For our second annual Galentine’s Day Brunch, I wanted to make something special. A dessert that represented a bouquet of flowers. Something that was not only delicious but also beautiful. After much thought and idea generating, I settled on charlottes. For about a year and a half I have been wanting to attempt to make charlottes and now was my perfect opportunity.
Because I wanted this dessert to be truly special, after all Galentine’s is about ladies celebrating ladies and I had an amazing group of ladies coming to brunch, I practiced for about two weeks to make sure I worked out any kinks. I tested three different ideas for the filling. Two of my friends that were coming to brunch are vegetarian and pescatarian, so as a replacement for gelatin I chose to try to use agar agar powder. Agar agar powder is made from cooked and pressed algae. I chose this over other gelatin substitutions because the powder is a one-to-one replacement for gelatin. On my first attempt, I made a traditional raspberry mousse using the agar agar powder. I’m pretty sure I did not dissolve the powder completely because the mousse came out gritty. On my second attempt, I made the “mousse” using coconut milk cream and raspberry puree. It was more of a whipped cream. This turned out better, but not to my perfection level. My third and final attempt, was just making a whipped cream using traditional heavy whipping cream, raspberry puree and some raspberry liqueur.
The night before the brunch, I set about making the ladyfinger cookies. I needed to make six 3” round cookies and about forty-eight 4” long ladyfingers. My circles came out wonderfully! The ladyfingers on the other hand tasted great but had completely flattened and lost their shape in the oven. Luckily I had picked up pre-made ladyfingers from the store just in case of emergency. I tried two batches before giving up and using the store bought ladyfingers.
The day of the brunch I made the raspberry whipped cream filling and assembled the charlottes. For the decoration on top, I picked up strawberries, blackberries and reserved some whole raspberries. While I was removing the charlottes from their molds I tried to hold in my nervousness as to not drop one. My hands were shaky and I almost just held my breath in order to focus. Not one was ruined…thank goodness!
When the charlottes were presented, the ladies were so excited and impressed. It was like they were receiving a present! Goal accomplished!
Don’t forget to follow me to receive more great recipes!
6 Eggs, separated
11 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 ¼ Cups All-Purpose flour
Grated Coconut, for dusting
Raspberry Whipped Cream:
1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Large Containers Raspberries, reserve 6 raspberries for topping
1-2 Tablespoons Confectioners’ Sugar
2 – 3 Teaspoons Raspberry Liqueur
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. On one sheet draw, with a pen or pencil, six 3” circles. On the other sheet draw 4” long lines, as many as you can fit on the sheet leaving 1” between each line. Be sure to place the parchment paper with the drawn side down, so that your cookies do not absorb any ink or lead.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 10 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla extract until mixture is thick and pale yellow, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Gradually add in the flour, folding in gently. Set bowl aside.
In another bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy. While whisking, gradually add in the remaining tablespoon of sugar, and beat until stiff, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the reserved egg yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in the remaining egg whites until just incorporated.
Fill a pastry bag with the batter, and pipe the lady fingers and circles. The ladyfingers should be a ½” thick. Sprinkle the grated coconut over the cookies. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, until light golden, turning the trays once. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and dry out for at least 2 hours. Remove from the parchment paper.
Place a large bowl in the freezer, this will help make the whipped cream easier.
Create the raspberry puree by placing the raspberries in a sieve that is placed over a bowl. In batches, if necessary, mash the berries using a spatula or spoon. The puree should fall into the bowl and you can even scrape the bottom of the sieve for any extra puree. Set aside. Discard the seeds that are left.
Once the large bowl in the freezer is sufficiently cold, pour in the heavy whipping cream. Whisk using an electric hand mixer or whisk. Beat until frothy, add in the confectioner’ sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold in the raspberry puree and the raspberry liqueur.
To assemble the charlottes:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place six 3” pastry ring molds onto the prepared baking sheet. Line the inside of the pastry rings with parchment paper as well. Place a circular cookie into the bottom of each pastry ring. Line the circumference of the pastry rings with the ladyfingers, should take about 7 ladyfingers per ring. When placing the ladyfingers, be sure to have the ridged side facing out. Once your ladyfingers are in place, fill each with the raspberry whipped cream. Refrigerate until completely set. When ready to serve, unmold the charlottes, top with fresh berries. Serve and enjoy!
*I used 3.15” pastry rings and that took about 7.75 ladyfingers.
**I topped the charlottes with the reserved raspberries, a whole strawberry and blackberries. I also tied ribbon around each charlotte for presentation purposes.
Recipe for the ladyfingers courtesy of marthastewart.com
Don’t forget to leave a comment!