Cherry charlotte

This cherry dessert was made with my son in mind who just  turned 21. I had heard people tell me time and again “oh, they grow so fast” and at the time, buried in child-rearing, domestic chores, part-time work and the like I was thinking ” are these people nuts?”.

Well, they were right, kids grow fast, and the small boy is now a strapping six-foot-four man with a car, a place of his own,  his own business and I am hoping he will pop in to say hello once in a while!

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings

FOR THE MERINGUE:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugr
  • 1 cup of toasted pecan flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:

  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 4 large eg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of agar-agar

FOR THE CHERRY LAYERS:

  • 3 cups of fresh cherries
  • 1/2 cup of cherry jelly

METHOD:

  1. Make the meringue sticks the day before (or up to one week before); toast about 2 cups of pecans in a 300F oven for 10 minutes or longer till fragrant; cool the nuts and place them in a coffee grinder with the flour and pulse until powdery.
  2. Place the eggs in a bowl and beat till stiff, adding sugar gradually till stiffer and still shiny. Add the pecans by hand. Transfer into a pastry bag and pipe long sticks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 250F oven for one hour or longer till dry and crispy. Cool and store until needed.
  3. Place the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl. Whisk either by hand or with a beater until the yolks are lighter in color, about 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the milk (reserve 1/4 cup of milk to mix the cornstarch in) and heat the milk for one minute if using the microwave or on the stovetop until it is scalded (little bubbles appear on the edges). Pour the milk gradually into the egg yolks, stirring constantly and place the mixture over medium heat. Stirring it constantly, add the cornstarch diluted in a bit of milk and the teaspoon of agar-agar. Stir the mixture till thick and add the vanilla and butter. Transfer to a strainer and use the whisk to push it through so it is as smooth as possible. Cover the surface with plastic and store in the fridge up to three days.
  4. Wash the cherries and dry on paper towels; cut into small pieces. Mix the fresh cherries with the jelly (melt the jelly for 10 seconds in the microwave to make this operation easier). Set aside.
  5. Final assembly: Cut sticks of meringue to fit the serving bowls and place all around the rim of the bowl. Spoon several tablespoons of cherry mixture at the bottom, then the pastry cream then plop a fresh cherry with a stem on top. Serve right away or cover and keep refrigerated.

NOTE:

You can forego the agar-agar and use more cornstarch to set the cream; increase the cornstarch by another two tablespoons to get a stiffer cream.

The amount of meringue is more than is needed for this dessert; leftover meringue sticks can be eaten as cookies or used for another dessert.

The pecans can be substituted for almonds.


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29 Comments

  1. Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Funny but as I’ve gotten older my kids are one of the few reasons I cook! Thank goodness my so lives at home or my poor husband would be hungry!

  2. Posted July 31, 2011 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, classy presentation, and a great way to use all the fresh cherries that are available right now.

  3. Posted July 31, 2011 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    A real tower of power, Joumana. How I love cherries. These just look perfect with cream crunch and cherries. You must have had a very happy child!

  4. Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    This was delicious! Happy birthday, Nick!

  5. Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I just picked a bunch of Lapin and Rainier cherries. Now if I can just get to the store before I eat them all, I’ll be making this soon. Another winning sweet, from another winning sweet!

  6. Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Congrats on raising such a successful young man. My mother has raised 6 daughters and the youngest is about to turn 21 also. I think my mum really misses a noisy house and cooking for an army. I wish my mum would make these delicous cherry charlottes for me. but you know, she raised me so well that I think that if I want to eat this I should go and make it myself.

  7. Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Happy birthday to your son, what a very special dessert for a very special occasion. You must be very proud of him.
    *kisses* HH

  8. Posted July 31, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Lovely presentation of a classic!!! and yes, kids do grow fast…I’m “digesting” the fact that, for the first time, my 18 year-old son, has left on vacation on his own (with friends)
    Do I miss him……

  9. Posted July 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous treat and what a perfect dish to celebrate with!

  10. Posted July 31, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I loveee the look of this cute little dessert, it looks so impressive yet not toooo (touch wood) difficult :) Gorgeous presentation too, happy belated birthday to your son!

  11. Posted July 31, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    THIS IS JUST INCREDIBLE!!!! I love this Joumana – you just know how to torment my dieting little (not) butt :)

    But now thanks to you I know just where to come for a good recipe especially that pastry cream – oh my! You are such a whiz in the kitchen and leave us mortal souls in the dust!

    chow dear! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  12. Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ll bet your son is super handsome, seeing that he’s got your beauty genes! ;-)
    A worthy dessert for a fine son!

  13. Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    That looks beautiful! My kids are still small, but I can already tell it’s going by way too fast! :(

  14. Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Lovely anecdote and dessert. Bravo!

  15. Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    These look so gorgeous and bright…quite professional! I can almost taste the meringue cookies that have been sitting in the cherry mixture for just a bit–too delicious. I hope your son knows how lucky he is (I’m sure he does)! Another lovely post!

  16. Posted August 1, 2011 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Another quick(ish) dessert that’s easy, posh and no doubt delish. Your son, though could probably eat two servings.

  17. Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Holy cow….a charlotte? I feel like I’m back in Le Cordon Bleu’s kitchens…this is gorgeous! Well done, Joumana. – S

  18. Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    If your son was born on July 31, then he and I have the same birthday (though I’m 5 years older). Happy birthday to him, and what a happy and celebratory dessert you’ve made for him.

    I love this recipe, and your photography is brilliant.

  19. Posted August 1, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Such a pretty dish and, oh, so long until cherry season here!

  20. Posted August 1, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    It’s heartening to hear that you’re still cooking with your son at 21. I’m hoping a decade from now I’ll be able to say the same thing. This dish looks beautiful too! Ken

  21. Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    lovely dessert Joumana! happy birthday Nick!

  22. Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    This looks amazing! I never have tried something like this but I willing to give it a try!!

  23. Posted August 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday to your son! This is a gorgeous dessert, absolutely love cherries!

  24. Posted August 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    These are delightful! We both have big boys, I have one at 6′ 2″ and one at 6 4″, and they did grow fast :) They would also be crazy for this beautiful dessert!
    Hope you have a great week :)

  25. Posted August 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday to your son! Wish him and your family all the happiness. I hope you’re always celebrating with beautiful food. What a gorgeous dessert. I am sure your son would love it.

  26. Posted August 2, 2011 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Please, tell me your son does pop in every once in a while…reassure me…19 years can go so quickly! :o)

  27. Posted August 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday to you son, and as established as he sounds he will definitely run home to enjoy such a dessert any time. Love the use of pecan flour in the meringue.

  28. Posted August 3, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    He is bound to visit often – nothing can beat this dessert :)

  29. Posted August 9, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Unless you taught him to cook, I bet you’ll see him more than you think!

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