Over the weekend, I picked up some fresh raspberries from my local market even though I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with them. I had passed by them with my shopping cart, and they just smelled so good, I knew that if nothing else, I’d eat them with my morning yogurt. When I got the invitation for Driscoll’s “Raspberries for Dessert” recipe contest, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to use my raspberries in a creative, tasty way. I think anytime there’s a recipe contest, it’s a chance to not only create a beautiful, delicious dish, but to also create something that represents who you are and what you’re all about. In my case, I’m an avid fan of French cakes and pastries, so I knew I wanted to do a French dessert recipe. I decided to go beyond the typical raspberry tart and do this charlotte framboise.
A charlotte framboise is a French cake made with lady fingers, rose Bavarian cream, and of course fresh raspberries. Bavarian cream is very similar to pastry cream, however, it uses gelatin to thicken the cream rather than flour or cornstarch. Personally, I’m not a fan of gelatin-thickened cream, so here I’ve used traditional pastry cream instead. I have to say, this is one of the most elegant and impressive desserts you can make. I love making charlotte cakes for intimate dinner gatherings because they always garner a lot of ooh’s and aah’s. They’re also incredibly light. As decadent as the cake and its ingredients seem, the lady finger layers and fluffy cream are actually really airy. This makes it a wonderful choice when you’ve got a more filling main course. It’s also a perfect choice for a fancy brunch or high tea.
The ripe Driscoll raspberries I used (California berries, represent!) add that perfect balance of sweet and tart while adding a component of freshness to the dessert. Just a quick note about washing raspberries: don’t rinse the raspberries under water like you might do for strawberries or even blueberries. Instead, fill a large bowl with water and pour the raspberries in the bowl. Very gently press them into the water to cleanse, then pour the berries into a mesh sieve to drain. This way, you won’t crush the delicate berries. As for the lady fingers, you can stencil out perfect spots to pipe the batter out on so you get perfectly even cakes, otherwise, you can do free form and embrace the variety like I did! Either way, if you want to look like a French pastry chef, then I can’t think of a better dessert to make this spring then this charlotte framboise!
P.S. To see all the great contest recipes, check out @driscollsberry and #raspberrydessert on the social media platforms!
for the lady fingers
- 6 eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar, separated
- 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- powdered sugar for dusting
for rose cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp rose water, to taste
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 pkgs of raspberries, washed and dried
for the rose syrup
- 1/4 c water
- 1 tsp rose water
- 1/4 c + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Create the Lady Fingers
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of granulated sugar and the vanilla extract. Whisk until pale yellow and thick. Add the flour into the yolks in 3 separate batches, whisking after each one. You should end up with a very thick batter. Temporarily set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites on high speed until frothy (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Add in the remaining tablespoon of sugar and continue to whisk on high speed for another 2 minutes, or until the egg whites are stiff and don't fall off the whisk. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the thick egg yolk batter that you had set aside. This is to loosen up the batter, so you don't have to be super gentle. Now, add the rest of the egg whites and very gently fold them in until they're completely incorporated.
- Pour the batter into a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip and pipe 6 cm long (2 cm wide) logs onto a baking sheet fitted with a sheet of parchment paper. Pipe at least 28 logs, plus a few extra as back up just in case you have any odd-looking lady fingers once they've baked. Dust them with powdered sugar and let them absorb the sugar for a few minutes. Then, bake the lady fingers for 15 to 16 minutes. Let them rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the remaining batter, you're going to create two discs of lady finger cake. To do this, trace an 8-inch circle on 2 pieces of parchment paper. Then, fill these circles by piping the batter in a spiral-like motion, starting from the outer rim going in. You should end up with two pancake-like discs of
- batter. Dust both with powdered sugar, let rest for 3 minutes to absorb, then bake the discs for 15 to 16 minutes. Let them rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Create the Rose Syrup
- Combine the water, rose water, and granulated sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and you have a clear liquid. Set aside temporarily.
Create the Rose Cream
- Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming, but not boiling. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and sugar together until thick and pale. Add the cornstarch, flour and salt, and whisk again to combine.
- Once the milk is hot and just about to simmer, pour a fourth of the milk into the egg batter and whisk vigorously to combine. This will help temper your eggs so that they don't curdle later when combine with the hot milk.
- Slowly pour the entire egg mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk, whisking vigorously as you do. Continue to heat this mixture over medium-low heat, stirring the mixture the entire time. After about 7 to 10 minutes, you should see the cream really thicken up into a pudding-like consistency.
- Take the cream off the heat. Add in the vanilla extract and a tablespoon of rose water; whisk to combine. Taste-test; if you prefer a stronger rose flavor, add another tablespoon of rose water. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream to prevent a filmy layer from forming. Refrigerate the pastry cream until chilled.
- Place the ring of a 10 inch springform pan onto your serving plate. Place the first lady finger disc cake into the center of the ring, onto your platter. The cake should not fill out the ring mold, there should be about a 1/4 inch gap between the cake and ring mold, all around the circumference. If the cake is too big, use a sharp knife to cut off the excess amount. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin coat of rose syrup over the cake.
- Now, apply a very thin layer of the rose cream onto the cake, all the way to the edges, with a rubber spatula. This is just so that you have a sort of adhesive for the raspberries and lady fingers to stick to. Line up the lady fingers vertically against the cake, so that they sit between the cake and the ring mold.
- Place 1 package of raspberries all over the cake, spacing them out from each other. Now use a ladle to add a few generous dollops of the rose cream on top of the raspberries. Gently smooth out the cream over the berries so that the raspberries are covered.
- Add the second lady finger cake disc on top, and again brush with rose syrup. Top with a thin layer of rose bavarian cream and then another package of raspberries spaced out on top. Add the remaining cream on top, covering the raspberries.
- Now, simply add the remaining 2 packages of raspberries all over the top. Garnish with fresh rose petals and powdered sugar. Refrigerate for 2 hours before enjoying!
If you don't have a pastry bag, you can use a ziplock bag by snipping off a 1/2 inch opening from one of the bottom corners of the bag.