Poor gooseberries. The unwanted spare part of the idiom world. And so too in the kitchen I fear. Pest free (relatively), easy to grow in the UK and delicious, gooseberries should be piled high on our shelves at this time of year. But they are not. Instead our heads are turned by that golden couple raspberries and strawberries whilst the plain old gooseberry sits awkwardly on the shelf being, in every sense, a gooseberry.

But not here. Both the green, cooking variety and the sweeter, purple kind grow in abundance on the G&G veg patch and only once has the dreaded gooseberry sawfly descended to devastate the crop. I use the abundant harvest wherever I can find the excuse. They are delicious pickled with raw salmon or lightly stewed and served with pork as an apple sauce alternative. They are cracking in desserts too, offering a foil to creamy unctuousness.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when we visited The Gunton Arms (go for the food and the art) and I had a gooseberry and elderflower trifle for dessert. I’m easily distracted by trifle, but this one was so delicious I’ve not been able to get it out my head. And so, when I got home to my gooseberry glut, I set to work recreating it…

Gooseberry and elderflower trifle

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours

Serves: Makes 6

Gooseberry and elderflower trifle

Celebrate the best of the summer harvest with this glorious trifle. A delicious combination of elderflower jelly, poached gooseberries, thick, creamy custard and white white chocolate.

  • 250g gooseberries
  • 6 sponge fingers
  • 110ml elderflower cordial
  • 5 sheets gelatine (I use Costa)
  • For the custard
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 10g cornflour
  • 10g plain flour
  • 350ml whole milk
  • For the topping:
  • 300ml double cream
  • 60g white chocolate
  1. Top and tail the gooseberries and arrange them in a saucepan big enough for them to all sit in one layer with a bit of space between them. Add a tablespoon of water and set the pan over a medium heat. Do not stir. Allow the gooseberries to simmer away gently for 10 minutes until soft. Ideally, you want the gooseberries to remain whole hence the single layer and lack of stirring. Set aside to cool.
  2. Break up the sponge fingers and divide them between 6 glass jars or ramekins.
  3. For the elderflower jelly, mix the cordial with 430ml water and heat to just below boiling point. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes until soft. Remove the elderflower mixture from the heat, squeeze out the water from the softened gelatine and stir it into the elderflower. Divide the jelly between the 6 jars, pouring it over the sponge fingers and poking in a couple of gooseberries amongst the sponge for good measure. Pop the jars in the fridge for 4-6 hours to set.
  4. Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk together the eggs, flours and sugar in a large bowl. Heat the milk until it just boils around the edges then remove from the heat and whisk it into your egg mixture. Return the whole lot back to the pan and cook over a medium heat, whisking all the time, until it thickens. Don’t worry if it boils, in fact, it should; unlike thin custard, this one won’t split thanks to the flour. But you will need to whisk with abandon to stop it going lumpy. Once thickened, pour into a tub and set aside to cool.
  5. When you’re ready to assemble the trifle, whip the double cream to soft peaks. Divide the remaining gooseberries between the jars, spooning them over the now set jelly. Top with the cooled custard and finish with the whipped cream. Finish by shaving the white chocolate over the top then serve.
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