Monday, November 18, 2013

Berry Charlotte

Charlottes are one of those cakes that come in all shapes, sizes and forms: bread, sponge cake or biscuits/cookies line a mold, which is then filled with a fruit puree or custard.

I made this for a girl's spa/makeover night (alas, we old med students can't handle sleepovers anymore) because I wanted a really pretty cake. I didn't have enough ladyfingers so I cut them in half and trimmed them with scissors. Although I wanted to make a really tall charlotte, this half size is still a large cake.  
The filling has a lot of flexibility so you can fill it whatever you want. I adapted the mousse from The Little Epicurean. With this healthier version you can definitely taste the yogurt, and I wasn't too guilty about eating it for breakfast. Next time I might make the mousse a little richer with eggs and firm it up with more gelatin.

Creams 101
- Custard is any liquid thickened by coagulation of egg proteins. The consistency depends on the ratio of eggs to liquid, whether whole eggs or just yolks are used, and the type of liquid used
- Pudding is a a liquid thickened with cornstarch
- Pastry Cream is custard + pudding (thickened with cornstarch and eggs)
- Bavarian cream is similar to pastry cream but thickened with gelatin instead of flour/cornstarch, and flavored with liqueur. Bavarian cream is lightened with whipped cream when on the edge of setting up, before being molded. It is chilled until firm, then turned out onto a serving plate.
- Crème anglaise is a light pouring custard used as a dessert cream or sauce
- Mousse is a pudding that is combined with whipped cream or egg whites. Mousse can deflate so its light and airy texture may be stabilized with gelatin.
I held my breath when removing the springform sides, but it stayed up nicely. I had a lot of fun taking these pictures. Tying the satin ribbon was the hardest part out of the entire charlotte making process but I managed to get it eventually.

I confess the best part of making any labor intensive dessert is always the gasps of admiration and excitement. That (and an empty plate) always makes any chef feel proud.

Ingredients
Ladyfingers, cut in half

Berry Mousse:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 envelopes gelatin (~4 1/2 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons cold water
1 cup berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
1/2 cup berry jam

Gelatin Glaze:
4 tablespoons cold water
1/2 envelope gelatin, bloomed
1/4 cup berry jam
1/2 cup berries, pureed

Directions
Mousse: Whip heavy cream and sugar to stiff peaks. Gently fold yogurt into mixture.

Fill a small bowl with ice cold water to bloom gelatin for 3-5 minutes. Puree berries with a blender. Place soft gelatin into strawberry puree. Microwave mixture 10 seconds at a time until gelatin has melted; ensure the gelatin is mixed well. Let cool (the gelatin should not be warm, but it should not be set).

Add cooled berry puree and berry jam to the whipped cream and yogurt mixture. Mix until combined.

Assembly: Cut ladyfingers in half with scissors and arrange along the perimeter of a springform pan. Pour berry yogurt mousse evenly in the springform pan, inside the center of the ladyfingers.

Place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes (or longer) while you prepare jelly glaze.

Gelatin Glaze: Bloom gelatin in the water for 3-5 minutes. Combined with berry jam and pureed berries; microwave mixture for 10 seconds at a time until gelatin is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Pour on top of chilled mousse. Chill for several hours or overnight.

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