Strawberry & Limoncello Mascarpone Trifles

Returning from our Melbourne honeymoon we stepped through our front door to find a sparkling clean apartment, a mammoth bunch of white and pink lilies, freshly baked bread, a cinnamon spiced apple tart, biscotti, fresh fruit and the cutest tray of cupcakes I think I’ve ever seen…ahh so this is how it feels to have Italian parents-in-law water your plants whilst you’re away.  Yes, I could get used to this.

After dumping our groaning overstuffed 'nine month pregnant' looking suitcases (yes, apparently Melbourne is the place to shop) I headed straight to the fridge to do my proverbial fridge swing dance.  You know the one…fridge door open whilst you lean against it making your thinking face (squinted eyes and all) as you scan and scrutinize what is on offer to satisfy those ever growing hunger pangs.  I was delighted to see not only did my parents-in-law do the above mentioned, they had also fully stocked our fridge!  Oh yeah.  Homemade pork ragu, tomato sauce (‘ready for pasta’ as so cutely instructed on the handwritten label), pecorino, salami, prosciutto, fresh basil, olives, marinated eggplant and capsicum…you name it, it was there!  And to top it all off, we were left with three of the most gorgeous, luscious looking, bright red punnets of sweet, sweet strawberries and they had my name written all over them. 
However, I knew these strawberries had to meet their maker in a way a little more grandeur than just on my museli and yoghurt the next morning so I decided to put some thought into their sweet demise.  After a little deliberation I came up with 'Strawberry and Limoncello Mascarpone Trifles' to celebrate these babies in all their glory.  And celebrate I did.  These trifles are delicious.  I was hooked the moment I swirled the simmering limoncello syrup and caught a whiff of that citrus, sweet syrupy goodness.  The strawberry compote was equally as intoxicating, vanilla, strawberries and sugar, do I need say more?  Ah yes, actually there was the mascarpone cream mixture, the creamy, luscious, silky texture was the PERFECT balance to the tart sweetness of the limoncello syrup soaked sponge and when paired with the strawberry compote it was that classic strawberries and cream combination.

These trifles, my friends, are a definite Christmas dessert contender winner!    
Strawberry & Limoncello Mascarpone Trifles
Strawberry jelly -
1 packet of strawberry jelly (made according to packet directions)
Limoncello syrup -
1/3 cup limoncello
½ cup white sugar
Strawberry compote -
3 punnets of strawberries (750g), washed, hulled & quarterd
¼ cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways & seeds removed
Mascarpone cream -
250g mascarpone
600g sour cream
½ cup confectioners sugar
rind of 1 lemon finely grated
1 store bought sponge cake, cut into slices
100g flaked almonds, toasted
Prepare strawberry jelly according to packet instructions and refrigerate until set.
For the limoncello syrup, place the limoncello, 1½ cups water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is slightly thickened.  Set aside to cool.
For the strawberry compote, place the strawberries, sugar, ½ cup of water and vanilla in a medium saucepan over low to medium heat for 15 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved, the strawberries are slightly broken down and the mixture has thickened.
For the mascarpone cream, place the mascarpone in a bowl and whisk until smooth, add the sour cream, icing sugar and lemon rind and whisk until smooth and slightly thickened.
Dip the sponge pieces into the cooled limoncello syrup, until slightly soaked. 
To assemble the trifles, alternate layers of the soaked sponge, jelly, strawberry compote and mascarpone mixture.  Continue layering until the glass is full, finishing with the mascarpone cream mixture.  Top with flaked almonds to serve.  Serves 4, depending on glass size.

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