Charlotte aux Fruits
This traditional French dessert draws its fresh flavor from strawberries, peaches, and kiwi fruits, all coated with an apricot glaze. Filled with vanilla-cheese custard, it is colorful and bright.
- Sponge Cake and Ladyfingers
- Egg Whites - 8
- Granulated Sugar - 1-1/2 cups
- Egg Yolks - 10
- Vanilla Extract - 2 teaspoons
- Unbleached All-purpose flour - 3/4 cup, sifted
- Sifted confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Unflavored gelatin - 1-1/2 tablespoons (1-1/2 packets)
- Cold Water - 1/4 cup
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Granulated Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Milk - 2 cups
- Vanilla Extract - 1 tablespoon
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Cream Cheese - 8 ounces, at room temperature
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Simple Syrup - 1 cup (see Basics)
- Fresh peaches - 2, peeled and pitted
- Fresh Kiwi Fruits - 4, peeled
- Fresh strawberries - 24 to 30
- Apricot Jam - 1 cup, melted and strained
To make the sponge cake and ladyfingers: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease them. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolk with the remaining 1 cup sugar until pale in color and fluffy. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten whites. Fold in the vanilla and mix into the batter, than gradually fold in the flour.
Place a 10-inch stainless steel ring mold on one of the prepared baking sheets and fill it with half the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack. Place the remaining batter in a pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch tip. Pipe 3-inch-long ladyfingers on the other prepared pan. Generously dust confectioner’s sugar over the tops of the ladyfingers and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on the pan.
To make the filling: Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let dissolve. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture forms a slowly dissolving ribbon on its surface when dropped from a beater or whisk. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Whisk a small amount of the hot milk into the egg yolks, then add the yolk mixture to the milk and whisk until the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the gelatin until it is completely dissolved. Mix in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
In a deep bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream cheese into the cream, blending well. Blend in the lemon juice. Fold the whipped mixture into the chilled custard, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
To assemble the cake: Cut the cooled sponge cake into 3 layers. Place 1 layer on a 12-inch cardboard round on a baking sheet. Brush the layer with simple syrup, then spread with a layer of the cream filling. Place a second layer on top and again brush with syrup and spread with filling. Place a third layer on top and brush with syrup, then cover the entire charlotte with cream. With the back of a knife, score the cream to divide the cake into 12 sections.
Cut the peaches and kiwi into thin slices. Hull and halve all but 1 of the strawberries. Arrange the strawberries in overlapping rows in 4 opposing sections to form a spoke pattern. Arrange 4 rows of overlapping kiwi slices next to each section of strawberries. Fan the peach slices between the strawberries and kiwi. Place the whole strawberry, point up, in the center. Brush the fruit with the warm apricot glaze. Stand the cooled ladyfingers around the cake, pressing them in gently so they stick to the sides. They will extend above the top, creating a border. Chill the charlotte for at least 2 hours to set.