As I may have mentioned already (possibly several times, I am SO excited), I am still in Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog, and this 7th round I am sharing my first ever VIDEO on this blog! (Yes! It is finally here!!!) I definitely wouldn't say that I am camera shy, but I was initially nervous about making a video due to my complete lack of any experience with filming or editing video footage. Seriously, I had never even opened iMovie previous to last week. But now that the project is finished and here for your viewing pleasure, I can say that I have had a blast making it and I will definitely be doing it again! I can't promise how soon you will see more video footage on The Cilantropist, but keep your eyes peeled in future for my smiling face; for now, I would really appreciate your support in this round by voting for my entry on Foodbuzz!
So, after all this hype, you are probably wondering what my video is about! Well, Foodbuzz originally asked us to make a recipe from our archives 'come alive' through video, and I knew right away that I wanted to show you how to make ladyfingers. In my original post from May of this year, I described how I made ladyfingers from scratch, and then I later used them to make a beautiful Lemon Berry White Chocolate Trifle for a good friend's bridal shower. I got such a great response to both of the posts, and many said they had no idea how easy it was to make these delicate savoiardi at home. Specific comments from readers about how they enjoy ladyfingers as a simple pleasure with coffee, or how they share them with small children (low sugar, soft texture, and easy to hold with little hands), definitely warmed my heart and made me realize ladyfingers can be used for so much more than just tiramisu.
In fact, after my first ladyfinger post, but before I revealed my Lemon Berry Trifle, I asked my readers to guess what dessert they thought I would use the ladyfingers for. Many suggested tiramisu, one guessed correctly with a trifle, and one reader even thought maybe I should use them as hotdog buns (Joking, of course. Love you Jill!). But, more than a few readers thought I was going to use them to make a Charlotte, also known as a Charlotte Russe Cake. At the risk of embarrassing myself (though I will surely do that anyway with my video below), I will fully admit that I had no idea what a Charlotte was; I knew I couldn't continue living in dessert ignorance, so I did some internet searching and was surprised to find a gorgeous vision unlike anything I had seen before. I knew I had to make it.
Traditionally, a Charlotte is made by lining a mold with spongecake, biscuits, or ladyfingers, and then filling the mold with fruit puree, custard, mousse, or some combination of several components. In the case of spongecake, the mold is usually a bowl, which produces a dome shaped dessert when the Charlotte is turned upside down and released from the mold. For a ladyfinger Charlotte, the look is much different, since the savioardi are commonly placed standing upright around the edge of a ring mold, to form a border that holds the filling inside. Often, when the dessert is complete, a ribbon is tied in a bow around the charlotte; it seems some say the ribbon gives extra insurance that the dessert holds together, but I think it just amps up the beauty factor (either way, I wasn't skipping the bow).
And so, with out further ado, let me properly introduce myself and show you how to make your own ladyfingers from scratch, and tell you how you can use them to make a beautiful Pomegranate Charlotte dessert!
I hope you enjoyed my video and that you feel inspired to make your own ladyfingers at home! You can use the written recipe below, or just follow the instructions from the video. (And since voting is now open, head on over to Foodbuzz and show my video some love!)
For the Pomegranate Charlotte, I hope you make your own ladyfingers for the recipe, but if you use store-bought, just be sure they are high-quality. Another thing to keep in mind is that although I made a pomegranate charlotte in this video, you can easily make any flavor that you like (even chocolate!). If you want a different flavor of fruit filling (lets say lemon), just use that flavor of fruit curd mixed with whipped cream as I demonstrated. Or, if you do want a chocolate filling, just use your favorite mousse recipe (I have a killer recipe for white chocolate mascarpone mousse here).
Also, as you can see in the photos below, it is really easy to change up the traditional charlotte as well by adding layers to give a variation in flavor and texture. For simplicity in my video, I just spooned in the mousse to fill the entire center of the charlotte, and then added the whipped cream and berries on the top. But for fun, I also made one with layers (ladyfinger-mousse-ladyfinger-curd-mousse-whipped cream) that I think was really gorgeous and tasted spectacular.
