Try out this crowning dessert for the festive season

Dessert doesn't get more appealing than this.

Dessert doesn’t get more appealing than this.

’Tis the season of good cheer, and thoughts of entertaining spring into our minds. Although this dish may not typically be served in this season, it sure has the required pizazz. Something different if not new for all to enjoy, this creative; colourful dessert will be a sure-fire hit at any party. Besides being visually stunning, it tastes supremely yummy.

It should do the trick.

Charlotte russe, was created by the French chef, Marie-Antoine Carême (1784 – 1833), who named it in honour of his former employer, England’s Princess Charlotte, and his current employer, Czar Alexander I. It is typically a cold dessert, of Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers.

An alternative dessert treat is a Charlotte royale. This has the same filling as a Charlotte russe, but replaces the ladyfinger lining with a Swiss roll.

Worth trying, no? If it was created for royalty, it should make us feel like royalty, if only for the dessert course.

Lemon Sponge
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups regular flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two seven-inch cake pans and set aside. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites (save the yolks) and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add one-half a cup of the sugar and beat until very stiff. (Do not under-beat.) Set aside. Beat the yolks until blended, then add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar and beat until blended. Add the remaining dry ingredients alternately with the cold water. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites, then add the lemon juice and mix it in very gently.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the pan and transferring the cake to a rack to cool completely.

Strawberry Mousse
2 cups fresh, chopped strawberries
2 large pasteurized egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

In a blender or food processor, process the strawberries until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and salt and continue beating for seven minutes, or until soft peaks form. Add the strawberries and once more continue beating until stiff peaks form, about five minutes. Refrigerate the mousse until ready to assemble the cake.

Whipped Cream Icing
2 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whip together all ingredients until stiff peaks form. Chill the whipped cream until ready to assemble.

To assemble
3 cups fresh strawberries
25 to 30 ladyfingers (savoiardi cookies)

Place the bottom layer of the cake on a serving plate. Cut a handful of strawberries into quarters and scatter them over the surface. Spoon onto the chilled strawberry mousse.

Put the top layer of cake in place, turned upside down to provide a flat surface on top. Using an offset spatula, cover the sides of the cake with the whipped cream. Press the ladyfingers along the outside of the cake, spacing them evenly. With the remaining fresh strawberry mousse spoon and smooth over the top of the cake. Finally, decorate the top of the cake with a layer of your favourite fruit, such as raspberries, strawberries or blueberries, and lightly dust with icing sugar to give that frosted look.

Season’s greetings to each and every one of you.

Ian Leatt is general manager of Pegasus Publications Ltd.

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