Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte & I am 30!

raspberry chocolate charlotte

Every year when our birthdays roll around, OCT and I prefer to stay low key and spend our days quietly in each other's company. Sometime we go out for dinner, sometime when we are too lazy or tired, we stay home and eat in. As much as I love to be around friends and having dinner parties, birthday is the one day which I like to just sit quietly and reflect on the things I have done in the previous year, the books I have read, the milestone I have achieved, the new foods I have discovered, the recipes I have tried, the loved ones I have lost, the places I have travelled, the new friends I have made, and all the blessings and good things that come my way. Most importantly, on my birthday every year, my heart is filled with gratitude for the woman who gave birth to me. This year marks the 30th anniversary of her bravery.

Because being emotional is not something our family is accustomed to, I feel terribly awkward to utter simple words like "I love you mum" & "thank you for giving birth to me all those years ago". Instead, I decided to make a pretty cake to pay tribute to mum.

30th birthday cake

The Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte from Alice Medrich's " Chocolate & The Art of Low Fat Desserts" sounds like a good idea. I love all the recipes I tried from that book. What is more importantly, as I've always told my tasters, they don't taste "low fat" at all.So that's the plan. I will make the cake a day before my birthday and post a nice tribute on the actual day to mum.

The cake was made, but my hopeless piping skill left the homemade lady fingers a lot to be desired for. As for the mousse, instead of using the recipe provided, I swapped it with another from the same book which I have tried and liked. Big mistake! Although the flavors were compatible, the recipe I used yield less mousse, and left the charlotte looking awful. I had to trim the lady fingers which explains the jagged/rustic look of the lady fingers wall. Despite of all the mishap, the lady fingers tasted 100 times better than the store bought ones. I think I will make them again and fill the charlotte with lemon mousse and berries next time for a summery dessert.

raspberry chocolate charlotte

I called home on my birthday, too embarassed to mention about the unfortunate cake, and too shy to say "thank you mum for giving me life".Instead, I found myself sobbing, and stammering. And I confess to my parents about my fear of being 30 and that my friends teased me about still liking Mickey Mouse at 30 years old....

As for the cake, if you can look past its wretched shell, it tastes really great! I am sure the Varlhona cocoa powder and chocolate bar used certainly made a difference. You may not be able to see in the picture, but there were lots of raspberries buried in the rich chocolate mousse. The next time I make this, I will try the original mocha mousse recipe from the book. But this chocolate mousse recipe will certainly make appearance in my future cakes. I still can't believe it's a low fat recipe!

Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte
adapted from "Chocolate and The Art of Low Fat Desserts"

ladyfinger charlotte liner (see recipe below), baked and cooled
chocolate truffle mousse (see recipe below)
2.5 to 3 cups raspberries, rinsed and well dried

Line the 8 inch springform pan with a disk of lady finger circle, cut to fit. Next, line the side if the pan with the liners made earlier. Arrange raspberries on the circle and pour in half of the mousse, or enough to cover the raspberries.

Fit the second lady fingers disk in, and lightly press it against the mousse. Pour the remaining mousse on top to cover, and decorate with the remaining raspberries.

To make the ladyfinger charlotte liner:
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sifted cake flour (3.5 ounces)
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Position the rack in the lower and upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375F. Trace two 7 inch circle and two 12x3 inch rectangles on parchment paper. Make sure to have at least one inch space between the rectangles. Turn paper inside out to line the baking pans.

In a small or medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar for 2.5 to 3 minutes until very thick and pale.Scrape into a large bowl and set aside.

In a clean dry mixing bowl, beat the eggwhites with the cream of tartar at high speed until soft peak form. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup of granulated sugar until mixture is stiff but not dry.

Using a rubber spatula, fold a third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Scrape half of the remaining whites on top and sift half of the flour over them. To fold effectively without deflatting the batter, cut down through the center of the mixture to the bottom of the bowl with the spatula. Scrape a large scoop of batter up the side of the bowl. Lift it above the rest and let it fall gently back on top. Rotate the bowl and continue to cur, scrape and lift batter without mixing, stirring, or smoothing.Don't worry, the different parts will come together. Fold until barely combined.Scrape the remaining whites on top of the batter and sift the remaining flour over them,. Fold again, as described, until combined.

Scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 9/16-inch plain tip (ateco #7) or closed star tip (ateco #7). Pipe disks by starting in the center of a circle and pipe a spiral of batter to the edge of the circle. Sieve powdered sugar on top.

