The yolks in the sabayon are not cooked, so make sure you use good quality, fresh eggs (and give any pregnant or elderly guests the heads up). There are a fair few steps to this recipe, but you can get ahead by making the sponge a day or two in advance. The clementines can also be made a couple of hours before and kept in the fridge.
125g caster sugar
100g soft dark brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
140g self raising flour, sieved
½ tsp salt
250g unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
30g maple syrup
30g golden syrup
100g pecan halves, lightly toasted
¼ tsp flaked sea salt
3 tbsp cognac
1 ½ tbsp orange blossom
½ tsp Aleppo chilli, plus extra for sprinkling
250g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
⅛ tsp salt
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
50g caster sugar
100ml double cream
225g sweetened chestnut puree we use the Clement Faugier brand)
3 tbsp cognac
Whipped cream topping
500ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
1. Preheat the oven to 170C and line the base and sides of a 23 x 23cm brownie tin. Add both sugars, the vanilla, and the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Whisk on high speed until light, creamy and tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment, add the dry ingredients and paddle on low speed until almost combined. Slowly drizzle in the warm melted butter until thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and smooth out the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
2. For the pecan brittle, preheat the oven to160C and line a small baking tray with parchment paper. Place both syrups in a small saucepan on medium heat, stir to combine and bring to a bubble. Add the pecans and salt and stir together gently until the pecans are fully coated in the syrup. Continue to bubble for 30 seconds or so. Pour onto the prepared tray, spreading them out as much as possible and bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly caramelised and set. Set aside to cool completely.
3. For the caramelised clementines, use a small, sharp knife to trim the tops and tails off 10 of the clementines. Cut down along their round curves, removing the skin and white pith to expose the flesh, then cut into ¾ cm rounds. Place in a medium bowl and set aside. Zest the remaining 2 clementines to get 2 teaspoons of zest then juice to get two tablespoons. Set the juice and the zest aside. Place the cognac, orange blossom, Aleppo and salt into a small bowl and set aside. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Cook over a high heat, gently swirling the pan from time to time so the sugar caramelises evenly, until dark amber in colour, about 6 minutes. Take off the heat and pour in the clementine juice, whisking until incorporated. Add the cognac mixture, whisk to combine and pour over the sliced clementines. Gently swirl the bowl to make sure the clementines are submerged in caramel. Refrigerate until cool.
4. For the sabayon, place the yolks, vanilla and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk in place. Whisk on high speed until very pale and tripled in volume, approximately 5 minutes. Add the mascarpone, double cream, chestnut puree, clementine zest and cognac and whisk until smooth and thickened.
5. To assemble the trifle, cut the sponge into 5-centimetre squares and arrange about six pieces in the bottom of a large, 26-centimetre trifle bowl. Spoon over 2 tablespoons of the clementine caramel and arrange a third of the clementines evenly around the sides of the bowl and amongst the sponges. Roughly chop the caramelised chestnuts and set 30 grams aside. Scatter a third of the remaining chestnuts over the sponges. Spoon over a third of the sabayon, followed by a third of the whipped cream. Repeat twice more for a total of three layers. For the last layer, spoon the cream and arrange the remaining clementines decoratively. Finish with a drizzle of the clementine caramel and a scattering of the remaining caramelised chestnuts. Chill for at least 3 hours and serve with any remaining caramel alongside.