• This milk tart éclair trifle with pinotage jelly and naartjie syrup is a proudly South African twist on a Christmas favourite. Who said you have to wait until December to dig into this beauty?

    Milk tart éclair trifle with pinotage jelly and naartjie syrup

    Serves: 6 - 8
    Cooking Time: 90 mins + time, to set


    • Eclairs

    • 75g cake flour
    • 40g butter, cubed
    • 125ml (½ cup) water
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • Milk tart filling

    • 500ml (2 cups) milk
    • 1 cinnamon quill
    • 40ml cornflour
    • 45ml (3 tbsp) castor sugar
    • 5ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) vanilla essence
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 2 large egg whites
    • Pinotage jelly

    • 3 (2g) gelatine sheets
    • 310ml (1¼ cups) pinotage wine
    • 30ml (2 tbsp) sugar
    • 2 whole star anise
    • 1 cinnamon quill
    • Naartjie caramel

    • 225g castor sugar
    • 225ml naartjie juice
    • To serve

    • 500ml (2 cups) fresh cream, whipped to soft peaks
    • 60ml (4 tbsp) icing sugar, sifted
    • 225g castor sugar, to dip and to make spun sugar
    • edible gold stars (optional)



    For the éclairs, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C for fan-assisted). Sieve the cake flour. Heat the butter and water in a pot over high heat until just melted and bring to a rolling boil. Immediately remove from heat and add all of the flour at once. Mix until a smooth dough forms, return to the heat and cook, about 1 minute or until the pastry pulls away from the sides of the pot. Allow to cool completely. Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until cool. Add the beaten eggs into the pastry, a little at a time, until smooth, shiny and of a piping consistency. Add a little more egg, if needed. Place the pastry in a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. Pipe tablespoonfuls of mixture into lined baking trays, leaving enough space to puff up. Bake, about 15 – 20 minutes or until puffed up and golden. Switch off the oven, remove the puffs, pierce each with a skewer to allow steam to escape and immediately return to the oven to dry out, 5 minutes.


    For the milk tart filling, heat half of the milk with the cinnamon quill until just below boiling point. Set aside to infuse, 5 minutes. Whisk the remaining cold milk with the cornflour, castor sugar, ground cinnamon, vanilla and egg yolks. Whisk into the hot milk. Cook over medium heat until thick and the flour taste is cooked out, about 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon quill. Beat the 2 egg whites until soft peaks start to form and slowly fold into the custard. Pour into a medium-sized dish, cover the surface with cling film and refrigerate until set.


    For the pinotage jelly, soften the 3 gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water. Once soft, squeeze out the water and transfer to a small pot with 250ml (1 cup) of the wine, sugar and spices. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatine and sugar are completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug and stir in the remaining red wine. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a large 4-litre capacity trifle bowl and refrigerate until set.


    For the naartjie caramel, place the castor sugar in a saucepan and heat until caramelised and golden. Deglaze with the naartjie juice, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.


    To assemble, fold half of the whipped cream into the set milk tart filling, place in a piping bag with a plain tip nozzle and fill the profiteroles. Make a caramel by heating the castor sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cooking until golden. Remove from heat and dip the tops of the profiteroles into the caramel, working quickly so that it doesn’t set hard (use the remaining caramel to make spun sugar, if desired).


    Stir the icing sugar into the remaining whipped cream, and layer the profiteroles and whipped cream in alternate layers. Drizzle with the naartjie syrup in between. Decorate with spun sugar and edible gold stars, if desired.


    To make the spun sugar, tape 2 wooden spoons, 10cm apart, onto a benchtop with the handles hanging over the side of the bench. Place a sheet of baking paper on the floor under the handles. Once your caramel starts to set, use a fork or whisk and quickly flick the caramel back and forth between the handles of the spoons to form thin strands. Once set, gather the strands and shape into a large ball. Use immediately.

    Storage tips

    The profiteroles can be made one day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

    Prepare the jelly, syrup and fillings the day before. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed.

    Raw choux pastry freezes very well – once piped or shaped on a lined baking tray, freeze the pastry until hard, before wrapping tightly in cling film. To bake, simply defrost at room temperature before baking in a preheated oven.

    This trifle can be assembled 2 – 3 hours ahead. Simply refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Make the spun sugar just before guests arrive – if it’s a humid day, store in an airtight container on a piece of baking paper with a layer of uncooked rice covering the bottom.

    ALSO SEE: Milk tart Pavlovas with cinnamon shortbread crumble

    Milk tart Pavlovas with cinnamon shortbread crumble

    Recipe, styling and photography by Katelyn Williams

    Imka Webb

    Imka Webb is a freelance digital marketing expert and the digital editor of Food & Home Entertaining magazine.  www.imkawebb.com