Chocolate trifle with Apricots and Raspberries

This trifle is tons of work, but it is worth it if you want to make something impressive for a special occasion. I made it for my book club last year and we all agree it was one of the best we've tried. When I make it, I layer the ingredients in individual glasses and serve it with a small spoon. If you want to make it that way, halve the recipe, it makes 10 to 12 servings. 

 2 purchased 12-ounce pound cakes 
1 package frozen raspberries 
1 cup water 
1 cup sugar 
4 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries or 16 ounces frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed 
Firmly whipped cream 
white chocolate pudding (recipe follows)
 poached apricots (recipe follows) 
dark chocolate cream (recipe follows) 

 White Chocolate Pudding 
 10 large egg yolks 
1/3 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons cornstarch 
4 cups half and half 
1 pound imported white chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped
 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

 Poached Apricots 
 2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons water 
1/3 cup honey 
1/3 cup sugar 
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
9 ounces dried apricots 

 Dark Chocolate Cream
1/2 cup whipping cream 
5 tablespoons light corn syrup 
4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped 


For Pudding: Whisk yolks, sugar and cornstarch in medium bowl. Bring half and half to simmer in heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk hot half and half into yolk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan and whisk over medium heat until custard boils. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Pour pudding into large bowl. Add white chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Chill until thick and cold, whisking occasionally, about 3 hours.

 For the Apricots: Line cookie sheet with foil. Brush foil lightly with vegetable oil. Combine 2/3 cup water, honey, sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over high heat until sugar dissolves. Add apricots and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer 5 apricots and 1/4 cup poaching syrup to heavy small skillet. Combine remaining apricots with remaining poaching syrup, 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in processor and puree. Pour puree into bowl. Cook apricots in skillet over high heat until syrup is reduced to glaze, turning apricots once, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer candied apricots to foil. Cool. Mix any syrup from skillet into puree. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover candied apricots and puree separately and let stand at room temperature.) 

 For Dark Chocolate Cream: Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Chill until cold but still pourable, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. 

 For the Frozen Raspberry Syrup: Place the frozen raspberries in a medium sauce pan with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 2 tablespoons brandy (brandy is optional). Bring the ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/3. Remove from heat and strain seeds. 

  Assembly: Cut cakes into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice into 4 squares. Arrange enough cake in 4-quart glass trifle dish to cover bottom, fitting tightly. Drizzle raspberry syrup over the cake. Drop 1/3 of apricot puree by spoonfuls over cake. Gently spread with back of spoon, allowing puree to show at sides of bowl. Reserve 1/4 basket berries for garnish. Sprinkle 1/3 of remaining berries over puree, arranging some berries to show at sides of bowl. Starting 1 inch in from sides of bowl, pour 1/3 of dark chocolate cream over, making sure it does not touch sides of bowl. Starting at edge, pour 2 cups white chocolate pudding over chocolate cream. Repeat layering with remaining cake, rum mixture, apricot puree, berries, dark chocolate cream and white chocolate pudding in 2 more layers each. Smooth top. 
Cover and chill overnight. Spoon whipped cream into pastry bag fitted with medium star tip. Pipe around edge of trifle. Top with candied apricots and reserved berries. (Can be made 8 hours ahead; chill.) Serve cold.  

Individual Trifle Assembly: Cut cakes into 1/2 inch thick slices. Drizzle the raspberry syrup over the cake. Drop the apricot puree by spoonfuls over the cake and spread with the back of a spoon. Cut each cake into 4 squares. Place one square in the bottom of a small juice glass. Arrange fresh raspberries on top of the cake. Pour a tablespoon of the chocolate cream over the raspberries. Pour a tablespoon of the white pudding over the chocolate. Repeat layering until the glass is full, ending with the white pudding. Cover and chill overnight.Toe serve, spoon a dollop of whipped cream on the top and garnish with a mint leaf.

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