Charlotte Russe with Goat Cheese and Berry Puree
This a very old fashioned dessert and our family-favorite for Easter dinner. It’s light as a cloud and can be prepared a day or so ahead. While it sounds much more difficult than it is, the most difficult part may be finding good ladyfingers. We’re fortunate enough to have a local bakery where we can pre-order, but you may have to shop around. The berry puree is a perfect complement, but I’ve also done it with cold, stewed rhubarb. It’s beautiful and tastes as spectacular as it looks.
You will need a 1 quart charlotte mold (with tapering sides) or a round glass baking dish at least 4 inches deep, You can also make this in individual custard cups. This recipe serves 6, I usually double it and use a 2 quart mold.
For the Charlotte
12-16 Ladyfingers, split in half lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
½ c. sugar
1 c. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 level Tbsp. unflavored gelatin, softened in ¼ c. cold water
1/4 c. Capriole fresh goat cheese
¾ c. cold, heavy cream or more if you want to decorate the finished dessert
2 ten oz. packages frozen raspberries or blackberries, defrosted and drained
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. brandy or Kirsch
Lining the Charlotte mold: Trim 12-16 of the ladyfinger halves so they are slightly tapered at one end. Arrange these halves side-by-side at the bottom of your charlotte mold, with curved side down, and tapered ends meeting in the middle. Stand the remaining ladyfingers, curved side out, around the sides of the mold. Avoid any open spaces by using the trimmings to fill in.
In a food processor or with a hand held mixer, beat the egg yolks till foamy and gradually add the sugar, beating again until the mixture is pale yellow and thickened.
In a medium saucepan, warm the milk until it begins to simmer. Add vanilla, and slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, beating constantly. Transfer to a saucepan or double boiler and, stirring constantly, cook over low heat until it has thickened enough to coat a metal spoon. Do not boil or the custard will break and curdle. Off the heat, stir in the softened gelatin until it is completely dissolved.
Whip cream (I also use the processor for this) until it forms soft peaks. Add crumbled goat cheese and beat just until stiff peaks have formed. Refrigerate.
Fill a large bowl with ice cubes covered by 2 inches water. Set the saucepan of custard in the ice water and stir until the mixture is very cold and has thickened to the consistency of mayonnaise. With a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream/goat cheese. If it gets lumpy use a whisk.
Pour the custard mixture into the ladyfinger lined mold, cover the mold with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4-5 hours, preferably overnight.
Berry Puree: Rub the berries through a fine sieve or foodmill. Stir in the sugar and brandy or kirsch. Cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
To serve the Charlotte: Run a thin, sharp knife around the inside of your mold and Invert a flat serving plate over the top of the mold. Holding the plate and mold firmly together, turn them over, and gently remove the mold. Serve with a chilled bowl of your berry puree and garnish if desired with more berries and sweetened whipped cream--you can never have enough!