Saturday, 7 August 2010

Plum and Pear Charlotte

I discovered this slightly unusual recipe last year, when I was wanting use up early windfall pears and the bumper plum harvest was in full swing. This is my adaptation of a pudding in the Italian cooking bible, The Silver Spoon.

500g pears, cored, peeled and diced
Juice of half a lemon
150g sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
200g plums, stoned
1 litre red wine
2 tbsp fruit jelly (any red fruit will do - redcurrant, blackcurrant, sour cherry)
500ml faisselle* de chèvre, well drained
A little butter, for greasing
24-36 sponge fingers

  1. Purée the pears and lemon juice. I do it with a stick blender.
  2. Stir the sugar into the pear purée.
  3. Put the plums and wine into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the plums and purée them with the stick blender.
  5. Add the two fruit purées together and heat gently for about 10 minutes, but do not allow to boil.
  6. Add the fruit jelly and stir until all is well mixed and melted.
  7. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  8. Add the faisselle into the fruit purée and mix well.
  9. Lightly grease a charlotte mould (if you have one, which I don't). I used a large pâté dish which came from a charcuterie (delicatessen). They often give them away or sell them for as little as 1€ once they are empty. You need a dish that will take somewhere between 1 and 2 litres.
  10. Line the base and sides of the dish with sponge fingers. Cut the sponge fingers to fit the height of the sides.
  11. Put half the fruit mixture in the dish and cover with the sponge finger offcuts broken into smaller bits.
  12. Top up the charlotte with the rest of the fruit mixture and cover with more sponge fingers.
  13. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Being a charlotte, you are supposed to turn the dish out before serving, but because it was only the two of us I didn't. I just scooped out our servings and left the rest in the dish - so much easier to store that way. It is quite firm though, so I am sure it would turn out beautifully. The original recipe calls for 300ml cream, whipped, but I wanted a lower fat version this year, and used faisselle. Last year's version, which did use whipped cream, was a lot sloppier.

I didn't realise plums and pears would make such good companions, thinking the plums would completely overpower the pears, but this is not the case at all. You can clearly taste both.

You can re-use the wine drained from the plums, by adding some sugar and doing another batch of plums, in red wine syrup.


*Faisselle is a type of fresh cheese, like cottage cheese, but smoother, and usually eaten with a fruit purée. My laitière (door to door milk vendor) sells both cows' milk and goats' milk faisselle. It comes in 250g or 500g tubs with a slotted insert, so you can take the cheese out and drain the whey off.


Jean said...

I have always shied away from making a charlotte - it's the sort of dinner party dessert that is likely to collapse miserably in front of the guests, knowing my luck!!
This looks delicious. I often combine plums with apples in a crumble (an idiot-proof pudding) and the flavours remain distinct.

Susan said...

Jean: If you can make summer pudding, then you can make charlottes. Because you use the sponge fingers dry they take up any excess moisture in the filling, thus firming it up. So long as your filling is thick, not runny, the sponge fingers can absorb without disintegrating, and it will turn out fine.

Diane said...

This looks really delicious. I have more plums than I can possibly use but no pears. Will have to see what I can use instead.Diane

Susan said...

Diane: Do try it with pears even if you have to buy them. The flavour combo is really delicious.

wcs said...

Looks fantastic!

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