I was born and raised just a few miles from Charlotte, VT and never knew that had a pastry named for them. “Oh! What was that QC?” Sorry, I was just told Charlottes were not named for that town, rather the name originated from a pastry made in British, unless you prefer the “alternate facts” that point to Russian origins.
There are many variations of Charlotte cakes. After sampling so many amazing pastries in Paris, I decided to try some mini charlottes. They retain the charlotte basics of lady fingers, creams and berries. In this version the lady fingers are smaller than usual to fit into my entremet cups. The creme chiboust may not be “authentic” but maintains the essential of being a blend of creme patisserie and Italian meringue.
For the the creme patisserie in eclairs I made last week I used the “old fashioned method” of tempering the eggs and adding back into the hot mixture. I prefer Martha Stewarts method of adding everything to the sauce pan, except the vanilla, heating until it thickens, sieving, then adding the vanilla and stir. Depending on how thick you want the final creampat you can heat the mixture as long or short as you wish.
Once the creampat is cooled, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Meanwhile heat the sugar/water mixture to 240F. Drizzle the hot sugar water into the whipped egg whites and beat on high to firm peaks.
Fold the Italian meringue into the creampat without deflating the meringue. Pipe the resultant creme chiboust into hemispherical molds, cover with plastic directly on the creme chiboust and freeze. The diameter of the molds should be at least 1 cm less than the molds you will use to make the charlottes.
I was pleased (surprised?) how well the raspberry jelly set up and then released from the plastic wrap. I used agar agar to set the jelly (and everywhere else throughout this bake) to keep everything vegetarian.
I set all the ingredients required for the chocolate mousse and took a picture. Unfortunately, that is the only picture I took during the process. Imagine, if you will, chocolate and butter on a Bain Marie. Imagine the stand mixer making whipped cream, then being cleaned and making a meringue, both with soft peaks. Imagine folding the two whipped ingredients into the cooled chocolate. Now, you are up to date.
Making the raspberry/white chocolate mousse is very similar to making the dark chocolate mousse. In fact, pretend the red raspberry puree is chocolate and you won’t even miss photos in the above section.
Imagine, if you will, I actually took pictures while making the raspberry mousse. Dang! I took a picture of all the ingredients (left) and of the completed raspberry confit (right,) but missed all the intermediate steps.
The first batch of lady fingers were piped with too much space between them. Plus they were over baked and cracked when trying to bend them into the entremet molds. The lines of lady fingers should touch when baked to create a “sheet” that is smooth on one side and have the rounded “lady finger” look on the other. The second batch were just right, but only filled 8 of the 12 molds. The third batch were slightly underdone so I let them dry in the turned-off oven for a few more minutes. While they were then slightly over done, I was able to salvage enough to finish all twelve molds.
Charlottes are traditionally wrapped with a ribbon. The set mousse should hold the cake together but the ribbon looks pretty and suggests it is (erroneously) required to hold the cake together.
I found the chocolate releases from parchment paper easier than from acetate. Most of my photos show the first attempt using acetate.
4” x 1/2” strips of parchment paper, coated with chocolate and allowed to dry some were folded over and the ends put together to form the loops of the bow. Other short straight pieces were used for the ends of the ribbons. A little chocolate was used to glue the parts onto the side of a charlotte to resemble a ribbon bow.
Sliced raspberries and blueberries plus some chocolate shavings sprinkled on top finished the charlottes. They need to be refrigerated or frozen until serving. QC and I decided the flavor and texture were excellent, but other pastries I previously made were as good and much, much easier.
Mini Red Berry / Chocolate Charlotte
• ½ c sugar
• ¼ c corn starch
• Pinch salt
• 2 c whole milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 2 Tbl butter
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 1 cup sugar (200g)
• 1/2 cup water
• 4 large room temperature egg whites
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Whisk eggs and milk together and add to all other ingredients (except vanilla) to a medium saucepan.
- Bring to boil whisking constantly
- Cook until thickened (it will look lumpy, its ok)
- Sieve lumpy mixture into a bowl and add vanilla, mix thoroughly
- When incorporated, cover with plastic directly on the cream and cool about an hour.
- In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Heat over high heat, stirring only until it comes to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, stop stirring. Cook until sugar syrup registers 240°F (115°C) on an instant-read or candy thermometer. Brush down sides of pot as necessary with a pastry brush dipped in water.
- Meanwhile, combine egg whites and cream of tartar or lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (see note). Set mixer to medium speed and mix until soft peaks form (when lifted, the head of the mixer should form gentle peaks in the egg whites that very slowly collapse back into themselves), about 2 minutes.
- With the mixer running, carefully and slowly drizzle in hot sugar syrup. (Hot sugar is just as dangerous as fryer oil, so use caution!) Increase speed to high and whip to stiff peaks.
- Stir the cooled crème patisserie to loosen slightly then mix in about one-third of the meringue. Then add the crème patisserie mixture to the remaining meringue and mix in.
- The crème chiboust is ready to use.
