Friday, April 15, 2005

Raspberry Banana Charlotte

Inspired by Hatice, Elif, Mine, Dilek and Funda_Mete, I decided to try another charlotte recipe. It is not my first time making this dessert, but I always used store-bought ladyfingers before. Well, this time the supermarket didn't have any, and I ventured to make my own. The batter was not difficult to prepare, but I could not find my pastry bag, so I used--believe it or not--a ziplock bag to pipe it. The result looked terrible, but I put it in the oven anyway. I have to say that this batter is very forgiving. The ladyfingers came out of the oven looking much better than they went in. Another advantage to making my own batter was to be able to bake rounds eliminating the struggle to fit rectangles into a circle. The gelatin I used on the top to keep the fruit in place was too "red", and did not look good at all with the raspberries. But other than that (and the uneven look of some ladyfingers) the charlotte looked good and tasted incredible. I recommend this recipe (from Cocolat) wholeheartedly.

1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas
2 half-pint cartons fresh raspberries
Ladyfingers to line sides of 8-inch springform plus 2 7-inch ladyfinger rounds
1 cup heavy cream
Pastry Cream (recipe below)

Combine 1/3 c sugar with 1/4 c water in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to simmer. Simmer, covered, for 1 minute. Uncover and let cool. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Slice bananas about 3/8-inch thick. Toss with vanilla syrup; set aside.

Crush enough raspberries to equal 2 tablespoonfuls. Sweeten with 1/4 teaspoon sugar; set aside.

Drain bananas and reserve syrup. Using a pastry brush, lightly moisten all inside surfaces of ladyfingers in the mold with the vanilla syrup. Spread crushed, sweetened berries in bottom of mold. Spread half of the pastry cream over crushed raspberries. Place a layer of whole raspberries over the pastry cream, using 3/4 cup of raspberries.

Whip cream with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until stiff but spreadable. Spread half the whipped cream over berries. Top with ladyfinger round; press gently to compact layers. Brush the ladyfinger round with vanilla syrup. Spread remaining pastry cream over it. Place banana slices all over pastry cream. Top with remaining whipped cream. Heap the remaining 1 1/4 cartons of berries on top of the whipped cream. Cover and chill dessert for 4-5 hours before unmolding.

Dessert may be completed and refrigerated 1 day ahead. Do not freeze. Remove sides, transfer to serving platter. Tie a ribbon around the finished dessert, if desired.

Pastry Cream:

After Fatima commented that the pastry cream turned too thick with the amounts given, I researched on pastry cream recipes, and decided to modify it as below. Many recipes also add 1 tbs of butter at the end to make the cream richer.

3 tbs sugar
1 1/2 2 tbs flour
1 1/2 tbs cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together cornstarch, flour and sugar. Add egg yolks and whisk until pale and light.

Scald milk. Pour gradually on the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return to heat, and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until custard thickens and starts to simmer. Simmer gently, still stirring all the time, for about 1 minute for flour to cook. Remove from heat. If lumpy like mine, strain immediately. Stir in vanilla. Let cool completely before using.