I was holding off on posting this out of respect for what’s been happening in Japan until a blog friend living in Japan tweeted that reading blogs gave her a brief distraction from the ongoing tragedy. I can only imagine the degree of daily fear with which people are living and if posting this provides even one moment of relief or one moment of respite for even one person, it’s definitely worth it. Here goes.
The other day I read that married couples regretted asking for most of the items they put on their wedding registries. They said that even years into marriage items like fine wine glasses, china and fancy serving plates were never used. In essence, they that said life was too either too hectic or too routine to break out the good stuff.
It got me to thinking about items in my own home that I’ve been saving for important occasions - the box of silverware carefully wrapped up and tucked away in the basement, the unpackaged duvet cover that sits in the back room waiting for a special guest and the Armani gown - the black Armani gown. I suppose that’s been waiting for long black gloves and a night at the Vienna Opera.
Ironically, we actually hoped to visit Vienna this June but then I cracked my back teeth (old fillings, don’t ask). That’s right - 3 root canals and their accompanying crowns at $3000 a piece and insurance covers none of it. So much for Vienna.
Life gets in the way, right?
I can’t help but wonder how many of us reserve things for special occasions because that’s what we’ve been taught to do, because we’re too busy, because life gets in the way or because we can’t be bothered.
I don't know about you but for me the events of the past few days have reinforced one key notion:
Every day we're alive is a special occasion.
As for me, I'll be breaking out the good silverware and setting a beautiful table simply because I can. And who knows, I may even light candles and put on that black dress.
What are we waiting for?
Frankly, I can't think of a more sensational dessert than the raspberry charlotte. It's stunning, it's elegant and it's delicious. You'll be happy you made it.
6 eggs, separated
7 oz. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. flour, sifted
Powdered sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (162 C)
Beat the egg whites until they begin to thicken. Add the sugar and beat until they hold a peak but flop over a bit at the top when the whisk is pulled away. Fold in the vanilla and egg yolks by hand. Gradually sprinkle flour into the mixture while simultaneously folding.
Pipe mixture onto a Silpat lined pastry sheet. You want them to be about the height of the mold you are using. You’ll also want to pipe some of the batter into a circle equal to the diameter of the bottom of your mold. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar. Allow the sugar to absorb. Sprinkle with powdered sugar again.
Bake 10-14 minutes, until they turn light beige in color.
The size of the ladyfingers will depend upon the size of the mold you are using.
II. Raspberry Puree
3 oz. raspberry puree
6 oz. sugar
Boil the raspberries with the sugar until sugar dissolves. Strain and allow to cool.
III. Pate a Bombe (see here for recipe)
IV. Raspberry Mousse (adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)
4 oz pate a bombe
3 sheets of gelatin
6 oz fresh raspberry puree
2 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 tbs. sugar to a soft peak
Heat the raspberry puree until warm. Soften the gelatin in ice water and then gently melt it in the microwave (maybe 8 seconds). Mix the gelatin with the raspberry puree. Mix the raspberry gelatin mixture into the pate a bombe and whisk until it is well incorporated. Please note, all ingredients need to be about the same temperature or the gelatin will become stringy. Fold in the whipped cream.
V. Assembling the Charlotte
Place the mold on a sheet pan. Line the base with the round you made out of the lady finger batter. Line the sides of the mold with the lady fingers placed vertically. Fill the lined mold with raspberry mousse. Chill until firm. Top with raspberries and powdered sugar.