I love how the winter months are studded with celebrations.
In our house, it seems like we are celebrating from October to February. Anniversaries, events, birthdays, holidays, New Year’s… It makes the cold winters aglow with warmth and positive energy – and provides so many occasions to cook and feast with friends and family.
So for my own birthday, I made Magnus’ favorite – a chocolate Charlotte cake topped with fresh raspberries and circled with light ladyfingers.
Charlotte cake was invented by a French chef in the 19th century with cream and ladyfingers. It looks decadent and complicated, but it is basically a thick chocolate mousse (or fruit mousses) set in a mold lined with ladyfingers. You don’t have to bake these cold Charlottes, and a few hours in the fridge sets it nicely and it is ready for serving. I rarely bake the ladyfingers myself – I use the ready-made ones – and I think it cuts the prep time to more than half the time and it comes out just as delicious and beautiful. The traditional charlotte calls for a liqueur to dip the ladyfingers, but I use grape juice or other juices for kids. The idea is to moisten the ladyfingers so that they gel well with the mousse. A simple syrup would work as well. Like a mousse, this cake is based on raw egg whites – you should buy fresh organic eggs – or if you would prefer to avoid the egg whites, you can double triple the cream portion in the ingredient list for the mousse texture.
It is a great dessert for kids, since it is light, gorgeous and easy to whip up.
We ate the cake in two days, and Magnus woke up the day after we finished it an asked for some more.
I think I will have to make another Charlotte in the coming days….
A Raspberry and Chocolate Charlotte
1/2 cup grape juice
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cups milk
7 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1. Butter a spring form pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, pour the grape juice and dip the ladyfingers one by one and line the pan along the sides and on the bottom, cutting it when necessary to shape it to the form.
3. Separate the eggs.
4. Using a bain-marie/double boiler, melt the chocolate with the milk (only simmer the water – boiling the water would over cook the chocolate). Once melted, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, then add egg yolks one at a time.
5. Beat egg whites until peaks form. Add sugar.
6. Beat the cream until soft peaks form.
7. Fold chocolate into he cream, then egg whites.
8. Fill the mold and chill for at least 4 hours. You can chill it over night.