Thursday, November 11, 2010

Homemade Ladyfingers, and a Pomegranate Charlotte


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!






Homemade Ladyfingers
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.   




Pomegranate Charlotte
-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!
   

95 comments:

  1. I LOVE IT!! I've been so excited to see your post!! Well done!

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  2. Looks like someone is a very quick learner, I think it's safe to say you got iMovie down pat! :) Loved you video, you are a total natural!

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  3. Fantastic Job!! This dessert is a show stopper and a sure winner for a dinner party. I have long wanted to make homemade lady fingers - so I am saving your recipe. Best of luck with this challenge - you have my vote!!

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  4. You are sooo cute! Now I can totally relate your comments with what I see. You don't look nervous at all! Great job!

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  5. Fantastic job with the whole production! Really, everything you have here is very well done. Such a beautiful dessert, and your step-by-step instructions are wonderful.
    The camera loves you---great job!

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  6. This is fantastic! You explain everything so well and the images look great.

    You know you have my vote!

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  7. this looks lovely :) i could just eat it now :)

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  8. Very nice job! Your video is great and that charlotte is gorgeous! You, of course, have my vote!

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  9. Woot woot! It turned out great--the editing and music have improved so much since the first cut and your personality shines through.

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  10. Love it! Well done! You have a wonderful presence on video and are just so adorable. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. This is amazing! You are so great in front of a camera. The still pics of this dessert should be in a cooking magazine. Good Job!

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  12. Congrats!! And the charlotte looks amazingly cute!

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  13. Very cute step-by-step Amanda. I feel like I can make a Charlotte just about now. Great job and good luck!

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  14. Gooooorgeous! So glad to see the video up and running :D

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  15. congrats - you did a fantastic job on your video! and your dessert looks amazing - i'd love to sneak a taste right now! good luck! :)

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  16. The photos and video turned out great!! Way to go Amanda!

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  17. Looks beautiful and delicious! great job!
    Good Luck! :)

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  18. Amanda - you are a natural in front of the camera. Great recipe too by the way. You KNOW you have my vote!

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  19. That was so much fun to watch. Your Charlotte was so beautiful.

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  20. This looks lovely, would love to serve to holiday guests, I am going to have to do a test run first, will let you know how I make out. And thanks for the video they always help.

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  21. I loved this video! You were so personable and perky! Love it! Can't wait to vote!

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  22. This is so pretty! And I never realized that lady fingers are relatively low fat, I'll have to make them soon!!

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  23. Wow! That's really all I have to say...wow! You are such a natural on camera and everything looked so beautiful- you, your kitchen, and your dessert! Thanks for sharing the recipe, it's something I'm going to have to try for sure!

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  24. The amount of flour listed as substitute for cake flour is not correct. 3/4 c. cake flour or 3-1/2 c. all purpose flour?! I think not! Do the people leaving such positive comments not read the recipe?

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  25. Anonymous: I am glad you read the recipe, looks like you caught a small typo on my part! I seem to have snuck a "3" in there when I really meant only 1/2 cup all purpose flour. I have corrected it now.

    So, just to be clear, for this recipe, I either use 3/4 cup cake flour, or I use: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 2 additional tbsp all-purpose flour + 2 tbsp cornstarch = total of 3/4 cup. For this particular recipe, these cake flour/all-purpose flour substitutions have worked perfectly for me to make these ladyfingers dozens of times. I have seen other recipes that merely sub 3/4 cake flour with 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and then add an additional 2 tbsp cornstarch, either probably works.

    Hopefully this fixes the problem you were addressing! Thanks for your comment, but in the future, it would be great if you could just point out my typo and not criticize the opinions of my readers. I read every comment that I get and I appreciate ALL of them! :)

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  26. It's so good to *see* you again! Beautiful video, so clear and precise - you're a natural on the screen! The dessert is stunning!

