I have had that recipe in my head for a while now, I mean we are talking obsession here, a tale Herman Melville would have been able to narrate much better than me; I needed to put this baby to bed, finally park it somewhere or simply just do it… “Go on lad jump!”. You see, I have never made a Charlotte before, a dessert that I particularly fancy for special occasions, it was my birthday cake, nearly always, a synonym of celebrations. We used to order it at the Patisserie, leaving it to the expert hands of the “artisan” tradesman. We went to collect it, it came with a little container of raspberry coulis that I thought would never be enough for the four of us, especially knowing how fond my father was of the red juicy sauce… This week, as I turned a new leaf and saw myself becoming wiser and older again (yeah right) it was now or never, “it’s my birthday and the Spring is here”, I felt lucky!
What was holding me back is that I wanted to recreate the flavours of my childhood, the lovely texture and freshness of the dessert, but I didn’t want to use gelatin. I have a problem with it, I know it’s great, but there, that is how I feel. So how? I remembered a recipe of Tiramisu I used to make in an Italian restaurant twenty years ago ( did I just say that?), it used to set nicely without any other weird interventions, apart from eggs and mascarpone. What about the booze? I am pretty sure that Kirsch liquor played a role in the dessert, it gives it an explosion of freshness… I didn’t fancy driving possibly for an hour in the unlikely hope to find it, so I opted for a dessert wine we sell at work, from Spain, white Grenache ( Garnatxa)… Deep, classy and elegant, a bit like me really.
- 3 firm organic pears
- 500g of Mascarpone
- 4 medium happy eggs
- 1 packet of Lady Fingers or Savoiardy biscuit
- 220g of organic unrefined sugar ( only 120 for the mix, the rest for the pears)
- 20cl of dessert wine
- 250g of organic Raspberries
- 5 cl of Vanilla essence
- 1 organic orange
- 1 leveled tbsp of honey
First of all, allow yourself plenty of space and start peeling the pears that you are going to poach. I picked pears that were still quite firm so they can hold better. I mixed a litre of water with 100g of sugar, the peel of an orange, its juice and a splash of dessert wine. Heat up and place the halved pears in the pan. Let it simmer gently until the knife go through easily…
Ok, for the mix, whisk 4 egg yolks with 120g of sugar. Keep the whites in another bowl as they will be used. Once the mix has whitened, add the mascarpone and whisk well. Add a bit of vanilla essence at that stage and a little splash of the dessert wine…
Whisk the egg whites, on their own, until a really thick like foam forms. Use half of it, the rest can be used for baby meringues if you wish; fold it gently with a spatula into the mascarpone mix…
I used a rectangle cake tin ( well two in fact) and laid them with cling film. It will help when you’ll serve the dish. I first put the biscuits at the bottom and with a tbsp and a steady hand, I soaked them with the dessert wine. This might be a little tricky, don’t over do it, but make sure they get evenly covered. with a spatula, spread them generously with the egg and mascarpone mix, a few slices of poached pears, a few raspberries and repeat the operation until you get to the top. Fold the cling film over, give it a gentle press and store in the fridge for 24 h… Let me tell you, this was a happy moment!
For the raspberry coulis, heat up a pan with 10cl of water, a tbsp of honey and 150 to 200g of raspberries. Simmer until the fruits are all broken down, sieve the juice in another pan and reduce a bit on a gentle heat. Serve cold with a few raspberries and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as myself and my work colleagues did!
Keep Well and Eat Happy