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To prepare vanilla cream: In a large bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch. In a medium saucepan, heat milk until hot. Slowly whisk some of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return all to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, just until the mixture comes to a boil. If the mixture becomes lumpy, whisk until smooth. Immediately transfer to a large bowl; stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly over the surface. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
To prepare candied pecans, preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until frothy. Whisk in brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and ginger until smooth. Stir in pecans until well coated. Spread nuts in a single layer in a greased 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, then bake another 15 minutes, stirring frequently until dry. Cool. Set aside.
To prepare rum-soaked fruit: In a bowl, stir rum (or orange juice) into 1/2 cup boiling water. Add raisins, dried apricots and dried cranberries (or cherries). Let stand for 30 minutes. Remove fruit from liquid with a slotted spoon. Refrigerate until ready to assemble trifle.
To prepare molasses-cinnamon cream: In a medium chilled mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, confectioners’ sugar, molasses and cinnamon. Beat on with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to assemble trifle.
To assemble the trifle: Pour the vanilla cream into a clear glass cookie jar with straight sides, a trifle bowl or other container. Top the cream with the rum-soaked fruit.
Stand fruitcake slices on the fruit layer, cutting the slices in half, if necessary, to fit. Top with the molasses-cinnamon cream.
Sprinkle the trifle with about 1/3 cup of the candied pecans (save the rest for another use) and, if desired, halved candied cherries.