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  27. Don't worry about Anonymous...your post was great! Gorgeous photos of the finished Charlotte too...Theresa

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  28. It was so great to meet you at Foodbuzz! These must be the lady fingers you were talking baout! They look absolutely amazing! What a beautiful usage of them. Simply stunning!

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  29. Yep. You've got it! I've watched 4 videos now and I love them all.
    Mine is SO bad quality. Where is everyone getting these nice video cameras?

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  30. Beautiful presentation, great video and nice instructions. The perfect blog!

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  31. Oh yes, i wish i would have seen this yesterday morning when i made my Eggnog Trifle (http://redsroost.blogspot.com/2010/11/eggnog-trifle.html) instead of using store bought.
    My computer is acting up and i can't watch the video..

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    petitchef.com

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  33. that's a very inspiring and informative video :) it's great seeing you in action, you look confident, comfortable and very much in control! the dessert was impeccable and you supplemented your video with a wonderful post :) way to go! really proud of how far you've been in the challenge and i can only hope that you bag the ultimate food blog star award :)

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  34. Beautiful video! It came out great. Really nice job--I am so impressed by both your lady finger recipes and video-making. Good luck!

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  35. This was spectacular! Your warm personality totally shines through. The video was so good, I watched it twice :) I can't wait to make my own ladyfingers.

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  36. hi, i'm codruta, from Timisoara, Romania. I love your video. last night, after watching it, I made a batch of ladyfingers, which turn out excellent. I've never imagined that it can be done at home, so easy and so quick. thank you and hope to see you on next challenge! cheers.

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  37. Great video! You do really well in front of a camera. It would freak me out! Very impressive-looking dessert, and it sounds super tasty. :)

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  38. I love the look of the cut slices! Charlottes are always so elegant.

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  39. What a beautiful dessert! And a great video! You've got my vote.

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  40. You are adorable! I love it! I so totally want to devour that charlotte!

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  41. SO impressed!! And so proud of you sister! Looks so professional yet inviting. Definitely looks like something that could be featured on your favorite "Barefoot Contessa"!

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  42. Oh and I agree with Rush - You are the bomb!! haha

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  43. Amanda, you did a fabulous job. Great video. Great recipe. You are so adorable!

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  44. What perfect ladyfingers and beautiful charlotte! Amazing.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  45. the ladyfingers, charlotte, post, and instructional are fab- you truly are a natural, however i was entirely distracted the entire time by how f-ing hot you are, woman! :)

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  46. I enjoyed watching your video and the dessert is beautiful. Good luck going to the next round!

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  47. Amanda, this was a beautiful post and video. Just pure, simple and clean. Clearly one of my favorite posts of this challenge. Best wishes!

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  48. Awesome job on the video. You look so comfortable in front of the camera, and I totally feel like I can now tackle the task of making ladyfingers and a charlotte without breaking a sweat. :)
    Good luck with this round. Hope you've got your challenge #8 entry all figured out... you'll need it!

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  49. Aahhhh, Amanda!!! How flippin' cute and professional are you?! I love it. Such a great video!

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  50. Beautifully done, you get my vote! - S

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  51. Such a lovely dessert from such a pretty lady! Wonderful video and you are so adorable I could just squeeze you! Good luck in the challenge! You have my vote!

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  52. Great job on your video! You seemed totally comfortable in front of the camera and the recipe looks amazing as well. Good luck this round!

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  53. Beautiful video, beautiful Charlotte and beautiful you! What a clear and concise job you've done all the way around. Kudos!!
    ~Mary

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  54. You seem so at ease on camera.
    Everything was perfect - very instructional and the pace was great.Your ladyfingers and dessert looked beautiful and delicious.
    This takes soo much work. Good job! I voted for you :)
    -Butter

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  55. Love, love LOVE your post! Well done, you look like such a natural. Future foodnetwork show?!

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  56. Great job! Love your video. Voted!

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  57. These look WAY TOO GOOD! I'm drooling. Fantastic photos!

