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Pear White Chocolate Bavarian Charlotte

This Charlotte would be great for Spring or Summer but it just happened that I made it for our New Year’s Day dinner with my parents-in-law. Really, I could not be a luckier girl having Bill and Ruth as my in-laws. I will always remember the first time we broke bread and sat together over dinner. I had known B. a little over a week and already I was taken in by his family as if I had always belonged. They were offering a place at their table but also a place in their hearts, completely trusting their son that this young woman of 19 years his junior and potential wife number 2 was the one who would stick around. Oh, we had our moments Ruth and I, but mostly due to misunderstandings, differences in traditions and cultures, but nothing that could not get solved around a batch of cookies and a big hug. My father in law is the looser one of the couple, a free spirit, a joker, and a talented drummer. Both in their eighties, they never miss a bit, are always on the go and exercise religiously. They are also true Southerners.

Although I try to cook items from my country and from Bill’s childhood, I know better than to attempt his mom’s squash casserole, her tomatoes and okra and her spinach souffle. Mom Ruth is also the one gathering up the troops for New Year’s Day every year, so I was really surprised not to hear from her right after Christmas to tell us what time lunch would be on January 1st. Hmmm, strange…While grocery shopping, I could not helped being sidetracked by all the people shopping for the different things traditionally cooked that day: pork, hoppin' Johns and collard greens. I called Ruth and told them that I would love to have them over for New Year’s Day if they did not have other plans. Invitation accepted…now what have I thrown myself into? I know how to cook, (thank you mom) but "Southern cooking served to your Southern mother in-law" is a whole different ball game!!! That’s when Beverly came to my rescue and put all the necessary items in my cart, with all the necessary how-to’s and off I went! Once home, B. told me I was brave to venture into his mom’s territory and I quickly replied "don’t worry! she is bringing the rice with tomatoes and okra". Sigh of relief from my husband…

So, with everything in pots Monday afternoon, ham hocks included, my biggest preoccupation was of course what dessert to serve to the in-laws. I know they like creamy things, fruits chocolate and mousses. How can I turn that into something that would bring both our cultures and continents together as we celebrate the New Year? I immediately thought about a Charlotte filled with a light white chocolate Bavarian cream and topped with pears. The cake base is a layer of ladyfingers at the bottom and surrounding the mousse. To make the cookies more manageable to handle, you need to dip them quickly in some liquid. I usually do water and Grand Marnier but you can use another liqueur or do water and orange juice if you wish. I used jarred pears for the top because the ones I found at the markets were either rock solid or mush, and the stove was already too crowded to start poaching fruit. The Charlotte has to be started the day before to allow the Bavarian cream to set, which gives you less things to think about as you’re getting the house ready for company. Choose the best white chocolate you can find, not only will it make a difference in the final product but you will also avoid little bits and lumps in the mousse.

I don’t know if my in-laws were giddy from the Champagne or the wine or the meal, but we had a great time, just the four of us. It reminded us of the 15 months we went to live with them while we were building our house. No casualties, and we were a little sad to leave them as they can be a hoot! Youwee! Mission accomplished…I passed that test! Mama Ruth complimented me on the savories (and that is a big deal!) while Papa Bill had seconds of the cake. I made Kalyn's wonderful soup the day after with the leftover peas,hams and greens, and I am enjoying a bowl right now as I type this.

Pear White Chocolate Bavarian Charlotte:

2 packs ladyfingers cookies
1 jar of pear halves (16 oz)
2 cups heavy cream
3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/3 cups cold water
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
6 oz (3/4 cup) white chocolate
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

In a shallow dish, mix the water and Grand Marnier. Dip the ladyfingers in the liquid and quickly set them around the inside of an eight inch spring form pan lined with plastic wrap. Layer about 12 in a flower like patter at the bottom of the pan. Set aside in the refrigerator.

For the Bavarian:
Sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/3 cup of water and set aside. Whip the cream to soft peaks and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until thickened and a pale yellow color. Slowly but steadily add the hot milk, stirring constantly to temper the yolks. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened (much like creme anglaise). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, let it sit for a minute and whisk until incorporated.
Heat the gelatin 10 seconds in the microwave, add it to the white chocolate batter whisking constantly. Strain if necessary to make sure there are no chocolate lumps. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and fold it into the white chocolate cream.
Carefully pour it into the spring form pan. Put the cake back into the refrigerator and allow to set overnight.
The day you plan to serve the cake, carefully unlock the spring form pan and slide the cake out. Put a plate on top, invert, remove the spring form bottom, the plastic wrap. Put a plate on top of what will be your cake bottom and invert again. Proceed with a steady hand, but do not worry, the mousse is set so you won’t smoosh it down.
Cut the pear halves into thin slices and fan them out on the top of the cake. Leave it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Allison January 5, 2008 um 7:55 am

Your Charlotte is beautiful! It sounds absolutely delicious, and the purple ribbon is such a nice complement to the yellow colors of the cake. I want to try making one of these! =)

Peabody January 5, 2008 um 8:51 am

Alright my less-evil twin…I made Bavarian too. ๐Ÿ™‚
It looks stunning and what lovely flavor combos.

