Charlotte russe

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 8
Charlotte russe
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Strawberry coulis


Wash and remove stems from strawberries. Place in a food processor or blender with 1 tablespoon sugar and process until smooth. Taste and add additional sugar if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Charlotte and assembly


Cut 6 ladyfingers in half, then make a V shape on one end of each to form a teardrop shape. Arrange the teardrops in the bottom of a 2 --quart charlotte mold with the V pointing to the middle, forming a flower design. Line the sides the mold with 16 ladyfingers with the sugar side facing out.


Whip the cream with one-fourth cup sugar until stiff. Beat in the vanilla and set aside.


Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks with three-fourths cup sugar on medium-high speed until a pale yellow color, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, for about 1 1/2 minutes.


Place the egg mixture in a medium saucepan and stir in a little of the hot milk to blend then stir in remaining milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 2 1/2 minutes, being careful not to let it lump. Remove from the heat before the mixture starts to boil.


In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over one-fourth cup cold water to soften. Strain the custard through a very fine strainer into a glass bowl and stir in the softened gelatin, continue to stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water and continue to stir until it cools and just begins to set.


Remove the bowl from the ice water. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and gently fold them into the custard.


Fold the whipped cream into the custard mixture.


Spoon the mixture into the mold and refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours or overnight.


To serve, place a plate over the top of the mold and, holding it down with the handles, overturn mold and plate. Lift the mold away from the charlotte. Brush the rum onto the ladyfingers, repeating several times to saturate the cookies. Slice the charlotte and spoon strawberry coulis around each wedge.

The strawberry coulis may be made after the charlotte is completed and put in the refrigerator to chill. When making the charlotte, have all of the components ready before you start because as the custard and gelatin set you’ll need to work quickly to incorporate the egg whites and whipped cream. Ladyfingers are available at well-stocked markets.

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