A classic dessert with a unique twist to guarantee a dramatic and delicious ending to any dinner. I saw this presentation in a magazine; I would love to meet the creative person who thought of lining a child’s pail with ladyfingers.
Prepare this dessert a day in advance since its flavor and texture are at their best 24 hours after being assembled.
This dessert may be prepared over a 2-day period.
FIRST DAY: Prepare ladyfingers and filling and assemble. SECOND DAY: Unmold dessert and decorate.
The Génoise or Sponge Ladyfingers recipe may be used.
It’s important to pipe the ladyfingers to the depth of the container.
Child’s sand buckets come in standard sizes, so finding this size is no problem.
The ladyfingers may be soaked with a dessert syrup if you want them moister, but I prefer not to.
Preparing the container for this dessert makes its removal a breeze, ensuring a perfectly molded charlotte. A foil strip will later help loosen the charlotte from the mold. A stiff cardboard round gives support to the dessert when you lift the foil to loosen it, and a waxed paper circle touches the filling, keeping it from sticking to the cardboard.
Makes6 to 8 serving
Total Timea day or more
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionFormal Dinner Party
Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian
Taste and Texturecreamy, frothy, fruity, light, nutty, rich, sweet
Type of Dishdessert
- Eighteen 5½-inch-long sponge ladyfingers
- 1 ounce (½ cup) sliced almonds
- 4 ounces (¾ cup) blanched almonds
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons kirsch or maraschino liqueur
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup (½ pint) heavy cream
- ½ cup (4 ounces) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- One 6-inch-high child’s metal sand bucket
- One stiff cardboard round
- One 14-inch pastry bag
- One ½-inch (#6) round decorating tip
- One #5A decorating tip
Advance Preparations: Prepare Sponge Ladyfingers but pipe through a ½-inch (#6) open decorating tip that has been flattened from its round shape to almost an oval by being pinched between the thumb and forefinger. (Altering the tip is permanent but worth it for this dessert. The ladyfingers will bake wider but thinner than usual so they will fit next to each other more neatly in the container.) If you freeze the ladyfingers, you can line your container with them as they are. They will defrost quickly.
Toast the 1 ounce of sliced almonds on a baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
Preparing the Mold: Tear off a piece of foil 16 inches long. Fold it in half and then in half again. Fit this strip down inside the contour of the sand bucket, leaving a few inches of overhang on both sides of the container.
Trace the container’s bottom, and cut circles of waxed paper and stiff cardboard to fit the bottom. Place the cardboard in the bottom on top of the foil; then put the waxed paper circle on top of the cardboard. (The bottom need not be covered—it will become the decorated top later.)
Arrange the ladyfingers slightly overlapping each other around the inside of the bucket. When fitting the last ladyfinger into the bucket, tuck it behind the one next to it. In this way all the ladyfingers are overlapping, with no evidence of which is the first and which is the last in the mold. Now gently push the ladyfingers from their upright position so they fit diagonally into the bucket. This is easy; one ladyfinger will follow the other.
Making the Filling: Grind the almonds in a nut grinder or other rotary-type mill until they have the consistency of cornmeal. You need 1½ cups ground.
Place the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. With the flat beater (paddle) attachment, cream the butter on medium speed (#5) until it is lighter in color, clings to the sides of the bowl, and has a satiny appearance (as though it were a cake batter), about 30 to 45 seconds.
Maintaining the same speed, add all the sugar in a steady stream. Then stop the mixer, and scrape the mixture clinging to the sides into the center of the bowl. Continue creaming until the mixture is almost white in color and fluffy in texture, with almost no feeling of grittiness when rubbed between the thumb and forefinger (about 4 to 5 minutes). Maintaining the same speed, gradually (teaspoon by teaspoon) pour in the kirsch, vanilla, and almond extract, whipping for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Then stir in the ground almonds with a rubber spatula until they are incorporated.
Using an electric hand mixer, whip the 1 cup cream to the Chantilly stage, or until it clings softly to the beaters. It should be thick enough to create swirls in the bowl but liquid enough to move if the bowl is tilted. Fold it into the butter-almond mixture with the rubber spatula.
Assembling the Dessert: Spoon the filling into the ladyfinger-lined mold. Tap it lightly on the counter to settle the filling into the container. Cover with foil and refrigerate until firm.
Remove the foil cover and pull the foil strips up, lifting them to loosen the dessert. When you are assured the mold is free from the container, place a serving plate on top. Invert the dessert onto it, and remove the container, foil strips, cardboard, and waxed paper circle. If any loose powdered sugar falls from the ladyfingers onto the serving plate, remove it with a clean pastry brush.
Finishing the Dessert: Whip the ½ cup cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form and the beaters make softly closing tracks. Place in the pastry bag, fitted with the #5A decorating tip. Pipe one layer of star-shaped rosettes to cover the surface, then pipe another row over the first and then another row on top of the second.
Decorate by sticking the toasted sliced almonds in the cream.
Serving the Dessert: Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. To serve, slice in half horizontally with a serrated knife, using a sawing motion. Place this top half on another plate and cut wedges for your servings. Spoon a small dollop of whipped cream next to each serving.
2003, 1992, 1985 Flo Braker