Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 4-19-2015 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
We wanted to make a spectacular dessert to celebrate Moms on Mother’s Day.
This grand Charlotte combines two traditional Mother’s Day gifts, roses, and lots of love. A fitting dessert for the special mom in your life. Ours is made with homemade ladyfingers with heart designs, and then filled with a luscious strawberry mousse! We gild the lily by decorating the cake with rose-shaped strawberries, and tying the whole thing with a fancy red ribbon, set with pearls! Everything is included in this step-by-step baking recipe tutorial!
Besides explaining and showing you lots of baking techniques, we developed a few new innovative ideas with this recipe:
First we created heart patterned ladyfingers to encase a scrumptious and creamy white chocolate strawberry mousse center. We thought it would be fun to decorate ladyfingers instead of using plain ones, and we show you how. At the time of posting this recipe, we haven't seen any colorful ladyfingers as of yet, until now;
Another special recipe idea we created was to build the Charlotte right on the flat serving plate using only the springform pan ring, and we show you how. After building the recipe and refrigerating it to set, we simply removed the springform pan ring, and it's ready to serve right on its platter; no more having annoying and ugly springform pan bottoms stuck to the bottom of the cake while we serve it;
And last, we show you how to make beautiful strawberry roses to adorn the entire recipe!
CAKE RECIPE HELP
When making the ladyfingers, I beat the egg whites first, and then the egg yolks, instead of the other way around, as instructed in most recipes. That way you don't have to clean the bowl from the egg yolks before beating the whites, and worry about getting fat from the yolks getting mixed in and deflating the whites.
For the ladyfingers and cake base:
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar, divided; 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract **For more lemon flavor you can add the zest from 1 lemon to the egg yolk mixture
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to top
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (1/2 pound) powdered) sugar, sifted; scoop into measuring cup and level to top and then sift.
For the charlotte:
1 recipe White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse, with changes * See Step II, below for information; Make mousse in the beginning of Step II - do not make ahead.
2 - 3 pounds (about 18) medium-sized strawberries; Do not get huge strawberries for this project. Try to find strawberries that are medium sized and uniform in shape, for the strawberry roses
1 9-inch springform pan- You will not be using the insert, just the outer ring of the pan
2 half sheet pans
Parchment paper to line pans
Disposable piping bags
Ateco #806 piping tip
Wilton #3 piping tip
Flat serving plate at least 10-inches in diameter
1.5-inch wide red grosgrain ribbon, about 34” long; suggested
2 pearl-headed stainless steel straight pins
STEP I: MAKE THE LADYFINGERS AND CAKE BASE
Preheat the oven, prepare the baking pans and parchment paper, and mix the ladyfingers batter:
1. Preheat the oven and prepare the baking pan: Position a shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
You’ll need at least two, preferably four UNGREASED* non-insulated cookie sheets or sheet pans. I prefer to pipe ladyfingers onto parchment paper (not waxed), not Silpat Mats.
*They can also be piped onto plain ungreased baking sheets, but you will have to take great care to remove them once cool AND the clean up is more substantial.
2. To pipe the ladyfingers for charlottes, you need to pipe a 4-inch, straight line of individual ones, touching each other.
The batter is soft, so you do not need to apply a lot of pressure, gravity usually helps you out here. If you are not confident of piping evenly shaped fingers, measure and draw lines on the BACK of the parchment paper. You draw on the back so no marks come off on the little cakes.
Mark off two rows, 4-inches wide on a piece of parchment paper with a pencil.
This will help make sure that you are piping nice even ladyfingers.
3. For the cake base, mark a 8 1/2-inch diameter circle on the back of another sheet of parchment. I used a plate but you can also use the springform pan insert, but just pipe the batter about 1/4- inch INSIDE the marked circle, if you do.
STEP II: MAKE THE LADYFINGERS AND CAKE BASE BATTER. PIPE THE LADYFINGERS AND CAKE BASE. BAKE.
Make the ladyfingers and cake base batter:
1. Beat the egg whites: In a dry, clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, with the mixer on medium-low speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar.
