Charlotte Chantilly | JC100 – Week 9

Well…

Looks like I have been forced to bake again for this weeks Julia Child recipe.

This time it’s the Charlotte Chantilly with strawberries, a wonderfully creamy dessert encased in delicious homemade ladyfingers. As was mentioned on my previous baking effort, which happened to be my first for the blog, I had earned myself a 100% track record by successfully baking the Reine De Saba.

Now maybe my confidence was a little too high this time around, as I successfully completed the difficult part (though not very), of baking the lady fingers, I felt like I was on track for another success… Well folks, I was then graced by my very first minor baking disaster! As I was beating the egg yolks and sugar for the Chantilly, everything was going great. I had beat them until ribbony and pale yellow, then continued beating over not quite simmering water until hot to the touch, then proceeded to the last step of beating them while chilling.

This is where disaster strikes and my brain fails.

As I’m beating the yolks over a bowl of ice and water, I realize I could use a little more water. So I turn on my tap, and fill up the bowl some more, but of course I fill it too much, so I pour some (too much) out and once again need to put a little more in. Now instead of grabbing the bowl of water again, I grab the egg yolk mixture and swiftly put it under the running tap…

Crap.

All my hard work down the drain. Literally. So as any diligent cook/baker would, I suck it up, toss it out and start all over again. Fortunately I halved the recipe, so only four eggs and some sugar went to waste, unfortunately it was already midnight and I really wanted to go to bed!

In the end it all turned out well! While the dessert didn’t stay as molded together as I had hoped it would, it still tasted wonderful!

So here’s the recipe!

Ladyfingers

for 24 to 30 ladyfingers
Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • 2 12×14 inch baking sheets
  • 1 Tb Softened butter
  • Flour
  • A pastry bag with a round tube opening 1/2 inch in diameter
  • 1½ Cups powdered sugar in a sieve or a shaker

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Prepare the baking sheets: butter lightly, dust with flour, and knock off excess flour. Assemble the pastry bag. Prepare the powdered sugar. Measure out all the rest of the ingredients listed in the recipe.

The Batter
  • An electric beater or a wire whip
  • ½ Cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla extract
  • A 3-quart mixing bowl
  • 3 Eggs whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tb granulated sugar
  • A rubber spatula
  • ½ Cup all-purpose flour (scooped and leveled), turned into a flour sifter

Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks, add the vanilla, and continue beating for several minutes until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and forms ribbons.

Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

Scoop one fourth of the egg whites over the top of the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Sift on one fourth of the flour, and delicately fold in until partially blended. Then add one third of the remaining egg whites, sift on one third of the remaining flour, fold until partially blended, and repeat with half of each, then the last of each. Do not attempt to blend the mixture too thoroughly or you will deflate the batter; it must remain light and puffy.

Forming the ladyfingers

Scoop batter into pastry bag. Squeeze out even lines onto the prepared baking sheets, making finger shapes 4 inches long and 1½ inches wide, spaced 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with a 1/16-inch layer of powdered sugar. To dislodge some of the excess sugar, hold baking sheet upside down and tap the back of it gently; the ladyfingers will not budge unless you are rough with them.

Baking the ladyfingers

Bake in the middle and upper third levels of preheated oven for about 20 minutes. The ladyfingers are done when they are a very pale brown underneath their sugar coating. They should be slightly crusty outside, and tender but dry inside. If they are not baked enough, they will become soggy when they cool; overbaking makes them dry. As soon as they are done, remove from baking sheets with a spatula and cool on cake racks.

Charlotte Chantilly, Aux Fraises/Framboises

(Strawberry or Raspberry Cream – a cold dessert) – Serves 8-10 people

Here is another handsome molded dessert; this one is also relatively quick to execute. But unless the egg yolks are well thickened, and then chilled before the cream is folded in, the dessert will collapse rather quickly. If you do not wish to serve it unmolded, turn the cream into a serving bowl or into dessert cups. You may use frozen fruit instead of fresh, but be sure the fruit is well thawed and most thoroughly drained, otherwise the puree will be too liquid.

  • A round of waxed paper
  • A 2-quart cylindrical mold about 4 inches high and 7 inches in diameter, lined with ladyfingers
  • 1½ Pints fresh strawberries or raspberries
  • A wire whip or electric beater
  • A 3-quart stainless steel mixing bowl
  • 2/3 Cup instant sugar (very finely granulated)
  • 8 Egg yolks
  • A Pan of not-quite-simmering water
  • A bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water to cover them
  • 2½ Cups chilled heavy whipping cream
  • A 4-quart metal bowl
  • A chilled beater
  • Extra ladyfingers, if needed
  • A round of waxed paper
  • A chilled serving dish
  • 1-3 cups fresh strawberries or raspberries

Place the round of waxed paper in the bottom of the unbuttered mold. Then line the sides of the mold (not the bottom) with upright ladyfingers.

Hull, wash, and drain the berries. Force them through a sieve and into a bowl. Measure out 1¼ cups of puree. Chill.

Beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating until mixture is pale yellow and falls back on itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Then place the mixing bowl over the not-quite-simmering water and beat until mixture has thickened into a cream and becomes uncomfortably hot for your finger. Set bowl in ice water and beat until mixture is cold and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon on the surface; fold with a spatula until chilled.

When the egg yolk mixture has chilled, beat the cream until it has doubled in volume and forms stiff (rather than soft) peaks.

Fold the chilled strawberry or raspberry puree into the chilled egg yolk mixture, then fold in the whipped cream. Turn into the mold. Place ladyfingers over the cream to fill the mold almost completely. Trim off any protruding ladyfingers around the edges of the mold. Cover with waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, remove waxed paper, run a knife around the edge of the mold, and reverse dessert onto a chilled serving dish. Remove waxed paper. Decorate the top of the dessert with fresh berries and, if you wish, place more berries around the dessert.

It’s a bit of a long recipe to read through, but is actually quite simple to make, so don’t be afraid! If you are looking to take the quicker and safer route, I would definitely crush up some lady fingers into a bottom of a dessert cup and fill it with the Chantilly instead of fussing around with lining a mold and all that jazz!

Enjoy,

Bob

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