This Strawberry-Filled Dessert is Your New Sweet Spring Staple
My kitchen staff—stockpot to strainer—works long hours. We don’t tolerate shiftless sifters, sandwich presses, contraptions that only cube potatoes. We prefer able multitaskers: chef’s knife, wooden spoon, saucepan. Makes for a clear chain of command.
Such discipline, though, is easily disrupted. Friends who know I cook peer deep into their cupboards and ask, “Does this Jell-O form/ cream strainer/egg coddler spark joy? Or do I give it to Leah?” Hence my collection. Each addition is fascinating. Beautiful. And useless. How many times per life will I coddle an egg?
Still, I try. When a friend’s mother-in-law passed along a deep tin with canted sides and fluted handles, I knew it was a charlotte mold. Necessitating charlotte—a classic cookie-clad, cream-filled icebox cake. I remember it from teenaged evenings in Iowa City, when I would dine on a spear or two of asparagus, followed by a wedge or two of charlotte from a late, lamented bakery called First of Fifth. Tender ladyfinger exterior, deep chocolate interior with a texture I’ve never again encountered: craggy on the fork, creamy on contact.
Thinking spring, I picked strawberry. My first attempt achieved admirable poise in the pan, ladyfinger sentinels keeping watch over pale pink custard. Unmolded, the biscuits fainted; custard flattened to the table.
So I bolstered the cream with white chocolate and switched from fresh fruit to freeze-dried. I also ditched the tricky tin in favor of my standard springform. With dazzling results. Just don’t tell charlotte—or the rest of her peers, decommissioned on the highest shelf.
This old-fashioned cake holds up to slicing after 6 hours, but the cookies soften more with a longer rest, making it a make-ahead dream. Get the recipe.