There’s been quite a stir in the food-blogging world the last couple of weeks over an opinion piece posted over on the International Association of Culinary Professionals website, wherein the article writer voiced her disgust that high-profile companies in the culinary business are paying food bloggers (gasp! food bloggers?!) to develop and photograph recipes using and endorsing their products. One of her concerns was that there are no guidelines for how many times the recipes must be tested by us lowly food bloggers (who have a “cooking hobby” and “too much time on [our] hands”) and that we’re faking culinary expertise.
In any case, I’ve never been paid by anyone to write a post or develop a recipe. But in the interest of full-disclosure, I’ll tell you that I’ve only made this recipe once. Most recipes I post here are ones I’ve made over and over, or ones I’ve had handed down from my grandma that have been made more times than we can count. But sometimes I just like to show you something I threw together that worked so you can try it, too, or at least be inspired. I hope none of you are confusing me with America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve had no formal training. I just love to cook and share recipes with anyone who wants them. And if you ever try one of my recipes and it doesn’t work for you, I hope you let me know and we can figure it out together. And if you have a great idea for taking any of my recipes up a notch, please tell me that, too!
Ok, let’s get down to business. I really liked this dessert. It’s great for any summer get-togethers you might have coming up. I made it for a mother’s day get-together a few weeks ago. I was inspired by this recipe from My Baking Addiction.
Anyway. You need to start with a pound cake. I made my own, following the classic pound cake recipe found here. (Note: the basic recipe using a pound each of eggs, butter, sugar, flour will yield 2 large loaf pans. This recipe for trifles only uses one loaf. So you can easily halve the recipe or just have leftover pound cake. Which is never a bad thing.) You could totally use store-bought if you’re not up to making it. I made mine a day or two ahead so I had less to do on the day of. If you do make it yourself, be very careful to follow the technique given, or it won’t turn out well. Or you could try to con my friend Nate into baking one for you. His pound cake has been known to cause otherwise married, heterosexual men to propose to him.
Ok. Once you have your pound cake slice it into 1/2 inch slices. You’ll need 12 inner slices. Use the ends to taste test and make sure your pound cake is extra delicious. I recommend toasting them and adding a little jam.
Next you’ll make the honey-sage sauce.
To start off, I juiced 2 large lemons. I juiced the heck out of them with a reamer. So if you don’t have a reamer and are just squeezing by hand, or if your lemons are small, you probably want to use 3. Put the lemon juice along with 6 Tbsp honey in a small saucepan. Place it over medium heat just until it starts to simmer.
Then throw in a bunch of fresh sage. I put about 6 sprigs in, but when I make this again, I think I’ll put in twice as many. I haven’t gotten very far in my garden this year since we’re trying to redo the whole thing, so I don’t have my own sage. So I was working with a more limited amount. Simmer the sauce again for about 5 minutes and then take off heat and let to cool to room temperature.
While that’s cooling, you can turn your attention to the blueberry sauce.
I started with frozen blueberries, but you could use fresh also. 2 cups in a medium saucepan.
Add to this 1/2 cup each sugar and water.
Bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring.
Then stir in 2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water. Stir quickly but gently. I don’t recommend trying to take a photo at the same time. Mine got just a smidge lumpy because I didn’t stir fast enough.
Boil this until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.
Take the sauce off the heat and stir in 4 tablespoons of cold butter, one tablespoon at a time. Wait until the one is fully incorporated before adding another.
Then stir in the zest of one lemon.
I was planning on leaving the sauce like this, but I wasn’t totally happy with it. It was too much like pie filling. I ended up having to go to the store for something else anyway so I got some fresh blueberries. I stirred 1 cup of fresh blueberries into the cooled sauce and it made a huge difference. That way it was still a sauce, but it had all the brightness of the fresh blueberries.
The third part of this dessert is the mascarpone whip.
Whip 8 oz of mascarpone cheese with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer. Make sure you have a little baby hand close-by. The mixer is Little Man’s all time favorite thing. He wants us to use it every day.
With the mixer on medium, slowly pour in 1 cup of heavy cream. Whip this until soft peaks form. Then add in some vanilla. I used vanilla bean paste because I like the little flecks of vanilla and I was feeling too lazy to scrape a vanilla bean. But you can do any of those. About 1 tsp vanilla.
I opted against sweetening this at all, since the honey mixture is pretty sweet. But if you tend you like sweet desserts, you could add 2 Tbsp powdered sugar at this point as well.
I whipped mine a little stiff, and it was hard to spread it nicely in the jars. If you end up whipping yours too stiff, you can stir more cream into it until it’s the right consistency.
Now, for the assembly.
You’ll need 8 oz jars, and a circle cutter about the same size. If you don’t have a cookie cutter the right size, you could maybe use the jar itself, but the edges aren’t overly sharp. You could also place the jar upside down over the pound cake slice and cut around it with a knife.
Cut out 12 rounds of pound cake.
Push one circle into the bottom of the jar.
Spoon a good layer of the honey sage sauce over the pound cake and let it soak in a little.
Next comes a layer of the blueberry sauce, and then some mascarpone whip. Shoot to make each layer about 1/2 and inch thick. Repeat all 3 layers.
Garnish the tops with fresh blueberries and a sage leaf. I eeked out 7 of these, but I had to make a little extra whip. I think you could solidly get 6 from this recipe.
Blueberries and sage are a really nice combination. It adds balance to the sweetness and takes the flavor over the top.
Plus, this recipe is family friendly. Little Man got a tiny version and loved it. :)
I think if you took the last layer of mascarpone and didn’t take it over the top of the jar, you could put lids on these easily and make them portable for your next picnic.
I hope you try these sometime. They’re really fantastic!