Meet Little Strawberry Charlotte. She understands summer. She knows it’s hot outside and you don’t want to turn on your oven. She knows you don’t need to feed a crowd, because smaller gatherings make more sense in this uncertain world. You’ll gaze at her beauty and sigh. You’ll take one bite and realize that her simple, non-traditional methods made you love her even more.
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Do not boil.
Remove from heat and transfer to a small shallow bowl or dish wide enough to dip ladyfingers. Stir in extract.
In a blender or food processor, puree strawberries. Pass through a mesh sieve to strain out seeds.
In a medium saucepan, combine strawberry puree and sugar. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Set aside two tablespoons of strawberry puree mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin powder. Whisk together and let sit until dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Add gelatin mixture to warm strawberry puree and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat mascarpone cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth. Add strawberry puree and and extracts. Beat until well combined.
In a separate large bowl, whip heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Be careful not to over whip the cream or it will look curdled.
Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
Optional: Line the bottom of your springform pan with a cake board if you don't want to serve it on the pan base.
Slice the round end off of 16 ladyfingers. Dunk them briefly in the simple syrup then line them up along the inner sides of a 7-inch by 3 inch deep *springform pan. (Typically you would line them smooth side in facing the filling, but I placed mine smooth side out because I wanted a smooth look on the outside and it makes removal from the pan easier.)
Line the bottom snuggly with ladyfingers, cutting to fit where necessary.
Top with half of the filling mixture, about 2 cups. Then top with a layer of ladyfingers, cutting to fit as with the bottom layer.
Top with remaining filling. Smooth the top with a small offset spatula.
Cove with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours.
Carefully remove the springform pan ring from the base. Separate the base from the cake board, if using. Garnish with fresh strawberries. Brush strawberries with reserved strawberry puree mixture. Tie a clean ribbon around the finished Charlotte.
Hear me out. Imagine you’re in a beautiful room, reclining on a plush velvet chaise lounge. There’s a dainty table nearby. On the table is a cake pedestal with a little pyramid of small, perfectly plump, pink pastries. They’re filled with sweet, luscious strawberry cream. And they’re all yours. This Strawberries & Cream Profiteroles recipe can make that dream come true. Maybe not the velvet chaise lounge, but really any comfortable chair will do while you indulge in these delicious little gems. Profiteroles have a way of making you feel regal and indulgent. I think princesses and princes snack on them. Most of us don’t have a personal pastry chef or the budget to order from French bakeries every day, but we can certainly follow a recipe and make one of the easiest pastry doughs there is. Choux pastry or pate à choux is used to make profiteroles, cream puffs, eclairs, churros and other pastries. Once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are endless.
This recipe features fresh strawberries, but frozen strawberries will work too. You can also substitute raspberries or peaches. To find the recipe for Peaches & Cream Profiteroles, click here. The strawberry purée can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator. To make it easy on myself, I like to make the strawberry purée on day one, the pastry cream on day two, then make the profiteroles and strawberry icing and assemble on day three. It’s also helpful to practice the French culinary style of prep, mise en place, which means to have all of your ingredients and equipment in place before you begin. Everything will go much smoother and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
Strawberries and Cream Profiteroles
Bite sized choux pastry puffs filled with fresh strawberries and cream filling and topped with fresh strawberry icing
Purée strawberries in a blender or food processor. Strain puréed strawberries through a sieve.
Transfer strawberry purée to a small saucepan. Stir in lemon juice.
Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until strawberry purée is reduced by half.
Remove from heat. Stir in strawberry extract. Set aside to cool completey.
Strawberries and Cream Filling
Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Meanwhile, whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the egg and whisk until smooth.
When milk starts to boil, remove from heat and pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk and cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla extract.
Pour mixture through a sieve placed over a bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and let cool completely.
Set aside 2 tablespoons of strawberry purée. Add remaining strawberry purée to cooled pastry cream and stir to combine. Cover strawberry pastry cream and chill in refrigerator.
In a medium bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks with an electric mixer at high speed. Fold whipped cream into cooled strawberry pastry cream. Set aside in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper,
Combine water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat. Add flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until steam dissipates and mixture cools to lukewarm.
Add eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl.
Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. (I used *Ateco tip 808)
Pipe 1 1/4-inch mounds, about 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Smooth tops with a wet finger.
Bake 15 minutes, then turn down the oven heat to 350ºF and continue baking until golden brown, about 8-10 more minutes. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick a small hole in each profiterole to allow steam to escape. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Use the tip of a paring knife to make a pilot hole in the bottom of each profiterole.
Place strawberries and cream filling into a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip. (I used **Wilton tip 12)
Place tip into the pilot holes and fill each profiterole with filling.
In a medium bowl, whisk all icing ingredients together until smooth. Spoon over filled profiteroles. Refrigerate profiteroles until ready to serve.