No seriously, don’t do it. In fact, I’m not even going to give you the recipe(s). This was sooooo overly complicated and labor intensive. The end result was delicious (though too sweet for me) but the ROI on the making and the enjoyment of consuming it just wasn’t there. The good news though, is that I know exactly how I want to change it next time. The bad news, who knows when I’ll be in the mood to try to emulate a MOF pastry chef again? Answer: Not anytime soon, so this will have to do for now.
So, basically, what I was going for was some kind of Pear Charlotte. I blame HomeGoods. I went in there all innocent like, looking for Coupe glasses, and walked out with this giant bag of Lady Fingers (and no Coupe glasses – those came later). Now most folks when they see Lady Fingers probably think of Tiramisu, but since I can’t stand Tiramisu, I thought of a Charlotte. I spent a good week, week and half trying to find “The PERFECT” recipe, which of course doesn’t exist, so I ended up cobbling together parts of ones that I did like and that’s how this whole (delicious) mess happened.
Part 1: The thing is, Lady Fingers aren’t soft, so they need to be softened. But how best to do that? With a Wine Syrup of course! Actually, this part was super easy and delicious and successful so here you go, 1:1 ratio wine to sugar + Vanilla bean Paste. Mix together, bring to a boil, reduce, then voila, super yummy sweet syrup for whatever you want to use it for – desserts, cocktails, etc.
Pro tip: If instead of bringing it to a boil, you slowly dissolve the sugar without bringing the temperature above 172°F and alternative to reducing the mixture, add in some unflavored gelatin (combine thoroughly until melted), you can make boozy gummy bears!
Part 2: The start of assembly – because this has to go in stages. So now we have the boozy syrup, and we have the Lady Fingers, time to combine the two so that they can make a solid base for the rest of the process. Honestly I should have known at this point that I should just stop, but I’m a persistent little shit, so I carried on! This part doesn’t need a narrative, the pictures can relay the drama.
That last one there, yeah that’s where I broke out the Cuisinart to turn the Lady Fingers into “sand” so that I could make like, concrete, with it and fill in all the gaps so I had that solid base that I would use to build the Charlotte on. Ingenuity or persistent stupidity I’m not sure, but it worked, so the first one?
Part 3: The filling! Y’all, there are so many ways I could have gone here. Mousse? Pudding? Whatever that jelly like substance is in fruit pies? Something inbetween? In the end I went with a simple, easy, Crème Pâtisièrre (aka pasty cream – but seriously everything sounds better in French). I’ve never made this before, and the fact that it worked with only a slight hiccup (I underestimated the size of my cooking vessel – no biggie), made the fact that this turned out *exactly* like it should made me feel really proud until I realized that I actually followed an entire recipe with no changes or substitutions, so it was only logical that it would turn out so well. Here’s the recipe I used from Meiuller Chef du Monde. I need to attempt Cream puffs next, just so I can make this again!
Part 4: I thought you said this was a Pear Charlotte. Where are the pears BBB? Umm right here, in part 4, becuase this recipe is just too much so it needs more steps. (headbang). Caramelize the pears, but wait before you can do that you have to peal, core, dice, and then caramelize them. So. Much. Work. Not this part in an of itself, just at this point after the first 3 parts I’m so over it. Yes I’m a #dramaqueen.
Part 5: Are we done yet? I need a nap already. Sheesh. But no, we move to final assembly! We’re so close! It’s almost done! Not that you get to eat it right away after all that hard work. Nope. Alternating layers between the Crème Pâtisièrre and the caramelized pears, fill to the brim, then cover and chill overnight.
Le Fin: Finally! The end! We get to taste it right? Yes, yes we do, after the completely anxiety inducing fear that once you take the ring off the desert it’s al going to splat everywhere, yes, then we can taste it.
But how does it slice? Well, it slices like a mess. So it’s no the prettiest to serve, and once you take a slice out, it kind of falls into the middle, because the Crème Pâtisièrre just isn’t meant to stand up like that, but like I said at the beginning, it was plenty delicious!
In the end, this was successful, so there’s that. It’s just too much. Once I make the revised one, then I’ll share the actual recipe. In the meantime time, Keep Calm and BBB on!