Charlotte aux Poire

Soft and sweet ladyfinger biscuits, encasing a mixture of apple custard, Italian meringue, and caramelised pear.

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For the June daring bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.com challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty showstopper!

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.

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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!.

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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.

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Ingredients: Makes 1 Charlotte and a few small pots of the Apple Bavarois

Sugar Syrup:

  • 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

Italian Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 190g sugar
  • 1 sachet of powdered gelatine
  • 45ml water
  • 20g glucose

Apple Bavarois:

  • apple custard
  • Italian meringue
  • caramelised pears
  • 300ml double cream

The Ladyfinger Biscuits

  • 4 eggs
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour

Equipment:

  • 2 pint pudding bowl (or mixing bowl of the right size!)
  • piping bag with a 1cm circular nozzle

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To Make:

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.

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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).

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Sprinkle with icing sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until golden brown.

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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.

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Assembling:

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.

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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.

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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!.

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Pear and Ginger Chutney

Sweet and tangy pear chutney flavored with fiery ginger.

     

This is one of the first chutneys I have made, so I have stuck to quite a basic combination of pears and ginger, which are easy to get hold of in winter!

I served this with my Wholemeal IPA Beer Bread and a baked Camembert which was a lovely combination!

Variations: Swap the pears for any other fruit such as apple or rhubarb.

Ingredients: Makes Three 250g Jars.

  • 4 Medium Sized Pears
  • 1 Apple
  • 75g Brown Sugar
  • 150ml Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • A large piece of Fresh Ginger, grated.
  • 1tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 3 Pieces of stem ginger, finely sliced
  • 1tbsp Ground Ginger
  • 2tsp Salt

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To Make:

Finely slice the onions, and fry in a large saucepan in olive oil for 5-10 minutes, until cooked through. Then add the mustard seeds and peppercorns, and fry for a further few minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop.

Meanwhile, dice the pears and apples into even sized small chunks. Add to the pan, along with all the other ingredients for the chutney.

Cook over a low heat for around 45 minutes, until the chutney has turned dark in colour, and thickened. Taste the chutney at this point, and check it doesn’t need any extra seasoning.

Pour the hot chutney into sterilised jars and leave to cool. The chutney will be best eaten after it has matured for a few weeks, but I ate mine straight away and it still tasted good!

Serve with a big wedge of cheese on some nice crusty bread.

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Other recipes you may like:

Wholemeal IPA Beer Bread

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Salted Caramel & Pear Tart

Crispy, gingery pasty case, filled with sweet, sticky, salted caramel and topped with thin slices of pear.

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My parents came to visit me this weekend so I decided to make a lovely tart that we could eat while they were here. I couldn’t make anything with chocolate as my Dad doesn’t like it (I know, weird!), so I thought I’d give a salted caramel tart a go.

This recipe for pastry is the one that I always use for tarts and pies, as it is really nice to work with and doesn’t break easiliy, making it much more amenable to being  rolled out thinly. I’ve used a recipe from the Primrose Bakery for the caramel filling, from their millionaires shortbread, but I have added a few tea spoons of salt.

This recipe turned out really well, and has been enjoyed very much by everyone who has tried it! The crisp gingery pastry works really well with the rich salted caramel and sweet pears, and it looks great, so would be a good finish to any dinner party!

 

Variations: This tart could be topped with another fruit such as apple, or topped with dark chocolate, for an even more luxurious finish.

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Ingredients: Makes one medium sized tart

Pastry Case:

  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 50g Icing Sugar
  • 120g Butter
  • 1tbsp Ground Ginger
  • 3-4 tbsp Cold Water

Caramel Filling:

  • 115g Golden syrup
  • 125g Butter
  • 2 x 397g Tins of Condensed Milk
  • 2tsp Sea Salt

Topping:

  • 1 and ½ pears, sliced thinly
  • Sea Salt flakes

To Make:

The Pastry:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a medium sized tart tin.

In a large bowl, rub the butter into the four, ginger and icing sugar, until the mixture forms a bread crumb like consistency.

Pour in the cold water, 1tbsp at a time, until the mixture forms a ball of dough.

Turn out onto a floured work surface and roll out into a large circle as thin as possible.

Transfer the rolled out dough to the prepared tart tin and trim off the excess pastry.

Prick the bottom of the case with a fork, and transfer to a pre-heated oven, bake for 10-15 minutes, until just golden.

The Salted Caramel Filling:

While the pastry is blind-baking, make the caramel filling

In a large pan, combine all the ingredients for the salted caramel.

Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 100C and starts to bubble.

Pour into the pastry case, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, or until it has thickened and turned a golden brown colour.

The Pear Topping:

Place the thinly sliced par over the cooked caramel and arrange in a radial pattern.

Put the tart back into the pre-heated oven for 5-10 minutes, until the pear is cooked and caramelised.

To Serve.

Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool, before sprinkling over some sea salt flakes.

Slice and serve, on its own, or with a dollop of crème fraîche.

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