Servings: Serves 8
Make custard: Split vanilla bean lengthwise; place in a saucepan. Add cream. Bring almost to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let infuse about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar. Carefully remove vanilla bean from saucepan; scrape seeds back into the cream. Pour hot cream into eggs a little bit at a time, whisking constantly. Return entire mixture to saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until thick enough to coat back of spoon, about 11 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bowl; let cool. Refrigerate until thick, about 1 1/2 hours.
Make trifle: Preheat oven to 350°. Spread oats and nuts onto two baking sheets; toast nuts about 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Toast oats about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Let cool.
In a bowl, mix oats, nuts, and chocolate. In another bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes, stirring in the alcohol toward the end (if you use whiskey, add sugar to taste). Place half the fruit in a large glass bowl. Spoon custard over the fruit. Sprinkle with a layer of oat mixture. Add half the cream, then the remaining fruit. Finish off with cream and a sprinkling of oat mixture. Serve quickly, before oats lose their crispness.
Adapted from The River Cottage Cookbook, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Copyright © 2001, 2008. Photography © 2001, 2008 by Simon Wheeler. Reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press.
From the May 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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