The Les Halles quarter of Paris may no longer have its famed food market, but its spirit lives on in the classic French bistro dishes it inspired, such as this luscious dessert. We create this wonderful recipe periodically when entertaining dinner company. Otherwise, we would eat the entire dessert ourselves . . .
FOR THE CAKE:
1 tbsp. butter
4 eggs, separated
½ cup sugar
7 tbsp. cake flour
1¼ tsp. vanilla extract
FOR THE FILLING:
9 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
¾ cup sugar
1 package unflavored gelatin
¼ cup eau-de-vie de poire (pear brandy)
2 cups heavy cream
FOR THE SAUCE:
3 tbsp. superfine sugar
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. eau-de-vie de poire (pear brandy)
1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 9" springform pan and line bottom with buttered parchment. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale yellow. Gradually beat in flour until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and set aside. Whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold whites into yolk mixture, taking care not to deflate whites. Pour into pan and bake until brown, 25–30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. For the filling: Put raspberries, sugar, and 1 cup water into a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves and berries break down, about 10 minutes. Press through a sieve set over a bowl to catch purée. Return 2 cups purée to pan and set over low heat. Reserve remaining purée for sauce. Sprinkle gelatin in ¼ cup cold water, set aside until softened, then add to purée in pan, stirring until dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat, add eau-de-vie, and set aside to cool. Whip cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold cooled purée into cream.
3. Unmold cake and discard parchment. Slice cake in half crosswise, then return cake bottom to pan with ring reattached. Pour in filling, then replace cake top, brown side up. Cover with plastic; refrigerate for 24 hours.
4. For the sauce: Combine reserved berry purée, sugar, lemon juice, and eau-de-vie in a bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved. Slice cake and serve with sauce.