This weekend we celebrated my dad’s birthday. When I asked him what he wanted, he said it didn’t matter. Birthday’s aren’t important to him because growing up they were never celebrated. To me that’s all the more reason to want to celebrate now. At the very least, a birthday needs a cake.

I was eventually able to get a request for cake with pudding out of him. I had originally planned to make a chocolate pudding tart, but when my mom came home with raspberries those plans changed to a Charlotte. Charlotte’s are molded cakes filled with mousse or custard and surrounded by cake or lady fingers. They are relatively easy to make and look very impressive.

I say relatively because I had a really, really hard time getting the Lady Fingers to stand up. I read several recipes from blogs, cook books, magazines, they all gave the same instruction: stand the lady fingers around the mold. None of them explained how to get them to stand. In the end I cut them in half to give them flat bottoms, making them more balanced.

I filled the Charlotte with a layer of Grand Marnier flavoured pastry cream and another of whipped cream, then topped the whipped cream with raspberries. To tie the flavours together I dipped the Lady Fingers in a Grand Marnier simple syrup. The result was creamy and decadent; the raspberries added the perfect touch of freshness.

Raspberry Charlotte

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Grand Marnier (divide)
  • 1 package store bought Lady Fingers (or home made)
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 pint raspberries
  1. Make the pastry cream: In a heat-proof bowl whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch, the mixture should look like a paste. Set aside. Heat the milk and vanilla in a medium sauce pan. Heat till just before boiling (there will be some small bubbles popping up). Pour a small amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk to combine (this will temper the eggs). Pour in the remaining milk, whisking constantly. Return the custard to the saucepan, turn the heat to medium and whisk constantly until thickened. Stir in 1 tbsp Grand Marnier. Pour into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap then set aside to cool.
  2. Place the Lady Fingers: In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp Grand Marnier. Let cool slightly. While cooling cut some the Lady Fingers in half, you will need enough to line the inside of a 9 inch springform pan. Lightly dip one Lady Finger in the simple syrup, then stand it up in the closed springform pan; the flat bottom of the cut Lady Finger should help it stand. Repeat until the entire rim is lined, then fill the base with dipped Lady Fingers. Pour the pastry cream into the springform pan. Refrigerate until set (about an hour).
  3. Once set whip the cream with the icing sugar. Spread on the pastry cream, then top with the raspberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then remove the springform mold.
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