Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte Cake

Hello again!

I have had an extended absence from the blogging world, and for that, I am sorry! It has been a crazy last month and a half. Since my last post (almost a month ago! Agghh!) classes have ended, final exams are over, graduation is done, and I have been to, and am back from, Edmonton, where I marked diploma exams for a week.

After I got back from Edmonton, I got sick with a cold for a week, got better, went to Lethbridge, and began to clean out and move my classroom.

With all that insanity behind me, I decided to make something a little fancy before the insanity starts again. I have a friend’s wedding coming up, and I am making centerpieces and the cupcakes.

A charlotte cake is French in origin, usually with a sponge cake of some kind at the base, and ladyfinger cookies surrounding a fluffy smooth mousse filling.

I decided to make my own version of a charlotte. I did use recipes I found for all components, but put all the recipes together for my own version. I used the sponge cake and raspberry mousse filling from this site, and the chocolate mousse from here. Honestly, I should have halved the chocolate mousse recipe, because it made so much. I have reflected the proper measurements below, but if you want just a chocolate charlotte, double the recipe and use just the chocolate mousse as a filling.

The recipe I used consists of the following: a ladyfinger cookie outline surrounding the pan, a sponge cake base, a raspberry mousse, a chocolate mousse, and a middle layer of ladyfinger and sponge cake trimmings.

Here is a fancy dessert that (other than the sponge cake), requires no turning on of your oven. In fact, some versions of a charlotte use more ladyfingers as a base instead of a spongecake. This is a perfectly fine, and the only reason I didn’t use ladyfingers was because I ran out, so I made a sponge cake base. Them’s the breaks.

I will warn you: this dessert is not for the faint of heart! It’s a time and labour intensive dessert, but SO worth the effort.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch cake

For the sponge cake:

4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
3-4 tbsp. raspberry preserves, jam, or liqeur

For the raspberry mousse:

2½ c. frozen raspberries
½ c. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. unflavoured gelatin
2 c. heavy cream
6 tbsp. icing sugar

For the chocolate mousse:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. milk
¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, separated
¼ c. sugar

For the lining and garnish:

2-3 dozen ladyfinger cookies (more if you use ladyfingers as a base as well as the lining)
1 c. heavy cream
Fresh raspberries (if desired)
Chocolate shavings (if desired)

To prepare, line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper, and the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap. Trim ladyfinger cookies ½ inch, so there is one flat edge. Place upright in the springform pan, sitting on the flat edge. If desired, line the bottom of the pan with more ladyfinger cookies, and use the cut pieces to fill in gaps.

If not lining the cake pan with ladyfinger cookies, begin preparation by making the sponge cake. In a 7 inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and beat again on high speed approximately 7 minutes, until light, fluffy, and 3-4 times the volume.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture in two additions, folding after each addition. Be thorough, and catch any hidden flour pockets, but keep the air in and do not over-mix.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 23-25 minutes, until top is golden and springs back when poked lightly.

Let cool completely, then slice cake in half. My cake did not slice evenly, so I had one even layer, and I turned the remainder into a secondary “crumb” layer with my ladyfinger pieces in the middle.

For the raspberry mousse, combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries reach a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the fruit to extract as much liquid as possible.

Into the strained raspberry juice, stir in the lemon juice and gelatin. Transfer back to the saucepan, and over the warm burner whisk together until gelatin dissolves, then take back off the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and the icing sugar together until thick and spreadable. Once the raspberry syrup is at room temperature, fold into the whipped cream a ¼ at a time, until all of the raspberry syrup is incorporated. Set aside, at room temperature.

For the chocolate mousse, in a heat-proof bowl add the chocolate, and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 second blasts, stirring constantly.

Add the milk, and whisk completely. Add the butter, and the egg yolks, whisking again until fully incorporated.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until fluffy and thick. Fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a clean mixer bowl (with no grease whatsoever!), whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and whip egg whites into stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until cohesive.

To assemble the charlotte, in the prepared springform pan lined with ladyfingers, place the sponge cake in the base of the pan. Brush with the raspberry preserves, jam, or liqueur if using.

Spread half of the raspberry mousse in an even layer, and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to set up. Top with half of the chocolate mousse, and refrigerate again to begin setting up. Be careful not to knock the ladyfingers out of place.

If desired, use another layer of ladyfingers and cake crumbs on top of the chocolate mousse layer.

