charlotte plated

I was holding off on posting this out of respect for what’s been happening in Japan until a blog friend living in Japan tweeted that reading blogs gave her a brief distraction from the ongoing tragedy. I can only imagine the degree of daily fear with which people are living and if posting this provides even one moment of relief or one moment of respite for even one person, it’s definitely worth it. Here goes.


charlotte with berries


The other day I read that married couples regretted asking for most of the items they put on their wedding registries. They said that even years into marriage items like fine wine glasses, china and fancy serving plates were never used. In essence, they that said life was too either too hectic or too routine to break out the good stuff.



It got me to thinking about items in my own home that I’ve been saving for important occasions – the box of silverware carefully wrapped up and tucked away in the basement, the unpackaged duvet cover that sits in the back room waiting for a special guest and the Armani gown – the black Armani gown. I suppose that’s been waiting for long black gloves and a night at the Vienna Opera.
Ironically, we actually hoped to visit Vienna this June but then I cracked my back teeth (old fillings, don’t ask). That’s right – 3 root canals and their accompanying crowns at $3000 a piece and insurance covers none of it. So much for Vienna.
Life gets in the way, right?


armani collage


I can’t help but wonder how many of us reserve things for special occasions because that’s what we’ve been taught to do, because we’re too busy, because life gets in the way or because we can’t be bothered.
I don’t know about you but for me the events of the past few days have reinforced one key notion:
Every day we’re alive is a special occasion.
As for me, I’ll be breaking out the good silverware and setting a beautiful table simply because I can. And who knows, I may even light candles and put on that black dress.
What are we waiting for?

charlotte bite


Frankly, I can’t think of a more sensational dessert than the raspberry charlotte. It’s stunning, it’s elegant and it’s delicious. You’ll be happy you made it.


Raspberry Charlotte


Lady Fingers


6 eggs, separated
7 oz. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. flour, sifted
Powdered sugar, sifted


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (162 C)


Beat the egg whites until they begin to thicken. Add the sugar and beat until they hold a peak but flop over a bit at the top when the whisk is pulled away. Fold in the vanilla and egg yolks by hand. Gradually sprinkle flour into the mixture while simultaneously folding.


Pipe mixture onto a Silpat lined pastry sheet. You want them to be about the height of the mold you are using. You’ll also want to pipe some of the batter into a circle equal to the diameter of the bottom of your mold. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar. Allow the sugar to absorb. Sprinkle with powdered sugar again.


Bake 10-14 minutes, until they turn light beige in color.


The size of the ladyfingers will depend upon the size of the mold you are using.


II. Raspberry Puree


3 oz. raspberry puree
6 oz. sugar


Boil the raspberries with the sugar until sugar dissolves. Strain and allow to cool.


III. Pate a Bombe (see here for recipe)


IV. Raspberry Mousse (adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)
4 oz pate a bombe
3 sheets of gelatin
6 oz fresh raspberry puree
2 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 tbs. sugar to a soft peak


Heat the raspberry puree until warm. Soften the gelatin in ice water and then gently melt it in the microwave (maybe 8 seconds). Mix the gelatin with the raspberry puree. Mix the raspberry gelatin mixture into the pate a bombe and whisk until it is well incorporated. Please note, all ingredients need to be about the same temperature or the gelatin will become stringy. Fold in the whipped cream.


V. Assembling the Charlotte


Place the mold on a sheet pan. Line the base with the round you made out of the lady finger batter. Line the sides of the mold with the lady fingers placed vertically. Fill the lined mold with raspberry mousse. Chill until firm. Top with raspberries and powdered sugar.


Bon Appetit!



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  1. i know i thought about that too…whether or not to post my winter photos. but life does go on as long as we keep them in our hearts and wish for positive healing & recovery.
    it’s been so hard to watch the news that i just have to turn it off. the nuclear power plant i pray stays intact.

  2. Strawberry charlotte was my favorite dessert to make as a child. I loved dipping biscuits a la cuillere in milk and ligning them up. Of course, mine didn’t look anywhere near as pretty as this one but they were yummy.

  3. beautiful words El… the events of the last few days only highlight how transient today and now is..

    🙂 yes, we all store away like birds things for a special occasion. I think I should follow you and actually use them!

    btw, that black dress is gorgeous!!! would love to see a photo of you in it 🙂

  4. El, this is so unbelievably true. What the hell are we doing? This is all we’ve got. We have to make the most of it and live!!! Love the dress and the charlotte looks like heaven.

  5. Beautiful thoughts and beautiful raspberries! I’ve started pulling out some of the fancy stuff lately…it just makes the whole meal feel a little more special.

  6. I can relate to your hesitations for posting, I’ve been thinking about the same too. But your friend made me look at this in a different view.

    We should count our blessings and live life for the now. Thanks El for making my morning sweeter with this lovely dessert!

  7. I’ve just not felt like posting either, but you’ve convinced me to. What a beautifully written post. Each word is perfect, meaningful, and full of feeling. Next time you need a ‘tooth’ job done, fly right down to India {it’ll be a vaction too!}. I can’t believe you had to pay $3000 for that.YIKES!!
    Oh and these charlottes are gorgeous, very very nice!

  8. Thankyou so much for sharing this beautiful dessert and your sentiments about using your ‘saved’ things now. How true it is. Am dying to make this dessert! Have a luncheon coming up and this will probably be on the menu!!

