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The Incidental Trifle

Posted Dec 29 2008 5:02pm

This is not exactly a recipe; it’s more like an idea for what to do when desserts don’t turn out the way you want them to.  My husband and I have been baking and baking the past couple of days.  We both enjoy cooking, and we enjoy doing it together.  One of our baking tasks was to make two cakes to take with us when we go visit his brother and sister.  We’ve been looking at recipes for cakes for days.  Finally, I decided I’d bake a lemon/pineapple inside out cake.  I left the choice of the other cake to Jim.  He finally decided on a chocolate praline cake.  It sounded delicious as we read the recipe, and it smelled really good as it was baking.  Everything went very well until he placed the second layer on top of the first after he had iced it.  We really don’t know what went wrong, but the cake started to split and ended up in two irregular halves.  Jim made more icing, thinking that the extra icing could hold the cake together like glue.  Wrong. What we ended up with was an exploded cake with tons of icing on it.  We considered trying the recipe again and making it a sheet cake instead of a layer cake, but finally, we just decided to take the cake as it was, explain what happened, and offer it as something that didn’t look too good but was sure to taste good.  We dubbed the cake “Avalanche Cake.” 

One of the ideas that we had when trying to figure out what to do with the messy cake was to make a trifle.  I made a beautiful black forest trifle last Christmas, which was not only magazine pretty, but was delicious as well.  I had never had a trifle that did not have some kind of fruit in it, but I kept thinking of how to turn that cake into an edible trifle dessert.  Then I had an inspired idea.  Jim didn’t mind me tinkering with Avalanche Cake, so I ended up doing this:

I peeled off a good deal of the icing and put it aside to ice some cookies with later.  A little chocolate was mixed into the buttercream frosting, but I was going to ice chocolate cookies, so no big deal.  Then I crumbled up some of the rich devil’s food cake with the luscious praline topping into a clear glass bowl.  I made some more caramel sauce by boiling butter and brown sugar and a little half and half, and I drizzled some of that over the cake.  I toasted some pecans and sprinkled some of those over the caramel sauce.  Then I repeated with more cake, more caramel sauce, and more toasted pecans.  I covered the second layer with some Cool Whip I had in the refrigerator and made a final drizzle of caramel sauce, finishing with a few more toasted pecans.  It fit perfectly into the cake taker, so that’s our second dessert for the family dinner on Friday.  I had enough cake to make a smaller trifle that we can sample tomorrow after our Christmas dinner.  I know it will be very rich.  But I bet it will be very good, too.  And it really does look elegant sitting in the refrigerator tonight. 

They say that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can make a trifle out of any wrecked cake.  You just have to figure out what you want to layer the wrecked cake with.  And trifles are always elegant looking.  I wanted to call my new dessert The Accidental Trifle, but Jim insisted that Incidental was a better choice because we didn’t create the dessert by accident; instead, it was the accidental avalanche of the cake that ended in an incident upon which we decided to create the trifle.  Believe it or not, these are the things that two English teachers talk about in earnest!

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