I was really looking forward to this dessert. I as soon as I read this weeks selection I could already taste the tart and refreshing lemon filling and soft moist ladyfingers. I really like these kinds of desserts. A few ingredients, a little effort and some slight of hand and total dessert heaven. These kinds of desserts are so nice because you can spread the work out over a few days and then just a little last minute attention and you have a showstopper without tying you to the kitchen for hours on end. Everyone is always impressed by a lined mold dessert because they think it is so hard but it is deceptively simple and always makes you look like a pro. Top that off with the spectacular flavor of this lemon charlotte and you have a total winner. Shall we bake?
I chose to make my own ladyfingers as I couldn’t find any good quality ones in the shops and they are so easy it hardly seemed worth the effort of tracking down the store bought ones. Separate the eggs and then whip the yolks with sugar for about 5 minutes until very lemony and tripled in volume. Beat in the water and vanilla and beat a few minutes until they yolks fluff up again. Sift the flour over the mixture and then set it aside. Whip the egg whites until foamy and then add the cream of tartar and continue whipping until soft peaks form. Gradually whip in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir about a third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Finally, fold in the remaining whipped whites.
Scoop the batter into a piping bag and pipe the lady fingers and if you wish the round cake base onto parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle the piped fingers with powdered sugar, allow them to set for a few minutes and sprinkle them a second time with powdered sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the fingers to a rack, invert onto a second rack and peel off the parchment and then invert again onto a rack and allow to cool completely. Easy.
Line the bottom and sides of the mold with the ladyfingers, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until needed.
To make the lemon filling, combine egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice in the top of a double boiler and cook over simmering water for about 15 minutes until the custard gets thick and glossy.
In the mean time zest one lemon into a bowl and then set a sieve over the bowl. When the custard is cooked, pass it through the sieve to remove and bits of cooked egg and then stir in the zest and allow the custard to cool to room temperature.
Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Stir about a third of the cream into the lemon custard to lighten it and then gently fold in the remaining cream.
Remove the lined mold from the freezer and fill it with the lemon mousse filling. Wrap the filled mold in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 5 hours.
To prepare the meringue topping, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks form. Gradually whip in the sugar until stiff peaks form. Spoon the meringue over the lemon mousse filling, smooth the top and place under the broiler until it just browns.
Unmold the charlotte and serve slightly softened. Enjoy!
Next Up: Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake