and chocolate go so well together - I think they should have their own food group!

Junglefrog said...

Leave it up to you to celebrate a cocktail friday with another glorious combination of booze and chocolate... Mmm, that just looks gorgeous. I have to say I only just learned of Barbara's cocktail fridays, which I will now follow much more closely for ideas!
(as a total coincidence the anti spam thing below this comment box is starting with the word rum... :) Lol)

Rambling Tart said...

What a gorgeous cloud of deliciousness, Jamie. :-) I've been craving a good trifle this week, and look forward to trying an Aussie-version I just learned about. But you've inspired me with your boozy cream - delish!! :-)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Love this. Yesterday evening as Tom poured me a glass of wine I said to him that this was one the things I loved the most about being all grown up .. a nice glass of wine (bubbly or cocktails). Love the way you serve up on Cocktail Friday!

Lora said...

Rum infused vanilla bean pastry cream? Are you kidding me? YUUUMMMM! What a great dessert.

wendy@chezchloe said...

I've used the word divine before but now it retrospect it was shallow as this truly defines divine. Wow.
I'm thinking ahead to Christmas dinner dessert. My buche de Noel may have to take a year off.
Hell, I'm going to print this one out :-)

Carolyn Jung said...

I do love me a cocktail. But I think I love a boozy dessert just as much. (wink, wink)

Mairi @ Toast said...

I think even I a non trifle lover would love this one! And the pop of champagne cork....can't help but make one smile in anticipation of those delightful little bubbles :)

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

That's what I love most about cocktails, they make any occasion feel festive. I love the ritual of relaxing with a glass of wine or a cold cocktail before dinner.

Kate | Food Babbles said...

Oh my goodness!! I can't believe I missed this during all of the Friday Cocktail celebrating! I need to make this. This sounds heavenly! Chocolate chiffon cake, cherries and blueberries, boozy whipped cream.... it's all too tempting. Lovely!

Chef and Steward said...

You got us with the rum and we stayed for the story. It is great that the novelty of the drink is still celebratory even though it is an essential part of the French lifestyle. We tend to spike things a lot with rum as well .Lovely writing and images as usual Jamie.


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