A charlotte, when lined with ladyfingers and filled with a Bavarian cream or whipped cream filling, is called a Charlotte Russe. You can use packaged ladyfingers, but anything homemade tastes better and making your own Ladyfingers is easy.
Raspberry Charlotte is a bit more challenging than your average dessert, but the end result is worth the effort. The Charlotte must be made in advance and refrigerated for several hours before serving.
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- About 12 to 15 Ladyfingers, depending on size. You can use packaged Ladyfingers, or make your own. See recipe for Ladyfingers.
- ½ cup Chambord or Framboise raspberry liqueur, divided
- 2 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh or frozen raspberries
- 2 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- ¼ cup plus ⅓ cup water, divided
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- About 1 tablespoon confectioners’ (powdered) sugar for dusting
- About 1 cup fresh raspberries
- Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the flat side of the Ladyfingers with some of the raspberry liqueur. Tip: don’t overly saturate the Ladyfingers, but just give them a light brushing.
- Line the inside of the mold with the Ladyfingers, with the rounded sides facing the mold. Set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the raspberries and strawberries and puree until smooth. Pour the fruit puree through a fine-mesh sieve and into a large mixing bowl to strain out the seeds. Tip: Press on the puree with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to push all the juices out. Discard the seeds. Stir ½ cup sugar plus remaining raspberry liqueur into the fruit puree. You should have about 2 cups of fruit puree. Measure 1 cup of the puree to use in the Charlotte, and refrigerate remaining puree to use when serving the Charlotte.
- Sprinkle gelatin over ¼ cup water in a small saucepan and let stand for 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, set aside to cool slightly. When partially cooled, stir into the 1 cup fruit puree. Set aside, stirring occasionally to prevent the puree from getting lumpy.
- In top of a double boiler, add the egg yolks; whisk the yolks to thoroughly break them up. In a small saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons sugar and ⅓ cup water and bring to a boil, continue to boil for another 2 minutes to make sugar syrup.
- Temper the eggs; very slowly, in a thin stream, pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg yolks while quickly whisking together. Tip: The technique used to blend uncooked eggs with a hot liquid is called tempering. Tempering slowly warms the eggs, preventing the eggs from scrambling. If you simply poured the hot sugar syrup into the eggs they would immediately start cooking and you would have chunks of cooked egg in the mixture.
- Set the pan with the egg yolk mixture over another pan of simmering water (double boiler.) Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened (like pudding) and reaches 160 to 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer or candy thermometer, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
- Let egg yolk mixture cool to room temperature, whisking frequently. Tip: place pan over a larger bowl of ice water and whisk until the mixture is cooled.
- Add the cooled egg yolk mixture and vanilla to the fruit puree and gelatin mixture; stir until well blended. Set aside.
- In a large size mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream with an electric mixer until cream is thick and stiff. Tip: Cream whips easiest when the bowl and beaters, as well as the cream, are well chilled. Place the bowl and beaters in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before using, and keep the cream in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg yolk and puree mixture into the whipped cream.
- Spoon the mixture into the Ladyfinger-lined mold. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- Unmold: To unmold, dip the mold in very hot water for several seconds, then invert the mold onto a chilled serving plate, preferably one with a raised rim.
- Before serving, use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the top of the Ladyfingers with confectioners’ sugar. Spoon some the reserved fruit puree onto the plate around the edge of the Charlotte. Place fresh raspberries around bottom edge of Charlotte and a few on top. Cut into wedges to serve. Serve individual pieces with any remaining fruit puree.