Using the rectangular guides, pipe a series of straight of S-Shaped ladyfingers 3 inches long and only 1/4 inch apart within the guide. They will puff and attach together as they bake.

Repeat in the second rectangle. Sieve powdered sugar over the batter.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown. Rotate sheets from back to front and upper to lower racks about halfway through the baking time. Turn the oven temperature to 300F and leave the oven door open for about 1 minutes. Close down and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately lift or slide the parchment papers off the baking sheets and turn them upside down. Peel away the paper from the ladyfingers rectangle. Bend one to fit the inside of the 8-inch springform pan with the flat side facing inside. Repeat with the second rectangle, triming to fit snugly against the first. Set aside to cool completely in pan.

*the ladyfinger liners may be stored, well wrapped at room temperature up to 1 day.

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Mousse

1 3/4 teaspoon gelatin
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup low fat (1%)milk (I used 1 cup soy milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup of cold water in a small cup. Let stand without stirring for 5 minutes, or until needed.

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl near the stove and have ready a small whisk. Combine the cocoa, sugar in a 1.5 quart saucepan and stir in enough milk to form a paste. Stir in the remaining milk and bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent scorching. Stir the chocolate mixture continuously once it begins to simmer. Simmer gently, stirring for about 1.5 minutes.

Remove from heat and whish a small amount of the hot mixture into the egg yolks. Scrape the mixture back into the pot and whish well to combine. It will be hot enough to be safe. It will thicken without further cooking. Stir in soften gelatin, chopped chocolate and vanilla. Let stand a minute or so and whisk again until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is perfectly smooth.

Set the saucepan over a bowl of ice water to cool and thicken. Stir and scrape the side from time to time. If mixture set before needed, remove from ice bath, whisk and set aside. If the mixture set, place the pan in a bowl of hot water, and stir until resoftened.

To make the safe meringue:
Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a large skillet. Combine cream of tartar and 2 teaspoons of water in a 4-6-cup stainless steel bowl. Whisk in the egg whites and 1/2 cup of sugar. Place the thermometer near stove in a mug of very hot tap water. Set bowl in skillet. Stir mixture briskly and constantly with a rubber spatula, scrapping the sides and bottom often to avoid scrambling the whites. After 1 minute, remove bowl from skillet. Quickly insert thermometer, tilting bowl to cover stem by at least 2 inches. If less than 160F, rinse thermometer in skillet water and return it to the mug. Replace bowl in skillet. Stir as before until temperature reaches 160F when bowl is removed. Beat on high speed until cool and stiff.

Fold about a quarter of the cooled chocolate mixture into the beaten egg whites. Scrape egg white mixture back into the remaining chocolate mixture. Use immediately in the mousse cake. Or scape mixture into dessert glasses or a serving bowl, cover and refrigerated for at least 4 hours, or until set.


Jennywenny said...

I think it looks wonderful! I'm bookmarking it for future use! Happy 30th too! I just wondered, did the mousse recipe differ much from the one you used?

Y said...

That looks pretty good for something that is meant to be low fat. Happy Birthday to you! I hope your mom liked the cake. It's touching that you made a cake for her, on your birthday!

Yuri said...

Happy Birthday Mandy! I can understand all the emotions you described in your post.

Meanwhile, I am practising baking birthday cakes for the first time, for my 2 children. The first birthday cake is due on 25 Aug! OMG

Ginny said...

Happy Birthday! The cake looks amazing! :)

AK said...

Nice cake & good photo.

Jules said...

The cake looks gorgeous! Happy Birthday.

Manggy said...

Happy birthday, Mandy! I honestly don't know what you're talking about (er, "awful?"); that charlotte looks super-decadent and delicious to me! Hee, maybe you can just ask your parents to read the blog so they get your message...

daphne said...

u kidding me! THat is low fat? What a wonderful recipe!! It looks like alot of work though-but that is ALL worth it for your birthday celebratioN! Thanks to your mum, we are able to see your blog posts! =)

ganache-ganache said...

Happy 30th birthday. I used to fear when I reached my 30th too but now I'm ok so used to it, sigh.....

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Happy birthday!!! We're almost the same age (I'll be 30 in january). Does it feel weird?
I think your charlotte is adorable and a very good way to celebrate the birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday again Mandy!!!! Such a beautiful and meaningful cake, i am sure your mum will LOVE it!!! I am 30 since March, and life is still as great, let's celebrate!!!

Lysy said...

chocolate mousse....raspberries....AND low fat?? It looks amazing, and I hope you had a very happy birthday!

