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Charlotte Russe

The great French chef Antoine Careme created this celebrated dessert after visiting Russia in the mid-nineteenth century.

ingredients

serves 8
16 ladyfingers, halved lengthwise
4 egg yolks
130 g (4 1/2 oz) sugar
225 ml (8 fl oz) milk
15 ml (1 tbsp) pure vanilla essence
30 ml (2 tbsp) unflavored gelatin, dissolved in 50 ml (2 fl oz) cold water
125 ml (4 fl oz) sour cream
125 ml (4 fl oz) double cream, chilled
15 ml (1 tbsp) Triple Sec liqueur
575 g (20 oz) frozen raspberries, thawed and drained
45 g (3 tbsp) caster sugar
30 ml (2 tbsp) blackberry brandy

method

1. Set 16 ladyfinger halves aside.

2. Take the remaining ladyfingers and cut diagonal slices from each side of one end, so that one end of each is still curved and the other comes to a point.

3. In a pudding mould, arrange the trimmed ladyfmger halves at the bottom so that their points touch and their diagonal edges are side by side. The pattern on the bottom of the pudding mould should resemble a doily with beveled edges.

4. Place the remaining untrimmed ladyfinger halves against the side of the mould, standing them straight up. Try not to leave any gaps between the untrimmed ladyfinger halves.

5. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks. Gradually beat in the sugar. Continue beating until the sugar is fully incorporated into the egg yolks.

6. Warm the milk and vanilla essence in a small saucepan over a low heat. When the milk starts to bubble, beat it into the egg mixture.

7. Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over a low heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture becomes a thick custard. Do not let the mixture boil.

8. Stir in the dissolved gelatin. When the mixture has an even consistency throughout, strain it through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl.

9. In another bowl, whip the sour cream and double cream together until the mixture begins to stiffen.

10. Place the bowl containing the custard mixture inside a larger bowl. Put ice cubes and cold water into the larger bowl until it comes halfway up the sides of the custard bowl. Stir the custard with a metal spoon until it begins to thicken noticeably.

11. Fold the whipped cream mixture into the custard, breaking up any lumps with a whisk or fork. Stir in the Triple Sec liqueur.

12. Pour the contents of the custard bowl into the mould lined with ladyfingers. Chill for 5 - 6 hours before serving.

13. Blend the strained raspberries, caster sugar and blackberry brandy together in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce over slices of the Charlotte Russe just before serving.

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