Sunday, July 14, 2013

Strawberry Charlotte with Roses de Reims Biscuits for La Fete National!

For La Fete Nationale , or Bastille Day as we English speakers call it,  I made a Strawberry Biscuit Roses de Reims Charlotte with Glaceed Angelica gifted to me most generously by Isabelle White at Histoire Sucree - the most divine place to buy beautiful and exquisite French confections - nougat, calissons, marrons glace, the list goes on and deliciously on.
A beautiful pink boite de biscuits and gorgeous glaceed angelica. 
A close up of the candied angelica, technically known as Angelica Archangelica - what a cool name!! - I thought to myself as I beheld this delight - it reminds me of celery - and it has the stringy ribs like celery and sure enough, now I did some research, I find it is indeed called wild celery - it is a medicinal plant and is used to flavour various liqueurs including Chartreuse. The flavour is hard to describe but it is distinct and tastes particularly good when eaten with whipped cream - the combination somehow transcends the sum of the two parts. 

It is not hard to make this celebratory dessert but it is time consuming and preferably you should make it one day ahead to allow the strawberry mousse to set up nicely - I had quite the palaver making mine as the weather was atrociously humid causing great concern over fluffing of meringue/marshmallow and curdling of creams but I prevailed and everything turned out well as you can see.

To begin with you should have Roses de Reims biscuits available and if you don't have them to hand Ladyfingers will suffice in a trice - if you don't happen to have angelica either any candied fruit would be nice - whatever you think would taste well with strawberry mousse.

Let's make the cake first - just a small 6" thin disk to help be the foundation of our Charlotte - this should be made the day before to harden a little overnight and develop flavour the way cake does so well.

CAKE: Enough for one 6" shallow cake which should be buttered and floured ready for use - pre-heat oven to 350F

2oz/half a stick soft butter

2oz/ 1/2 cup white flour

2oz /scant 1/3 cup sugar

1 egg whisked lightly 

2 tablespoons cocoa powder sifted with the flour

1. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and light.

2. Add egg in 3 goes and beat well between each addition.

3. Resift flour and cocoa powder into the batter and fold until blended.

4. Put batter into prepared pan and smooth.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool completely and put in a tin overnight.


1lb strawberries - the best you can find - sliced 

1oz/ 1/8 cup sugar
Toss strawberries with sugar - then cook for about 20 minutes until the juices run and they start to thicken - allow to cool and then liquidize to a nice vivid red sauce.

4oz / 1/2 cup strawberry puree

3 tablespoons/ 1 1/2 ozs butter 

In the top of a double boiler melt these 2 ingredients together - allow to cool - set aside

2 egg yolks

1oz/ 1/8 cup sugar
In the top of a double boiler whisk these together until they resemble thick mayonnaise - take off the heat and continue whisking until cool - set aside
2 egg whites
5 ozs/ heaped 1/3 cup sugar
large pinch cream of tartar
  4 tablespoons hot water.

1. Put all 4 ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water - don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the eggs will cook.

2. Whisk like crazy until the mixture forms soft peaks, and at this point it should be quite hot to the touch making your eggs safe if you are using commercial eggs.

3. Take the bowl off the heat and keep whisking until cool and about this thick:

Whip 4 fl ozs heavy/double cream with 2 tablespoons sugar
TO ASSEMBLE MOUSSE: Fold the strawberry puree very gently into the whipped cream, then fold in the whipped egg yolks and finally the whisked egg whites - I didn't add any gelatin as I don't like to use it but it could have done with some kind of thickening agent like gelatin or agar agar, which is much trickier to use especially with dairy ingredients - I packet of unflavoured gelatin used as per manufacturers instructions would work for this amount of strawberry mousse.
6oz chocolate chips melted in the top of a double boiler.

1. Place the chocolate cake on your presentation plate and cover with the strawberry sauce you didn't use in the mousse.
Now dip the bottoms of the Roses de Reims biscuits or Ladyfingers one by one in the chocolate and stand smartly around the chocolate cake thus: little Stonehenge dessert :) I forgot to take a photo but I now strew some of the glaceed angelica cut into small pieces atop the puree...
Allow chocolate to cool completely - you may need to do some stone mason work to help the biscuits stand and hold the mousse thus:
When the chocolate is cooled - by the way - don't cool the chocolate in the fridge or it will cloud and look unattractive! 
Now gently pour the mousse into the centre of the roses de Reims ring you have created:
At this point I would allow the mousse to sit and gel for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

And now for the fun cream furbelows and decorations - whip up some more sweetened cream and decorate to your hearts content, then add angelica, or glaceed/candied fruit of your choice in a pleasing pattern, and finally some nice, genteel dollops of the remaining strawberry puree - I would have added some sliced fresh strawberries too but with the humidity we have had lately the strawberries did not look good enough for decoration - the season seemed awfully short this year!!

Bonne fete mes amis Francais - s'il vous plaît excusez mon mauvais Français - from Maine, which is named after the French province of Maine 
and home to Acadian culture
 Merci beaucoup Isabelle - Patricia
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