A pan lined with liqueur-brushed ladyfingers is filled with
a bittersweet Bavarian cream mixture, then topped with more
ladyfingers. This is a pretty dessert, and, though its
quite rich, it manages to be very light-textured. The filling
is made with unflavored gelatin, so the dessert does not freeze
and should be consumed within 48 hours of completion. This is
not overly-sweet; because of that and the use of liqueur, this
charlotte would probably be more appreciated by adults than
by children. Great for an end-of-summer get-together!
recipe uses store-bought ladyfingers, which come either plain
or cream-filled; you want to use the plain ones here. The ladyfingers
must be split in half the long way, but the ones Ive found
come pre-split. It is not mandatory to brush them with liqueur,
but I think it greatly improves them and the dessert as a whole.
You will need more than 2 packages, but you probably wont
use all of the third. Incidentally, in choosing a liqueur, select
one (or a blend) that goes with chocolate but doesnt overwhelm
it. I like to use an orange liqueur; other good choices would
be coffee, almond, or hazelnut. Sometimes, Ill mix orange,
coffee, and almond liqueurs as a nice variation.
if your immune system is compromised in any way, please think
twice before consuming this! The filling contains uncooked egg
whites; therefore, the risk of salmonella, though minute, cannot
be discounted entirely. I know this recipe seems complicated,
but I can put it together in under two hours.
tsp. unflavored gelatin (this is more than one packet--you
must measure the quantity)
Tbsp. cold water
ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
cup plus 2 Tbsp. whole milk
cup sugar, divided
eggs, graded "large", separated
to 9 Tbsp. liqueur, divided
packages (3 ounces each) ladyfingers, split in half the
cup heavy cream
sweetened whipped cream
or shaved bittersweet chocolate
a 9-inch diameter springform pan, which MUST be at least 3 inches
tall (a nonstick pan is nice, but not a necessity). Line the
bottom with a circle of wax paper cut to fit (this is optional,
to make cleaning up the pan bottom easier). Cut a sheet of wax
paper that is 14-1/2 inches long by 12 inches wide. Fold in
half to make a sheet that is 6 inches wide, then cut along the
fold (you now have two pieces of wax paper, each 14-1/2 inches
long by 6 inches wide). Fold each of the two pieces in half
the long way; set aside for a moment. With solid vegetable shortening,
lightly grease the sides only of the assembled springform pan.
Take one piece of folded wax paper, open side down, and line
the greased pan sides with it, then repeat with the other piece.
The pieces will overlap. The sides of the pan should be completely
lined with a double layer of wax paper; make sure the wax paper
is as closely fitted to the pan sides as possible. The wax paper
will probably extend slightly above the edge of the pan--OK.
a small heatproof cup, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water.Set
the finely chopped chocolate in a one quart, heavy-bottomed,
nonreactive saucepan. In another small saucepan, over low heat,
heat milk until very hot, stirring occasionally. Remove milk
from heat; pour about half of hot milk onto chocolate. Allow
to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk until smooth.
If necessary, place over very low heat, and stir constantly
until chocolate is melted. Gradually stir in remaining heated
milk. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar (reserve remainder).
small bowl, beat egg yolks with fork to combine well. Stirring
constantly, gradually add about one-fourth of the hot melted
chocolate mixture. Turn this mixture back into the remaining
melted chocolate mixture, again stirring constantly. Place the
egg yolk-chocolate combination over medium-low heat for three
minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; immediately
strain into a nonreactive metal bowl of at least three quart
capacity. Whisk in 2 Tbsp. of the liqueur, one tablespoon at
a time (reserve remaining liqueur), then add the vanilla.
cup of softened gelatin in a small pan of barely simmering water
The water should come no more than halfway up the sides of the
cup). Stir very frequently just until gelatin granules are dissolved
(this is easiest to see if you use a metal spoon to stir). Remove
from simmering water; dry cup bottom and sides. Add dissolved
gelatin to chocolate mixture and stir in with whisk. Scrape
bowl bottom and sides. The chocolate mixture can either wait
at room temperature while you line the pan with ladyfingers
or be placed in the refrigerator. In addition, chill a small
bowl now (this will be used later, to beat the heavy cream).
the remaining 6 to 7 Tbsp. of liqueur in a small cup. Remove
a row of split ladyfingers from the package, and separate them.
