Written By Cynthia Annett-Hynes Dessert / Recipes Dec 31, 2011 Chocolate Charlotte: Watch the Video SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter PinterestWatch the video Photography by Caroline WestRecipes and Food Styling by Denise Marchessault for EAT MagazineChocolate Charlotte Yield: 10 – 12 servingsWatch the videoThis beautiful cake involves several steps but each section is very simple. It consists of an easy sponge cake, the “ladyfinger” exterior, and a luscious chocolate mousse filling.Don’t be daunted by the length of the recipe instructions. This is no more difficult to make than a layered cake. To understand the assembly of the charlotte, read the recipe through to the end before you start.As with all baking formulas, it is more accurate to weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale rather than rely on standard measuring cups or units. (Local farm eggs, for example, vary greatly in weight and size; if you weigh the yolks, you will be certain you have the correct amount.) I’ve offered both metric and Imperial measurements but if you enjoy baking, a handy kitchen scale is well worth the small investment.You will need a few pieces of equipment to help you along:Two pastry bags with a round nozzle tip approximately ¾” (2 cm) in diameter: One to pipe the ladyfingers and one to pipe the mousse into the lined charlotte. A springform pan or round stainless steel ring mold, approximately 8” (20 cm) diameter by 2 ½” (6.5 cm) height. Don’t worry if you can’t find the exact size, the recipe can be easily adapted to any size mold; simply increase or decrease the number of ladyfingers and amount of mousse accordingly. If you don’t have one handy, you can fashion one from tin foil. A round piece of cardboard which will be a temporary base for your charlotte. I make my own; it doesn’t have to look pretty as it will be discarded later. You can buy cardboard cake bases from craft stores or decorating stores. A thermometer to test the chocolate temperature is handy, but not essential. Parchment paper or a non-stick baking liner (such as Silpat) A cake platter and some festive ribbon to show off your creation.Cake Base and Ladyfinger Sponge Yield: One cake base 7 ¼” (18.5 cm) diameter Yield: 30 ladyfingers approx. 1 ¼” (3 cm) wide x 3 ½” (9 cm) length Note: You will need only 18 to 20 ladyfingers for your charlotte. You’ll have plenty leftover for a hostess gift or to enjoy au naturel. Ladyfingers freeze well. 6 egg whites (180 ml) 180 grams white sugar (¾ cup + 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp) 6 egg yolks (180 ml) 180 grams all purpose flour (1¼ cups) Pinch of cream of tartar A small amount icing sugar for dustingPreheat oven to 365F.Line two baking trays with parchment or Silpat. Place the cardboard base on top of one of the lined trays, and the ring mold on top of cardboard. (This will allow you to move your charlotte from the kitchen counter to the refrigerator without any mishaps.)In a large bowl, combine egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar. With a hand-held or stand-up mixer, whip the egg whites for a few minutes at medium-low speed. Don’t rush this process because whisking egg whites too quickly will produce unstable egg whites that can easily deflate. Gradually add approximately half of the sugar; increase the speed to high just until you have a glossy firm peak. Over-whipping the egg whites can turn beautifully shiny egg whites into a curdled mess.Add the balance of the sugar to the eggs yolks and whisk until the yolks turn pale yellow. This can be done by hand but it’s much easier to do with a standup mixer.Gently fold the yolk mixture into the meringue (egg white mixture) in two or three batches. Gently fold in the flour until it is well incorporated. (I like to add the flour with a sifter so I don’t accidentally pour in too much at once.)You should have a light, smooth batter. Don’t be concerned if the batter is somewhat loose. It will puff up once it’s in the oven.The mixture is now ready to scoop into a piping bag. You will find it easier to manage the piping bag if you use a narrow canister or large-mouthed glass to hold the piping bag in place while you fill it. Simply tuck the narrow end of the bag into the container (tip side down) and roll the large end of the bag over the edge of the container to hold it in place.Cake Base Place the ring mold or (bottomless) springform mold on one of the parchment-lined trays. Using the mold as a guide, pipe a spiral of batter, starting at the centre of the mold to the edge of the mold. Alternatively, you can pour the batter into the mold. (Using a piping bag is much neater and offers more control.)Ladyfingers Pipe 3 ½” (9 cm) lengths of batter, approximately ¾” (2 cm) thick onto your lined baking tray, leaving at least ½” (1.5 cm) between each ladyfinger. Don’t worry about less-than-perfect ladyfingers. They will be trimmed to fit.Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the cake base and each ladyfinger with the icing sugar.Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, turning the pans in the oven halfway through the baking. The ladyfingers should be lightly puffed and just turning golden. The cake base will take a few minutes more than the ladyfingers.Loosen the edges of the cake from the mold with a knife; carefully remove the cake base (from the ring mold) and place it on a rack to cool. Using a sifter or a fine-mesh sieve, lightly sprinkle one side of the cake base again with icing sugar.Once the cake is cooled, trim the cake approximately ½” smaller than the mold. (This will make room for the ladyfingers.)To ensure the ladyfingers are the same height, fold a piece of parchment the same height as your mold and place it on your countertop. Line the ladyfingers on the folded parchment making sure each ladyfinger is the same height. Trim the bottoms of the ladyfingers; they should be flat at the bottom end so they can stand upright in the mold.Assembling the Charlotte Using a tray that will fit into your fridge, place the cardboard cake round on the tray and then place the ring mold directly on top of the cardboard. The cardboard acts as a temporary base for the cake.Now, place the trimmed cake, sugar side down, directly on the centre of the cardboard. You should have a half inch (1.5 cm) gap between the cake and the ring mold.Line the inside of the ring (the gap) with the ladyfingers, flat sides facing in. You want a snug fit so use as many ladyfingers as you need. (You will have leftovers.) Loosely cover the empty charlotte with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mousse is ready. This step can be done well in advance and frozen until ready to use.Chocolate Mousse The key to this mousse is the temperature of the chocolate. It should be completely melted but not too hot. The ideal temperature is 50 degrees Celsius (122 F), which is warm, not hot, to the touch. If you have a kitchen thermometer handy, use it.500 grams (1 lb. 1.6 oz.) good quality dark chocolate, chopped 1 litre (4 cups) 35% crea m 1 large whisk 1 piping bag with nozzle, fitted over a narrow canister as described abovePlace a large metal bowl over a saucepan filled with one inch of barely simmering water (the bowl should not touch the simmering water).Add the chopped chocolate and 250 ml (1 cup) 35% cream to the bowl. Gently melt the chocolate with the cream, stirring occasionally, until it is fully melted, but not overly hot. The chocolate should not exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 F).In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with a wire whisk, add the remaining 750 ml (3 cups) whipping cream. Whisk the cream until it is thickened only; the cream should not be firm enough to hold its shape. When you remove the whisk from the bowl, the cream should drip off in thick beads.With a whisk, a piping bag and lined charlotte mold close at hand, pour the warm melted chocolate, all at once, into the barely whipped cream. Combine with a whisk until the chocolate mousse is uniform in colour. The texture will firm as you combine the chocolate with the cream.Pour the mixture into a piping bag or directly into the lined mold, almost to the top of the ladyfingers. Leave enough room, approx. 1 cm (¼”), at the top for garnishing with candied cranberries. Smooth the mousse with an offset spatula or a knife.Place the charlotte in the refrigerator or the freezer if you’re preparing this in advance. When the charlotte is completely firm, approx. 45 minutes, wrap with plastic and store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.Candied Cranberries 300 g package cranberries (10.6 ounces) 140 grams (⅔ cup) sugar 250 mls (1 cup) port 55 grams (½ cup) sug ar for dusting 1 parchment-lined tray Combine the cranberries, ⅔ cup sugar and port in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture just until the sugar has melted. You do not want to boil the mixture or the cranberries will rupture. Remove the mixture from the stove and allow to cool. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.Drain the port-infused cranberries, reserving the liquid for the cranberry compote.Sprinkle a parchment-lined tray with sugar and select about 30 of your best-looking berries. (Reserve the balance of the berries for the compote.) The beauty is in the symmetry, so aim for similar sized berries.Toss the drained berries in the sugar, shaking the tray to roll and coat the berries in sugar. The candied cranberries can be used immediately or frozen for later use.Garnishing the Charlotte To remove the mold from the charlotte, place a warm damp cloth on the cold metal ring to warm it and then carefully lift and remove the mold.You may wish to re-dust the ladyfingers with a bit of icing sugar once the mold has been removed. Before you do this, make sure the charlotte is firm enough to hold at and angle (for dusting with icing) and the chocolate mousse portion is covered with plastic wrap.With a cake platter in front of you, lift the charlotte, peel off the cardboard base, and carefully place the centre of the platter.Decorate the top of the cake with candied cranberries and a sprig of washed holly, if desired. Wrap the charlotte in some festive ribbon. Stand back and admire.The charlotte tastes best when left at room temperature approx. 