Trifle 4_smWhen you think about Valentine’s Day, what first comes to mind? For most people, it evokes images of roses, Champagne, and chocolates in heart-shaped boxes. But for some, the first thing that comes to mind is a decadent dessert. (Well, for me at least.)

I know this is hard to believe, but there are many people out there who don’t like chocolate. When brainstorming up a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe, I wanted something simple to prepare but still classy-looking like a dessert you might see at a restaurant, not to mention something that could please almost anyone’s palate (chocolate haters included).

Tiramisu seems to be a favorite confection for many, but making it can be somewhat complicated and time consuming in the preparation — and not all of us are skilled pastry chefs here. I did want to utilize the ladyfingers, mascarpone cream and liquor-infused elements of the dish, though. And then it hit me — trifle! One of the easiest, throw-together desserts man (and woman) has ever created. Trifle is also a great quick-fix for a make-ahead or last-minute treat as the the components are simply layered atop one another, traditionally in a clear glass container to give it a nice presentation.

This Hallmark holiday is a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, and with this easy and elegant recipe (below) you’ll be able to impress your special guest(s) with a swanky-looking final course that you spent practically no time preparing — and they’ll be none the wiser. The ingredients are also pretty inexpensive, and because it’s strawberry season here in Florida, you can pick up a pint of them for a few bucks.

While you can whip this up in a flash if you choose, it does help to make this ahead of time, also giving you one less thing to prepare on the special night. As for the booze element of it, use whatever flavored liqueur your heart desires, though I recommend using an orange, hazelnut or amaretto flavored one, or even a dark rum. If you’re serving this to children or just want a sober version of this dessert, simply omit the alcohol and substitute a little cream for the booze.

Strawberry “Tiramisu” Trifle
Makes 2 servings

2 cocktail/wine glasses or small bowls
2 cups (1 pint) strawberries, washed, rinsed and chopped
2 ounces triple sec, amaretto or any flavored liqueur of your choice
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone , ricotta or cream cheese, soft (set out to let warm up to room temperature)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ladyfingers, broken into three equal pieces, or 2 cups sponge cake, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or grated chocolate for garnish
2 whole strawberries, for garnish

1. Combine the strawberries, sugar and liqueur in a small container with a lid, give it a good shake and place in the refrigerator to macerate for at least an hour or two.

2. With a whisk or hand-held mixer, mix together the mascarpone (or cream cheese), cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.

3. Take half of the ladyfingers (or sponge cake) and create a single layer on the bottom of your glasses or bowls. Spoon half of the strawberries on top of that layer, then add a thick layer of the cream mixture. Repeat the process again with cake, strawberries and cream. Finish with a third layer of cream and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

5. Just before serving, sprinkle the cinnamon or chocolate on top of each dessert and garnish with a strawberry on the rim.

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