- 10 extra large eggs
- 1 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- confectioners' sugar for dusting
For Rhubarb Charlotte:
- vegetable oil cooking spray
- 1/4 cup strawberry liqueur, cassis, or a berry-flavored brandy
- 1/2 cup dark rum, plus 2 tablespoons for the ladyfingers and a few drops for topping
- 2 lbs. ripe strawberries
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 lb. rhubarb, unpeeled, cut up
- 1 cup water plus 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 envelopes powdered gelatin
- 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup strawberry jam or glaze
- strawberry sorbet or ice cream, for garnish
LADYFINGERS: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with baker's parchment. Separate eggs, discarding two whites. In a mixer, beat the eight egg whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a large stainless steel bowl and reserve.
RHUBARB CHARLOTTE: In a mixer, beat the 10 egg yolks with the remaining cup sugar and vanilla to golden ribbon stage. Fold yolk mixture into egg whites. Gradually sift in flour. Transfer batter to a piping bag with a 1-inch plain tip. Pipe 3-inch fingers about 1/2 inch apart directly on the baking sheet. Dust generously with confectioners' sugar and bake 12 -15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on pan to room temperature before removing.
Spray interior of selected molds with vegetable cooking oil and line with plastic wrap. Line the interior sides with ladyfingers with the bottoms facing in. In a bowl, combine strawberry liqueur and the 2 tablespoons rum. Brush this onto the bottoms of the ladyfingers and set aside to soak.
Hull strawberries and slice into wedges (quarters for medium-sized berries, sixths for larger berries). Place in a stainless steel bowl with 1 cup of the sugar and lemon juice and toss. Let macerate for 2-3 hours. Stir to mix every hour or so. There should be a fair amount of strawberry juice extracted. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine rhubarb, 10 strawberry wedges, 3/4 cup of the sugar, remaining 1/2 cup rum and water and cook until very mushy.
Let cool. Puree in a blender with the yogurt and salt. Transfer the puree to a stainless steel bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place 1 1/2 cups of the heavy cream and whip to stiff peaks. Place powdered gelatin in a small stainless steel bowl and add the 1/2 cup boiling water to cover and soften the gelatin. Stir to dissolve. Add about 1/2 cup of the strawberry juice from macerated strawberries to mixture. Stir gelatin mixture into the rhubarb puree.
Prepare an ice-water bath in a larger stainless steel bowl and set the bottom of the bowl of gelatin-rhubarb puree in the bath. Stir until puree just starts to thicken. Fold in whipped cream and keep stirring mixture until it is thicker but still pourable. Pour mixture into molds three-quarters of the way up. If any is leftover, you can put it in a ramekin for a snack later. Place filled molds in the refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours or overnight. Trim ladyfingers so they are level with the Bavarian cream. Puree some of the macerated strawberries in a blender.
To serve: Whip remaining one cup heavy cream with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla to firm peaks. Unmold charlottes. Heat strawberry jam with a few drops of rum and, when melted, paint top of charlotte. Place whipped cream on top and surround with the macerated strawberries, a little strawberry puree and a scoop of strawberry sorbet.
Owner/Chef Bob Kinkead serves this savory creation at the four-star Kinkead's, an American brasserie known for its seafood and located on Pennsylvania Avenue's historic Red Lion Row in Washington, D.C.
"It involves making a Bavarian cream-a fruit puree with whipped cream and gelatin added," he says. "Think of it as an elegant Jell-O, but not as rubbery."
Also the author of Kinkead's Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2005), the chef says this recipe has nearly infinite varations. "Almost any puree of fruit can be used to make a Bavarian cream-peaches, purple plums, raspberries, mangoes and apricots. Use this equation: two envelopes of gelatin to two cups puree and one cup whipped cream. And adjust the sugar added to the puree according to the particular fruit's natural sweetness."
NOTE: In our presentation, we include a white chocolate ball that can be purchased at bakery supply stores.
Also, this ladyfinger recipe makes about 30 more than you need for this charlotte; freeze the rest for another use, such as tiramisu or snacking. For a charlotte, the ladyfingers should be made a day in advance and allowed to dry out. The extra moisture of the liqueurs and Bavarian tend to make fresh ladyfingers soggy. You can also use store-bought ladyfingers.