lemon charlotte – when you don’t want pie

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

Not everyone likes pumpkin pie, case in point, my daughter Meaghan. Of my three daughters, Meggie absolutely has the sweetest tooth but pumpkin pie or any pie for that matter stops her cold. She was four years old the first time that I tried to serve her a ‘slice’.

“I don’t like the bread.”

“What bread?”

“The bread around the mushy stuff in the centre.”

That short conversation became family folklore. Whenever my children taste something they don’t like I hear:

“Mom, I don’t like the bread!”

In all fairness, Kate’s not a big pie lover either so I’m always on the hunt for alternative festive desserts to serve over the holidays. This LEMON CHARLOTTE is a dream of a dessert. A creamy lemony filling encased in crunchy light cookies served semifreddo – slightly frozen.  Crazy easy, can be made well in advance and looks and tastes spectacular. The recipe was given to me by my best friend’s mom almost thirty years ago and I’ve been making it ever since.

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

If you’ve never used a double boiler before don’t fret! Most pot sets come with a double boiler included but if you don’t have one you can do what I do; put a smaller pot inside a larger pot. Add enough water, in the large pot, so that it comes 1/4 of the way up the sides of the smaller pot. Keep the water at a soft boil and you’ve got yourself a double boiler!

Second trick; before you try to fold the whipped cream and lemon custard together, take a big spoonful of whipped cream and stir it briskly into the lemon custard. This will lighten the custard making it easier to fold the rest of the whipped cream in.

I used sugared cranberries to decorate this charlotte. I loved the sweet-tart of the berries with the creamy lemon…

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

LEMON CHARLOTTE
Serves 8-10

5 eggs
3 lemons
¾ cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream
Best quality imported Italian lady’s fingers

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

THE STEPS:

  • Separate 3 of the eggs.
  • Place the 3 yolks in a medium-size mixing bowl – set the 3 whites aside for another use.
  • Zest 1 of the lemons – set aside.
  • Juice all 3 of the lemons – set aside.
  • Add sugar, lemon zest, 2 remaining whole eggs and lemon juice to the 3 egg yolks.
  • Beat until frothy.
  • Place bowl over double boiler and cook until the custard becomes thick. –I used a pot inside a pot.
  • Remove from heat and cool completely.

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

  • Whip cream until thick.

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

  • Fold cooled lemon custard into whipped cream and blend until completely incorporated.

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

  • Line the wall of a charlotte tin with lady’s fingers with the sugared side of the cookie facing out.

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

  • Carefully pile the lemon cream into the charlotte tin making sure to keep the cookies standing up.
  • Cover charlotte with plastic wrap and place in freezer.
  • Remove from freezer before serving to allow custard to soften slightly.
  • Serve with your favorite berry sauce or sugared fruit.

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

THE LOVE: Your Lemon Charlotte should be slightly frozen in the centre when serving. If you find that it’s still frozen solid, let the slices sit for a few minutes before serving to allow your charlotte to soften a bit more.

lemon charlotte - when you don't want pie

Thanks for reading.

photography by Michelle Hooton

  • evieg

    Your lemon charlotte looks beautiful and is the perfect dessert for the holidays since it can be made ahead. However, I do not have a charlotte tin. What do you suggest as an alternative? Thanks

    • Really you can use any shape and size pan. All that will change is the height of the dessert.

    • evieg

      Thank you. I am going to look around my kitchen to see what I can use!

  • You can find “charlotte tins” in any specialty store. The bottom does not release and they come with a cover. You could easily use a spring form pan if you can’t find a charlotte tin…So happy that you enjoy my work!

  • I’m not a big fan of pies either, so this looks like a great holiday dessert!

    • It really is – try it with a fresh raspberry sauce and whipped cream on the side…

  • Rosemary Shew

    I used a 7 3/8ths charlotte pan and there was not enough filling for this particular mold. Charlotte pans come in a few different sizes… I cut the lady fingers down to the height of the pan and that seems to work with this amount of filling.

  • Rosemary Shew

    I had a bit of difficulty in slicing the charlotte. The lady fingers fell off a few of the sides while slicing. I allowed the charlotte to thaw for about 20 minutes before slicing, but wonder if I needed to thaw that a bit longer. I believe the I mentioned somewhere that my specific charlotte pan at at 7 3/8″ x4 was too large for the amount of filling and would increase the amount by 1/2 or trim the lady fingers tofu the height if the pan. Delicious recipe though.

    • That’s so strange. I’ve never had any difficulty slicing it, frozen or thawed. My lady fIngers are higher than the pan but I leave them and pile the filling inside. I’m glad you liked the taste!