Using a pastry brush, brush the flat side of each with liqueur,
then place, flat side up, onto the pan bottom. I like to form
a "sunburst" pattern, then fill in any gaps with pieces of ladyfingers,
but as this will be the bottom of the dessert I dont think
it matters much. You wont be able to line the entire bottom
of the pan without any gaps, so just fill as many as you reasonably
youve lined the pan bottom, line the wax-paper-covered
sides. I find it easiest to do this when working with a row
of split ladyfingers that have not been separated from one another.
When theyre still attached, brush the flat sides of each
with liqueur. Handling gently, turn the row over and brush a
strip of liqueur across the middle of the row of ladyfingers
(this seems to help them stick to the wax paper lining). Place
the ladyfinger row, flat side facing in, around the edge of
the pan, and press it so it adheres to the wax paper. Dont
worry about any gaps that might occur at the tops or bottoms
of the ladyfingers lining the sides; the ladyfingers lining
the sides will probably extend over the top of the pan as well.
This process goes much more quickly than it sounds, but if it
takes you longer than 10 or 15 minutes and if you have put the
chocolate mixture in the refrigerator, remove it from the fridge
and whisk briefly to loosen once or twice during this time.
Cover the lined pan loosely with plastic wrap; set aside.
egg whites with salt in medium bowl; set aside. Have ready the
remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Have ready a hand-held electric mixer.
Half-fill a bowl or frying pan with ice and water. This receptacle
must be larger in diameter than the bowl holding the chocolate
mixture, but it must not be deeper. Place the bowl of chocolate
mixture into the ice and water; WATCH IT CAREFULLY! Especially
if you chilled it while lining the pan, it will begin to thicken
in a very few minutes. Whisk it frequently, and scrape the bowl
bottom and sides often. You want it to thicken only to the consistency
of a thick sauce (if it thickens beyond this stage, dont
panic. I have read that you can place the bowl of chocolate
mixture over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch
the bottom of the bowl) and stir with the whisk until the mixture
thins out again). I usually remove it from the ice and water
just before it reaches the correct stage, as I find that it
continues to thicken slightly upon standing.
egg whites and salt at high speed until very foamy and increased
in volume. Gradually add sugar, beating between additions. Beat
the whites until they form a point (this is before soft peak
stage). Once again, whisk the chocolate mixture to loosen it
and scrape bowl bottom and sides. Place a large spoonful of
beaten whites into the chocolate mixture; whisk in until combined.
Add remaining whites; with large spatula, fold in until only
not bother to wash the beater(s). In chilled small bowl, beat
heavy cream at high speed just until it holds a soft shape.
Scrape cream into chocolate mixture; fold in thoroughly but
gently until blended. Work quickly! as the mixture will likely
start to set up as youre doing the folding.
mixture into ladyfinger-lined pan; it will be quite full. Separate
more ladyfingers into individual fingers; brush the flat side
of each with liqueur and place, flat side down, on top of the
filling. This will be the top of the dessert, and I like to
make it attractive, so I form a "sunburst pattern here,
filling in any large gaps with cut pieces of ladyfinger as necessary.
Place the completed dessert in the refrigerator for 20 to 30
minutes, then cover lightly with plastic wrap. Cover the plastic
with a sheet of aluminum foil, folding it down carefully over
the sides (you dont want to squash the top of this dessert).
If desired, place a rubber band over the foil, around the top
of the pan.
at least 6 hours before serving (overnight is fine, too). To
serve, remove coverings, then undo springform clip on side of
pan. Gently and carefully remove sides; if the wax paper lining
doesnt come with the sides, peel it off. Use a large,
sharp, serrated knife to cut the dessert. Serve with lightly
sweetened whipped cream and grated or shaved bittersweet chocolate.
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