fig compote charlotte

there are no figs in poland. at least, not widely available. sometimes we i find them sold wrapped in a nice soft paper elegantly, for a ridiculously high price, and i never buy. dried ones are easy to find, but they are so different from the fresh ones and i don’t appreciate their taste so much. so when i was with my family in croatia on holidays – the previous year, summer of 2010 – in early september, besides eating as many figs as possible there, i decided to make some preserved to take home. we went to buy a dozen of huge jars to a local shop and left the people wondering, i can imagine, why tourist would buy things like that, and we asked our friend who owns a tourist agency if she had some spare jars, so we received another dozen. 

the big jars from supermarket ended up filled with fig compote, and the smaller ones – with thick jam made it with cane sugar. since last year we didn’t go for holidays, i kept those jars for almost two years in a secret place, letting my family indulge only on special occasions – like the one we had yesterday. may 26th we celebrate mother’s day in poland, so after an hour of searching through cookbooks, magazines, the internet and no finding anything that immediately caught my attention, this idea came to me and i knew straight away that it was the perfect one. 

fig charlotte, and i’d fancy calling it ‘a poor man’s charlotte’, but just adding ‘for bad times’ – that means times devoid of fresh figs, too long, too long – seemed to do the justice. mum was very happy, the cake did remind all of us all those amazing days we spent throughout the years in a place that i would not hesitate to call home. plus, it was only the finishing touch to a big special dinner we had: 
potato onion salad 
lamb loin skewers & grilled asparagus 
lamb ćevapčići & grilled zucchini & bread selection 
banana, kiwi and strawberry galette 
fig charlotte 
red wine & elderflower cordial 

 and the original one, made in croatia, with a kitschy sunset in the bacground:

fig compote charlotte (for bad times)

a pack of sponge fingers ( like for tiramisù)
200 g white chocolate
400 ml whipping cream
c. 200 g figs from a compote + a few to decorate (fresh ones would be great, too)
4 tsp gelatin

fig compote, for soaking

line a pan (or a bowl) with aluminum foil or cling film
soak sponge fingers for a few seconds each and create a bottom layer, putting pieces to fill the whole space evenly, and then proceed to the sides
soak gelatin in 2 tbsp water and put into a water bath to let it melt
melt the chocolate in a water bath with 100 ml cream, add gelatin and cool down to lukewarm temperature – do not overchill or it will set too early
cut the figs into small pieces
whip the remaining 300 ml of cream until very thick
mix whipping cream with chocolate and figs, carefully and evenly with a spatula, and place in the interior of the charlotte
make an actual bottom the way you made the top of the cake
wrap with cling film, put something that would add weight (i used a plate) and chill for at least 3 hours
best served with balsamic glaze!


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