Scottish Pear and Raspberry Trifle

I had this in a small hotel in Westray, the island just next to Orkney. Sharp raspberries are lovely with the sweet muskiness of pears.

Category:  Desserts  - 


For 6 people


  • 75 g caster sugar
  • strip of lemon zest
  • 2 pears, peeled, halved and cored
  • 3 1/2 tbsp whisky
  • light egg sponge, bought or home-made
  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod, or 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 200 g raspberries

Scottish Pear and Raspberry Trifle Directions

  1. Put 120 ml water and the caster sugar into a saucepan and gently heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Add the zest and pear halves and poach until just tender. How long this takes will depend on the pears, but start checking after 12 minutes.  Drain the pears and leave them and their liquid to cool. Add the whisky to the liquid. Break the sponge into chunks, spread on a plate, and spoon over about three quarters of the poaching liquid. Leave to soak in really well. Assemble the trifles in individual glasses at the last minute. Whip the creal lightly, adding the icing sugar and vanilla. Cut the pears leangthways into slices. Add a layer of sponge to each glass, then sliced pears, raspberries, a trickle of the remaining poaching syrup and a good spoon of cream. Repeat, finishing with fruit on top, and serve.
  2. There is nothing trifling about trifles. They are one of the glories of British cookery, far greater than the sum of their parts. The basic idea of a trifle is so good that it's a shame to be restricted by rules. I make trifles without custard (as above), with crushed ginger snaps or amaretti biscuits instead of cake, with cooked fruit and fresh fruit. Curds and marmalades can be used instead of jam, and indeed there is not always the need for jam at all. When it comes to alcohol I have used Muscat, sherry, calvados and rum. These are all riffs on the basic idea. Go where you will...
  3. Gooseberry and Muscat trifle: With stewed gooseberries, custard, cream and Muscat-soaked cake.
  4. Plum and Ginger trifle: Make with crushed ginger biscuits or gingerbread (whisky or brandy is good as the moistening agent here), poached plums, cream and custard.
  5. Apple and Calvados trifle: Make with stewed Bramley's, cream, custard and calvados-soaked cake.
  6. Caramelized Orange trifle: Make with cake spread with marmalade and soaked in whisky or cointreau, custard, cream and segments of orange in caramel.