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Coffee Hazelnut Trifle

This nutty coffee trifle boasts all the luscious creaminess of a tiramisu, but this dessert showcases the rich appeal of coffee, hazelnuts and caramel more than just boozy whipped cream. (Although I’ve kept some of that too!) A tender hazelnut cake – soaked in the chocolate, fruit, and spice flavors of coffee and cognac – is layered with Fat Toad Farm Goat’s Milk Coffee CajetaSpella Coffee custard, and a fluffy mascarpone whipped cream flecked with yet more coffee grounds.

I highly recommend assembling the trifle at least several hours before you intend to serve it for the flavors to meld and saturate the hazelnut cake. Save some freshly ground coffee beans to sprinkle on top just before serving. This party-sized dessert may mean you have leftovers, but I find another day in the fridge for these flavors to mingle makes this trifle sublime.

Coffee Hazelnut Trifle
Serves 8-10 

Hazelnut sponge cake:
Adapted from Saveur Magazine
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/2 cup all-pupose flour
1/4 cup hazelnut meal
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon salt

Coffee pastry cream:
2 quarts milk
1 vanilla bean
1 cup Spella Espresso Blend
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cornstarch
2 1/2 cups sugar
8 eggs
8-ounces (2 sticks) butter, unsalted, softened

Mascarpone whipped cream:
8-ounces Mascarpone
1 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon freshly ground Spella Espresso Blend
1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons (1 shot) brandy
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1 cup Fat Toad Farm Coffee Cajeta 

Hazelnut sponge cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside.

In a small bowl, add all-purpose flour and hazelnut meal and mix to combine.

In a large bowl, add eggs yolks and 3/4 cups superfine sugar. Whisk vigorously until thick and pale yellow.

In another large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg whites and beat to stiff peaks, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar three quarters of the way through.

In three rotations, add stiff egg whites, flour and butter to the egg yolks, folding them gently together after each addition.

Gently spoon the mixture into your prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack until the cake is a light golden brown and bounces back when touched, about 20 minutes.

Coffee Pastry Cream
In a medium saucepan, heat milk, coffee beans, vanilla bean (scraping the seeds), and salt. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat off and let coffee beans steep for 1 hour. Strain mixture, removing coffee beans and vanilla pod, and return to saucepan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch and sugar, then whisk in eggs until smooth.

Return to the milk, bringing it to a simmer on medium heat. Once the milk scalds, slowly ladle about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously to combine. 

Pour the combined egg mixture into the saucepan of remaining milk and set it to medium heat, whisking constantly. Whisk until smooth and thick, then remove from heat.

Continue to whisk, cooling the pastry cream. Add softened butter, whisking to incorporate. Your pastry cream should be thick, smooth and silky.

Mascarpone whipped cream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl using a beater, whip the mascarpone, whipping cream, coffee grounds and sugar on high, until semi-stiff peaks, about 2-4 minutes.

Assembly:
Cut or tear the hazelnut cake into smaller, manageable pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the brandy and coffee.

In the trifle bowl, add a thick layer of the coffee pastry cream, then a layer of hazelnut cake. Soak the hazelnut cake with 1/2 of the brandy/coffee mix. Drizzle the soaked cake with coffee cajeta, then top it with a layer of the mascarpone whipped cream. Repeat. Depending upon the size of your trifle bowl, you may be able to fit three layers, or simply two thick layers.

Before serving, sprinkle the top of your trifle with flecks of ground coffee beans.

Caroline Ford is a food stylist, writer & recipe developer in Portland, OR. More of her writing can be found on her blog: Food. Write. Style. 

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