Rosa's Yummy Yums January 5, 2008 um 9:28 am

This charlotte is truely amazing! I love such kinds of refreshing desserts… Wonderful!



mickymath January 5, 2008 um 11:32 am

il est vraiment superbe! bises micky

MyKitchenInHalfCups January 5, 2008 um 1:54 pm

Pear and white chocolate . . . yes that would be a divine marriage! You always manage to make it look like a work of art and I know it would taste like that too.
Your in-laws sound like wonderful people. Any chance that Mom Ruth will give you a lesson for the rice with tomatoes and okra. My Dad & I are okra & tomato fans. Does she give out her recipe.
Kalyn’s soup is tasty; might be good for me too but I tend to add bread along side.

glamah16 January 5, 2008 um 3:10 pm

Your Charlotte sounds divine. One of those 'things to do'. I wish I could actually hold a converstaion with my Boyfriends mother( she doesnt speak English, nor I, German). But we get along through food and love of cooking. Its really intersting.

Sara January 5, 2008 um 3:44 pm

yum, looks amazing! i have never made a charlotte but perhaps i will have to try one sometime soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

bakeorbreak January 5, 2008 um 4:05 pm

This looks absolutely beautiful and delicious! Happy new year!

Mary Coleman January 5, 2008 um 4:22 pm

Charlotte Russe was the dessert my mother made for her mother-in-law back in 1955.Egg whites, sugar, ladyfingers, heavy cream and a bit of vanilla. The recipe called for a glass of sherry, which Mother poured two…one for her one for the Charlotte. Love your recipe!
I can’t help but think that a Charlotte Russe might benefit from the white chocolate as well!

Suzana January 5, 2008 um 4:33 pm

That charlotte of yours sounds delightful and looks truly beautiful – what a way to welcome the new year!

Joanna January 5, 2008 um 4:43 pm

Lovely as ever


Gigi January 5, 2008 um 7:22 pm

Stunning! Absolutely stunning. A perfect dessert for loved ones.

creampuff January 5, 2008 um 7:38 pm

But who wouldn’t want to celebrate New Year’s in such a glorious way! It’s so beautiful!

June January 5, 2008 um 10:52 pm

That looks so yummy!

Madam Chow January 5, 2008 um 10:53 pm

Beautiful! And I love how you stage the food – that takes a LOT of patience!

Anonymous January 6, 2008 um 12:36 am

Oh tartlette I don’t see how anyone could not love that dessert you made, it looks heart stoppingly tasty – I think you had a bit of an ace up your sleeve with that one!

Jenny January 6, 2008 um 12:54 am

How pretty, and a wonderful way to start the new year!

Anonymous January 6, 2008 um 12:59 am

Wow, how beautiful… The ribbon around it is just such a perfect finishing touch.

Now, I’ve gotta figure out how to veganize Bavarian cream!

Anonymous January 6, 2008 um 1:05 am

It makes me feel very unmanly, but yes, it is beautiful.

Very beautiful.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) January 6, 2008 um 5:40 am

I can’t imagine a more beautiful or more delicious blending of traditions. You are lucky to have such wonderful in-laws, and they are lucky to have you!

Susan @ SGCC January 6, 2008 um 5:46 am

Another lovely and elegant dessert! I’m sure it was a big hit. I bought a charlotte mold years ago, but have yet to ever make one. I’m going to dig it out and try this!

Cakebrain January 6, 2008 um 6:02 am

Oooh…I love white chocolate (my nemesis!)in anything! The pear and white chocolate sound like an amazing combination. I think I’m going to have to try making this charlotte soon! Nice pic too! Having fun with the new camera?

food makes me happy January 6, 2008 um 7:32 am

This is so pretty!

