Charlotte au Chocolat
Chocolate Charlotte

Serves 8

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup water
1 ¼  superfine sugar
3 eggs, separated
7 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup rum
20 to 30 ladyfingers
2 cups crème anglaise for serving (recipe follows)

Line the bottom of a 4 cup mold or a bowl with plastic wrap.

In a double boiler over simmering water, combine the chocolate, the 2 tablespoons water, and ¼ cup of the sugar and stir until the chocolate melts.

Whisk in the egg yolks until smooth and creamy do not boil.  Remove from heat and whisk in the butter one piece at a time, until well blended.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Stir one fourth of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold the remaining whites into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly blended.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, the 1/3 cup water and the rum.  Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is syrupy.

One by one, dip the ladyfingers into the syrup for a second.  Arrange them inside the mold or bowl, pressing them closely together, with the curved sides of the ladyfingers against the bottom and sides of the mold or bowl.   Reserve the remaining ladyfingers.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the mold, covering the ladyfingers.  Smooth the surface and use the reserved ladyfingers to cover the top of the mouse.  Cover with plastic wrap and set a saucer or small plate on top.  Top with a weight such as a soup can and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 3 days before serving.

To serve, remove the weight and plastic wrap from the top and run knife around the edge of the mold or bowl.  Place a chilled serving dish upside down over the charlotte and reverse the two so the charlotte drops onto the dish.  Peel off the remaining wrap.  Slice the charlotte and serve with the crème anglaise.  Refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Crème Anglaise

4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 1/3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk the egg yolks until blended.  Gradually whisk in the sugar by spoonfuls.  Continue whisking for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is pale and thick.  In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium-heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce  thickens enough to coat the spoon.  The sauce should gradually come near the simmering point but do not let it simmer or the yolks will scramble.  Stir in the vanilla and let cool.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.