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Light and Luscious Raspberry Charlotte

Light and Luscious Raspberry Charlotte

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.

glass

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. ABowlOfMush

    14 March

    This looks so beautiful and so summery!

  2. Deliciously fruity and fresh! A dessert I could eat right now.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. Janet

    14 March

    It’s so wonderful to see color. This week has been tough and I agree with you 100%!!

  4. vanillasugar

    14 March

    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.

  5. What a gorgeous dessert and sentiments. You’re so right…what are we waiting for? Life is happening right now and every day is worth celebrating.

  6. Nisrine M.

    14 March

    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.

  7. Asha @ FSK

    14 March

    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 🙂

  8. sharon

    14 March

    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.

  9. alison

    14 March

    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.

  10. One of my very favorite desserts growing up, and just like you were talking about, only served on special occasions, which is too bad. I agree with what you said, what are we waiting for? Let’s enjoy every moment we have been given.

  11. Sanjeeta kk

    15 March

    What a decadent dessert, EL! Love the clicks, and the dress out there 🙂

  12. 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!

  13. Caitlin

    15 March

    Purdy!

  14. Deeba PAB

    15 March

    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!

  15. Gina

    15 March

    What a beautiful post! Your thoughts, your pictures and this dessert, seems to be sooo delicious 🙂

  16. 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!!

  17. Barbara

    15 March

    Simply an elegant dessert!
    And yes, let’s break out the good stuff. What are we waiting for? Life is so short.

  18. Another gorgeous post. Your sentiment is so true and u definitely made me think about what matters. Gorgeous pics-thanks!

  19. 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!

  20. Anna

    15 March

    Lovely and such good thoughts about how to enjoy and make the most of life.

  21. Juliana

    15 March

    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!

  22. I’ve felt the same way about posting lately, as though anything I have to say seems silly given the circumstances.
    I like the message of this post, appreciate every moment. It’s too bad such a tragedy had to remind us of that.

  23. tasteofbeirut

    15 March

    This dessert and the photos would be a great respite from a reality engulfed in horrors. Love the raspberries and the charlotte looks ethereal.

  24. Anonymous

    15 March

    Fabulous post and great photos. Time to start living!!!

  25. 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.

  26. elle marie

    15 March

    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 ?

  27. Patricia

    15 March

    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…

  28. This looks delicious and the photos are amazing.
    I am thinking about Japan too.

  29. 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!

  30. Mimi

    16 March

    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.
    Mimi

  31. Merisi

    16 March

    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,
    Merisi

  32. cindy*

    16 March

    lovely post and lovely charlotte. life is fickle and fleeting, enjoying the time we have when we have it is everything.

  33. valerie s.

    16 March

    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!

  34. Stefania

    17 March

    E’ delizioso il tuo blog, ciao♥

  35. Liz

    17 March

    What a great perspective to gain. Every day should be treated as a special occasion. These charlottes are a good start.

  36. “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.

  37. 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.

  38. That is an absolutely stunning dessert! The photos are beautiful!!! Havea great weekend.

  39. 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,…!!!

  40. Jo

    20 March

    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.

  41. put on the dress! it’s gorgeous, as is your dessert.

    love the chair photo in particular! the upholstery is perfect.

  42. Sally

    21 March

    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!

  43. kelly

    21 March

    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!

  44. Danielle

    22 March

    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

  45. Amy

    22 March

    Such a pretty, delicate photo. Love it!

  46. Ash

    22 March

    I totally am think of marie Antoinette when I look at this!!
    Gorgeous!!

  47. Sylvia

    23 March

    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

  48. 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.

  49. Lisa

    24 March

    Such a pretty dessert. Very old fashioned, but made modern again. I hope you’re enjoying the day El. Take care. : )

  50. El, You are so inspiring. Thank you for the divine Charlotte and for your thoughtfulness. Yes, life is precious… You live yours to the fullest every day, I can tell.

  51. 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,
    Valerie

  52. Helene

    29 March

    What a delicious fruity dessert. Love your pictures.

  53. Maja

    2 April

    What a amazing dessert! Your pfhotos are gourgeous!

  54. Thanks for the mad chocolate craving that I had late last night after I read this! =)

  55. Jennie

    24 April

    Stunning to say the least! This treat screams spring and you captured it’s beauty in an amazing way!

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