Charlie’s Chocolate Charlotte for his 8th Birthday! (how to make your own ladyfingers!)

Chocolate Charlotte Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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 chocolate 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

Special equipment:

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!


Parchment Paper Sheets – 13 × 18

18-Inch by 12–Inch Heavy Gauge baking sheet pan

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

mixer with two Bowls and two Wire Whip attachments (one for the whites and one for the yolks. If you bake a lot this is a great investment!) or one of each plus a Hand Mixer

Chocolate charlotte baking tins | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Egg yolks and egg whites next to beaters | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Beating egg yolks and egg white in separate bowls | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Sifting flour into beaten eggs | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Sift 1/2 of the flour over the eggs.

Ladyfinger dough | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Piping ladyfingers onto baking sheet | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Dusting ladyfingers with powdered sugar | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Dusting ladyfingers with powdered sugar | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Prepare the two mousse recipes! The white chocolate mousse is made exactly the same way as the Dark chocolate!

Charlotte cake molds | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Line the bottom of the Charlotte mold with a round of parchment. This is insurance that you Charlotte will pop right out.

Ladyfingers in a baking tin | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Overlap the ladyfingers slightly when placing them around the mold. This will insure that there are no gaps.

Piping chocolate mousse | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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.

Chocolate Charlotte Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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!

40 thoughts to “Charlie’s Chocolate Charlotte for his 8th Birthday! (how to make your own ladyfingers!)”

  1. Wow, what a birthday treat! I love that he wanted a Charlotte. The dessert is gorgeous and he is very handsome. What a fun birthday!

  2. Delicious looking Charlotte and your son is adorable. Love your little Charlotte molds and such a deal too. I just made my first Charlotte last month and I know it won’t be my last.

  3. Oh such a precious young man! And how fortunate to have him by your side and interested in cooking. All three of mine make a mean “One-Eyed Sailor!” hahahaha

    I’m coveting your tiny charlotte molds and your extra KA mixing bowl. This is an amazing recipe — so decadent and beautiful. You are so talented!

  4. You know, I saw Charlotte molds yesterday, and I seriously contemplated buying them. Now that I’ve seen yours and Charlie’s genius post, I think I need to go back and get them. This dessert looks just fabulous. Great job, Charlie!! Happy Birthday!

  5. Homemade ladyfingers are an absolute MUST! They taste so much better than store bought – and don’t increase the difficulty that much. Great photos and steps. Really great site.

  6. happy birthday to charlie! i am in love with your charlotte molds. i have two and i keep them like such treasures. beautiful!

  7. Your son is so gorgeous! I came here because I saw the image of your charlotte on Tastespotting. It caught my attention because it’s so simply elegant. When I got here, I was dazzled by the images of the process and the product, but the one thing more beautiful than the dessert is your son. You are blessed with talent and your son.

  8. Happy Birthday to Charlie! How ever did they get so big, so fast. And as always, I feel that I’m an inadequate mom to my kids (food-wise) when I read your site. *sigh* Mine get DQ cake for their birthdays.

  9. Happy Birthday Charlie! I LOVE that you like to cook & help your mom out. This is great!

    I love the Charlotte molds – so elegant! I will have to try making lady fingers you made it seem so easy!

  10. Awwww. Those are so beautiful and very tasty looking. I love, love, love home made lady finger. You are quite blessed to have such an adorable little helper!

  11. Happy Birthday to Charlie! 🙂

    Got your book and made your fantastic bread today for the first time. I was impressed with the results. It went nicely with a homemade guinea hen terrine, some pickled vegetables and a mache salad. I’ll try to blog about it one of these days. Thanks!

  12. Hi Zoe,

    What a lucky guy! Any child growing up with someone as talented as you has got to end up with wonderful kitchen skills. I love the idea Charlie created. Happy Birthday kiddo!

    How long did the process take you? I just love antique store finds!

  13. What beautiful charlottes! And your son is such a handsome young man! Your pictures are always such a perfect teaching tool, as well. 🙂

  14. Charlie is so adorable!The dessert is beautiful..and I am coveting the small Charlotte Molds.
    They are so cute!
    Our daughter is expecting baby #3 in Sept.. IF she is a girl..They love “Charlotte”.:)

  15. What a beautiful creation and so very artistic. I haven’t made a Charlotte for many years and have been thinking about it a lot the past few weeks. You have inspired me to have a go, I will try our your recipe for the biscuits, thanks for sharing.

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