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Chestnut Mould (Charlotte aux Marrons)

The original charlotte was'invented' by the great Careme, but since his original {charlotte russe), there have been many superlative variations on the theme–this one uses chestnuts, a flavouring very popular with the French.

ingredients

10 servings
225 ml (7 fl oz) 7/8 cup Milk
75 ml (3 fl oz) 3/8 cup Water
30 Sponge finger biscuits (lady-fingers)
75 g (3 oz) 3/8 cup Sugar
15 g (1/2 oz) Gelatine, dissolved in 4 Tbs hot water
165 g (5 1/2 oz) Canned unsweetened chestnut puree
2 Tbs Orange-flavoured liqueur
125 g (4 oz) Canned preserved chestnuts
300 ml (10 fl oz) 1 1/4 cups Double (heavy) cream

method

1. Line the bottom of a 1 1/4 litres (2 pint) 1 1/2 quart mould with a circle of greaseproof or waxed paper. Set aside.

2. Mix together 75 ml (3 fl oz) 3/8 cup each of the milk and water. One by one, dip the biscuits (cookies) into the mixture, coating them well, but being careful not to saturate them. Line the sides of the mould with the biscuits (cookies), reserving the extra to use later. Trim the biscuits (cookies) to fit the top of the mould. Set aside.

3. Dissolve the sugar in the remaining milk, stirring constantly until it has dissolved. Stir in the dissolved gelatine, then the chestnut puree and orange-flavoured liqueur. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is beginning to set.

4. Drain the preserved chestnuts, reserving the syrup. Chop coarsely and set aside. Beat the cream until it is thick but not stiff. Beat half the cream into the gelatine mixture, then fold in the remaining cream. Fold in the chopped chestnuts.

5. Spoon the mixture into the lined mould. Arrange the remaining biscuits (cookies) over the top, to cover the mould completely, and trim off any protruding parts.

6. Cover with greaseproof or waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

7. To serve, remove the paper and run a knife around the edge of the mould. Invert on to a serving dish, giving a sharp shake. The charlotte should slide out easily.

8. Pour over the reserved chestnut syrup and serve at once.

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