This recipe makes 6 mini charlottes, baked in 6-ounce Pyrex custard cups. You can also make a big charlotte in a 2-quart soufflé dish or a charlotte mold if desired. I like this recipe because it can be prepared in advance. The fruit compote can be prepared up to a week ahead. The filled charlottes can be made the day prior to serving and reheated in the oven for 10 –15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the fruit compote:
This recipe makes about 2 cups of compote. It’s from Epicurious.
2 cups apple juice
½ cup sugar
4 (2 ½ by ½ inch) strips fresh lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick, halved
3 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns, cracked
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 firm apples (Gold Delicious or Granny Smith) peeled and cut into 8 wedges with core removed.
(You can substitute six firm pears. Bosc is a good pear to use.)
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries
Optional: 2 tablespoons Calvados (You can substitute Applejack or Brandy for the Calvados if desired.)
1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Bring apple juice, sugar, zest, and spices to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and simmer 5 minutes. Add butter, apples, and dried fruit and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, about 25 minutes. Pour liquid through a sieve into another saucepan and boil until reduced by about two-thirds. Stir in optional Calvados and fresh lemon juice.
If not using immediately, pour the finished liquid back over the fruit and store refrigerated in a tightly closed container for up to one week. The flavor of the compote will continue to improve over the next 2 –3 days.
For the Charlotte molds:
2 loaves (2 pounds) sliced bread – Ms. Baird’s Buttermilk Bread is a personal favorite
2 – 3 sticks unsalted butter
Powdered sugar for dusting the finished charlottes if desired
One 3 ½” round Biscuit or Cookie Cutter
One 2” round Biscuit or Cookie Cutter
Six Pyrex Custard Cups – 6-ounce size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the bread from its package. Using the 3 ½” round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out six rounds from the bread. You will be able to get one round per slice of bread. Using the 2” round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out 36 rounds from the bread. You will be able to get two rounds per slice of bread.
Melt the butter over the stove or in the microwave.
Using a pastry brush, liberally brush the inside of each custard cup with the melted butter.
Take one of the 2” bread rounds and brush it on both sides with the butter. Place it into the bottom of one of the custard cups. Take five more 2” bread rounds and them on both sides with the butter. Place one of the buttered rounds inside of the custard cup along the wall of the cup. The bottom of this round should slightly overlap the bread round on the bottom of the cup. Place another buttered inside of the custard cup along the wall, again slightly overlapping the bottom round and the first round on the wall. Continue until the walls of the cup are completely covered. (This will take five 2” rounds total.)
Continue the procedure above until all six custard cups are lined with the 2” bread rounds. This is your “charlotte” mold. Brush all of the molds with melted butter.
Pack about ¼ to ½ cup of the drained fruit compote mixture into each charlotte. The amount will vary depending on the type of bread you use, and how tightly the rounds were packed into the mold. The mixture should reach the top of mold at the point where the bread ends.
Take one of the reserved 3 ½” bread rounds and brush it on both sides with the butter. Press this round firmly onto the top of the charlotte mold. Continue this procedure for the remaining five charlotte molds.
Put charlottes on a baking sheet or roasting pan and place in the preheated oven. (The sheet or pan will capture the excess butter that will drip out of the charlottes while baking.) Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.
Allow charlottes to cool for a few minutes before un-molding onto the serving plate.
To serve – drizzle with the reserved liquid and dust with the confectioner’s sugar.