Iced Chocolate Charlotte

Some puddings make people groan with pleasure: this is one of them. It’s a luxurious ice cream, intensely chocolaty, within a case of sponge fingers soaked in a fresh orange and brandy syrup. Definitely and extravagant treat and perfect for the Christmas festivities. You can make it days ahead and it is enough for a large number of people.

Ingredients

  • ½ pint (300 ml) unsweetened fresh orange juice
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 oz (175 g) demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (2 x 15 ml spoons) brandy
  • 25 sponge fingers
  • 7 oz (200 g) plain chocolate
  • 1 rounded tablespoon (15 ml rounded spoon) cocoa powder
  • warm water
  • 2 teaspoons (2 x 5 ml spoons) vanilla essence
  • 6 oz (175 g) soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (size 1-2)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 pint (600 ml) whipping cream
  • 4 rounded tablespoons (4 x 15 ml rounded spoons) natural yogurt

Method

Put the oranges and lemon juice in a largish saucepan, with the demerara sugar. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, and then bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 3-4 minutes until syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Lay the sponge fingers in a roasting pan or shallow dish, unsugared-side downwards, and spoon the syrup over them. Leave for an hour or two, occasionally spooning any syrup which seeps out over them again.

Melt 5 oz (150 g) of chocolate in a bowl over hot but not boiling water, remove from the heat and put on one side. Put the cocoa powder in a mixing jug with 2 tablespoons of warm water and stir until smooth. Gradually add more water until you have 6 fl oz (175 ml). Add the vanilla essence. Pour into a largish saucepan and add the soft brown sugar. Break the eggs into a bowl of an electric mixer with a pinch of salt and whisk until they are frothy and thickened. Put the sugar and cocoa mixture over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring it to the boil and boil briskly for 3 minutes. Pour it in a thin stream on to the eggs, whisking all the time a high speed. Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes. Lastly, whisk in the melted chocolate thoroughly.

Now arrange the syrup-soaked sponge fingers closely together round the sides of an 8-inch (20 cm) deep cake tin with the unsugared side of the fingers against the tin. Spoon any remaining syrup on to the bottom of the tin. Whisk the cream until thick but not too stiff. Fold in the yogurt and gently fold this into the chocolate and egg mixture. Coarsely grate or chop up the remaining 2 oz (50 g) chocolate and stir it in to the mixture. Spoon slowly into the sponge-lined tin on top of the syrup. Freeze for several hours.

To unmould, dip the tin briefly in a sink of very hot water until you can turn it upside-down, and shake the chocolate charlotte out on to a serving plate. Put it back in the freezer, but take it out about an hour before eating and leave it in a cool place so that it reaches the best consistency.

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