- Written by Cynthia Presser
If there is a dessert that reminds me of my high school years, it is this one! I remember this treat being the favorite of all my friends at that time… Today, when I take a bite, and taste the combination of flavors in this dessert I am immediately transported to a comfort place of lots of laughing, friendship, discoveries, and fun, just so much fun! Those were the years of no responsibilities – except school of course. Those were the days…
Being one of the first desserts that I ever learned how to make, I must confess that I made a couple of adaptations to better fit the American palate – and even my own now. Back on the day, I used to make it sweeter (by using milk chocolate for the ganache) and creamier (by skipping the layer of lady fingers). I felt that a more “adult” version needed to be developed. But I still wanted to keep the simplicity of the original method and flavors. So, I turned this dessert into what we call in Brazil a Pavê – a dessert that layers some sort of cookie and custard with different kinds of fruits, nuts, or other sweet creams. It is a Brazilian version of a Trifle.
For my Brazilian Strawberry and Chocolate Trifle (Pavê Bombom de Morango) I quickly dunk lady fingers into a mix of water and brandy (you can sub rum, whisky, or cognac) and place on the base of the dish. Then, I layer on top creamy custard, strawberries, and dark chocolate ganache. No need to bake, just refrigerate for a few hours and serve! It can’t get any simpler.
Also, this dessert can be a great option for a Valentine’s Day dinner – chocolate and strawberries, hello!!! “Impress” your love by making something from scratch. Even better yet, by making a “Brazilian Strawberry and Chocolate Trifle” from scratch!! If you are making for just two people, cut the ingredient portions by half and assemble in individual bowls – or use glass tumblers or mugs. You should have four portions - leftovers for the next day show that you care ;) Your valentine will feel the love. Enjoy!
Brazilian Strawberry and Chocolate Trifle (Pavê Bombom de Morango)
- 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream, divided
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 18 to 20 lady fingers
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup brandy (you can sub rum, cognac, or whisky)
- 2 pounds strawberries, rinsed
Make the custard by mixing the sweetened condensed milk and butter in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and large air bubbles form; about 12 to 15 minutes (see Cook’s Note). Turn heat down to low and add ½ cup heavy whipping cream. Cook, stirring constantly, for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Make the chocolate ganache by placing a wide skillet filled with 1 ½ inches of water over medium heat. In a medium pan can fit inside the wide skillet, mix the chocolate chips and the remaining heavy cream. Assemble the medium pan inside the wide skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts completely and the ganache has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
On a working surface, place a large rectangular dish that measures about 13”x10”. Mix the water and brandy in a bowl (see pictures below). Quickly dunk the lady fingers into the water-brandy mix and place them on the bottom of the dish. If necessary, break some of the lady fingers to completely cover the bottom.
Set aside 6 to 8 strawberries for garnish.
Remove the leaves of the remaining strawberries. Halve or quarter, depending on the size of the strawberries. They should be bite size pieces, but not too small.
Cover the lady finger with the strawberries. Then spread the sweetened condensed milk custard over the strawberry and, finally, top with the chocolate ganache.
Refrigerate for at least six hours before serving. Garnish with strawberries. Serve chilled.
Being sure that the right consistency of the custard has been achieved can be a bit tricky. For this dessert, I like the custard to be just thick enough to still be spreadable. The best signs that the custard is ready are: noticing large air bubbles forming; and mixture starts releasing from the bottom of the pan. After 12 to 15 minutes – but sometimes less than 12, so pay attention to the signs not only the time – the custard should be perfect.
The ingredients at a glance.
The lady fingers are quickly dunk in the brandy and water mixture before they are placed in the dish.
No spaces between the cookies should be left. If necessary, break the lady fingers apart to fill in the whole surface.
Spread the strawberries on top of the lady fingers.
Layer the custard over the strawberries.
The chocolate ganache covers it all. So delicious!
Garnish with strawberries and more greens if you wish.