So no one told you life was gonna be this way? If you just quickly clapped your hands four times, you will definitely be familiar with this recipe. If not, allow me to get you up to speed on “Friends.” It was Thanksgiving at Monica and Chandler’s apartment. Monica finally let go of the reins and put Rachel in charge of the dessert that year. Rachel, an amateur cook, excitedly decided to make a classic English trifle.
She explains to Joey and Ross, “It’s a trifle. It’s got all of these layers. First, there’s a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard, which I made from scratch. Raspberries, more ladyfingers. Then beef sautéed with peas and onions. Then more custard and then bananas and then I just put some whipped cream on top.”
What Rachel didn’t realize was the pages of the cookbook were stuck together and her dessert was a disastrous amalgam of sweet and savory. She accidentally took the traditional ingredients of an English trifle and mixed it with the classic filling of a classic shepherd’s pie. While Joey ended up loving it, the rest of the cast found different excuses not to eat it. Ross even said it tasted like feet.
In honor of the show’s 25th anniversary, I decided to make an edible version of Rachel’s trifle. You can still use the ingredients of the dessert that she got right and use a few simple swaps to resemble the shepherd’s pie layer.
To mimic the ground beef layer, I mixed together melted chocolate with Rice Krispies cereal. I used dried pineapple chunks to look like the sautéed onions and green candies to look like the peas.
If you’re worried this looks hard or too labor-intensive, don’t worry. The hardest part is making the custard. My method is no-fuss, but if you’re not up for the challenge, feel free to substitute store-bought classic vanilla pudding.
With most of the ingredients being prepared, store-bought items, this is a very simple dessert, with the majority of your time being used in assembly. Bring it to any holiday party and you’re not just bringing a dessert, you’re also bringing nostalgia.
Rachel Green’s Holiday Trifle
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup melted chocolate
1/4 cup green candy-coated chocolate pieces
1/4 cup dried pineapple, diced
1 (7-ounce) package ladyfingers (about 24 cookies), cut in half
1 cup raspberry jam
12 ounces fresh raspberries
2 large bananas, sliced into rounds
2 cups whipped cream
1. Make the custard: In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch over medium-low heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolks and vanilla. Slowly add the egg mixture to the saucepan and whisk until fully combined. Increase heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until chilled, about 30 minutes.
2. Make the ground beef mixture: In a large bowl, combine melted chocolate with Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until all of the cereal has been evenly coated. Add green candies and diced pineapple, then side aside.
3. Assemble: Line the sides and bottom of a 4-quart trifle dish with ladyfingers. Evenly spread jam over the cookies. Pour half of the cooled custard on top of the jam and spread in an even layer. Scatter half of the raspberries on top of the custard. Add another layer of ladyfingers on top of the raspberries. Layer the “meat” mixture on top of the ladyfingers then pour the remaining custard on top of the “meat.” Next, add sliced bananas on top of the custard. Lastly, spread whipped cream on top of the entire dish and garnish with the remaining raspberries.
4. Refrigerate the trifle for 1 to 2 hours before eating. Serve chilled.