Gooseberry Charlotte is a superb dinner party dessert which is not difficult to make, though it does take quite a long time to set. Ideally, the charlotte should be made a day in advance.
30 sponge finger biscuits
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
6 oz. castor sugar
4 oz. ground almonds
1 fl. oz. double cream
2 fl. oz. water
2 lb. gooseberries, trimmed and washed
2 oz. gelatine, dissolved in
2 tablespoons warm water
Line the bottom and sides of a 2-pint mould with dampened greaseproof or waxed paper. Line the sides of the mould with sponge finger biscuits , standing them upright, rounded sides facing the sides of the mould. Reserve the remaining biscuits . Set the mould aside. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon. Blend in the ground almonds.
In a small mixing bowl, beat 10 fluid ounces of the cream with a wire whisk or rotary beater until it forms soft peaks.
Fold the cream into the butter mixture and set aside.
Place the water and gooseberries in a medium-sized saucepan and place the pan over moderately low heat. When the water begins to boil, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the berries are very soft.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Place a fine wire strainer over a medium-sized mixing bowl. Pour the berries into the strainer and press them through the strainer with the back of a wooden spoon until only the seeds and a dry pulp are left in the strainer. Discard the seeds and pulp.
Pour the pureed gooseberries and the dissolved gelatine into the cream and butter mixture and blend the mixture thoroughly until it is smooth and evenly coloured.
Pour the mixture into the prepared mould. Arrange the remaining sponge finger biscuits on top of the mould, trimming them to fit the shape of the mould. Lay a circle of greaseproof or waxed paper on top of the mould.
Place the charlotte in the refrigerator and leave it to set for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
To unmould the charlotte, remove the top circle of paper. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the mould. Place a serving dish, inverted, over the mould and reverse the two, giving the mould a good shake. The charlotte should slide out easily.
Remove and discard the greaseproof or waxed paper around the sides.
In a small bowl, beat the remaining 5 fluid ounces of cream with a wire whisk or rotary beater until it forms stiff peaks.
Spoon the cream into a small forcing bag fitted with a medium-sized star-shaped nozzle. Pipe the cream decora-tively on top of the charlotte and serve at once.