Top with remaining raspberry mousse, set for 10-20 minutes again, the remaining chocolate mousse, and refrigerate 3-4 hours until set.

To garnish, whip the cream into soft, thick peaks. Fill a piping bag with a star tip, and the whipped cream. Pipe onto charlotte, and garnish as desired with raspberries or chocolate shavings.

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Eggnog Scones

Firstly, I have not been posting on a regular basis, and I am sorry! Starting a new job in September, juggling all of these new commitments and time crunches… I apologize indeed! Life has still been a little crazy here in our neck of the woods.

Also, I told you I was on an eggnog kick. Therefore, these seemed perfect! Besides, Paul and I love scones. I think they are a perfect breakfast treat. They are usually very quick to whip up, don’t take too long in the oven, and always yield good results.

I wasn’t disappointed by these eggnog scones, either. I found the recipe here, after a short search on Pinterest. I was looking for a recipe I could make without going to the store, and this one delivered. Paul was definitely overexcited to have an eggnog scone for breakfast.

They are soft and flaky, and the glaze just puts them right over the top. Delicious. Paul also made his own eggnog spice for when he indulges, and instead of sprinkling the tops with cinnamon, I used his eggnog spice. So good! They also made my house smell heavenly. In my opinion, you really can’t beat the taste and smell of eggnog (but you all know how much of a sweets person I am!)

I really don’t have much else to say, except go make these!

Ingredients:

Yield: 8 scones

For the scones:

2¼ c. flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. nutmeg (or 1½ tsp. eggnog spice)
1/3 c. sugar
½ c. butter, cold
1/3 c. eggnog
1 egg
¼ c. sour cream
½ tsp. vanilla

For the glaze:

1 c. icing sugar
2 tbsp. eggnog
½ tsp. vanilla
Eggnog spice or cinnamon, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, spices, and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces, add it to the dry ingredients and mix with your hands or a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse and only small, pea-sized chunks of butter remain.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, eggnog, sour cream, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients, and mix with a spatula or your hands, until a dough forms.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, and pat down into a circle about one inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 sections. (I used a pizza wheel.)

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven, re-cut the scones, and pull them apart slightly. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until they are golden.

Allow the scones to cool before adding the glaze.

To make the glaze, whisk together the icing sugar, eggnog, and vanilla into a smooth, somewhat runny (but not too runny) consistency. Add more eggnog if the glaze is too thick.

Drizzle the glaze generously over the scones, and dust with cinnamon or eggnog spice.

Eggnog Biscotti 

Why haven’t I made biscotti sooner?!?! I didn’t realize how absolutely amazing it is until I tried this recipe. Also, it is so easy to make!

You form the dough into long logs, flatten them slightly, bake, cut, and bake again! Bam! Biscotti! Low effort, maximum reward. My kind of snack, that’s for sure.

This recipe I found from Pinterest, from this link. There is a great eggnog flavour throughout the cookie, as well as in the glaze. This is the biscotti for eggnog lovers. I am an eggnog lover. So when I paired this eggnog biscotti with Eggnog Tea from David’s Tea, I was in complete heaven! (Did I mention instead of milk to my tea, I added eggnog? I’m an eggnog lover through and through.)

The nice thing about this biscotti is that the eggnog flavour, while you can certainly detect it, is not in-your-face strong. I find it’s a subtle little hint at the creamy deliciousness, and absolutely to-die-for when dipped in a hot beverage.

So, the world of biscotti is now open to me. I feel like it’s going to be a biscotti-filled Christmas! I even warned Paul that I might make a TON of biscotti in the next few months, and he was completely fine with it. He was A-OK with a reason to drink lots of hot chocolate and coffee.

If you like eggnog though, give these a shot, and try them with coffee and eggnog!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 3 dozen biscotti, depending on cut size

For the biscotti:

½ c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
½ c. eggnog
2 tsp. rum, rum extract, or vanilla*
3¼ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt

For the glaze:

1 c. icing sugar
1 tsp. rum, rum extract, or vanilla*
2-3 tbsp. eggnog

(*Depending on preference. I used spiced rum.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined, at least 1 minute. Add in the eggnog and rum. Blend again.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt and whisk until combined. In small additions, add the dry ingredients to the wet, until everything is incorporated.

Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and separate into two equal segments. Shape each dough half into a long roll, approximately 14 inches. Place the rolls on the baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of room between them. Press down lightly on the rolls to flatten them slightly.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Carefully remove rolls from pans and place on cooling racks. Set aside baking sheet, but do not throw out parchment paper. When the rolls have cooled enough to handle, but are still warm, transfer to a cutting board and cut into half-inch-thick slices.

Place slices, cut side down, back on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip cookies over, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks, with the tops facing up.

To make the glaze, whisk the sugar, rum, and eggnog together (only add 1 tablespoon at a time to get the consistency you want). When biscotti have cooled, drizzle glaze over tops with a fork or small whisk.

Serve with a hot beverage, and dunk away! Store in a sealed bag.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

I know what you’re thinking! The first reaction to sourdough cinnamon rolls is “Ugh! I don’t think that goes well together!”. I thought the exact same thing, but the more I thought about it, the more I came around. I mean, I’ve used my sourdough starter in cakes before. Why couldn’t it work for cinnamon rolls?

This recipe was also very easy. I started these rolls at about 4pm on a Saturday. I followed all instructions, and let the second rise happen overnight. When I woke up Sunday morning, the dough had risen beautifully and was ready and waiting to be rolled out and filled with gooey cinnamon filling.

Like I said, this recipe was very easy. I also found the recipe off of Pinterest, and they have wonderful options, so I was excited! The original recipe is found here. It wasn’t that time consuming, and the results were beautiful! I’d say that’s a win-win situation!

Holy man these were good! The sourdough becomes very subtle, but definitely adds something to the dough. The slight tang of the sourdough with the sweetness of the cinnamon and the the sugar? Oh yes. These are AWESOME!

Considering I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use my sourdough starter, I’d say this is a solid choice. I’ve been making tons of sourdough crackers lately (link here), and I wanted to change it up a bit. I mean, I love to snack on those freakin’ addictive crackers, but I wanted to satisfy my sweet tooth, and did I ever!

Ingredients

Yield: 16-24 cinnamon rolls, depending on how big you cut them

For the dough:

1 c. sourdough starter
1 tsp. salt
½ c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
¼ c. warm milk
1 tsp. yeast
3-4 c. flour

For the filling:

5 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

For the frosting:

1 c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. milk

To make the dough, add the sourdough starter, salt, butter, sugar and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine.

Add yeast to the warm milk, mix in and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy. Once foamy, add the milk and yeast mixture to the starter mix. Combine again.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour, 1 cup at a time (when you get to 3 cups, add a small amount at a time. Mine only took about 3 1/3 cups of flour). Dough should be in a soft ball, that is not sticky.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise until doubled (2-3 hours).

Punch down, and allow to rise again (I let the second rise happen overnight).

Punch down again, turn out onto your work surface and with a rolling pin roll out into a large rectangle.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients until smooth and cohesive. Spread over the dough evenly.

Roll the long side of the rectangle tightly, and keep rolling until the dough is a log. Using plain, unflavoured dental floss, cut the dough into 1-inch sections. Place in pie plates, and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.

In a small bowl, whisk together the frosting ingredients until smooth. Drizzle the frosting over the cinnamon rolls. Serve warm.

Cinnamon Pie


Happy belated Pi(e) Day!!

I know, I know, I’m a few days late, but this pie was worth the wait. It is definitely reminiscent of Christmas time and the holidays, but cinnamon is such a wonderful flavour. I found this recipe, and couldn’t resist. The pictures on the original recipe made this pie look so fluffy that I had to make it.

Honestly, it was so simple to make as well! It does need cream cheese and heavy cream (which I don’t personally keep on hand at all times, but some people do!), but other than that, it took about 10 minutes to whip up the filling. Please, please make your own pie crust, because homemade pie crust is about a thousand times better than the stuff you can buy from the store.

Take the time to celebrate Pi Day in your own way. This pie is a good start!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1¼ c. heavy cream
¼ c. flour
3½ tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 recipe pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out pie crust and line pie plate. Trim crust and crimp edges. Refrigerate until needed.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cream cheese and brown sugar until combined and fluffy. Add in the eggs and beat well.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the cream, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Whisk until combined and smooth.

Pour the filling into the pie crust, and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the center of the pie seems set when jiggled, but not completely firm. Bake for another 5 minutes or so if needed.

Cool completely, and chill. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, and serve with whipped cream if desired.