Life has a funny way of closing chapters. Sometimes they close exactly when you need them to with a nice little resolution, like a short story. Here’s the beginning, middle and end. Other times, it drops you off a cliff when you least expect it. The month of April was the latter for us. Our sweet, sweet cat went into kidney failure. I spent two days carting him between an animal hospital and our vet’s, picking him up before and after work. We watched as he slipped away and there was just nothing we could do but finally put him out of his misery.
For all the fellow pet owners out there, I’m sure you understand the aftermath of putting down a beloved pet… Did you do the right thing? Did you give up too early? Was there something you missed that could of lead to you taking them to the vet earlier and ultimately saving them?
The following months were more than anything else a time of self-doubt. We knew from day one our sweet Gatsby was a senior kitty with special needs. We knew our time with him would be limited. And despite all this I couldn’t help but feel SO cheated for the short one and a half years we had with him.
We packed up his things and our home grew a little quieter and a little emptier. We missed the soft pitter-patter of padded feet.
So a few months ago we decided to add to our family once again. Like this sweet strawberry champagne charlotte (in case you didn’t know, that’s a sponge cake topped with mousse and covered in lady fingers), our home is a little brighter, a little sweeter and all the more colorful for it.
After all, every homes needs a quality control.
Strawberry Champagne Charlotte
This cake has all the trimmings of summer: a fluffy sponge cake base topped with a strawberry and a champagne mousse wrapped in delicate lady’s fingers and garnished with fresh strawberries.
- Prep Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: One 6" Cake - 12 slices
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
For the cake base:
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the champagne mousse:
- 1 packet powdered gelatin
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1/2 cup champagne
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For the strawberry mousse:
- 1 packet gelatin powder
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2 lb fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Lady fingers
- A handful of pink candy melts
- In a glass measuring cup, combine the milk and butter for the cake. Melt in the microwave using 20 second intervals until melted. Whisk and set aside to cool. Continue whisking occasionally so the milk and butter don’t separate.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs and granulated sugar until light and fluffy (approx. 5 minutes). Add the flour and baking powder to the mixture and whisk on low until just incorporated. Add the milk/butter mixture and vanilla extract. Whisk until just incorporated, then pour into a parchment paper lined and greased 6″ cake pan. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Cut your cooled cake in half. You’ll only need one half of the cake for this recipe so you can wrap the other half in plastic wrap and keep it in the freezer for another time. Place your cake on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap with a 4″ tall strip of acetate and gently press the whole thing into a 6″ cake pan. Make sure your plastic wrap doesn’t bunch up and that it sticks up over the sides so you’ll have something to pull the cake out with when it’s ready. Slice 3-4 of your strawberries and arrange them around the top of the cake.
- In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and water for the champagne mousse. In a small saucepan, whisk together the champagne and granulated sugar. Cook over medium heat until the champagne is hot and just starting to simmer (but not boiling). Remove from heat. Heat the gelatin for 10 seconds in the microwave and pour it into the hot champagne. Whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature and until it just starts to set.
- In a bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the champagne gelatin. If you end up with lumps, you can strain the filling. Spread the mousse over you cake base, gently tapping the base so that the mousse settles and the top is smooth. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until firm.
- To make the strawberry mousse, cut up 1 lb of strawberries and puree in a blender. Transfer the strawberry puree to a small saucepan, add the granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook the strawberry until thickened and reduced by about half (approx. 10 minutes). Remove from heat. Heat the gelatin for 10 seconds in the microwave and pour it into the hot strawberry filling. Whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature and until it just starts to set.
- In a bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the strawberry filling. Spread the mousse over you cake base, gently tapping the base so that the mousse settles and the top is smooth. Return the cake to the refrigerator and allow to set until completely firm (approx. 1-2 hours).
- Using 15 second increments, melt your candy melts in the microwave until they can be stirred smooth. Dip the ends of your lady fingers in the pink melted chocolates. Set aside on a piece of parchment to harden.
- To assemble you cake, use the plastic wrap to pull it out of the cake pan. Unwrap the acetate from the sides. Gently press the lady fingers into the side of the cake. Garnish with the remaining 3/4lb strawberries. If you’d like, tie a ribbon around the middle to help the lady fingers stay in place.
- I used store bought lady fingers for this cake and it took approximately 1 1/2 boxes or approx. 24
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 393
- Sugar: 39.5g
- Sodium: 63mg
- Fat: 20g
- Saturated Fat: 11.9g
- Carbohydrates: 50.3g
- Fiber: 1.7g
- Protein: 4.8g
- Cholesterol: .1g