I just love the look of an old-fashioned dessert. As a matter of fact, I like most things old fashioned – The Beatles, bellbottoms, cat eye glasses, the 50’s frock, the sexy beehive hairdo, a glass of greener than green grasshopper and there’s plenty more. It’s just that they all reek of character, devoid of any signs of superficiality.
Traditional desserts were wholesome, plenty of fruits were used probably because chocolate wasn’t affordable – think, Peach Melba, pineapple upside down and apple pie. A spoonful of wobbly red jelly with vanilla ice cream makes me deliriously happy even today.
As a child I used to have The Princess and the Frog jigsaw puzzle. I would spend half an hour every day to fix the puzzle, until it became too easy and I got too bored, and old for it. But the memory of the puzzle is etched in my brain, piece by piece.
It was this grand dinner table, of long candle stands, a gargantuan portion of meat roast with the little crisscrosses on its surface, a platter of this long, sleek, silvery fish fenced by greens and a few gravy boats. The king, the princess and the frog (with his crown) sat around the table and a podgy maid was holding a big plate of dessert; her cheeks ripe, red and fleshy as plum.
I didn’t know what the dessert was back then, all I knew was it looked insurmountably delicious and I just wanted to eat it. Today, twenty years down the lane, I watched this episode of The Great British Bake Off, the one that featured Mary Berry’s Charlotte Royale and just like that, a light bulb goes off in my head.
As I was finally enlightened, I read up a lot about charlotte. Quintessentially French (duh-uh), it is essentially a trifle sort of a custard pudding, packed with ladyfinger sponge biscuits. There are many versions to a charlotte, including the fruit and the chocolate ones. But today is about a recipe that I found in this lovely, French food magazine. I actually spent an hour translating the recipe on google, word to word.
Ps: When you seek for answers, they always have a way of showing up, mine always have and today in the form of Marry Berry’s Charlotte Royale
For the pistachio paste
- 10 g pistachios
- 10 g marzipan
For the charlotte
- 6 Biscuits Roses de Reims
- 125 ml whipping cream
- ½ tbsp pistachio paste
- 25 g pistachios
- 15 g icing sugar
- Drop of green food colouring
- 1 g gelatin
Makes 4 portions
- Chop the pistachios into small pieces, set aside.
- In a bowl, add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of water. Sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat the pistachio paste.
- Dissolve the hot pistachio paste in the gelatin mixture and whisk thoroughly until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside.
- Whip the cream with icing sugar until you obtain soft peaks. Reserve 1/4th of the cream for decoration later.
- Add the pistachio-gelatin mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Add the chopped pistachios and green food colouring. Fold the mixture gently.
- Line the ramekins with cling film. Place 3 biscuit roses in such a way that they are standing on the sides of the ramekin, the flat side facing inward. Repeat for the remaining ramekins.
- Spoon the pistachio cream into the ramekins. Level it off with an offset spatula.
- Refrigerate the charlottes for 3 hours until set.
- Before serving, decorate with remaining whipped cream.
- Serve immediately.
Adapted from Régal Hors-Série magazine