This is a traditional French dessert, although you can find very similar desserts in several other European countries. To prepare this recipe you will need a charlotte mould. You can also try with a brioche mould or a large bowl with a wide bottom. For the chocolate, I always use the Netlé Dessert brand when I bake chocolate desserts. It works perfectly for this recipe - makes a wicked chocolate mousse. However, I buy it in France as I never found it in the UK, so you may have to try with a different brand. Hopefully it will work fine as well. Finally, make sure you have plenty of time when you want to prepare a charlotte as you will need at least 3 hours for the chocolate mousse to rest and then another 3 hours for the charlotte to rest once it is assembled. Good luck, this is not the easiest of recipes!
Ingredients (for 6 people)For the chocolate mousse:
- 200g of dessert chocolate
- 6 eggs
- a pinch of salt
For the charlotte:
- around 30 ladyfingers or baking boudoir fingers (this will depend on the size of your mould)
- 3 poached pears and a reduction of their syrup (see BBCfood recipe for spicy poached pears)
At least 3 hours in advance, prepare the chocolate mousse.
Melt the chocolate in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of water (I usually use milk instead but both work fine), on a very low heat.
Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate and mix energetically and rapidly so that the eggs do not get time to cook as the chocolate will still be hot.
Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk or in a food processor. Add a pinch of salt and keep whisking until frothy.
With a wooden spoon, incorporate delicately the egg whites to the melted chocolate and egg yolks preparation.
Put in the fridge to rest for at least 3 hours. You can poached your pears during that interval and prepare the reduction with the syrup while they cool down. Remove the seeds from the pears and cut then into slices.
When the chocolate mousse is ready, you can finally start to assemble the charlotte. Dip the ladyfingers in the syrup reduction and lay them in the charlotte mould (bottom and sides). Fill it with alternate layers of chocolate mousse and poached pears. Finally, add a last layer of ladyfingers (after dipping in the reduction) to cover the top. Use the cap of your charlotte mould or a plate of the same size as the mould to press the charlotte tight and put heavy weights on top of it to make sure it stays like that. This is essential for the charlotte to hold together when you will serve it.
Keep at least 3 hours in the fridge before serving.