• 4 large separated eggs
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 4 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Separate 4 large egg yolks, placing the yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric mixer) and the whites into a small bowl. Let sit out until room temperature. Meanwhile, arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip.
- Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to the egg yolks. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until the egg yolks are lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until doubled in volume, very pale yellow, falls off the whisk in thick ribbons, and the whisk leaves visible lines through the egg yolk mixture when the mixer is running, about 2 minutes more.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Clean and dry the stand mixer and whisk attachment.
- Add the reserved egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to the stand mixer. Attach the whisk attachment and turn on to on medium-low speed. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until the mixture is foamy and beginning to grow in volume, about 2 minutes.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes more.
- Add half of the egg yolk mixture and fold until just combined. Add the remaining egg yolk mixture and fold until almost fully incorporated, some streaks are okay. Do not over-mix.
- Sift 1 cup all-purpose flour, 4 teaspoons cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt into the egg mixture. Fold together until just incorporated with no dry bits remaining, it’s okay if the mixture is not smooth. Do not over-mix.
- Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag. Pipe 4-inch long ladyfingers onto the baking sheets, spacing them 3/4 to 1-inch apart, 20 per sheet. Dust an even layer of powdered sugar over the ladyfingers.
- Bake until puffed and just turning golden around the bottom, 11 – 14 minutes, until they feel firm, but not brown.
- Let the ladyfingers cool completely on the baking sheets.
RECIPE NOTES: Ladyfingers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days
Agar Agar Raspberry Jelly
• 2 Cups Raspberries
• 1/2 Cup Sugar
• 2 tsp Agar Agar powder
• 1/4 Cup Water
- Pour the 1/4 cup water and 2 cups raspberries into a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until raspberries have softened.
- Use a stick blender to puree the mixture.
- Strain to remove the raspberry seeds.
- Pour the 1/4 cup water in saucepan and add 2 tsp agar agar powder. Mix well. cook on medium heat.
- Stir in agar until completely dissolved. Add raspberry juice and mix well.
- Add sugar, heat the mixture to a rolling boil and continue to cook the mixture for 2 minutes.
- Pour into a baking dish or into silicone molds.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Remove and cut into desired shapes.
Dark Chocolate Mousse
• 2 Cups
• 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons salted butter, diced
• 2 tablespoons expresso or hot water
• 1 cup cold heavy cream
• 3 large eggs separated
• 1 tablespoon sugar
- Combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth.
- Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature.
- Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. Once the melted chocolate is sufficiently cool, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat to soft peaks.
- When the chocolate is cool, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.
- Add the mousse to a piping bag and twist close. Store in the refrigerator until required.
Raspberry/White Chocolate Mousse – with Agar Agar
WHIPPED CREAM – YIELDS ¾ CUPS OF WHIPPED CREAM
• ½ cup Heavy whipping cream
• 2 tablespoons Confectioners sugar
• ¾ teaspoons Cream of tartar
• ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
• ½ cup White chocolate chips
• 1 ½ tablespoons Heavy whipping cream
• 225 grams (8 oz) fresh raspberries
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• 58 grams (2 oz) powdered sugar
• 200 grams (7oz) white chocolate
• 1-3 Tbsp warm milk
• 250 ml (1 cup + ½ tablespoon) cold heavy cream
• Red food coloring to suit (1-2 drops)
• 1 Tsp Agar Agar
• 1 Tbl cup water
PREPARE WHIPPED CREAM
- Before beginning with the recipe, place the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to chill.
- Once the bowl has chilled, add heavy cream and vanilla and beat on low speed until the cream starts to thicken slightly. There will be fewer and larger bubbles.
- Add the cream of tartar and powdered sugar and beat with increasingly higher speed until stiff peaks form. Once done, set it in the fridge to chill.
AGAR AGAR MIX
- Add 1 teaspoons Agar agar powder to 1 tablespoons lukewarm water
- Stir until agar agar is completely dissolved
PREPARING THE RASPBERRY PURÉE
- Combine raspberries, lemon juice and confectioners sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens and raspberries are very soft.
- Keep stirring occasionally. When the raspberries are very soft and the syrup has thickened, take it off the flame and allow it to cool.
- When completely cooled, puree it with an immersion blender. Sieve to remove seeds, add raspberry flavoring and set aside. Measure the syrup – you will require ¾ cup+ 2 Tbl (200 ml) of thick syrup.
- Cool to near room temperature.
PREPARING WHITE CHOCOLATE
- Heat a pan 1/2 filled with water over low heat. Lower the heat and place the white chocolate bowl over the water when it simmers. Keep stirring the chocolate as it softens and melts.
- Add dissolved agar agar and 4-5 Tbl warm milk and mix until the chocolate is thick but runny.
FOR RASPBERRY MOUSSE:
- Add half the cooled whipped cream to the cool white chocolate mixture
- Add the raspberry purée that was prepared earlier to the whipped cream/white chocolate mixture
- Mix gently to not deflate.
- Add the rest of the whipped cream to the raspberry -white chocolate.
- Add two drops of red food coloring and mix.