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  58. Very beautiful dessert! I love how well the Charlotte holds once you removed the ring mold! It slices wonderfully. It's an impressive dessert and your video complemented your recipe very well. Good job!

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  59. Pleasure sharing a table with you at FBF! Your video is lovely and the dessert is beautiful.

    Cheers!

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  60. Beautiful job! It looks delicious.

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  61. It looks absolutely gorgeous (and I can imagine is crazy delicious). Your video was fantastic as well - you were so cool and collected and well organized. I voted for you! :)
    PS - it was really nice meeting you at the Foodbuzz festival. I hope you were able to catch up with Janetha and talk about camera purses ;)

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  62. Wonderful job!!! Your photography is so beautiful, gorgeous lighting. Amazing video!

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  63. You did a very nice job with this video, and it's obvious you are a talented baker. Thanks for sharing!

    Lisa.

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  64. Now that is a masterpiece! I hope you are dreaming about baking something with pumpkin!
    LL

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  65. You cannot tell that this is your first time with iMovie. Wonderful! The dessert is so pretty.

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  66. very nice, good job! :) - miki

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  67. Fantastic job...loved the video, and the dessert is gorgeous :)

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  68. I love your video! You are so natural in front of the the camera and a great instructor. I'd love to take baking courses from you. By the way I love the beautiful sunlight your kitchen gets. Going to vote now & best of luck!

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  69. Congrats on making it this far! Sending a little red heart your way. Good luck.

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  70. This is one totally gorgeous dessert, and I love your kitchen!! Great video!

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  71. Gorgeous result. Love how you showed the way things should look with each step. Excellent video.

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  72. Amanda - great job you are a natural in front of the camera. Love the presentation. Good Luck - you have my vote

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  73. See? You were worrying about this for nothing, m'dear ;) Great job on your entry! I rarely comment but am making an exception for this round, as I think video is a hard thing to do and you did brilliantly.

    Good luck! Fingers, toes, eyes crossed!

    Jax x

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  74. You're a natural in front of the camera. Fantastic job...very thorough and informative and not to mention, beautiful dessert! ;)

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  75. What a beautiful dessert! I didn't know what a charlotte is either so glad you demonstrated it in this video. Great camera presence, you did an amazing job. Good luck!

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  76. The funny thing about blogs is that I've been hearing your "voice" in my head for months of being a reader. Now to actually see you in action is so surreal! Keep at it girl, you're doing awesome!!!!! You have a major fan in me.

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  77. You're such a natural in front of the camera and this video is so instructional and you make it look soooo easy! Great job! Voted for ya!

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  78. Really wonderful looking dessert. I love how light lady fingers are and will have to make them. You made it look so easy! Loved seeing your video :)

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  79. Hi, so sorry I didn't a chance to meet you at Foodbuzz fest, next blog event hopefully. I already voted for your wonderful video, but just getting around to leaving a comment about how wonderful your recipe and your personality is on camera. Much luck. Cathy

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  80. I loved your excellently-done and very professional-looking video - I think you're ready for your own show! :) The Charlotte looks so fabulous also, especially with a pretty little bow on it.

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  81. i totally have never considered making my own lady fingers, i just assumed everyone bought it from the store =P this looks amazing and i love all the layers!

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  82. Everything about this video is gorgeous - the recipe, the cook, the end product :) Incidentally, my recipe and video were born out of the fact that I'd never made ladyfingers before. Now I know where to come! Vote's in. Good luck!
    P.S. Included a link to your site on my latest post.

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  83. FANTASTIC!! so proud that I am one who voted for you! Congrats! You well deserved to go to the next round. Good luck!

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  84. awesome!! absolutely love it!!
    But I am a Lacto-vegan and do not eat eggs!! obviously!! So I was looking for alternate recipe to urs but the one I found is using maple syrup..
    So I would like to know your suggestion weather should I use it or not!! Could you please follow this link and let me know :)
    http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/2049

    I am gonna make it for sthing very special so this is very special!!

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