Christmas Desserts - Sherry Trifle and Oranges with Cointreau

Recipes taken from 'Meals for All Seasons' by Georgina Campbell, published in 1992 and now out of print.

Meals for All Seasons by Georgina Campbell


Real Sherry Trifle

This more-ish trifle is made the old-fashioned way, with real sponge cake, fresh fruit and rich egg custard – all flavoured with a good cream sherry. For family occasions, quality tinned fruit such as pears or apricots would also be acceptable, but a good egg custard is essential, so don't be tempted to use a convenient alternative.

Serves 6-8.

1 small sponge cake, preferably home-made (2 eggs etc)
Raspberry jam, preferably home-made
1/4 pint/150ml sherry (sweet/cream style, not dry/fino), or marsala
l lb/450g suitable fresh or poached fruit, eg bananas or pears
1/2 pint/300ml cream
Toasted flaked almonds to decorate (optional).


3/4 pint/425 ml creamy milk
l vanilla pod or a few drops of vanilla essence
3 eggs
l oz/25g caster sugar

First make the custard:

1. Put the milk into a pan with the vanilla pod, if using, and bring almost to the boil. Remove from the heat.
2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together lightly.
3. Remove the vanilla pod and set aside to wash and re-use. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture.
4. Rinse out the pan with cold water, return the mixture to it and stir over low heat until it thickens enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow it to boil.
5. Turn the custard into a mixing bowl and, if using vanilla essence, stir it in now. Cover the custard and set aside.

To assemble the trifle:

1. Halve the sponge cake horizontally, spread with raspberry jam and make a sandwich. Cut into slices and use to line the bottom and the lower sides of a large glass dessert bowl.
2. Sprinkle generously with the sherry (preferably mixed with fruit juice, eg if using poached fruit).
3. Spread the sliced fruit out over the sponge to make an even layer.
4. Pour the custard on top, cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming, and leave to cool and set, then chill the trifle until required.
5. Before serving, whip the cream and spread it over the set custard, then decorate with a scattering of toasted flaked almonds.


If you are nervous about curdling the custard, either cook it in a double saucepan, or in a bowl over - but not touching - boiling water. Alternatively, stabilise the sauce by mixing a teaspoon of cornflour with a little cold milk and blending it into the egg mixture; this makes it less likely to curdle.

Have a large bowl of cold water to hand - if the sauce shows signs of over-heating, plunge the pan into the cold water to bring the temperature down rapidly; whisk the egg mixture before returning to a lower heat to finish.

Oranges with Cointreau

Citrus fruits are at their best in winter and this makes a delicious and refreshing dessert after a substantial main course. Any other orange-flavoured liqueur such as Grand Marnier can be used instead of Cointreau if preferred. Serve thoroughly chilled.

Serves 8.

8 oranges
6 oz/175g caster sugar
1/4 pint/150 ml water
Juice of l lemon
3 tablespoons Cointreau

1.Using a potato peeler, remove the zest from two of the oranges and set aside.
2. Peel the oranges, removing all trace of pith, and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange in a serving dish.
3. Shred the reserved zest of orange, then blanch to remove bitterness: cover with cold water, bring to the boil and drain. Return to the pan, cover with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and reserve the peel.
4. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add the cooked peel and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the peel is glazed and candied.
5. Draw off the heat, add the lemon juice and allow to cool.
6. Stir in the Cointreau, pour the syrup over the orange slices and chill well before serving on its own, or with vanilla ice cream (home-made if possible).

Recipes from 'Meals for All Seasons' by Georgina Campbell, published in 1992 and now out of print and only available in our online shop

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