Continue whipping until the foam is white and opaque.
2. Increase the mixer speed to high and add the 1/2 cup sugar slowly at the side of the bowl, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites become firm. When they are, the egg whites will become glossy, smooth and the beaters should show ridges as they move through the mixture. Stop the mixer and lift the beaters; you can pull the whites into straight peaks. Scrape whites into a clean bowl and set aside.
3. Beat the egg yolks until they ribbon: In a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon extract, on medium to medium-high, for 3 minutes until the yolks are thick and pale in color. The yolks will "ribbon". That is when you raise the beaters, the mixture should fall in a ribbon pattern that sits on top of the swirl for seconds before sinking.
That's why it's called making the ribbon.
4. Fold beaten whites and yolks together:
Sarah Says: Fold very carefully so the whites don't lose their volume.
Add a small amount of the whites to the yolks and stir with your whisk to lighten the yolks. This will help the whites to fold more easily into the yolk mixture.
Add about half of the remaining whites to the yolks and fold with gentle strokes. Use a rubber spatula that fits easily into your hand. My favorite is a 13-inch heavy spatula.
Cut through the center of the whites and pull the spatula against the bowl's edge and towards you. Bring it up and "fold" the mixture from the bottom of the bowl over the mixture in the center. Then turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until you only see slight streaks of white. Add the remaining whites and repeat. You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to keep the mixture from climbing up the sides.
5. Fold flour into the yolk/whites mixture:
Sift about half of the flour with the salt, over the top of the yolk/whites mixture and fold with a gentle hand. Cut through the center and bring the spatula towards you, turn the bowl and repeat. Be sure to touch the bottom of the bowl and to bring any flour pockets to the surface and turn the bowl a quarter turn after each "fold".
When you just start to see fine streaks of flour in the egg whites, add the second amount of flour and repeat. The finished batter will lose its gloss, but will be light and airy and the interior texture will resemble a sponge. You should see no wisps of flour remaining.
6. Remove 1/4 cup of the batter and set it aside in a small bowl.
Pipe the ladyfingers and cake base:
1. To prepare for piping the ladyfingers, place a medium (about 1/2-inch) plain round tube into a fairly large pastry bag. Fold the top back over one hand and spoon the mixture into the center. It is full when you still have a large amount of bag left over your hand. Pinch off the top with your fingers and roll the bag up. Twist to close.
2. Put a small dab of batter in the 4 corners of your baking sheet. Turn over the pencil marked parchment paper and press it on the pan into place.
3. Start with the tip of the tube above the surface and not touching. Hold the bag perpendicular to the cookie sheet. Gently squeeze the top of the bag with your piping hand (Right for righties, and left for lefties), use your other hand to guide the tube. Pipe the batter about 1/8-inch apart.
As they bake, they will form one continuous strip of cookies that you will use to line the springform pan ring.
Pipe 24 4-inch long ladyfingers, 12 per row.
4. Pipe the cake base:
Turn over the parchment paper marked for the cake base, so the pencil markings show through the front, and anchor it on the 4 corners of the pan with a small dab of batter.
Pipe out the rest of the batter in a spiral, starting at the outer edge and going to the center.
You can use a small offset spatula to even the surface, if it is uneven.
5. Color the heart batter and pipe the hearts on the ladyfingers:
Go back to the reserved 1/4 cup of batter and add 4 drops of red gel paste food coloring.
Gently stir it in until the color is uniform.
6. Put the batter in a disposable piping bag, fitted with a #3 Wilton plain round piping tip.
Pipe one row of ladyfingers with hearts, three hearts per cookie.
7. Then pull down a point, using a toothpick.Start at the top center of the heart and pull through the red batter, making a sharp point on the bottom of the hearts.
8. Sprinkle the lady fingers and the cake base with powdered sugar.
Allow to sit on your counter for about 3 minutes. The sugar will be absorbed into the batter.
After three minutes, sift a light amount over the top a second time. This is what creates that classic crisp crust on the ladyfinger.
