This past Wednesday would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday. I had been thinking about making tiramisu for my last post of the summer (and sadly, probably for the next school year), but when I heard about Julia’s birthday I knew I had to make one of her recipes that day. I searched my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for a similar dessert and came across the recipe for Charlotte Malakoff. It still requires ladyfingers (which incidentally are French, not Italian) and is made mostly of delicious cream, like tiramisu. But it also uses almonds, orange liquor, and strawberries. I was sold.
It was a bonus to find a recipe similar to the dish I had originally planned, and I was excited to try something new. But really I was most happy to cook one of Julia’s recipes and write about her. Obviously this is nothing new in the blogosphere, but I think the fact that people continue writing and talking about her is a testament to what an inspirational woman she was. More than anything, I am struck by how much love she put into what she did. Whether or not you like cooking, we should all aspire to find so much joy in life. It just so happens that I find it in cooking, just like Julia. I will miss posting on here during school, but rest assured I will still be in the kitchen. And I’m sure I will be back next summer. Thank you for reading and happy cooking!
- 1 quart fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced
- 2/3 cup and 1/2 cup orange liquor
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 48 single ladyfingers*
- 1/2 lb. softened unsalted butter
- 1 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (plus 1/2 cup for sauce)
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/3 cups pulverized almonds**
- 2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
- Juice of one lemon
*Julia’s original recipe calls for “24 single ladyfingers, 4 inches long and about 2 inches wide” for a 2-quart cylindrical mold (4 in. high and 7 in. diameter). I think the ladyfingers I had were about the same size but I used double that amount with a 2-quart mold. I would buy some extra ladyfingers just in case.
**Pulverized almonds: in a food processor, combine 1 1/2 cups of almonds and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Process until the almonds are a fine grain.
Line the bottom of the mold with a round of wax or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix 2/3 cup of orange liquor and 1 1/3 cups of water. Place the ladyfingers, one by one, on a cake rack. Using a basting brush, lightly coat each ladyfinger with the orange liquor/water mix. The key is to not get them too soggy. For the bottom of the mold, arrange the ladyfingers like a f lower (see illustration above). You will have to cut the ladyfingers to create the fan shape. Next, line the sides of the mold. Reserve remaining ladyfingers for an inside layer and topping.
In a large bowl, mix the butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy and f luffy. Add 1/2 cup orange liquor and almond extract. Continue mixing and stir in the pulverized almonds. In a food processor (or a large bowl with a whisk) whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the almond butter mixture. Spoon 1/3 of the almond cream into the mold. Arrange a layer of strawberries on top of the cream, followed by a layer of ladyfingers. Repeat with another layer of almond cream and strawberries. You will probably have extra almond cream. Arrange the remaining ladyfingers like a f lower again to top the mold. Cover the mold with another round of wax or parchment paper. Set a small saucer on top of the paper and place weight on top of it (see picture above: cookbook and box of vegetable broth). Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
Finally, remove the paper on top of the mold. Run a knife around the inside of the mold and reverse the dessert on a large plate. Remove the remaining paper. Refrigerate the dessert until ready to serve. Meanwhile, I made a strawberry sauce by blending together the remaining strawberries (approximately 1/2 quart), 1/2 cup of sugar, and juice from one lemon. Decorate the dessert with sauce, whipped cream, or sliced strawberries. Bon appetit!