Mona's Trifle

It is Strawberry Parfait Day on June's the perfect summer treat as this week in June is the perfect ripeness for strawberries! We are going to our favorite strawberry farm, Thompson's, in Wisconsin this week to pick the berries for this parfait. Sadly, critters ate all of Lily's strawberries from our small patch in our yard :(
Typically a parfait is custard and/or whipping cream layered with berries. When I think of a strawberry parfait, I think of an English Trifle. My Mother-in-Law Mona, who was from Leeds, England, taught me how to make a proper English Trifle.  She wrote out "her" recipe and gave it to me at my bridal shower. I never asked if she created this recipe, but to me, it was hers. Whilst (she would always say "whilst" instead of while) she, admittedly, wasn't a very good cook, she made one heck of a trifle. I miss our daily rituals of drinking tea and eating crumpets, sitting in her Texas kitchen at 4 PM. We saved the trifle for family gatherings and special occasions. I would sneak out of work and sit at her kitchen table for hours. She left England after WWII and moved to Borger, Texas. From there she landed in Ft. Worth, Texas, where I met their son. While our marriage ended almost as soon as it began, we remained friends (we were so young), but my love and respect for my Mona lasted. So, in honor of Strawberry Parfait Day, I share Mona's Trifle with you. (I might mention that this trifle makes a perfect Fourth of July dessert with the addition of blueberries.)


Strawberry Sauce
4 pints Strawberries, saving 4 berries, sliced thickly, for the top
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook just until the berries begin to breakdown and give up their juices, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cook. The mixture will cook as it cools. Set aside to use in layering for the trifle.


Custard Filling
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 TBS cornstarch
3/4  tsp salt
6 cups whole milk
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 TBS vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)
5 TBS cream sherry (optional, but so yummy)
2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream 
2 - 2 1/2 store-bought pound cakes (Sarah Lee makes a great frozen pound cake), Hungry Monkey Lemon Cakes or your own cake, 10 - 16 oz each.
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (+1 TBS powdered sugar) for the top of the trifle 
Candied Cherries
Pastel candies (or sprinkles)


In saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add milk, stirring continuously until smooth. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture is thickened and comes to a boil. Boil only one minute and remove from heat. In a separate bowl, slightly beat egg yolks. Add a little bit of the hot mixture to the egg yolks mixture. Stir continuously until custard just begins to boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla bean paste and only 1 tbs of the sherry. Strain over a larger bowl. place plastic wrap on top to prevent a film over the top. Chill. Whip 2 1/4 cups whipping cream and fold into the chilled custard. 
Cut the pound cake or lemon cake lengthwise into 1/2" slices and then sprinkle each slice with sherry.  Cut into 2" squares. Arrange cake squares preserve side up in the bottom of a trifle dish or large glass bowl. Spread berry mixture on top, then custard over the strawberry sauce. Top with remaining cake squares, then strawberry sauce, then remaining custard. Depending on what type of bowl you use, you can do two or three layers, possibly four. 


Whip the additional 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream with 1 TBS powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Top entire trifle with the whipped cream. 
Place plastic wrap over top and chill overnight and for up to 2 days. 
Remove from the refrigerator and top with candied cherries, candied sprinkles and the 4 sliced (saved) strawberries.