Papaya and Cheese Charlotte with Coconut-Vanilla Sauce
Strawberry papaya provides a richer color to the custard for this dessert, but regular papaya can be used just as well. The coconut milk can be fresh or canned. Make the charlotte a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.
- Custard Base
- Milk - 1 cup
- Vanilla bean - 1
- Plain gelatin - 1 envelope
- Cold Water - 1/4 cup
- Egg Yolks - 3
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Ladyfingers - 3 dozen
- Strawberry or regular papaya - 1, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup, slightly whipped (no peaks)
- Mascarpone Filling
- Plain gelatin - 1/2 envelope
- Cold Water - 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Egg Whites - 3
- Pinch of salt
- Lemon zest - zest of 1 lemon, grated
- Mascarpone Cheese - 1 cup (8 ounces), at room temperature
- Coconut-Vanilla Sauce
- Coconut Milk - 1-1/2 cups
- Vanilla Extract - 1 tablespoon
- Coconut - 2 ounces, flaked
- Fresh edible flowers
To make the custard base: Put the milk in a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk, then drop in the pods. Bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately take it off the heat. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for 3 minutes to soften the gelatin. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until smooth. Whisk a spoonful of the hot milk into the eggs to temper them, then whisk the egg mixture into the milk in the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the gelatin mixture until completely dissolved. Strain the custard through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and stir until cooled.
Dip the back of each ladyfinger in the custard base. Stand ladyfingers around the sides of an 8-cup charlotte mold, fitting them tightly together. Cover the bottom of the mold with ladyfingers, cutting to fit in a radial pattern.
To finish the custard: Puree the papaya in a blender or food processor. Strain the puree through a fine-meshed sieve. Beat the strained puree into the cooled custard. Fold in the whipped cream. Pour the custard into the mold; the mold will be half full. Refrigerate in the mold for at least 15 minutes.
To make the mascarpone filling: Sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons of water. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the 1/2 cup of water and swirl to mix. Boil over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 240 F, or until a small amount dropped into a glass of cold water forms a soft pliable ball. Stir in the gelatin until dissolved. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar mixture in a small stream while beating to stiff peaks. Let cool.
In a medium bowl, beat the lemon zest into the mascarpone. Gently fold the mascarpone into the cooled meringue. Fill the remainder of the charlotte mold with the mascarpone filling and smooth the top. Refrigerate overnight.
To make the sauce: Just before serving, whisk the coconut milk and vanilla together in a small bowl.
To serve: Using a long knife, loosen the charlotte from the sides of the mold and invert the mold onto a serving plate. Spoon sauce around the charlotte. Sprinkle flaked coconut on top of the charlotte and sauce. Garnish with edible flowers.