Trifles are a great way to serve dessert if you do not wish to make a classic cake. All of the ingredients are there, all of the layers are there, but everything is neatly stored in a single bowl. This makes trifles also great for picnics and gatherings.
The lovely red velvet cake is generously sprinkled with the rum syrup, then layered with the cream cheese filling. If you do not wish to use rum, omit it, and go for the simplest simple syrup - it will keep the cake crumbs moist in the same fashion as rum syrup would.
For the red velvet cake
150 grams butter
150 grams granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 medium eggs
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons red food colouring
150 grams plain flour
For the rum simple syrup
50 grams granulated sugar
60 ml cold water
2 teaspoons dark rum
For the cream cheese filling
150 grams cream cheese, room temperature
50 grams icing sugar, sifted
100 ml heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
Dice the butter and add it to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat, add in the sugar, and the sifted cocoa powder, then mix and melt until combined and smooth. It will seem dry at one point, but that is fine, as soon as the butter starts melting, it will blend very well. Once melted, remove it from the heat and set it aside. Crack the eggs in separate bowls, then add them to the melted butter, one at a time, whisking well after each. This will prevent scorching the eggs.
Finally, add in the buttermilk, food colouring, and the sifted flour and gently fold it through only until you can no longer see patches of flour. You do not want to overmix the batter. Take a small loaf pan (9x5"), lightly grease it, then line it with baking paper. Pour in the batter, smooth it as much as possible, then bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 20-25 minutes. Since every oven is slightly different, check it with a toothpick to make sure it doesn’t overbake. Once baked, remove it from the oven, then let it cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the cream cheese filling, place the room temperature cream cheese in a medium bowl, and whisk it briefly with a wire whisk. Add in the icing sugar, and blend well. Since the quantities are small, you do not need an electric mixer, a wire whisk will be perfect. In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then gently fold it in the cream cheese mixture.
For the rum syrup, combine the granulated sugar and the water in a medium saucepan, and place it over medium high heat. Cook, gently stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then continue to cook without stirring, until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove it from heat, and stir in the rum. Let it cool to room temperature before using.
Crumble the cooled cake into a large bowl, then sprinkle the chilled rum syrup over the cake crumbs. Do not use too much syrup, only until the crumbs are moistened. Layer the crumbs and filling into a medium trifle bowl, starting and finishing with the cake crumbs. Place plastic wrap over the top, and let the trifle sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, then serve. Yields 2 generous servings.Baker’s note: The cream cheese filling is not overly sweet, so if you like your desserts on the sweeter side, feel free to increase the amount of icing sugar.