Has summer arrived at your house? Heat has arrived here, and brought it’s friend: limp hair/sticky clothes/melting makeup humidity. Well, the humidity’s actually been here for awhile. We’ve had twice as much rain as normal in our area so far this year. Add in the summer heat and some days have that Amazon rainforest vibe. And much as I like to cook, it gets a bit toasty-and sweaty-in the kitchen during the summer months. Anything that tastes great, is easy to make, and involves no oven is welcome on my table, like this mocha charlotte. This is not my original recipe, by the way, although I have modified some of the preparation that, I think, makes it easier to put together and serve. I’ve also included lots of photos. This recipe is from Nestle and it’s a winner. Five ingredients, one delicious cake.
A charlotte, in case you’re wondering, isn’t some gal who’s partial to chocolate and coffee. It’s a french dessert that usually consists of layers of ladyfingers (little oblong sponge cakes) or some other soft cake, and fruit preserves or puddings and whipped cream. While they can be hot, most often they are a cold dessert. And honestly, the hardest part of this dessert is finding ladyfingers in your grocery store. Despite this being a cold dessert my family looks forward to it at Christmas as well. This past Christmas I looked everywhere for them and finally gave up. I wondered if I’d have to start ordering ladyfingers online when I finally spotted them at my Kroger store recently. And began filling my cart like a madwoman. You can freeze these, so pick up a few extra and toss them in the freezer. Also, you cannot substitute the hard, crunchy ladyfingers some stores carry (sometimes in the cookie aisle). I find these soft ladyfingers in the bakery department. You’ll need 3 packages containing 12 ladyfingers each for this recipe. You may have 4 or 5 ladyfingers leftover when you’re finished. Eat ’em for a snack.
Slip a thin metal spatula like you frost cakes with between the ladyfingers to gently separate them. Use kitchen shears to easily cut them when needed. You’ll see there are some small gaps in the bottom of the springform pan, which is fine. Don’t try to overlap the ladyfingers. No specific pattern is necessary-just fit them in as best you can. The original recipe called for mixing everything in a food processor but coffee and chocolate chips flew out the food processor when I tried it, or all over my hand when I held it over the…spout, or whatever you call the little piece that sticks up where you can drop things in your processor bowl. (I hope you’re following my technical jargon.) Anyway, it was messy so I’ve always used my blender. Just throw the chocolate chips, coffee, and oil in all together in your blender and mix it up. Let it cool in the fridge while you whip the cream.
The original recipe calls for beating the cream to soft peaks but beating it a little longer will ensure your filling will set up and not remain coffee/chocolate soup. I beat mine until stiff peaks form. Just be cautious and don’t make butter. Mix the whipped cream and chocolate mixture together. After a quick cool-down in the fridge, begin layering in your pan, one-third of the chocolate mixture, then ladyfingers. Again, there will be gaps between the ladyfingers, which is fine.
The pan will be filled clear to the tippy-top of the ladyfingers around the edges. Now it’s decision time. You can chill this in the fridge 8-10 hours, or you can use my shortcut method and freeze it for 3-4 hours. It will still be soft enough to cut after 3-4 hours in the freezer, but will hold it’s shape. And you can eat it sooner, which is really my point.
The original recipe has a glaze you can check out if you would like. I didn’t include it here because I seldom use it. I just beat some additional (sweetened) whipped cream for topping (I sprinkled the whipped cream with cocoa powder for these pictures) and toss on some sprinkles. Chocolate syrup is good, too.
Consider how much your family likes coffee when deciding what kind to use. The type of roast (dark roast, medium, or light) you use and how strong you brew the coffee will determine how pronounced that coffee flavor is in the end. And how much it keeps you up at night. Nah, it won’t do that. Unless you just can’t fall asleep without another piece.
I always store my mocha charlotte in the freezer, but it can be kept refrigerated as well. If you do decide to freeze it, here’s how to make it easier to serve as needed: as soon as the cake is set up (but not yet frozen) cut it in to as many slices as you like, and then return it to the freezer. Individual slices can then be easily removed while the cake is still frozen, without having to let it thaw first.
I hope you find time for all the things you want to do this summer. And I hope you stay cool while you’re doing them. A piece of this cake could sure help with that.
- 3 12 count packages soft ladyfingers, split
- 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 ¼ c. freshly brewed hot coffee
- 2 Tbs. non-flavored cooking oil, such as canola
- 2 c. heaving whipping cream, whipped to firm peaks
- Additional whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate (or your favorite flavor) sauce, if desired
- Step 1 Line the side and bottom of a 9” springform pan with ladyfingers. It may be necessary to cut some of the ladyfingers apart. There will be some small gaps (without ladyfingers) on the bottom-it is not necessary to overlap.
- Step 2 Put the chocolate chips, hot coffee, and oil in a blender. Make sure the lid of the blender is on tightly (I always hold mine down). Process until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth, about one minute.
- Step 3 Pour mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate.
- Step 4 Whip the heavy cream with a stand or handheld electric mixer until there are firm peaks.
- Step 5 Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator and fold in the whipped cream until no white streaks can be seen. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Step 6 Pour 1/3 of the chocolate mixture over the ladyfingers in the bottom of the pan.
- Step 7 Place another layer of ladyfingers over the chocolate mixture, pressing gently onto the surface. As before, you may have to cut some ladyfingers apart to fit, and there will be some gaps. Cover with another 1/3 chocolate mixture.
- Step 8 Repeat this layering with remaining ladyfingers, and covering the top with remaining chocolate mixture. It will fill the pan completely to the top.
- Step 9 At this point you may refrigerate overnight (8-10 hours) or freeze for 3-4 hours. After 3-4 hours of freezing it will still be soft, but sliceable. Remove the sides of the pan (transfer to a plate or cake carrier if desired). Slice and garnish with additional whipped cream, sprinkles, or chocolate sauce, if desired.
- Step 10 Store in refrigerator or freezer. I prefer storing mine in the freezer (especially during the summer) because I like a firmer texture. Remove it from the freezer 20 minutes prior to serving to soften slightly.
Adapted from Festive Chocolate Mousse Cake by Nestle