CHARLOTTE - A TRADITIONAL DESSERT THAT HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME / by Eric Monteiro

The Charlotte is one of the desserts most requested of Thierry Isambert’s Chef Pâtissier, Bruno Legros. The original Charlotte, or Queen’s Charlotte, may have been made of buttered bread and cooked apples, however, the Charlotte as it has been known for centuries consists of Ladyfinger biscuits forming a circle around a center of custard and cream. Charlotte recipes vary to include seasonal fruits such as raspberries or strawberries, or tropical fruits like mango, but Chef Bruno’s classic Chocolate Charlotte is a favorite.

Theories abound regarding the origin of the name “Charlotte." It may be a corruption of the Old English word, "Charlyt," which means “a dish of custard,” but historians argue that French chef, Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833,) may have named it for Charlotte of Prussia or Queen Charlotte, wife of George III.

Photo: Eric Monteiro

Photo: Eric Monteiro

Ladyfingers, the sweet sponge biscuits that are the Charlotte’s main ingredient, date back to the 15th century at the court of the Duchy de Savoy where they were created in honor of a visit by the King of France. Over five hundred years later, they are a popular biscuit found in supermarkets worldwide, and form the base ingredient in desserts such as Tiramisu, Trifle and the Charlotte.

Photo: Eric Monteiro

Photo: Eric Monteiro

A 19th Century illustration of a Charlotte

A 19th Century illustration of a Charlotte

Charlotte Recipe from "Family Circle" Magazine, November 1950

Charlotte Recipe from "Family Circle" Magazine, November 1950