We’re fortunate to have such a great assortment of summer fruit in the Pacific Northwest. One of our favorite ways to celebrate our delicious berries is in this Summer Berry Charlotte. This recipe calls for blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, but feel free to substitute raspberries, marionberries or red currants. We use a 9-inch stainless steel bowl lined in plastic wrap, but you can use a pudding mold if you have one. A patchwork of thinly sliced brioche forms the crust and a mixture of warm cooked berries thickened with gelatin make a juicy filling that retains some of the fruit’s texture. The dessert requires chilling for a minimum of 4 hours to set up properly, so plan accordingly. When it isn’t peak berry season, we recommend using high-quality IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) berries, many of which are grown near Lynden, in the northwest corner of Washington state.
Printable PDF of the recipe here. Makes 8-12 Servings
1 Macrina Brioche Loaf
4 cups fresh blackberries
4 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
½ cup water
1¾ cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 package + 1 tsp powdered gelatin (package is 1 oz)
Line a 9-inch stainless steel mixing bowl with plastic wrap. This will take 2 pieces. Each side should extend 3 to 4 inches.
Remove the crust from the brioche loaf (top, bottom, ends and sides). Cut the brioche into quarter-inch slices. Begin lining the bowl by cutting a circle from a slice to match the diameter of the bowl base. With the bottom covered, line the walls of the bowl. Larger pieces work best. You’ll need to cut little triangles here and there, in patchwork fashion, until the bowl’s interior is covered. Don’t discard the remaining brioche—you’ll use it to form the top layer.
In a large saucepan, add half the berries and the water, sugar and lemon zest. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes to release the juices. The berries should be very soupy. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface of the saucepan. Whisk the gelatin into the mixture.
Add the remaining berries. Over low heat, warm the whole mixture for 2 to 4 minutes (you want the second addition of fruit to retain its form).
Ladle some of the berry mixture juices over the brioche lining the bowl until it’s completely saturated and purple in color. Then carefully pour or ladle the rest of the berry mixture in. Top with a single layer of the remaining brioche slices. Press gently to compress the contents in the bowl.
If any brioche strips lining the side extend beyond the top layer, use a knife and cut them level with the top layer.
Fold the extended plastic wrap over the charlotte to seal it.
Find something heavy (such as a small plate with a glass of water on top)—roughly the same diameter as the bowl—and place it on top as a weight to continue to compress the charlotte and ensure the brioche is fully saturated in berry juice.
Chill for a minimum of 4 hours to set the gelatin.
Remove the plastic from the top of the charlotte. Place a serving dish over the rim of the bowl and invert for serving. Remove the bowl and peel away the plastic wrap. If you have any white or unsaturated areas, heat a handful of blueberries with a splash of water and sugar and cook until the berries are soft. Pass this through a sieve and brush the white areas with the warm glaze. Any excess can be used as a sauce when serving.
Garnish with fresh berries. Edible flowers also make a beautiful garnish. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!