30 minutes before serving. To neatly cut the charlotte, dip a knife in warm water and wipe clean after each slice. Serve with cranberry compote, if desired.—————————————————————-Chocolate Mousse with Pear Chips and Chocolate LeavesYield 8 – 12 servings, depending on the size of the containerMousse 500 g ( 1 lb. 1.6 oz.) good quality dark chocolate, chopped1 litre 35% cream (4 cups)Large wire whisk1 dozen sherry or shot glassesParchment paperPiping bag fitted with a nozzle, optionalIf you wish to make a collar for sherry or shot glasses, simply wrap parchment paper around them and secure with tape or kitchen twine. Prepare your containers prior to preparing the mousse.The key to this mousse is the temperature of the chocolate. It should be completely melted but not too hot. The ideal temperature is 50 degrees Celsius, which is warm, not hot, to the touch. If you have a kitchen thermometer handy, use it.In a metal bowl that fits over the saucepan of barely simmering water, add the chopped chocolate and 250 ml (1 cup) 35% cream. The bowl should not touch the hot water. Gently melt the chocolate and cream, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is fully melted, but not overly hot. The chocolate should not exceed 50 degrees Celsius.In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with a wire whisk, add the remaining 750 ml whipping cream. Whisk the cream until it is thickened only. The cream should not be firm enough to hold its shape. When you remove the whisk from the bowl, the cream should drip off in thick beads.With a whisk, a piping bag and your parchment-wrapped glasses close at hand, pour the warm melted chocolate, all at once into the barely whipped cream. Combine with a whisk until the chocolate mousse is uniform in colour. The texture will firm as you combine the chocolate with the cream.The mixture is now ready to pour into a piping bag. You will find it easier to manage the piping bag if you use a narrow canister or large-mouthed glass to hold the piping bag in place while you fill it. Simply tuck the narrow end of the bag into the container (tip side down) and roll the large end of the bag over the edge of the container to hold it in place.Immediately pipe the mixture into the glasses. The parchment will allow you to fill the glasses well beyond the rim. Freeze or refrigerate until completely set, approximately 40 minutes. Pear ChipsOne firm, washed pear1 cup sugar (200 grams)1 cup water (250 mls)Lemon zest (white pith removed) from 1/2 lemon, optionalA mandoline or single-blade slicer to cut the pear into very thin slicesA parchment-lined baking tray.Preheat oven to 200F.Combine the sugar, water and lemon zest in a small saucepan and heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat until ready to use.Slice the pear into paper-thin slices using a mandoline or single-blade slicer/grater.Using a pastry brush coat, both sides of each pear slice with the sugar-water solution. Place the coated slices on the parchment-lined tray, being careful not to overlap the slices.Dry in a low oven for 2 to 3 hours. To test the chips, remove the tray from the oven and allow the pears to cool outside for 10 minutes (away from a humid kitchen). Gently peel the pears from the parchment. If the pears are firm and crisp, they are ready. If not, continue to dry them in the oven for another half hour and test again.The pear chips can be made a few days ahead of time and kept in a covered container. Chocolate Leaves200 g (7 ounces) good quality chocolate, chopped into small piecesSmall, firm leaves, washed and completely dried (small bay leaves work nicely)Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a saucepan filled with one inch of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water. When the chocolate has just melted, dip the cleaned leaves into the chocolate and place the chocolate covered leaves on a parchment-lined tray. Alternatively, the chocolate can be painted on with a clean, completely dry, pastry brush. Try to coat only one side of each leaf with chocolate as this will make it easier to remove. Place the leaves in the refrigerator to firm the chocolate.Once the chocolate has firmed, carefully peel back the leaf from the chocolate and voila! you have a beautiful chocolate leaf garnish.To serve the mousse, remove from the refrigerator approximately 20 minutes before serving. Remove the parchment collar and garnish with the pear chip and chocolate leaf just before serving.DessertRecipes SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter Pinterest Written By: Cynthia Annett-Hynes ... Read More You may also like Dessert / Recipes July 13, 2020 Panna Cotta with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries and Basil Sugar Story and recipe and photography by: Isabelle Bulota Strawberry season has arrived! There is so much we can do with this delicious, beautiful ... 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