Raspberry and Lychee Charlotte

I always thought raspberry and lychee are a great combination. Both have slightly floral fragrance that's not too strong and I think they compliment each other really well. I like to brainstorm some flavor combination for a cake or dessert, including what components I think it should have, and I write them down in my "brainstorming book" :D. Or sometimes I just browsed through the internet and found some interesting cake combo that I'd like to try. I often eat something that taste interesting (in a good way) and thought that "hmm.....this is gonna be really good in a cake", and started to scribble down my notes. Life is so full of good things that there are so many possibilities of different flavors that I don't think I can make them all in my lifetime.

I made raspberry-lychee cake before a few times, usually with rose (usually called ispahan, introduced by Pierre Herme, my pastry hero :D). I was in a charlotte madness at that time, I wanted to make summer berry charlotte, pear charlotte, you name it, and this raspberry-lychee charlote is one of the charlottes I was dying to make.

So I made this for a quarterly potluck party at work with a group of coworkers. I seem to be the default for the dessert person, I don't know why. They immediately asked what dessert I will bring when the invitation was sent out. Making dessert for coworkers is a little bit pressuring compared to making it for your friends. You always want to impress them, while your friends already know your failed and good cakes :), but I took my chance and used this opportunity to experiment with this flavor.

Usually and traditionally, charlotte is composed of soft lady finger sponge, instead of regular sponge cake and decorated with it as well. But I'm not a huge fan of this lady finger sponge as usually they're dry and the texture is not soft, it soaked up liquid really well though. If you're Asian, then you will understand that we like everything to be soft and moist. Fortunately, I had some cotton-like soft sponge in the freezer and I had two layers! Perfect to make this, and what a time saver! Don't you just love freezer. I soaked the sponge layers with a raspberry solution, filled it with mascarpone bavarian cream flavored with framboise (clear raspberry brandy), lots of chopped lychees and fresh raspberries. Put a thin layer of the cream on top of the second cake layer and decorated it with lots of fruits. I bought the Italian lady finger (hard/cookie-like lady fingers, used for tiramisu mainly), to save the time and becauze I like them better than the soft one.

In the end, it turned out great! I wish I can make some adjustment though next time. There are some area that I want to change, such as, the cream needs to be firmer (need to add more gelatin), use vanilla bean instead of extract, and probably a variation on the filling. Bavarian cream is one of the most common fillings for charlotte, another option is mousse. So I chose bavarian cream and added mascarpone to it. But I don't think the mascarpone added much to the flavor and texture if you added to bavarian cream. Next time, I would probably use vanilla bean bavarian cream, or mascarpone mousse instead. But overall, it tasted lovely :)

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