While these trifles are delicious made with warm gingerbread and warm apples, they are equally good made a few hours ahead and chilled, which makes serving dessert a snap.
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In a 10-inch straight-sided skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally at first and then more frequently, until the apples are nicely browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Add 3 Tbs. water to the pan, remove it from the heat, and stir to incorporate some of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add half of the cranberries, the maple syrup, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and 2 Tbs. water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower the heat to medium low, and simmer until the syrup has thickened a little and most of the cranberries have popped, about 2 minutes. Add the other half of the cranberries and simmer until about half of the new cranberries have popped, 2 to 3 minutes more. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the ginger. Let cool to room temperature.
Make Ahead Tips
The apple mixture can be made a day ahead and refrigerated (return it to room temperature before using). The cream can be whipped an hour before using. The trifles can be assembled and refrigerated up to 2 hours ahead.
Because someone said it didn't taste like gingerbread, I changed the cake ingredients to blackstrap molasses and added an extra teaspoon of ginger, and added an extra 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I also agree to double the fruit sauce, which is a bit bland, so be sure to add the full amount of crystalized ginger. Really sweeten the whip cream too. Overall, it was good, but too much work for what it is.
Left out the crystalized ginger and fresh ginger; added some dark brown sugar to compensate. It was fabulous. The cake was moist and flavorful, the fruit was tasty, and the whipped cream pulled it all together. It tasted best when the cake was warmed. Will definitely make again.
The cake itself was delicious - very flavorful and moist. The cranberry and apple mixture was a disapointment. The cranberries were too 'raw' tasting with the suggested cooking time.
A really great dessert! It was delicious however a bit too dry. i would double the fruit mixture as that would have moistened the cake. Overall very good and something different!
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