  9. Oh that armani dress is so elegant… and the charlotte looks simply divine. I love love making charlottes, and they definitely should not be reserved for only special occasions. I made a pomegranate one last fall, but it might be time for a spring charlotte with berries!

  10. Wow, what an elegant dessert, so light and so pretty. I love everything with raspberries…I always like your pictures as well. Gorgeous! Thank you for the lovely message of reminder…Have a great week!

  11. I like your perspective on making the most of life, and the special items that we save because we hope someday an occasion will warrant their use. I must get better at breaking out the good stuff. The raspberry charlotte looks marvelous! I was chastised by my doctor a month ago for gaining too much weight and consuming too much sugar. What I can’t eat, I can at least enjoy admiring on your blog, which gives me a moment of respite too.

  12. I can’t fathom what is happening around me here in Japan, however, on a much much ,lighter and sweeter note, This Charlotte is stunning. After you made the ladyfingers, did you separate them ?

  13. This week has left me at a total loss of response. I’ve felt more like a zombie than a person. This post gives me hope. thanks…

  14. It is so important to provide hope that life will get back to normal one day. Amid all of the sad and horrible photos and videos of the tragedy, I am so impressed by the stoicism of the Japanese people and how respectful of each other they are.

    You’ve provided a wonderfully beautiful ‘escape’ dessert, EL, and I do hope you get to wear that gorgeous gown one day. How lovely!

  15. My Japanese friends seem to have an elegant grace and strength about them. Perhaps that is what will help to heal their nation.
    Your Charlotte is a gorgeous example of the simple beauty that surrounds us.

  16. El, this is the most ingenious way to create a charlotte mold, I can’t take my eyes of these beauties! This recipe will be filed away with my favorites. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Japan’s tragedies are heavy on all our hearts.
    I am at a loss for words.

    Carpe diem, responsibly, really is the only way. I lost a brother and a sister very young and ever since have I not held back with any of the “good” things. In fact, when we moved to Europe, I went to Crate and Barrel and bought the most beautiful white bone china dishes, for 16 (interestingly, “Anna” is made in Germany, by dibbern), and we have been used iit every day for the last five years. Turns out it is not only the most delicate, but also the strongest china imaginable.

    I am so sorry your Vienna trip has to be delayed. I hope something will open up to give you to opportunity to travel soon than you might think possible.

    Warm regards,

  17. I absolutely love your blog. Beautiful photos. I’ve been using my grandmothers silver flatware everyday for years. Why have something beautiful if your just going to keep it in a box? The charlotte is lovely, must make!

  18. “Every day we’re alive is a special occasion.” You are so so right. And though I wish this tragedy weren’t unfolding right now, I am definitely reminded to appreciate every precious bit of life more because of it. Lovely charlotte, El. Looks so lovely and almost ethereal.

  19. Food is comfort. I think reading about and seeing beautiful dishes like yours is like a cool drink to a thirsty soul in tragic times. Leaving beautiful things packed away… crazy… what are we waiting for? Life can change in a moment.

  20. I also loved this post, well written too!

    Your raspberry charlotte looks stunning & mighty tasty & pretty too!

    Nearly to pretty to savour!

    Maybe Vienna will be on your list to visit realy soon,…!!!

  21. Hi El, a gorgeous, gorgeous dessert. I used to save things for special occassions too but over the last couple of months, and because pf how my life had changed since last year, I think you should do the things that make you feel good. Don’t wait! If it makes you feel happy to break out the silver and use it, go ahead.

  22. Sometimes beautiful photos in the midst of difficulty can lift your spirits and remind you of what is possible.

    Even if you could not make or eat these lovelies (and that would be the best option) it is nice to know that they exist. Hope you wear that dress soon anyway. Life gets in the way too often–I’d love to hear that you opened a bottle of champagne and drank it with a raspberry charlotte in your evening gown! Thanks for this timely reminder and for adding some much needed sweetness: carpe diem!

  23. I’ve been uncomfortable about posting as well — downright depressed about so much tragedy, but know that I, too depend on something pleasant as a deterrent at times. Thanks always for the loveliness here.

    I’m wincing over your lost opportunity in Vienna and thinking about that dress, but understand unexpected events and their cost — my knee &@$!?

    The charlotte is perfect!

  24. You said it El. Life is too short, we need to live it up while we can and make the most of every moment. A dessert as elegant as a Raspberry Charlotte *deserves* to be eaten while one is in a designer gown!

    Sorry to read about your dental trials, hope you feel better soon xo

  25. I totally agree, but I’m this kind of person who uses it, if I have a dinner for 4 guests use my best china and silverware. Beautiful things are to be enjoyed at any moment. I’d prefer going bad in use than turned over and stored. Love the dessert, very elegant

  26. I’ve not made a charlotte; however, I believe you are right, it is time. I love the photo of the Armani dress. Last summer our vacation was…. a new air conditioner. I can completely relate to your “filling” experience.

  27. I thought I had commented here – as I read it when you posted it – but, must have kept it open to do the comment… but, kept it open, also to make it. What a gorgeous dish. So feminine and beautiful. I appreciate the homemade lady fingers and the beautiful photography. I will make this dish for my mother and her lady friends. This is exactly the kind of thing she will love and appreciate and the kind of dessert that will fill me with satisfaction and love and pride.
    Big hug,

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