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.”
“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.
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…
¾ cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream
Best quality imported Italian lady’s fingers
- 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.
- Whip cream until thick.
- Fold cooled lemon custard into whipped cream and blend until completely incorporated.
- Line the wall of a charlotte tin with lady’s fingers with the sugared side of the cookie facing out.
- 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.
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.
Thanks for reading.
photography by Michelle Hooton