Coffee and Praline Charlotte

Both this and the Charlotte Louise which follows are rich, classic puddings that are perfect for a party or special dinner. All the work of lining and filling the mould is done at leisure some 24 hours in advance, so that it merely needs to be turned out just before serving.

Ingredients

  • 50 g/2 oz ground coffee
  • 600 ml/1 pint milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 100 g/4 oz caster sugar
  • 11 g/scant ½ oz leaf gelatine (6 sheets), soaked
  • 450 ml/¾ pint double cream
  • 24 sponge finger biscuits
  • 2 tablespoons Tia Maria
  • 2 tablespoons stock syrup

For the Praline

  • 50 g/2 oz hazelnuts
  • 50 g/2 oz caster sugar

Method

To make the praline, spread out the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated hot oven for 5–10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, rub between the palms of your hands to remove the papery skins. Chop roughly.

Place the sugar in a small pan with 1 tablespoon cold water. Stir over a medium heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat. Boil until it turns a light brown, watching the pan constantly. Immediately tip in the hazelnuts, bring back to the boil and remove from the heat. Pour on to a lightly oiled baking sheet and leave to cool and harden. Break into pieces, and grind to a powder. Store until needed in an airtight container.

To make the charlotte, put the coffee and milk into a pan, and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain through muslin, return to the pan and reserve.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Bring the coffee-flavoured milk to the boil and pour on to the egg yolks and sugar, whisking constantly. Return to the pan and stir over a low heat for about 5 minutes, without boiling, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Strain.

Stir the gelatine into the warm custard until thoroughly dissolved. Leave to cool. When almost set, whip the cream lightly and fold in with the praline.

Take a 1.75 litre/3 pint mould – a soufflé dish, or an oblong mould, for instance – line with clingfilm, and cover the base with finger biscuits, curved side down, cut into wedges so that they can be arranged like the petals of a flower. Stand more finger biscuits upright round the sides, again curved sides against the mould, wedged tightly into position. Make sure there are no gaps, and reserve the remaining biscuits for the top. Mix together the Tia Maria and the syrup and sprinkle three-quarters of it over the biscuit-lined mould.

Fill the mould with the praline cream; tapping it against the work surface to expel any air bubbles. Cover the top with the remaining biscuits and any trimmings and sprinkle with the rest of the Tia Maria. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 12 hours or overnight. Turn out before serving and peel off the clingfilm.

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