Make no mistake. I am sad to see my beloved strawberries go for another year. Oh, I mean sure - you can still find a few straw-coloured pints hanging around here and there, but it's just not the same as it was a couple of weeks ago.
But that's ok.
Because the end of the strawberries heralds the arrival of something almost as good.
With luscious red juice that can stain your fingers for days, there is no doubt that the raspberries have returned.
It's been a few months since I participated in Aimée'sMonthly Miettes and I decided I was up for July's challenge of Strawberry Charlotte. I swapped the strawberries in the recipe for raspberries and let me tell you - that was a very good decision indeed.
Once again, I will say - flavour-wise, Meg Ray's recipes yield terrific results, and yet, for the second time, I think the recipe loses a little in translation.
The cake in the Charlotte is Miette's Hot Milk Cake. The recipe was pretty easy to follow but I couldn't figure out why the directions instruct the butter to be at room temperature when you are just going to put it in a pot and heat it with milk.
Also, the Charlotte assembly recipe says that you should split your cake into two layers but the photo included with the recipe shows only one layer of cake topped with about three inches of mousse. I didn't split my cake in two. Instead I used my two 6-inch cakes whole with the tops levelled as the two layers.
The recipe says to bake the cake batter in two 6-inch round pans and then to build the Charlotte itself in a 6-inch round cake pan with 3-inch high sides. I realized this too late. If I had noticed earlier, I would have baked the cake batter in two 8-inch round cake pans and then built the Charlotte in my 8-inch springform pan which has high sides. Instead, I built a 'collar' for my cake. I placed two sheets of plastic wrap over the bottom of the cake pan in a cross-formation then I placed my first cake layer inside. I built the collar by inserting three 8.5 x 11-inch sheets of uncut stencil plastic around the first layer of cake securing the seams with duct tape.
First layer of cake with collar built around it.
Both layers of cake topped with mousse inside the collar.
THE SIMPLE SYRUP
Miette's recipe calls for simple syrup flavoured with Strawberry Eau de Vie. I don't have any kind of Eau de Vie so I made a basic Raspberry Simple Syrup:
1/2 C water
1/2 C sugar
simmer everything for 20 minutes - strain TWICE
Uncollared and unwrapped the next morning out of the fridge.
The Raspberry Mousse tasted fantastic, however, after about an hour in the fridge, it seemed kind of thin so I whipped an additional 1/2 C of 35% heavy cream and folded it into the mousse which made it perfect.
The Charlotte with the first ring of raspberries.
The ladyfinger were great - soft, spongy, perfect for wrapping around the cake, however, the recipe for ladyfingers makes enough cookies to wrap around about SIX WHOLE CAKES. If you are only making one, make sure you reduce the recipe.
WAS IT WORTH IT?
Miette's Charlotte took me two days to make.
The Hot Milk Cake was DELICIOUS.
I would definitely make the mousse again, maybe for a dinner party, because the flavour was awesome and it set beautifully.
Next time, I would probably eliminate the ladyfingers because they were kind of bland and I think the cake looked prettier without them.
Overall, making the Raspberry Charlotte was a fun challenge and a great way to connect with Aimée and Monthly Miettes again!!