I wasn't entirely sure what to call this dessert, it is inspired by a Charlotte but I didn't make it in a ring and it uses a lighter whipped cream crème patisserie rather than the traditional fruit puree and custard as a filling.
This is the first time I have made Ladyfingers or Biscuits à la Cuiller and they were utterly divine, I used the recipe from the stunning Laduree recipe book but adapted it slightly. The original recipe calls for Potato Starch instead of Cornflour, unfortunately I can't find Potato Starch anywhere but I found many a recipe that uses Cornflour instead and I was really happy with the results.
I piped my ladyfinger batter into two 5 inch rounds as well as normal ladyfingers, I could have easily piped three rounds as I had plenty of ladyfingers left over after putting the cake together, (not that I'm complaining).
The two rounds were sandwiched together with whipped cream crème patisserie, ladyfingers fixed around the outside and I added another layer of whipped cream crème patisserie to the top before decorating with strawberries and a chocolate macaron, for good measure. I decorated some of the strawberries with chocolate ganache and although I cut most of the strawberries in half I left a couple whole, as they look lovely on top.
I had no idea I liked ladyfingers so much, I've probably had one to many bad ones and didn't give them a second though. I will definitely be making these again.
Biscuits à la Cuiller / Ladyfinger Recipe
Recipe adapted from: Laduree - Sucre
1/2 cup / 60g all purpose flour
1/3 cup / 60g cornflour
5 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp / 125g caster sugar
1/2 cup / 60g icing sugar, for dusting
1 x Piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch / 10mm plain tip
1. Preheat the oven to 170C / 340F. Sift together the flour and cornflour. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until pale. In another large dry bowl, with a clean whisk, bring the egg whites to a foam. Once they are white and frothy, add the remaining half of the sugar and continue to whip until firm.
3. Immediately fold the sugar and egg yolk mixture into the whipped egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the sifted flours over the mixture. Gently combine: start with the spatula in the centre of the bowl, work up the sides of the bowl and bring the mixture back down towards the centre, all the while turning the bowl regularly. Continue until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture.
4. Transfer the batter into the piping bag fitted with a plain tip. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pie strips 2 1/3 x 3/4 inch / 6 x 2 cm.
If you are making ladyfinger rounds: Draw two circles, your desired size onto parchment paper, turn over the paper and pipe in a spiral, working inwards and starting about 1cm from the circles edge, the mixture will spread.
5. Using a fine mesh sieve or sifter, sprinkle half the confectioners sugar over the piped batter. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and dust the tops again with the remaining icing sugar. Immediately place the sheet in the oven and bake for approx. 15 minutes, until the ladyfingers are lightly coloured. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
I baked my ladyfinger rounds for around 20 minutes but this will obviously depend on their size.
I halved the recipe below and folded the cooled Crème Pâtissière into equal amounts of whipped cream, before piping it onto my ladyfinger rounds.
6 medium egg yolks
125g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar
40g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
500ml (2 cups) milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
A little confectioners' sugar or butter
Step 1: Whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 of the sugar together in a bowl to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour thoroughly.
Step 2: In a pan, heat the milk with the rest of the sugar and the vanilla bean. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go. Mix well, then return the mixture to the pan.
Step 3: Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with the whisk. Let bubble for 2 minutes, then pour into a bowl.
Step 4: Dust the crème pâtissière with a veil of confectioners' sugar to prevent a skin forming as it cools, or dot small flakes of butter all over the surface. Once cold, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove the vanilla bean before using.
Makes about 1 lb. 10 oz. (750 g)
Here is a fantastic chocolate macaron recipe for the decoration: Chocolate Macarons
Not only does this dessert look lovely but it also tastes divine, it is actually really light, which is dangerous because I'm sure I could eat the entire thing.
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