Notes: Make and cool pastry cream while cake bakes and cools. For a nonalcoholic version, substitute a hazelnut- or raspberry-flavor syrup (such as Torani, available in most well-stocked supermarkets) for the liqueur; the trifle will be somewhat sweeter.
About 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature
About 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup hazelnut- or coffee-flavor liqueur (see notes)
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 oz.), rinsed and drained
How to Make It
Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
Coarsely chop 3 ounces of the chocolate and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in a microwave oven on full power (100%), stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes total.
In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1/2 cup butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate.
In another bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, stir to combine, then beat until well blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread level.
Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven until cake begins to pull from pan sides, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cake cool to room temperature in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.
Run a thin knife between cake and pan sides and invert onto a board to release. Cut cake into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes. Layer a third of the cubes in the bottom of a 3- to 3 1/2-quart trifle bowl or other straight-sided glass bowl. Drizzle 1/4 cup liqueur evenly over cake. Spoon a third of the Caramel Pastry Cream over cake and spread level. Repeat to make two more layers each of cake, liqueur, and pastry cream, ending with pastry cream. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
Finely chop remaining 1 ounce chocolate or scrape into curls. Arrange raspberries on trifle and sprinkle chocolate evenly over berries. Scoop onto dessert plates to serve.
Your eyes will roll back in your head, this is so delicious! You can make it with cake mix, no problem, and a double chocolate cake mix would be even better. But do take the time to make the caramel cream according to the recipe, and don't make other changes to the recipe. This was absolutely dreamy. If you are told to bring dessert, you can't go wrong with this. I brought this to a Christmas dinner and it was GONE even though there was another dessert and there were only 8 of us. That about says it.
I have made this trifle twice. First time by the book, second time I substituted caramel syrup for the caramelized-sugar step and made the cake from a mix. Both times turned out delicious, but I must say the shortcuts make me more likely to repeat this dessert for a third time! Yummy AND easy!!
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