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COOKING | CULINARY SOS

This is no mere trifle

August 11, 2004|Barbara Hansen | Times Staff Writer

Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila tipped us off to this wonderful Water Grill dessert, a splendid composition of tender yellow cake, sweet cream and bright strawberry compote. Pastry chef Won Yee shared the recipe.

Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes active; 1 1/2 hours baking and cooling

Servings: 6 large servings, ideal for sharing

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Buttermilk pastry cream

11 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

1 vanilla bean, scraped

2 cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter, softened

1 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier

1. In a mixer, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla seeds. Slowly add the buttermilk, whisking to combine.

2. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat the mixture, whisking until it thickens.

3. Return the bowl to the mixer and mix until the mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Beat in the butter and Grand Marnier. Strain through a fine sieve. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cooled.

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Buttermilk cake

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

3. Add half the buttermilk to the creamed mixture and mix well. Add half the dry ingredients, then the remaining buttermilk and mix. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix.

4. Line a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with parchment and spray with nonstick spray. Spread the batter in the pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 16 to 25 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool slightly, then remove the cake from the pan and cool completely before cutting.

5. Using a cookie cutter, cut the cake into 12 (2- to 3-inch) rounds, selecting a size that fits snugly into the glasses you'll layer the trifles in.

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Strawberry compote

2 pint baskets strawberries

4 to 6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

1. Clean the berries and dice into half-inch pieces. In a saucepan, cook the berries with 4 tablespoons sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and a syrup has formed, about 3 minutes.

2. Taste and add the remaining sugar if needed. Add the Grand Marnier. Remove the compote from the heat, transfer it to a bowl and cool completely. Makes about 2 cups.

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Sugar syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove it from the heat and let it cool completely, then add the Grand Marnier. Makes about three-fourths cup.

Assembly

1 recipe buttermilk pastry cream

1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped with 2 tablespoons sugar

1 recipe strawberry compote

12 buttermilk cake rounds

1 recipe sugar syrup

1 pint basket strawberries, sliced

1. In a large bowl, work the pastry cream with a spatula until softened, then fold in the whipped cream.

2. In each of 6 (8-ounce) Pilsener glasses, place 1 teaspoon strawberry compote, then, using a pastry bag with no tip, or a spoon, add a half-inch layer of pastry cream. Brush each cake round with the sugar syrup. Place one round in each glass on top of the cream. Add a layer of sliced strawberries.

3. Repeat the layering of compote, cream and cake. Finish with cream and top with more strawberry slices.

Each serving: 1,029 calories; 16 grams protein; 140 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 43 grams fat; 23 grams saturated fat; 554 mg. cholesterol; 391 mg. sodium.

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