Monday, February 20, 2012

Charlotte aux Fraises

Here’s a confection I’ve recently added to my pastry case in our shop. It’s called Strawberry Charlotte or Charlotte aux Fraises. I first set eyes on this dainty beauty years ago in a small patisserie in the French campagne (country side), while visiting my Belle-mère & beau-père’s country house. It was love at first sight. I liked the idea of using a simple ribbon to wrap around the feminine dessert. Très French! The Charlotte’s pink, feathery mousse filling reminded me of the local strawberries I had spied earlier at the marché en plein air.
There are a few historical variations of the dessert’s origins, but I’d like to believe that French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (whose parents sadly abandoned him during the Revolutionary War) is the mastermind behind this creamy dessert. He was said to name it after his employer, Czar Alexander I.
So, I eventually set out to master this dessert because I wanted to include it in my “Country Maison” dessert collection. I made the ladyfingers (from scratch) & they encircle the berry mousse. If you happen to be a “consistency person” like moi, the combination of ladyfinger, soaked with creamy mousse is unbelievable! It brings back memories of eating banana pudding as a kid down south.
I hope that this dessert “makes the cut” in our shop, meaning it actually sells. It will always beckon me back to that sun-baked afternoon in the French countryside.