Aimei said...

What a coincidence! I just baked a charlotte cake too for my parents. Your chocolate looks absolutely delicious. Happy Birthday to you Mandy!

Maria said...

Happy Birthday! Your cake is amazing! What a great way to celebrate!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday and I think it's a beautiful cake! How I would love to sit down with a piece of that right now.

Eileen (passions to pastry)

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Happy Birthday! What a great looking dessert for the big day!

Deborah said...

Happy birthday!! I just turned 30 last year, and although it was a hard milestone, this year has been a great one! And I think your cake looks absolutely gorgeous!

Piggy said...

Happy birthday, Mandy! I've not bake a cake for my birthday before and I think I should do that for the next birthday. :-)

Snooky doodle said...

Wow this cake looks really nice and there s chopcolate so it over the top. Ha i ll be turning 30 next december and really don t feel like 30. I prefer cartoons to action movies maybe age doesn t count. Anyway happy birthday and thanks for this wonderful recipe. The pics are great

sweetalmond said...

Happy birthday! and welcome to the club!....of the thirties:)
Your cake looks awesome and so beautiful!

Kelly said...

I hope you had a wonderful birthday. The cake looks heavenly and not at all like you made "mistakes". I will have to give this a try and check out the cookbook you referenced. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Happy B-day, Mandy!!!

Am 30 and going on to 31 in December and I feel pretty good about my age:) I like to say, Life Begins at 31! :))

What a beautiful and meaningful tribute to your mother. Gorgeous looking cake regardless of you not being quite happy about it. I wouldn't mind a piece:)

Nisa-mom said...

Happy B'day Mandy, best wish for you. Your cake look great, wish I get the birthday invitation too.. :-)

Stardust said...

Happy Birthday girl!! I think you've made your mom very proud. I'm sure she knows how you feel... At 30, possessing a heart like the 20s is a great feeling!! May all gals age with grace, good health and happiness always. =)

Oh yah.. with good food too. BTW, your cake looks really yummy. =P

Patricia Scarpin said...

Happy birthday, dear Mandy!
I would gladly turn 30 (which will happen in November) if someone baked me such a stunning looking cake! And with Valrhona, nevertheless... :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Mandy! Your cake look really good!

Natalie Que said...

Happy 30th! I have no idea how I clicked on to your adorable blog, but wow, it's cute. Almost as cute as this Delectable Raspberry Concoction, of which I have forgotten the name! Yum! And your photography is outstanding.

Brilynn said...

Happy Happy Birthday!
I think your cake looks just lovely!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Mandy,
Happy Birthday!! I am ten years older than you, and I still like many cartoon characters ;)

Sarah R said...

Happy birthday, and YUM!!

I have a gift for you at my blog: http://yummysmells.blogspot.com/2008/08/unimpressed.html

bp said...

Glad to see this post, Mandy... my first sentence in that FB greeting card that didn't reach you, was to ask you, What lovely cake did you make for your b'day? =)

What a wonderful way to celebrate your special day, calling home and getting to speak with your most loved ones! This cake looks divine, and must taste heavenly!

Enjoy your weekend now... and 30 is so, so young!!! ;p

Mandy said...

Thanks everyone for your birthday wiashes and the reassurant of life after 30 will be just as wonderful!
and your kind words on the messy cake too! :p

the original recipe is a mocha mousse. i think with the light color of the mousse, you can see the raspberries clearer. I need to try out that recipe sometime, and do a comparison.

we don't have internet connection back home since bro and I are both oversea. I will send bro hints to tell mum the content! :p

Anonymous said...

you brought smile to my face when you said, you're 30 already and still like Mickey Mouse! :D lots of people still do & there's nothing wrong with that!
happy birtday to you, best of everything in life for you. that cake still look delicious no matter how hard you downplayed it :D

Rasa Malaysia said...

What a beautiful--and yummy--way to celebrate 30. Happy belated b-day.

RecipeGirl said...

Happy belated bday to you! I think your cake looks absolutely beautiful :)

Natalie Que said...

Mandy your recipes and photography are simply spot-on!

Kana said...

Happy Belated 30th Mandy!!
Turning 30 was a huge roller coaster of emotions for me....Lovely charlotte!

thecoffeesnob said...

Oooh this just looks amazing! I wish i could reach into my computer screen with a spoon. Happy belated birthday by the way!

Venus ~ Vi said...

Happy belated birthday, Mandy!!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

very late, but happy birthday!

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