Christmas recipe: Quince, Rosemary and Honey Trifle

I prefer my trifle not straight from the fridge as the flavour and texture improve when it is not so cold. I therefore make all the elements up, then assemble it just prior to serving.

Serves 8


250g honey
1 sprig of rosemary
2 large quince, peeled, quartered and cored (550g)
3 gelatine leaves
200g Madeira cake, diced into 2cm cubes
25ml dry sherry


150ml milk
150ml double cream
3 sprigs of rosemary
4 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
2 gelatine leaves


150g double cream
100g crème fraîche
finely grated zest of 1 clementine


Place the honey and rosemary in a medium saucepan. Add 750ml warm water, bring to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and add the quince. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours, until the quince are soft.

Strain the quince over a heatproof bowl and pour the liquid back into the saucepan. Return to the heat and simmer for a further 10–15 minutes. Pour the liquid from the saucepan into a measuring jug – you want 400ml. Return 400ml to the pan, setting the rest aside. When the quince are cool enough to touch, cut them into 2cm dice and refrigerate.

Soak the 3 gelatine leaves in a shallow bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Bring the 400ml of syrup to the boil. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and stir it into the hot liquid until completely dissolved. Strain into a clean, small heatproof container and refrigerate for 1–3 hours until set.


Put the milk, cream and rosemary sprigs in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat. Cover with clingfilm and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain, discarding the rosemary, and pour the infused milk back into the saucepan. Bring back to just below the boil, stirring frequently.

Put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl, whisking as you do so.

Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over very low heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. While the custard is cooking, soak the 2 leaves of gelatine in a shallow bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Squeeze the water from the gelatine and stir it into the hot custard until completely dissolved. Strain through a sieve, cover and chill in the fridge.


Whisk the cream, crème fraîche and clementine zest together in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside until ready to use. 


Once you’re ready to assemble, place the quince, diced sponge and sherry in your trifle bowl along with 200ml of the reserved quince syrup (any leftovers make a great addition to a champagne cocktail or gin and tonic).

Cut the quince jelly into cubes and add it to the bowl. Mix very gently. Whisk the custard then pour it on top. Finish with the cream and serve straight away or refrigerate for up to four hours before serving.

Find more festive recipes in Marcus’ cookbook: Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, with photography by Susan Bell (HarperCollins, £20).

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