Try this decadent dessert from the Home Made Christmas cookbook by Yvette van Boven (Abrams Books, $44 CAD, 9781419732386)
FOR THE SALTY CARAMEL SAUCE
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 g sugar)
7 tablespoons (100 g) butter, cubed
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
½ teaspoon sea salt
FOR THE BROWNIES
9 tablespoons (125 g) butter, cubed
21 ounces (600 g) dark chocolate (70% cacao or more), in chunks
1 1/3 cups (300 g) packed dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (400 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
FOR THE CHEESECAKE CREAM
1 pound (500 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
Seeds of 2 vanilla beans
8 ounces (250 g) mascarpone
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) heavy cream
7 ounces (200 g) dark chocolate (70 % cacao or more), in chunks
Optional: ¼ cup (60 ml) coffee liqueur or cognac
Nuts, cocoa powder, sparklers, and so on
Make the salty caramel sauce: In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the sugar and¼ cup (60 ml) water. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally with a long-handled wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, until the sugar syrup is a medium amber color. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, one piece at a time. Carefully add the cream (it will bubble up and sputter) and salt. Return to low heat and cook, stirring, until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease an 8 by 12-in ch (20 by 30-cm) or similar-volume baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Heat the butter, chocolate, and brown sugar in a double boiler until melted and combined. Set aside to cool.
Beat the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture. In a separate bowl, using a whisk, mix the flour and salt, then combine it with the chocolate mixture with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with damp crumbs attached (but not wet batter). They should be somewhat soft and fudgy, not too dry! Let cool on a rack.
Make the cheesecake cream: Using a food processor or a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese and the vanilla seeds until smooth and frothy. With the food processor or mixer running, add ¾ cup(200 g) of the cooled caramel sauce and then the mascarpone and cream. Process or beat until soft peaks form. Set aside.
Make the chocolate sauce: Heat the cream over low heat to a near boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, and if you want a splash of coffee liqueur. Allow the warmth of the cream to melt the chocolate; after a couple of minutes, stir to make a smooth sauce.
Assemble the trifle: Starting with the brownie, break it into pieces and form a bottom layer in a large trifle bowl. Drizzle with some of the caramel sauce and spoon some cheesecake cream on top, then drizzle with chocolate sauce. Continue layering until you've used up everything. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Decorate according to preference: with nuts, cocoa powder, or sparklers. I leave this final touch all up to you.
Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven, © Abrams Books, 2018.