I am a chocolate fanatic... so it totally made sense that I make a chocolate dessert to celebrate my birthday!
This particular Charlotte should be started the day before, or at leats in the morning for an evening event as you want the chocolate mousse to harden before adding the chocolate sauce and the poached pears.
Chocolate and Pear Charlotte
One recipe Chocolate Mousse
60 Lady Fingers cookies
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua liquor (optional)
4 or 5 ripe (but firm) pears - I used Red Anjou and Bosc
2 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp cardamom
50g (1.8 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
100g (3.6 oz) sugar
5 Tbsp heavy cream
First prepare the chocolate mousse. Set aside.
Peel and core 2 pears and dice them into 1/2-in cubes.
Add the diced pears to the chocolate mousse, incorporating them delicately with a rubber spatula.
Prepare the syrup:
In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Cook for a few minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the liquor and set aside.
Line a half sheet pan with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Spray liner with baking spray. Place the baking ring on top of the liner.
Dip the Lady Fingers in the Kahlua syrup - one at a time - and line the sides and bottom of the baking ring.
Pour the chocolate and pear mousse inside the prepared baking ring and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Poach the pears:
Cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the saucepan you will use to poach the pears. Cut a small circle off the middle of it. Set aside.
Bring the water, sugar and cardamom to a simmer.
Peel and core the remaining two or 3 pears. Slice them into 1/4-in slices.
Add the pear slices to the cardamom syrup. Place the parchment paper circle on top of the pears. This will prevent the pears on the top to be out of the liquid and brown.
Poach the pears for about 10 to 12 minutes, until tender.
Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set to cool in a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, on one layer.
Make the chocolate sauce:
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water, the sugar and the cocoa powder to a soft boil. Whisk occasionally to avoid lumps.
In another small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and add the the chocolate sauce. Bring to a boil again, whisking, and remove from the heat. Let cool.
When the sauce is completely cold, pour on top of the chocolate mousse. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the sauce to solidify. If you place the pears on top right away they will sink in.
When the sauce has hardened enough, place the slices of pear decoratively on top. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings (optional).
Transfer the Charlotte - still in the ring - from the liner to the serving platter. Remove the ring and enjoy!