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.

Advertisements

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bavarian Cream Pie

April means Paul’s birthday!

Paul’s birthday means some kind of chocolate and peanut butter concoction.

This year, he asked for Bavarian Cream Pie, and more specifically a with a Peanut Butter Bavarian Cream and a Chocolate crust.

However, any recipe I found did not include peanut butter anywhere, and I looked, hard. I finally decided to use a recipe for plain Bavarian Cream pie, and then add my own spin, so I am considering this recipe an original, because I changed it (fairly) significantly.

The original recipe is from this website, and I included all of my changes in the recipe below. I’m going to keep this post short, and sweet, kind of like this pie!

Happy Birthday to my love, Paul!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch pie

For the crust:

1½ c. chocolate cookie crumbs
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted

For the filling:

1 pkg. unflavoured gelatin
¼ c. cold water
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. milk, scalded
1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. heavy cream

To make the crust, spray a 9 inch plate with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press evenly into the pie plate, around the bottom and up the sides. Set aside.

To make the filling, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until thick whipped cream. Transfer to a bowl, and place in the refrigerator to stay cold.

In a small bowl, add the cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over the water to soften. Set aside.

In a heat-proof bowl over a double boiler, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and the milk until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Mix the gelatin mixture and peanut butter into the egg yolk mixture, and whisk until smooth and well-combined. Remove from heat, and let cool until slightly thickened.

In the bowl of a mixer that is completely dry, clean, and grease-free, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks, but not completely dry.

Fold the whipped cream, vanilla and the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Pour into the prepared crust.

Refrigerate until set.

If desired, garnish with peanut butter and chocolate chip ganache. (A 1:1 ratio of heavy cream and peanut butter or chocolate chips, heated together and whisked until smooth)

Tiramisu

Ahh, Tiramisu. The classic Italian dessert. Layers of ladyfinger cookies soaked in a coffee/alcohol mix, with layers of smooth mascarpone cream and a light dusting of cocoa powder on top. Beautiful!

I made this when Paul’s brother Riley came to visit. It had just recently been Riley’s birthday, and well, he said he likes Chocolate, Lemon, and Tiramisu. I figured I already have a recipe on the blog for Chocolate and Lemon cake, but no Tiramisu, so here we were!

I had never made Tiramisu before, and I have to say, having a beautiful layered dessert with minimal effort AND I didn’t have to turn on my oven? Amazing! I got the recipe here, and the only things I didn’t have on hand were espresso, ladyfinger biscuits, and mascarpone cheese. (Be warned: mascarpone cheese is a little on the pricey side, so this is a dessert I would make once in a while, not a regular rotation type dessert.)

Still, easy effort with a high-yield result. Perfect!

dsc_01791992072394381076741.jpg

Ingredients
Yield: 1 8×8 inch square pan

3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
½ c. caster or superfine sugar (I used icing sugar and it worked fine)
½ tsp. vanilla
8 oz. or 250 g. mascarpone cheese
1½ c. espresso coffee, brewed and strong
2-4 tbsp. liquor (I used Kahlua and amaretto, and 2 tbsp. of each)
24-30 ladyfinger cookies or savoiardi biscuits
Cocoa, for dusting

Put the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and set whites aside for later.Add sugar to yolks, and beat on medium high speed until sugar is incorporated, and yolks turn white and thick. (This may take up to 12 minutes.)

Add vanilla and mascarpone, and beat until evenly combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and set aside.

Wash your mixer bowl and whisk thoroughly. Make sure there is no grease or yolk left in the bowl or the egg whites will not whip properly.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture to the egg whites, and fold until incorporated. Gradually fold in the rest of the mascarpone mixture, and mix until combined. Set aside.

Mix together the coffee and liquor. (If you don’t like Kahlua or amaretto, there are tons of different options. Brandy, Kahlua, amaretto, Frangelico, rum, Bailey’s, go with what you like!) Quickly soak the lady finger cookies, one at a time, in the coffee mixture, and line the bottom of an 8×8 inch square pan.

Spread half of the mascarpone cream over the soaked ladyfingers, then repeat the process of soaked ladyfingers over the cream layer, finished with the rest of the cream.

Do not put cocoa on until right before serving, or the cream will soak it all up.

When ready to serve, dust with cocoa powder, cut into slices, and enjoy!

Pavlova with Lemon Curd

When I think of pavlova, I think of my dear friend Rita. She was the first person who introduced me to the deliciousness of pavlova, and did so in such a beautiful way that it will always be cemented in my memory. A strawberry-kiwi pavlova with whipped cream. Amazing.

With the end of the school year comes goodbyes. These goodbyes are always hard, and one of these hard goodbyes was to my fellow staff at my school. Teaching contracts can be finicky things if you don’t have a permanent or continuing contract, which I didn’t this year. Hence, we had to say goodbye.

