Makes enough for 8 individual charlottes, plus extra.
Note: Cake flour is finely textured with a high starch content that makes tender desserts. You can find the flour in boxes in the baking aisle. Adapted from "The Joy of Cooking."
• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. cake flour (see Note)
• 6 eggs, separated, divided
• 1/4 c. plus 1/3 c. granulated sugar, divided
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
• 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place racks in the lower and middle positions.
Place parchment papers on 2 baking sheets, anchoring them on the bottom with a dot of baking spray or butter. With a ruler, mark a guide to measure 5-inch ladyfingers.
(If you want to pipe discs for the base of the charlottes, trace eight 23/4-inch circles; otherwise, you can cut and fit ladyfingers to make a base.)
Sift cake flour into a medium bowl. If you don't have a sifter, whisk the flour briskly to remove any lumps.
In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and vanilla on high speed until thick and pale yellow, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape into larger bowl. Return the flour to the sifter and sift evenly over the top of the eggs. Do not mix in. (No sifter? Just distribute evenly.)
In a large clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Increase speed to high, gradually add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and beat until peaks are stiff.
With a spatula, fold a third of egg whites into egg yolk mixture, gently stirring until almost no streaks remain. Fold in the remaining whites in two batches, gently lifting from the bottom and folding over the top until few streaks remain, taking care not to deflate the whites.
Spoon the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a5/8-inch plain tip. (It helps to stand the bag upright in a vase to fill it. No pastry bag? Fill a plastic bag and snip off one corner.) Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper. Each ladyfinger should be about 1 inch wide and 5 inches long. You'll need 16 to 20 ladyfingers for the charlottes, plus about a dozen more for the bases (or make discs).
To give the ladyfingers a thin veneer of crispness, here's a tip from the new "Sprinkle Bakes" by Heather Baird (Sterling, $19.95). Instead of sifting only once with powdered sugar before baking, Baird sifts half of the sugar over the ladyfingers, then waits 5 minutes until the sugar begins to melt. Sift the remaining sugar over the pastries.
Place pans on oven racks and bake for 6 minutes, then switch positions. Bake for 6 minutes more, then slide the parchment onto a wire rack to cool. Gently peel the ladyfingers from the parchment and store in an airtight container not more than a day, or use immediately.
Makes about 1 2/3 cups, enough for 8 charlottes.
Note: This recipe is from "The Joy of Cooking."
• 3 eggs
• 1/3 c. sugar
• Grated zest of 1 lemon
• 1/2 c. strained fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
• 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
• 1/4 tsp. vanilla
In a medium saucepan, whisk together eggs, sugar and zest. Add lemon juice and butter. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the butter is melted. Continue whisking until the mixture is thickened and simmer gently for a few seconds. Scrape curd into a bowl and stir in vanilla. Let cool, cover and refrigerate to thicken. May be made several days in advance.
Nutrition information per scant 1/4 cup:
Calories 140 Fat 11 g Sodium 25 mg
Carbohydrates 10 g Saturated fat 6 g Calcium 14 mg
Protein 3 g Cholesterol 93 mg Dietary fiber 0 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 other carb, 2 fat.
MINI CHARLOTTES WITH LEMON MOUSSE AND CURD
Note: To make your own molds from 3-inch-diameter cardboard tubing, use a serrated knife (or saw) to cut 3-inch-tall pieces. Line them with parchment paper if using cardboard. Each charlotte will use 2 (5-inch) ladyfingers plus more for each base (either broken ladyfingers or a 3-inch disk made from ladyfinger batter).
• 1 c. heavy cream
• 1/4 c. powdered sugar
• 16 ladyfingers plus more for bases (see Note)
• 12/3 c. lemon curd (homemade or commercial)
•Selection of fresh fruit: raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, blueberries.
Whip cream and powdered sugar to stiff peaks. Set aside.
Place 8 ring molds (3 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter) on a rimmed pan. If using cardboard rings, line with parchment paper (see Note).
For each ring, cut and piece together about 11/2 ladyfingers to make a base, or insert pastry made into disks that fit. Cut 2 ladyfingers in half and line the ring with the sugared sides facing out. (If there's a large gap, cut another ladyfinger to fit.)
Place a rounded tablespoon of lemon curd on each base, then fold remaining curd into the whipped cream to make a mousse.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 4 hours.
Just before serving, arrange fresh fruit on top of each charlotte. With a spatula, gently transfer each from the rimmed pan to a serving plate. Remove tubes or molds by slipping them off. If desired, tie with ribbon, and serve.