Once again the Daring Kitchen threw down the gauntlet and issued a challenge: to make a charlotte russe or royale. I accepted and threw in some bergamot extract! What’s bergamot? It’s the light spicy citrusy flavour that haunts Earl Grey tea. More about it later. For now I’ll reveal my masterplan: to transform my favourite mousse cake into this new version with a posh name: Chocolate and bergamot charlotte russe. The chocolate mousse and bergamot mousse layers are divinely light and surrounded by soft sponge fingers and circles studded with chopped nuts then soaked with orange liqueur syrup. With crisp chocolate bark on top. This charlotte doesn’t take too long to make and it’s Pâtisserie with a big P. Resistance is futile, kilos will be assimilated. Just eat with the flow and exercise later. 🙂
RECIPE (around 2 hours to make)
You’ll need: a digital weighing scale for accuracy and weighing the different quantities of cream and pâte to add; sugar thermometre; disposable piping bag with a medium nozzle (no.8) and a rotary whisk, electric handwhisk, standmixer or strong arm.
A. Sponge (30 minutes) – 19 to 20 cm springform cake tin
- 100g sifted cake flour (or plain/all purpose)
- 4 large eggs (separated) – 245g (170g egg whites and 75g yolks)
- 90g caster/superfine sugar
- a few handfuls of chopped salted pistachios and hazelnuts
- icing/confectioners’ sugar (several tablespoons)
Follow the instructions on my Raspberry charlotte russe recipe: sponge fingers, but with the following differences:
(a) make TWO circles (use your cake tin to draw the outlines) and two 5.5cm high strips of sponge fingers (adding up to 65cm) to circle your cake – remember to turn the paper upside down to avoid marks on the sponge. (b) use a number 8 nozzle to pipe slimmer sponge fingers and bases and sprinkle the circles with the nuts.
Once baked let the sponge cool then peel off the baking paper.
B. Soaking syrup (5 minutes)
- 50g caster/superfine sugar
- 50g water
- 15g Grand Marnier orange liqueur or orange juice
Place the sugar and water in a heavy-based pan on low heat till the sugar dissolves (stir occasionally). Bring to the boil then take off heat and stir in the Grand Marnier or juice. Leave to cool at room temperature.
C. Lining the mould (5 minutes)
Follow the instructions on my Raspberry Charlotte recipe.
D. Base for both mousses (15 minutes)
Whisk 455g whipping cream (35%) till three quarters stiff and keep in the fridge for later use.
Pâte à bombe – called a bomb mixture because it’s the explosive base for mousses, propelling them into big fluffy masses!
- 32g water
- 80g caster sugar
- 150 – 160g egg yolks (about 8 medium-sized to large eggs) – make meringues or macarons with the whites
- Whisk the egg yolks till they’re pale and fluffy.
- Place the water and sugar in a small heavy-based saucepan and put on low heat to dissolve the sugar (stir occasionally) then boil on medium-high heat (stop stirring completely at this point!) till it reaches 118°C on the sugar thermometre.
- Pour the syrup immediately onto the egg yolks in a thin stream while whisking fast to combine.
- Whisk on the standmixer or by hand till the mixture has cooled to room temperature and it forms a ‘thick ribbon’ when you lift and let some drop.
E. Chocolate mousse (15 minutes)
- 89g of the pâte à bombe
- 120g good quality dark chocolate like Lindt (50 to 55%)
- 240g of the whipped cream
- Melt the chocolate over a bain marie (a saucepan with a few centimetres of simmering water that don’t touch the bowl sitting over it). Stir till it’s liquid and bring to a temperature of 50°C.
- Weigh 240g of the whipped cream from the fridge in a big clean bowl. Finish whisking till stiff and just at the point where it won’t fall out of the bowl but is still supple.
- Whisk a few spoons of the cream into the hot chocolate, then gently fold the chocolate/cream mixture into the remainder of the whipped cream till almost combined.
- Gently fold in the 89g of pâte à bombe with figure of eight lifting motions and scraping the outside of the bowl, the bottom and going through the middle (by turn). Don’t overwork or it will flatten out. Fold till just combined and still fluffy.
- Pour or spoon carefully into the sponge-lined mould till a little over half full.
- Brush the second sponge circle with the remaining syrup, on both sides, and leave a few minutes to absorb. Then place on top of the chocolate mousse, with the nuts facing upwards. Press in very lightly.
