I didn't think so.
Perhaps some of you are asking yourselves what the heck a persimon is. Well, think of an apple sized cross between a mango and a peach but without the stone in the middle and the fur. Yes, the skin can be eaten and yes, you can eat it like an apple. No, it doesn't have pips but it does have a small woody core at one end that is best avoided. Unless you're some kind of beaver, in which case gnaw away.
Persimon are available from various parts of the world and come in slightly different species. They are also known as Sharon Fruit, having been named such in Israel. However, the ones I used (Persimon with the one "m") originated in Spain and carry with them some of Spain's sunshine. I'm sure of it. They are incredibly adaptable to use and I've seen them in everything from a chicken dish to baking! They are especially pretty when sliced horizontally across the grain, as they have a star shape to their internal layout - which makes for pretty patterns on the side of glass trifle bowls, for instance.
I really like them and as soon as peaches and nectarines finish their season, I immediately swap to Persimon for my lunchtime fruit. So it was nice to do something structured with them, something to make them feel a little bit special.
I will often have a passion fruit alongside them for my lunchtime fruit, as passion fruit are small but pack a mighty punch in flavour. Consequently, when deciding what to use for a touch of acidity in this sweet creaminess, I didn't need to look very far. They are a perfect match, neither one overshadowing any part of the other.
Feel free, when assembling your trifle, to use a tin of custard or a pot of ready-made chilled custard to ease the process along a bit. Personally, I prefer the good old fashioned Bird's custard made from the tinned powder (just add milk and sugar) because you can make it extra thick and it sets up nicely. Plus, that's what my Nanna always used and she made a great trifle.
Oh - and make sure to have your pinny on, or at the very least a clean apron. If you're going to make a retro dessert, you'd better be dressed for the occasion!
PERSIMON & PASSION FRUIT SHERRY TRIFLE (serves 6-8)
135g lemon jelly cubes
200ml hot water
250ml fresh orange juice
plain sponge cake slices, enough for 2 layers
2-3 tbsp (or more, to taste) sweet Sherry
2 passion fruit
1 pint (or just under) of vanilla custardwhipped cream, to taste, for decoration
multi coloured sugar sprinkles.
To begin with, select your trifle bowl with care. It needs to be sufficiently large to contain all the contents, as once you've started assembling it is very difficult to change into a larger bowl! Far better to be too big, than too small.
Firstly, make the jelly by breaking the cubes into a bowl and adding the hot water and microwaving for 1-2 minutes, then stirring and repeating as necessary, until the jelly cubes have dissolved. Add the cold orange juice and stir through. Set the jelly aside to cool.
Next, break half the sponge cake into the bottom of the trifle bowl making sure to cover the surface well.
Sprinkle the sherry over the cake. Now lots of sherry is a very good thing, but too much is ghastly for those who don't like alcohol - so temper your sherry to suit your audience. Remember, it is good to taste the sherry before adding it, so as ... well, you just need to. *wink*
Slice one or two of the Persimon thinly and horizontally and place the slices against the side of the trifle bowl, but higher than the layer of cake, so that they can be clearly seen from the outside. Next, dice up the remains of the fruit - whether you peel it is up to you - and add half on top of the cake.
Halve the passion fruit into a separate bowl - as you cut them open, often the juice will flood out, so make sure they're in/over a bowl so as to catch it - and scrape out the seeds. Sprinkle half around the edge of the cake layer, so that it can be seen from the outside, and include the juice.
Add the second layer of cake and press gently but firmly, to compact the layers.
Add a little more sherry if you like. You can have another little taster, too. Better to be safe than sorry.
Sprinkle the remaining Persimon over the cake and add the remaining passion fruit, distributing it as evenly as possible over the cake layer.
Gently pour the jelly over the cake and fruit and press down gently if anything decides to float.
Chill your trifle in the fridge until the jelly has set.
The next step is to make the custard as per the pack instructions - but use slightly less milk than directed, to give a firm set to the custard layer. Once again, leave your trifle in the fridge to set - but make sure to not cover with cling film, or you will find your custard will have diluted by the time you get back to it!
All you have next to do is to either pipe on the whipped cream, or just create another layer by covering the custard with cream.
Just before serving, get creative with edible decorations - hundreds and thousands, sprinkles, edible glitter, cherries, more Persimon slices - whatever you like! Make sure your trifle doesn't have to wait, or you may find that your decorations will have dissolved, so do that last stage at the last minute for best effect.