However you do it, I really hope you make these ladyfingers and this Charlotte for the holidays. I can promise you that you will love the taste, and truly, have you ever seen anything more beautiful? :)
***This is my seventh entry for Project Food Blog challenge. For this Video 411 challenge, we were asked to make one of our recipes come to life. For my entry I wanted to let you come with me into my kitchen and show you how to make your own ladyfingers, plus a beautiful dessert for the holidays. I hope you feel inspired to do this on your own! I also want to let you know that I filmed and edited this video on my own with the help of a few friends behind the camera (thanks Jenn and Jill!) and it was a great experience. If you liked this post and enjoyed my video I would LOVE it if you would vote for me! You can check out my profile on Foodbuzz and vote starting 6AM PST, on Monday, November 15th. Thanks SO much for your support and encouragement!
3 eggs, separated
6 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup cake flour (or substitute 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, and 2 tbsp cornstarch)
about 1/2 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
Special equipment: A fine mesh sieve or sifter, a pastry bag or ziplock bag with the tip cut off
In a very clean bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on high speed until they form soft peaks. With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the whites hold stiff glossy peaks. Next, lightly beat the reserved egg yolks, and add them directly on top of the beaten egg whites. Use a wooden spoon to gently fold the yolks into the whites, being careful not to deflate the batter. When the yolks are completely incorporated, the batter will be fluffy and a pale golden yellow color. Then use a fine mesh sieve or sifter to add the cake flour to the batter all at once. (It is important to sift the flour to ensure the batter does not deflate.) Carefully fold the mixture together once more, and when you are finished, the batter will still be slightly lumpy and will have ‘pockets’ of air.
The next step is to pipe out the ladyfingers. Prepare a parchment lined baking sheet (if you like, put a few drops of canola oil under the parchment to hold it to the baking sheet more securely), and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag without any tip, or to a ziplock bag, and squeeze to compress the batter down to the tip. Using even pressure, pipe out ladyfingers that are ¾ inch wide and any length you like. The ladyfingers can be piped into any shape; to make the charlotte dessert, pipe out at least one ladyfinger disc that is just about ½ inch smaller than the diameter of your charlotte mold. (An easy way to do this is to trace the outline of your charlotte mold onto the parchment paper. Then you can use that as a guide.)
Before baking, use a fine mesh sieve and sift a light layer of confectioners sugar over the ladyfingers. Wait 10 minutes, then sift the confectioners sugar a second time; wait another 5 minutes, and then put the ladyfingers into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. I usually have 2 sheets of ladyfingers that I bake at the same time: I put one oven rack in the center of the oven, and one rack just above, and I rotate the baking sheets after 10 minutes of baking. After baking, cool the ladyfingers on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then move to the cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.
-Ladyfingers to fit your mold of choice: using recipe above, make enough traditional ladyfingers to go around the ring of your mold, and make at least one disc using my instructions above.
-Whipped Cream, approximately 1 1/2 cups depending on your charlotte size
-Pomegranate Curd: use this recipe, but add no citrus zest, and instead of the citrus juice, reduce 1 cup of POM wonderful pomegranate juice down to 1/2 cup
-Blackberries and pomegrante seeds for the topping
Special Equipment: a ring mold, or the outside ring of a springform pan, parchment paper
Start out by preparing your charlotte mold. I used a small springform ring, and fitted the inside with parchment, but if you have a ring mold, you can use that as well. Place the ring on a plate or board covered with parchment paper.
Next take your ladyfinger disc and place it inside the ring mold, allowing space around the outside to fit the additional ladyfingers.
Take the traditional ladyfingers, and align them so the tops are even; using a sharp knife, cut off the bottoms so that they one flat edge and all the ladyfingers are the same height.
One at a time, add the ladyfingers into the mold, the cut edge towards the bottom, until they completely form a border around the disc at the bottom.
To make your mousse filling, combine 1 cup of whipped cream with 1 cup of pomegranate curd and mix well. Spoon this into the center of the charlotte mold, and fill almost completely. (Alternatively, you can fill halfway, and add another ladyfinger disc, or a layer of curd alone, and then fill the remainder with mousse.) Put the charlotte into the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, or preferably overnight, to let the mousse set.
After the mousse has set, add the remaining whipped cream to the top of the charlotte, and smooth out. If you like, top the whipped cream with blackberries and pomegranate seeds, and tie a ribbon around the outside to make it look extra special!