Happy Birthday Charlie! You are the best sous chef a mom could ever ask for!
Not to be outdone by his brother’s Valentine’s dessert, Charlie designed these little cakes for his 8th birthday. Complete with layers of different chocolate mousse, a drizzle of caramel and topped with cream and berries. He instructed me to put strips of cake around the outside to hold it all in. Voila, he had built a Charlotte in his mind! The kid is a genius! (in my humble, unbiased opinion ;))
Charlie has helped me in the kitchen ever since he could drag a stool over to the counter. He cracks eggs like pro, knows how to use a kitchen scale and is going to have better knife skills than I do someday soon. He already makes his own crepes, aebleskivers and bread, of course! He has passion in the kitchen and that special touch it takes to be a great chef! And a proud mom!
Sponge Ladyfingers from The Simple Art of Perfect Baking:
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cake flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (100 grams) powdered sugar
Dark Chocolate Mousse: I made this mousse, but left out the cinnamon
White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Mousse from The Secrets of Baking.
White chocolate ganache:
8 ounces white chocolate, cut into very small pieces
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon cornsyrup
1 tablespoon rum
For the white chocolate mousse:
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
pinch cream of tartar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Caramel Sauce: I made this caramel sauce but did not use the chai spices!
1/2 cup whipping cream, lightly whipped for garnish
Berries for garnish
Charlotte molds (either 1 large or 6-8 small) I was lucky enough to find mine at an antique store. They were selling them as a set of “soup bowls with lids” for $12. Was it wrong that I didn’t tell them what they really were and their worth??? Keep your eyes peeled for these types of things!
18-inch or 24-inch Pastry Bags You need a bag that can fit all of the lady finger batter at one time.
large round #4 Plain Pastry Tip
I used small Charlotte molds. Whatever size you are using you need to measure the height of the wall and that is how long your lady fingers will be. Prepare the pan with parchment that has had the length of the ladyfingers marked on them. Be sure the rows are separated by an inch.
I bent one of my round pastry tips so that it would be an oval. This will give you a slightly flatter ladyfinger, which is desirable. It does mean permanently changing the tip!
To make the ladyfingers:
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Measure your Charlotte molds and draw the lines on your parchment paper.
Fit your pastry bag with the large round tip.
Sift together the flour and 1/4 cup of sugar 3 times, set aside.
In one mixing bowl whip the egg yolks until thick, pale in color and when you lift the beater out the yolks rest on top of themselves for several seconds before melting back in. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
In the second bowl whip the egg whites on low speed until just bubbly, about 30 seconds, add the cream of tartar. Turn the speed to medium and whip until soft peaks. Slowly sprinkle the 1/4 cup of sugar over the whites and whip until thick and glossy peaks for, about 2 minutes.
Immediately pour the yolks over the meringue and gently fold them together. Don’t worry if you still see steaks of yolks, they will all combine when you add the flour.
Sift 1/2 of the flour over the eggs.
Using the whip attachment gently fold the flour into the eggs. Be sure to start at the bottom and come up through the eggs to get the flour off the bottom of the bowl. Repeat with the rest of the flour.
Quickly put all of the lady finger batter into the pastry bag. The batter will deflate if you leave any in the bowl and you will not be able to use it. Pipe the ladyfingers on your marked parchment. Make sure to leave about 1/2-inch between each one.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Bake for about 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the ladyfinger. They should be very pale in color, but fully set.
Immediately slide a spatula under the ladyfingers. They come off the parchment more easily when warm. If you are not using the ladyfingers right away, wrap them well and freeze them. They stale very quickly at room temperature.
Line the bottom of the Charlotte mold with a round of parchment. This is insurance that you Charlotte will pop right out.
Overlap the ladyfingers slightly when placing them around the mold. This will insure that there are no gaps.
pipe in the dark chocolate mousse half way up the lady fingers.
Pipe the white chocolate mousse to the top of the lady finger mold and cover with plastic.
Refrigerate the molds and allow the mousse to set up for a couple of hours.
Invert the Charlotte onto the plate, decorate with berries and cream and drizzle with a touch of caramel sauce! Enjoy!