I didn’t grow up with tropical fruits. I think I was 12 or 13 the first time I ate a kiwi. The only pineapple we ever ate was canned and submerged in a thick sugar syrup. I didn’t even have passion fruit until I came to the US and started working in pastry. I have never had a culinary reference point when it comes to tropical fruit so I almost turned my back on this challenge. But as you might have guessed… I didn’t and here I am!
I didn’t have to think long and hard about what to make. Charlotte was the first thing that came to my mind and roasted pineapple second. I simply love any roasted fruit and particularly pineapple. So sweet and keeps such a wonderful texture. There is some vanilla, some orange and some star anise in the caramel where the pineapple is roasted and I think it really enhances its flavor.
This charlotte also has a passion fruit mousse in the middle. I wanted to stick with the tropical theme and since the pineapple is so sweet I thought that tart passion fruit would be perfect for it. Besides I had some passion fruit puree in the freezer. But please, don’t get discouraged if you can’t find any passion fruit in your supermarket… any fruit will work, mangoes, peaches, coconut… Anything you like.
Makes 4 dozen small ladyfingers and 12 small sponge disks
3 organic egg yolks
75 grams sugar
3 organic egg whites
50 grams powdered sugar, sifted
75 grams unbleached all purpose flour
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg yolks and the granulated sugar until they become very thick and pale (ribbon stage). I only have one bowl for my Kitchen Aid so I have to transfer this mixture to another bowl. Wash the Kitchen Aid bowl.
Whip the egg whites fully and slowly add the sifted powdered sugar. Keep whipping until you have a pretty stiff meringue. Fold the yolks into the meringue and finally fold the flour in.
Pipe the ladyfingers and the disks onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. I usually draw lines on the parchment so I can guide myself and pipe equal size ladyfingers. Sift powdered sugar on top and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Let them cool.
225 grams medium diced pineapple
100 grams demerara or turbinado sugar
15 grams butter
Juice of 2 oranges
1 Tbs dark rum
½ vanilla bean
1 star anise
Make dry caramel with the sugar. Add the butter, orange juice, vanilla, star anise and rum. If the caramel seizes a little, let it dissolve in the pan. Add the diced pineapple, stir and simmer for about 10 minutes on top of the stove or finish in a 350 degree oven. Let it cool. Strain the caramel before we assemble the charlotte.
Passion Fruit Mousse
100 grams passion fruit puree
10 grams sugar
1 sheet gelatin
100 grams heavy cream
Whip cream to soft peaks and keep in refrigerator. Soften the gelatin in ice water for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, warm the passion fruit puree and the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the softened gelatin leaf to the warm puree. Stir making sure that the gelatin has dissolved completely. Set this base over an ice bath until it cools to the touch. Fold in the whipped cream and stir until the mousse is well combined.
Assemble the Charlotte
I used stainless steel ring molds that are 2 inches high by 3 inches wide but you can use any mold you like, even a large one. You can even make it in a cake pan that has a removable bottom or a cheesecake pan. Anything will work.
Line the outside of the mold with the ladyfingers. Place a sponge disk on the bottom. Spread some diced pineapple on top and a little bit of the passion fruit mousse. Place another disk on top, some more pineapple and finish with the mousse.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours so the mousse sets. Serve it topped with some more roasted pineapple.