Petite Pistachio Charlotte

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

So my dear readers, I present to you these lovely petite pistachio charlottes with biscuits roses de Reims. I know they look too darn pretty to eat, but eat them anyway; they are de-li-ci-ous.

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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

Ingredients

For the pistachio paste

For the charlotte

Makes 4 portions

Method

  • 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

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