LizNoVeggieGirl January 6, 2008 um 2:28 pm

sounds like your in-laws are lovely people!! so great when the ENTIRE family can get along in harmony :0)

wow, this Pear White Chocolate Bavarian Charlotte is quite lovely – can you believe that I’ve never heard of a Charlotte dessert before?? thanks for introducing this type of dessert!! :0)

Big Boys Oven January 6, 2008 um 4:14 pm

so lovely, so classy!

Annemarie January 6, 2008 um 4:32 pm

How nice that it went so well and that the in-laws are lovely people to begin with. Funnily enough, I hadn’t heard of a Charlotte before finding it in my cookook this morning, and now I find a completed version this afternoon!

Tarah at Genesis of a Cook January 6, 2008 um 4:55 pm

Looks beautiful! Wonderful job!

Meeta K. Wolff January 6, 2008 um 7:05 pm

WOW! This looks fruity and refreshing – such wonderful flavors!

Emily January 6, 2008 um 9:41 pm

I would be nervous to cook for a mother-in-law too, if I had one.
I think you definitely pulled it off with your Southern cuisine. I’ve never even touched a ham hock.

The charlotte came together beautifully.

Nora B. January 6, 2008 um 11:35 pm

I’m glad that your mom-in-law approved! And you charlotte is so stunning. It’s almost too beautiful to cut, but I would have a slice in a heart beat ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lynne Daley January 6, 2008 um 11:46 pm

A gorgeous dessert! How lucky you are to have great in-laws. Happy New Year!

Lesley January 7, 2008 um 12:01 am

I wish I could have eaten that meal with you! Sounds great….

I wonder, did you meet your husband in France or in the US?

test it comm January 7, 2008 um 1:48 am

That looks great! The white chocolate centers sounds really good.

monica January 7, 2008 um 4:50 am

it’s so beautiful! and white chocolate and pear is such a lovely winter combination

Cynthia January 7, 2008 um 1:02 pm

As always hon, your creations are works of art. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. It has a nice, homey feel to it and your in-laws sound like lovely people.

Anonymous January 7, 2008 um 2:31 pm

Beautiful cake! Sounds so heavenly! This would definitely impress my in-laws ๐Ÿ™‚

I always breathe a big sigh of relief (and go to sleep with a smile on my face) when something I cook for the in-laws goes down well ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheryl January 7, 2008 um 5:09 pm

They are the luckiest in laws in the world to have a daughter in law that bakes like that. That is a gorgeous cake to start off the new year.

Anonymous January 7, 2008 um 6:01 pm

It is truely amazing!
Happy new year

Veron January 7, 2008 um 7:48 pm

You’ve got such great-inlaws from what I can tell! Your charlotte is gorgeous and I believe so delicious with the bavarian cream.

Bri January 7, 2008 um 11:42 pm

You’ve done it again! What a delicious sounding and gorgeously presented dessert. Your in-laws must be thrilled with your confections. Congratulations on making tasty savory dishes as well. That really is a talent to cook someone else’s food, well.

Dana January 8, 2008 um 2:35 am

This looks absolutely sensational!! And I’m so glad you are "adopting" me!!

Cookie baker Lynn January 8, 2008 um 3:53 am

Lovely, lovely Charlotte! How blessed you are to have such nice in-laws and how blessed they are to have you marry into the family.

Fruit tart January 8, 2008 um 5:06 pm

Oh, how lovely! I’ve been wanting to make a Charlotte for years, and almost made one for NYE and then decided, last minute, not to. I had a recipe for a rum Charlotte and kept wanting to make it orangy and this sounds absolutely perfect!!

Deborah January 10, 2008 um 7:35 pm

What a gorgeous charlotte!! And it sounds like a wonderful New Years.

african vanielje January 15, 2008 um 12:13 am

Well done on passing the test. Cake looks gorgeous as always. Won’t you consider entering this post in our Apples & Thyme event? We love to hear about how food and kitchens bring families together

Jaime January 16, 2008 um 3:41 am

beautiful! i love white chocolate…

crazy4shabbychic May 12, 2008 um 4:15 pm

I am a Charlotte "virgin" i.e.; never made and have never tasted but after reading your blog AND looking at your beautiful pic, I’ve got to have this scrumptious dessert!

I’m from the O.C. (in So Cal) so I’ll be looking for a bakery that makes this. I have just GOT TO TRY THIS!!!

ljamroz February 8, 2011 um 4:04 pm

Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful recipe, it was the most elegant dessert I could make for my mother in law's birthday. She LOVED it and even bragged to her friends at church on Sunday lol! My husband, in-laws, and friends loved it as well. I really enjoyed making it too!

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