- Place in the freezer.
F. Bergamot mousse (10-15 minutes)
- 132g of the pâte à bombe
- 2 gelatine leaves (with a few teaspoons of water)
- 12 to 15 drops bergamot extract (to taste) – a very scant 1/4 teaspoon. Options: orange blossom water or vanilla
- 200g of the whipped cream
- Dissolve the gelatine in the water over a bain marie. Stir to ensure it’s dissolved then take the bowl off the heat and allow to cool to a tepid temperature.
- Weigh 200g of whipped cream in a large bowl and whisk to firm peaks as for the chocolate mousse.
- Whisk a few spoons of the cream into the gelatine, then whisk or fold this mixture into the bowl of whipped cream.
- Gently fold in the 132g of pâte à bombe, as for the chocolate mousse.
- Carefully pour the bergamot mousse over the chocolate mousse in the mould, to the top. Place in the freezer for an hour or two.
G. Chocolate bark (10-15 minutes)
You can use shop-bought chocolate flakes but tempered chocolate bark is delicious. It creates a kind of stracciatella ice-cream effect as the crunchy chocolate pieces contrast with the fluffy mousse.
Tempering: melt 100g dark chocolate (55 to 60%) broken into small pieces on a bain marie and heat to 55°C. Then use a metal spatula knife to spread it on a flat surface (marble is good) then gather, then spread it again till it cools down to 28 to 29°C.The mess
If it’s very hot and humid like here in Barcelona, you’ll suddenly realise your chocolate is refusing to firm up. So you’ll need to be very patient and wait, or use my Plan B: spread it out on some plastic sheets (cut open disposable piping bags) and put in the fridge for a minute or two. Try to clean up as you go or you’ll end up with a very messy space, like me (oops).
If you put your chocolate in the fridge you have to be so so fast as it becomes inflexible and difficult to make ‘curls’. The plastic doesn’t help when you’re trying to scrape your knife along the underside at an angle of around 10 or 20°: You’ll end up with chocolate bark. And more mess. I’ll try making curls again (maybe in winter) and share that with you but actually the bark’s brilliant. It’s crunchy and stays shiny! I quite like it on the cake. What do you think?
Leftovers, mousse cake or quick no-bake versions
Pour leftover mousse and sponge (soaked in syrup) in glasses or bowls, to make extra desserts. Wrap tightly in plastic film and freeze.
If you can make time to create this cake (a couple of hours) then it’s really worthwhile! I made the mousse cake version (adapted from a Cordon Bleu demonstration) for a few events and apparently there were even compliments from chefs and French people! Below is the forestry party cake. Same two layers of mousse with two sponge circles (using a cake ring and acetate strip) but covered in chocolate glaze to finish. You might prefer this version.
For convenience and a no-bake version you could also buy good-quality sponge fingers/ladyfingers. If you’re really strapped for time then just make the chocolate mousse, which my Catalan friend spontaneously praised at least three times!
Eating and storing your cake
This cake keeps really well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or so and freezes for up to a week or two. Once out of the fridge wait 5 or 10 minutes before eating.
Bergamot orange is an inedible fragrant fruit the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon. The extract has an elusive fresh flavour that’s difficult to describe. It’s most commonly used to flavor Earl Grey tea but can also add a delicious floral, citrusy note to baked goods, ice cream, beverages and vinaigrettes.
You can find it at some specialist baking stores or on Amazon (be careful not to buy the massage essential oil). You could successfully use orange blossom water or vanilla instead to flavour the white mousse, but I do recommend the bergamot as it’s very special.
Thank you so much Rebecca of BakeNQuilt for setting up this Daring kitchen challenge, and you can see lots of lovely sister charlottes here. This cake’s also going to the June Perfecting Patisserie challenge hosted by Kevin@thecraftylarder and Lucy at BakingQueen74, where there are some lovely desserts. Everyone please help yourselves to some cake, a glass of bubbly and mingle! 🙂There’s such a lovely balance of textures and tastes in this chocolate and bergamot charlotte russe. The chocolate, the salty pistachios and hazelnuts, the orange liqueur, the bergamot, the bark … And it’s so light. Have another slice!Hope you have room in your lives for almost-healthy treats sweet reader – something in this cake’s healthy! Because it’s a downright delicious cake to have around. So I’ll bid you farewell for now and wish you a ‘naughty but nice’ weekend! Happy baking and other stuff! 🙂 x