Bake the recipe:
1. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
You are looking for the finished product to have light golden edges, but not overly brown. The top will be firm to the touch and some powdered sugar may remain on the top.
Remove cookies still attached to the parchment paper and let cool on a wire cake rack.
Ladyfingers stick to the parchment. If you try to remove them with your hands they can tear. Simply take a butter knife and run under the cake to free it from the paper.
Ladyfingers are best the day the are made.
However, they can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container, but they can get drier. Make sure they stay flexible for this recipe. They may also be frozen to extend their useful life.
STEP II: ASSEMBLE THE CHARLOTTE
Line the pan with the ladyfingers and cake base:
1. Place a piece of parchment paper on a work surface. Set the cake base on the parchment paper.
Center the springform pan ring on the cake base, and press lightly. This will mark the lines of the springform pan ring.
Trim the cake with a pizza cutter 1/4-inch inside of the springform pan markings; the cake base should not fit snugly within the springfrm cake ring as you want to leave 1/4-inch between the sides of the springform pan and the edges of the cake base.
2. Trim the bottom curve off of both strips of lady fingers, so they will fit flush against the edge of the cake base, making sure that both strips are the same height, when trimmed.
3. Put the springform ring on a flat serving plate and place the cake circle in the bottom.
Fit one strip of cookies in the space between the pan ring and the cake base.
Place the other strip in place, cutting it with a serrated knife, to fit.
You should not see the edge of the cake base at the bottom of the charlotte when it is assembled, rather just the straight bottom edge of the ladyfingers.
4. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap until needed.
Make the White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with the changes outlined below; do not make in advance.
You cannot make the mousse ahead, because it will be too thick to pour into the mold after storing in the refrigerator.
Even after refrigeration, if you loosen it with a whisk, there will be clumps and air bubbles in it.
Make 1 recipe White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse, with these changes:
1. Substitute strawberries for the raspberries;
2. Increase the gelatin from one envelope to 3 teaspoons and increase the water to 1/3 cup;
3. Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (omit the Raspberry liqueur); and,
4. Right after, stir in one drop red gel paste food coloring to increase the pink color. This, however is optional.
Fill the cake with the White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse - with our Strawberry Variation:
1. Pour the thickened mousse into the cake lined springform pan, and gently shake to level the mousse.
3. Cover the cake LOOSELY with plastic wrap, making sure that it does not touch the surface of the mousse and place the cake in the refrigerator to set the mousse for AT LEAST 4 hours.
Make the Strawberry Roses:
While the cake is chilling, make the strawberry roses for the top of the cake.
Choose strawberries that are medium sized and uniform in shape, for best results.
Before starting, it is VERY IMPORTANT to use a VERY sharp paring knife for this job.
NOTE: I needed 18 strawberries to cover the cake, but you may need more, or less, depending on the size of the strawberries used.
1. Slice off the stem end of the strawberry.
2. Make 4 slightly angled cuts equidistant around the edge of the strawberry, being sure not to cut through the bottom.
Use the knife to gently pry the “petals” so they curve outward.
3. Repeat the same cuts, a little higher up, in the spaces between the first 4 petals.
4. Repeat the above steps to make the final row of petals.
Finish the Charlotte:
1. Place the strawberry roses on top of the mousse, then gently unclamp the springform cake ring and remove it. The cake will remain on the platter where you assembled it.
2. Cut a length of ribbon that is long enough to go around the circumference of your cake, with a 3-inch overlap.
Fold over one end and put a few glue dots on the underside of the flap.
Wrap the ribbon around the center of the cake, and gently press the area with the glue dots so they stick to the overlapped area.
3. Push the stainless steel pearl straight pins through the ribbon.
4. Serve the cake.
Slice cake with a sharp knife to serve.
The cake can stay at the cool side of room temperature for two hours, and then must be kept refrigerated as the mousse is perishable. The cake will keep for a few days, depending on how far in advance the mousse has been made; the mousse keeps for a few days total in the refrigerator.
The cake does not freeze well.