A charlotte is one of those classic French desserts that fascinates for its beauty and elegance. Since I bought the Ladurée Sucré book I have desired to make this Strawberry Rhubarb Charlotte recipe. It consists of layers of rhubarb compote, sponge cake and strawberry Bavarian cream trimmed with ladyfingers. Seeing that its main ingredients are in season, there is no better time than now to conquer this dessert.
This was the first time I made a charlotte. I preferred to make the classic version, which uses ladyfingers surrounding the cake. On the book, they used a green sponge cake. But both choices are beautiful.
Maybe you are thinking that making ladyfingers can be a challenge, but it is not that difficult. Follow all the steps carefully and you will get perfect ones. I was so excited when I got mine!
The classic combination of strawberry and rhubarb in this recipe as a Bavarian cream and compote makes this duo even better. And the fresh berries on top combined with a pretty ribbon certainly are the perfect finish that makes this dessert so impressive.
Charlotte Rhubarbe Fraises
Strawberry Rhubarb Charlotte
from the book Ladurée Sucré
For 8 people
8 ½ oz/ 240 g rhubarb, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ tbsp (20 g) granulated sugar + 2 tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
2 tsp (6 g) pectin (powder)
4 gelatin sheets (1 tbsp / 7 g powdered gelatin)
3 1/3 tbsp (50g) water
Using a small knife, peel the rhubarb, pulling off strings. Roughly chop. In a bowl, mix the ¼ cup/45 g sugar with the pectin. Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl of very cold water. Allow to soften for 10 minutes. Drain well, squeezing hard to remove all excess liquid, and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the ½ cup / 120 ml of water to lukewarm. Dissolve the sugar and pectin mixture in the water. Bring to a boil and while stirring constantly, add the chopped rhubarb. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, just long enough for the rhubarb to break down. When completely soft, add the remaining sugar and stir gently. Remove from heat and incorporate the softened, drained gelatin.
Transfer the rhubarb compote to a rectangular baking dish and spread out in a thin, even layer. Allow to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Ladyfinger sponge cake
1 cup /120 g all purpose flour
2/3 cup / 120 g potato starch
½ cup +2 tbsp / 125 g granulated sugar
¼ cup / 30 g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
Equipment: piping bag fitted with a 1/2 – inch/ 10-mm plain tip
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. On 2 of 3 sheets, draw a 7-inch / 18cm diameter circle.
Sift together the flour and potato starch.
Separate the egg whites and yolks.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until pale. In another large dry bowl, with a clean whisk, bring the egg whites to foam. Once they are white and frothy, add the remaining half of the sugar and continue to whip until firm.
Right away, gently fold the sugar and egg yolk mixture into the whipped egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the flour and potato starch over the mixture. Gently combine: start with the spatula in the center of the bowl, work up the sides of the bowl and bring the mixture back down towards the center, all the while turning the bowl regularly. Continue until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture.
Preheat the oven to 340°F/ 170°C.
Transfer a portion of the batter to the piping bag fitted with the 2/5-inch / 10-mm tip and pipe 35 ladyfingers 2 1/3 x ¾-inch / 6x2-cm onto the baking sheet lined with a blank piece of parchment paper. Using a fine mesh sieve or sifter, sprinkle half of the confectioners’ sugar over the piper batter. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer remaining batter to the piping bag fitted with ½-inch / 14 mm plain tip. Pipe 2 disks in a spiral on the prepared baking sheets, filling in the drawn circles. Dust the tops of the 35 piped ladyfingers again with the remaining confectioners’ sugar. Immediately place all 3 sheets in the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes until lightly colored. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
1 ¾ cups / 250 g strawberries
5 gelatin sheets (1 ¼ tbsp / 9 g powdered gelatin)
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp / 75 g granulated sugar
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp / 100 ml whole milk
2/3 cup / 150 ml heavy (double) cream, very cold
2 ½ cups / 375g strawberries, medium size for assembly
Place a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
Wash the strawberries, drain on a dish towel and hull. Put the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of very cold water. Allow to soften for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs yolks and sugar until slightly pale. Drain the gelatin sheets, squeezing out all excess liquid, and set aside.
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Pour a third of the hot milk over the egg yolk and sugar mixture (to temper the yolks). Whisk together and pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens. It should coat the spoon when ready; if you run your finger down the back of the spoon, the custard should not run back into the line. Important: the custard should never come to a boil. (It should cook at a maximum of 185°F/ 85°C.)
As soon as the custard has this consistency, remove from heat and add the drained gelatin to stop the cooking. Pour into a large bowl. Continue to stir for 5 minutes so that the Bavarian cream stays smooth. Allow to cool completely.
Add the hulled strawberries, and using an immersion hand blender or electric mixer, blend together. Keep in the refrigerator just long enough for the Bavarian cream to begin to set.
Beginning of Assembly
Line the mould with aluminum foil to make unmolding easier. If necessary, cut the baked disks of sponge cake to fit properly in the mold. They should be 2/5 inch / 1 cm thick. If they are too thick, trim as needed. Place the first disk of cake in the mold. Place the ladyfingers vertically, set against the inside of the mold, the tops facing out. Fill with the jellied rhubarb compote and keep in the refrigerator.
Final steps for Bavarian Cream and Assembly
Remove the chilled bowl from the freezer. Pour in the very cold heavy cream and whisk energetically until it thickens and becomes firm. Mix the strawberry Bavarian cream, barely set, until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream. Keep at room temperature.
Wash the strawberries (for assembly), drain on a dish towel and hull. Slice 7/8 cup / 125 g of the strawberries to a thickness of 1/5 inch / 5 mm. remove the assembled preparation from the refrigerator. Using a ladle, pour a thin layer of Bavarian cream halfway up the mold and place the second disk of sponge cake (2/5 inch / 1 cm thick) on top. Arrange the strawberry slices on the cake and lightly cover with Bavarian cream, keeping below the edge of the mold. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Decorate the surface of the cake with the remaining fresh strawberries.