Raspberry Charlotte (Charlotte à la Framboise)

The Les Halles quarter of Paris may no longer have its famed food market, but its spirit lives on in the classic French bistro dishes it inspired, such as this luscious dessert.

Raspberry Charlotte (Charlotte à la Framboise)
Direct from Paris, a cool and creamy raspberry mousse sandwiched between two layers of fluffy cake.
Yield: serves 8

For the Cake

  • 1 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 4 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 12 cup sugar
  • 7 tbsp. cake flour
  • 1 14 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Raspberry Filling and Sauce

  • 9 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 34 cup sugar
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 14 cup plus 2 tbsp. eau-de-vie de poire (pear brandy)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp. superfine sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 9" springform pan and line bottom with buttered parchment. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale yellow. Gradually beat in flour until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and set aside. Whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold whites into yolk mixture, taking care not to deflate whites. Pour into prepared pan and bake until brown, 25–30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Make the filling: Put raspberries, sugar, and 1 cup water into a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves and berries break down, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin into 14 cup cold water; set aside until softened.
  4. Press cooked raspberries through a sieve set over a bowl to catch purée. Return 2 cups purée to pan, reserving the remaining purée for sauce, and set over low heat. Add softened gelatin to pan, stirring until dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat, add 14 cup eau-de-vie, and set aside to cool at room temperature. Whip cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold cooled purée into cream.
  5. Assemble the Charlotte: Unmold cake and discard parchment. Slice cake in half crosswise, then return bottom cake layer to pan with ring reattached. Pour in raspberry filling, then replace cake top, brown side up. Cover with plastic; refrigerate for 24 hours.
  6. Make the sauce: Combine reserved raspberry purée, superfine sugar, lemon juice, and remaining eau-de-vie in a bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved. Slice cake and serve with sauce.