Soft and sweet ladyfinger biscuits, encasing a mixture of apple custard, Italian meringue, and caramelised pear.
I was really excited when I read this challenge, as I have a recipe for an Apple Charlotte in my Richard Bertinet Patisserie cookbook that I’ve been wanting to try for ages!
A Charlotte is basically a case made with ladyfinger biscuits, filled with a custard/ mousse filling, which is set in the fridge and then turned out. My Charlotte uses a Bavarois for the filling, which is a mixture of Italian meringue, double cream and custard.
It did take me quite a long time to put the Charlotte together because of all the different components, and the kitchen was a complete mess! But each component was actually reasonably easy to make, so I feel like it would be difficult to go wrong, as long as you give yourself enough time.
I have stuck to the recipe in the book, but I used pears instead of Apple for the fruit chunks, and I added some extra gelatine because I was so scared that it wouldn’t set!
I didn’t really know what to expect when I cut into the Charlotte to taste it, but I’m so glad I made it because it is delicious!
I love the combination of the ladyfinger biscuits and custardy mouse! It would be an amazing dessert to bring to a family party, I’m sure that everyone would be really impressed!.
Variations: There are an endless number of variations that could be done with the Charlotte, so here are a few of my ideas:
Lemon Charlotte: use lemon in the custard and fold in some lemon curd. You could even brush the ladyfingers with a lemonciello glaze!
Chocolate and Raspberry Charlotte: use chocolate in the ladyfinger biscuits, and ripple some chocolate ganache through the bavarois with some fresh raspberries.
Ingredients: Makes 1 Charlotte and a few small pots of the Apple Bavarois
- 100ml apple juice
- 100ml sugar
The Apple Custard:
- 150ml apple juice
- 3 medium egg yolks
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 80g caster sugar
- 2 sachets of powdered gelatine (or 4 gelatine leaves)
The Caramelised Pears:
- 4 pears, peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 190g sugar
- 1 sachet of powdered gelatine
- 45ml water
- 20g glucose
- apple custard
- Italian meringue
- caramelised pears
- 300ml double cream
The Ladyfinger Biscuits
- 4 eggs
- 120g caster sugar
- 120g plain flour
- 2 pint pudding bowl (or mixing bowl of the right size!)
- piping bag with a 1cm circular nozzle
The Dried Pears:
Slice a pear into circular disks, about 2mm thick. Arrange on a baking tray and leave to cook in the oven at 80-90C for 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave overnight.
The Apple Custard:
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
Meanwhile, bring the apple juice to a simmer in a large pan, then stir in the gelatine and leave to melt.
Pour the hot apple juice over the egg yolks, whisking continuously until fully incorporated.
Return to the pan and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool completely.
The Caramelised Pears:
Melt the butter in a saute pan, and then add the sugar. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until it begins to turn golden brown.
Add the chopped pears to the pan and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until cooked through.
Set aside and leave to cool.
The Sugar Syrup:
Combine the apple juice and sugar in a small pan and heat until the sugar completely dissolves and bubbles begin to appear. Remove from the heat and set aside.
The Ladyfinger Biscuits:
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add 80g caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Whisk together the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour into the egg whites and fold in, then fold in the flour.
Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a circular nozzle. Pipe fourteen fingers, each about 11cm long, and three circular disks. One to fit in the bottom of the bowl (about 8cm diameter), one for the middle (about 10cm diameter) and one for the top (12cm).
Sprinkle with icing sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Leave to cool on a wire rack before assembling.
The Italian Meringue:
Combine the sugar, glucose and water in a small pan, and heat until it reaches 127C, then add the gelatine powder.
Meanwhile whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Pour the hot syrup into the egg whites, whisking continuously.
Continue to whisk for a further few minutes until glossy.
The Apple Bavarois:
Whisk the double cream until stiff peaks form. Then combine with the apple custard, caramelised pears, and meringue.
Line the pudding bowl with clingfilm and place the smallest disk in the bottom of the bowl, then arrange the fingers around the outside of the bowl, making sure they overlap, so there will be no gaps.
Use a pastry brush to soak the fingers and base with the sugar syrup, then press the fingers into each other to form a seal.
Pour some of the bavarois into the bowl, until half full. Place the medium sized disk on top, and brush with syrup.
Pour the bavarois over the middle sponge, to a few cm under the top if the ladyfingers.
Top with the final circular sponge brush with sugar syrup and press into the sides of the ladyfingers to seal.
Leave to let in the fridge for at least 5 hours before serving.
Once set, pull out of the bowl using the clingfilm and turn out onto a cake stand. Dust with some icing sugar and decorate with slices of dried pear.
Cut into 8 slices and serve!.