For our year-end staff get-together, we decided to have a potluck. Considering my luck with cheesecake (you might remember my Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake), both myself and my fellow staff members were all for me making dessert, and I wanted it to be something special. Paul was the genius that suggested pavlova, and I had everything in the fridge to make it, including cream to make whipped cream to top it. The only thing I didn’t have was the fruit.

I bought strawberries and peaches, and made simple fruit toppings to go with the pavlova, the lemon curd, and the whipped cream. The original recipe I found here. I have found that pavlova is not particularly difficult to make, but is time-consuming. Still, the results were worth it. I will let you know, pavlovas are traditionally Australian, and are meant to be crisp on the outside, and slightly gooey and marshmallow-esque on the inside. These ended up practically perfect.

I made a few changes to the recipe, none very special or important. Instead of making one large pavlova, I made a dozen small, individual-sized servings. This made it much easier to serve. Either way, I was very pleased with the results, so were my staff members, and so was Paul. It was a win-win-win situation. This is the perfect summer dessert; light, airy, fruity, sweet, tart. It’s got a bit of everything you need.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 large pavlova, or 12 small servings

For the pavlova:

6 egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. white vinegar

For the lemon curd:

Zest of one lemon
1 ¼ c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened and at room temperature
4 eggs
½ c. lemon juice
Pinch of salt

For the fruit topping:

¼ c. sugar
1/8 c. water
2-3 c. frozen fruit (I used strawberries and peaches)
2 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with 2 tsp. cold water

For the whipped cream:

1 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 395°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. If making one pavlova, trace a cheesecake ring on the parchment paper and flip so the traced circle is next to the baking tray. If making 12 portions, line two trays with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, not stopping the mixer until mixture is thick and glossy, and the sugar is completely incorporated. Add the cornstarch with the last tablespoon of sugar. Whip until sugar is completely dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, use a spatula to fold in the vanilla and vinegar.

Spoon the meringue into the ring on the prepared pan, or the twelve portions on the two pans. Make the centers slightly depressed and the edges slightly higher, so the meringue forms a shallow bowl shape.

Place the meringue into the oven, and IMMEDIATELY lower the oven to 210°F. Bake for 1½ – 2 hours, until the outside of the meringue feels dry and crisp. Turn off the oven, and leave the pavlova in the oven to cool completely.

For the lemon curd, in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler), combine all curd ingredients, and whisk until combined. Whisking constantly, the mixture will thicken over the course of 15-20 minutes. When the mixture coats the back of a spoon, and does not run easily off, it is done.

Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap until cool.

To make the fruit topping, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan until thickened and smooth. Fruit will cook down until tender and soft. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

To make the whipped cream, combine all ingredients in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until thick and smooth.

To assemble, slice pavlova, or take a pavlova round and place on the serving dish. Top with lemon curd, the fruit topping, and whipped cream, and enjoy!

 

Nanaimo Bar Tart


Well, another original recipe. This recipe came about quite suddenly. Paul and I had been talking about tortes and tarts, and my mind just started wandering when Paul went to work.

I wondered if a Nanaimo Bar Tart could possibly work, and started thinking…. I took a shortbread recipe for the crust, and changed it up a bit, as well as using the custard powder and turning it into a thick custard, topping it off with a smooth chocolate topping.


I threw it all in the fridge to set up. That was the hard part – waiting for it to set to make sure that everything tasted good and worked together. However, the waiting and experimentation paid off, because WOW did taste good!

The tart turned out very good, but very rich, and already I’m cursing the slightly-bigger-than-normal piece that I cut for myself and finished with gusto because it was just THAT good. Either way, if you are a Nanaimo Bar fan, then this tart should be right up your alley!

Enjoy an original recipe! 🙂

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch tart

For the tart shell:

1 c. butter
1¼ c. flour
¾c. coconut
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa

For the custard layer:

¼ c. plus 1 tbsp. custard powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. sugar
2½ c. milk

For the chocolate layer:

½ c. butter
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add in the flour, coconut, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together until combined, and press into the tart pan and up the sides, trying to make as uniform and even as possible.

Bake the tart shell in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, and set aside to cool while making the filling.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the custard powder and sugar, then gradually pour in the vanilla and milk while whisking to create a cohesive sauce with no lumps. Whisk over a medium heat until a full boil and the custard thickens, whisking frequently. Once the custard thickens, pour into the cooled tart shell and let thicken and cool.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate chips and melt on short bursts, combining until smooth.

Once the custard has thickened more, and formed a skin on top, pour the chocolate over top of the tart and even out, being careful not to mix the custard into the chocolate.

Let cool and set completely, in the fridge or on a wire rack, then slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.