Who: Marilynn Tuten, 53, of St. Petersburg, chief administrative officer at Central Vacuum Stores
What: English Trifle
About the Recipe: About 15 years ago, Tuten found a recipe for English Trifle in her Southern Living Cookbook and made it her own. She replaced the pound cake with angel food cake, the strawberry jam with fresh strawberries, and added twice as much whipped cream. "I don't think you can ever have enough whipped cream in a dessert," she said.
She called it a "festive" dessert for Christmas parties, with its red strawberries and white whipped cream. When served in a pedestal bowl, it becomes a centerpiece for the table. It's a hit at every holiday event.
"There's ... never enough," she said. "Because I use the angel food cake and the fresh fruit, it doesn't seem very heavy, and ... you always want more."
She loves to bake, calling it her "creative outlet." At past Christmas gatherings, she's baked pies — pecan, coconut cream, French silk — and triple chocolate tortes with raspberry sauce.
"It gives me joy when I bake something and share it and see the reaction of the people. I just want to see it on their faces."
Tips: Pay close attention while slow-cooking the custard to make sure it reaches the right thickness. "Most people think of custard as being firm. This one actually is a very soft custard, even ... softer than a pudding." When it's done cooking, it should be about the thickness of soft ice cream. She also suggested buying strawberries that are big enough to cut in half and line the inside of the dish.
On the Side: A cup of coffee or hot tea. "I personally like Lady Grey."
Can't Cook Without: Whipping cream. "There's usually whipping cream in my fridge because you can do anything with it. (If) somebody pops in, and you've got some fresh fruit and a little sugar ... and whipped cream ... dessert's instant."
Emily Young, special to the Times
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