These elegant mini trifles have big holiday flavor! Layers of rum-soaked cake and spiked vanilla bean custard are layered in small glasses and topped with fluffy whipped cream.
No matter what size your guest list is this year, it always helps to have recipes that can be made ahead. There’s so much to do even with a small dinner gathering – mains and sides to arrange on the buffet, glasses to fill, naughty little pugs to shoo out of the kitchen – it always helps to have a trick or two up your sleeve (and in the refrigerator).
The components of this dessert can be made up to 3 days ahead and then assembled before serving. They are appropriately bold and rich for their small size. It’s like having the flavors of the holidays condensed into your own single serving.
The cake portion is studded with plumped dried fruit. Figs and apricots give it some heft, and even though it is rum-soaked I hesitate to call it ‘fruitcake’. It is not dense or tough, and it fluffs up when crumbled for the trifles.
Vanilla bean-rum custard is smooth and boozy, and just perfect with the cake. I think this dessert looks best serve in stemmed or footed glasses. It’s an elegant touch without being the least bit fussy.
Whipped cream can be dolloped or piped on – whatever fits your time constraints and tools. Here I’ve used a large open star pastry tube.
The cake portion of this recipe makes slightly more than you’ll need for the trifles. I used this as an opportunity to add an extra crumble on top of each dessert. A small sprig of rosemary will add a note of evergreen, but it’s completely optional and mostly just makes them look pretty. Serve these on a fancy tray and your guests are sure to feel special!
Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles
Spiced rum cake
- 1/2 cup 75 grams chopped pitted dates
- 1/2 cup 75 grams golden raisins
- 1/2 cup 75 grams chopped figs
- 1/2 cup 75 grams chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup 120 ml orange juice
- 1/2 cup 113 grams butter, softened
- 1/2 cup 90 grams firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups 156 grams all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup 75 grams chopped pecans
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/2 cup 120 ml spiced rum
Vanilla bean-rum custard
- 1/2 cup 100 grams granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons spiced rum
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks
- 8 rosemary sprigs optional
- Combine the dates, raisins, figs, and apricots in a medium bowl; pour orange juice over the fruit and stir to evenly coat. Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes.
- Coat the inside of an 8-inch square pan with flour-based cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 325°F.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at time, beating until well blended after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Mixing on low speed, gradually add flour to the butter mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure ingredients are well blended. Stir in pecans and orange zest.
- Drain the fruit mixture and discard orange juice. Fold fruit into the batter and spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cake cool slightly in the pan; do not turn out. Poke holes in the cake with a wooden skewer while it is still warm. Pour rum evenly over cake, allowing it to seep into holes. Cool completely in the pan on wire rack, about 1 hour.
Vanilla Bean-Rum Custard
- Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan; whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 7 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute while whisking.
- In a separate mixing bowl, break egg yolks with a whisk and beat until consistently smooth. Gradually stir about 1/4 of hot milk mixture into eggs; then add yolk mixture to remaining hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, or until well-thickened, whisking constantly.
- Remove from heat and stir in rum, butter and vanilla. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Whisk custard smooth before assembling desserts.
- To assemble the trifles, coarsely crumble about 3/4 of the fruitcake in the pan (you will have leftover fruitcake). Layer a spoonful of custard in the bottom of 4 oz. glasses. crumbled fruitcake in the bottom of 4 oz. trifle glasses. Top with a layer of crumbled fruitcake. Repeat custard and fruitcake layering so that you have two layers of custard and two layers of cake in each glass. Place whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe whipped on top of trifles; add a few cake crumbles on top just before serving, and rosemary sprigs if using.