This chocolate charlotte recipe is an easy variation on the fanciful French cake known as a Charlotte Russe.
It features a ring of brandy soaked lady fingers and a rich chocolate mousse filling. The elegant presentation
is surprisingly simple to achieve with the right ingredients and equipment.
You will need the right mold to get good results with this chocolate charlotte recipe. A traditional charlotte
mold holds about eight cups - just the right size and shape to give gorgeous results. You should try
to find a non-stick mold which virtually guarantees you the quick release that is needed to make a beautiful
There are also less espensive charlotte molds, but they do not have the non-stick surface. They should work
just as well, but be extra careful to thoroughly grease the sides and bottom of the mold before lining it with the lady fingers.
The lady fingers in this chocolate charlotte recipe are called boudoirs in France. They are a fairly dry
biscuit-like cookie, oblong in shape, with one face curved and the other flat. They quickly absorb liquid,
yet are resistant enough to hold together and create the sides of the charlotte. You could experiment with
other lady finger type cookies for this chocolate charlotte recipe, but I only vouch for good results using boudoirs.
Chocolate Charlotte Recipe
Charlotte Russe au chocolat
8 ounces good quality dark sweet cooking chocolate
1/4 cup milk
7 tablespoons butter
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream (well chilled)
Lightly butter an 8 cup charlotte mold and line the bottom with wax paper to insure quick release.
Mix the kirsch with 1/2 cup cold water in a shallow dish. Working with one boudoir at a time (you don't want to leave them lying in the alcohol or they will disintegrate), quickly roll it in the alcohol and place it standing against the side of the charlotte pan with its curved side facing outward. Line the whole pan neatly in this fashion.
Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and have the yolks ready to add to the chocolate mixture.
Using a double boiler, heat the chocolate and milk, blending until smooth with a wooden spoon (no need to boil the water in the double boiler for this - best just to keep it at a simmer). Add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, blending until smooth after each addition. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, blending well after each. Beat the mixture for several minutes with the wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and then beat in the powdered sugar.
In another bowl beat the chilled cream until it forms soft peaks (you don't want this too stiff or it is hard to blend in to the other ingredients).
Blend the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream and than fold in the egg whites. You want to end up with everything completely blended but a light hand is needed to keep things fluffy.
Pour the mousse into the prepared charlotte pan pushing on it sightly to make sure it fills the pan completely. Line the top of the pan with more boudoirs that have been briefly soaked in the kirsch mixture. You may want to add two layers of boudoirs to create a firm foundation for your chocolate mousse when you turn it over.
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and place a weight on top of it (I use a pan that is just the size of the charlotte pan and put a heavy can of beans on top). Place in the refrigerator over night.
To serve, simply remove the plastic wrap and invert the charlotte on a serving plate. It should slide right out. Decorate as you wish - whipped cream, cherries, shaved chocolate - or just serve as is.
As always when creating a dessert with uncooked eggs, use only the very freshest possible.
You can substitute a different alcohol for the kirsch in the chocolate charlotte recipe. Grand Marnier or Kahlua are two ideas to get you started.
If you or your family doesn't like alcohol tastes, try substituting orange juice. Or smash a banana and add a little water. You can be creative with this, just make sure you dip the boudoirs in some sort of liquid to get good results.
You'll find recipes for a wide variety of cakes referred to as a charlottes. Typically a special mold is
lined with cake, cookies, or bread and then filled with a custard, mousse or pudding. There are even French
recipes for savory charlottes -- for example lining a pan with cabbage leaves and filling it with an egg and
vegetable mixture before baking.
According to some food historians, the original charlotte was made in England in the 18th century in honor
of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III. In France, the invention of a special charlotte called a
Charlotte Russe (or Russian Charlotte), is credited to a French chef who named it after his employer,
who was a Czar.
A Charlotte Russe typically is made with lady fingers for a lining and contains a cream filling that
is set with gelatin - called a Bavarian cream. In the chocolate charlotte recipe given here, the Bavarian cream has been replaced by a chocolate mousse.