The first time I saw a strawberry charlotte, I was so impressed by the way the way it looked that I was a little intimidated at the thought of making it myself but this impressive dessert is actually very easy to make and I think it looks rather romantic too. The hardest part of this dessert is waiting the 8 hours for it set! I remember the first time this light and luscious dessert touched my lips. I was only a teenager and one of our family friends has made it for a dinner party dessert and it was amazing It was the only the one time (until now) that I have eaten it and it was so good that the memory of that lusciously sweet, creamy strawberry mousse encased in slightly moist sponge fingers has stayed with me all these years and now again, I can enjoy this amazing dessert, yaay for me!
Today's recipe is an adaption of the Strawberry Charlotte on www.ricadocuisine.com. Thank you Ricado! I tweaked the recipe by adding the Chantilly Cream and extra vanilla extract - I just find extra vanilla boosts the flavor of most desserts.
The elegant looking sponge fingers can easily be bought at your local grocery store, I bought mine from Coles Supermarkets and they were around $5.00 for a packet. The packet contains more than enough sponge fingers to make this dessert.
To check how many sponge fingers needed for my spring-form pan I firstly lined my 20cm/8 inch spring-form pan with baking paper and then did a trial lining with the the fingers BEFORE dipping them in the syrup just to make sure it all worked. You might see a few tiny gaps below, next time I might just pop a little more sponge in those parts too, it didn't really affect the result though.
Make sure that you cut your sponge fingers down to size (as described in the recipe, or you will have giant sponge fingers that will jut out too much and make you look like you didn't make enough mousse.
Sieve the mixture twice for a super smooth consistency. The first time you are ensuring that you don't have any seeds in your strawberry mixture and the second ensures that your strawberry/gelatin mix is silky smooth too. If you don't want to sieve it the second time that is fine but please ensure you do sieve out the seeds the first time as the whole beauty of a Strawberry Charlotte is the smooth, creamy consistency. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to "stir and push" the mixture through the sieve - it really speeds up the process.
The strawberry mousse for this recipe is so good, you could even just pour it into bowls or little shooter glasses (I love to make mini desserts) and then let it set and serve as a dessert in itself.
Be quick when dipping your sponge fingers into the lemon syrup before assembling, too much moisture will make the sponge fingers break apart and become mushy.
If you don't want to add the Chantilly Cream (though why wouldn't you want to), you can leave it off and just add some plump juicy strawberries straight onto the strawberry mousse and allow it to set.
The candy hearts I threw on are purely optional, I was just trying to be creative with presentation.
YOU WILL NEED
For The Lemon Syrup Water
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For The Filling
4 cups strawberries (washed and leaves removed)
4 teaspoons gelatin
2/3 cup of cold water
1 cup sugar
1+3/4 cup of thickened cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
18-20 sponge fingers (available at most grocery stores)
For the Decoration
1 cup thickened cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8-10 washed strawberries, leaves removed
Tiny red candy hearts (optional)
To make the lemon syrup take a small saucepan add 1/4 cup of water, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil, stir until the sugar has fully dissolved. Add the remaining water, give a quick stir and set aside.
In another small saucepan add the gelatin and water and allow to sit for 5 minutes
To make the filling, place your strawberries in a large bowl and using a stick blender, puree until smooth or pop them in your food processor and puree until smooth.
Take another clean bowl and using a fine sieve, strain the pureed strawberries so that you have a smooth strawberry pulp and set aside, use a spatula or wooden spoon and stir to assist the straining process . Discard the seeds.
Add 1/2 cup of the strawberry puree and 3/4 of a cup of the sugar to the gelatin mixture. Turn on the heat to medium and allow to cook, stirring gently until the gelatin and sugar are fully dissolved. Allow to cool a little and add the remaining strawberry puree.
In a large bowl add your cream, the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and vanilla and beat until you get firm, stiff peaks.
To ensure a super smooth result, take your strawberry mixture and sieve it again, into your cream mixture, using a spatula or wooden spoon to assist the straining process. (You can skip this step if you want).
Whisk by hand or with an electric whisk until the ingredients are well incorporated.
Line a 20cm/ 8" spring-form pan with baking paper on both the base and sides, grease the pan with a little butter if necessary to help the paper stick to the pan.
Cut the fingers to about 7cm /2 + 3/4 inches. Before cutting, do a trial run to see how many fingers you will need to line the edge of your pan and see if that size this also correct for your pan. Cut as many as you need (I needed 13) and line the edge, ensuring the cut edge is along the bottom for a smooth, straight line. Line the bottom of your pan with the remaining sponge fingers and fill any gaps with the off-cuts so you have a covered base. Once cut, quickly dip in the lemon syrup water and then proceed to line your spring-form pan. Discard any unused syrup.
Gently pour the strawberry and cream filling into your spring-form pan.
Allow to set for at least 8 hours or overnight.
To decorate, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla extract until stiff. Pipe or spread over your set strawberry mixture as desired. Top with fresh strawberries and candy hearts if using and serve.