Charlotte Malakoff au Chocolat

This is my favorite dessert of all, an homage to Julia, the most voluptuous combination of chocolate, liqueur, almonds, butter, and cream. For a time when only pleasure matters.

Ingredients

10 50
orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau) ½ c c
water c 2 c
ladyfingers 18–20 100 or so
unsalted butter, softened sticks lbs
superfine, granulated sugar ¾ c 5 c
almond extract ¼ tsp tsp
semisweet chocolate melted in 3 oz 20 oz
strong coffee ½ c c
ground almonds 1 c 6⅔ c
heavy cream c 5 pts

Method

Combine ¼ cup [1 cup] of the orange liqueur with the water. Separate the ladyfingers and dip, one by one, in the water-liqueur mixture. Place on cake racks to drain. Meanwhile, line the bottom of a -quart mold [or five of them] with waxed paper. Line sides of the molds with ladyfingers, standing them on end. Reserve the remaining ladyfingers.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the remaining orange liqueur and the almond extract and continue to beat for five minutes. Fold in the chocolate, then add the almonds.

Whip the cream until it reaches the “chantilly” stage, that is, until it holds its shape when a spoon is drawn across the surface. Fold the cream into the almond mixture, then pour the mixture into the molds, layering with the remaining ladyfingers, and ending with a layer of ladyfingers.

Cover with a round of waxed paper and place a saucer over the mixture. Put some heavy weight on the saucer—pieces of a meat grinder, a 1-pound scale weight, a heavy can—and refrigerate overnight. Unmold before serving and, if desired, serve with whipped cream.