Charlotte aux fraises

There’s an easy way and a hard way to make the delectable French strawberry dessert known as charlotte aux fraises, as I learned when setting out to make one for this post. A charlotte is an unbaked cake of ladyfingers with a creamy filling. Many modern recipes for strawberry charlotte use a thick dessert cream known as a bavaroise for the filling, and this involves the use of gelatin. As it turns out, that’s the hard way…

Charlotte aux fraises / Strawberry charlotte

My first attempt failed utterly when the gelatin didn’t set properly. The cake was beautiful when I unmolded it — for about 10 seconds. Then it proceeded to collapse into a Daliesque mound of strawberry cream. My daughter pronounced it delicious, but still…

The easy way, as I discovered by calling a couple of French friends who gave me their grandmother’s recipes, is to skip the gelatin and simply layer quartered strawberries mixed with whipped cream into a mold lined with ladyfingers dipped in crème de cassis. Well, the cassis was my idea. Traditionally rum is used as flavoring. And this method is also the traditional one, passed along from mother to daughter over the generations.

Because the easy way is so easy, the dessert is fun to make. If kids will be sharing it, you can skip the cassis and use strawberry syrup for flavoring the ladyfingers. Once assembled, the charlotte needs to be refrigerated for at least four hours, after which you can decorate it with sliced strawberries and mint. And no, the second time, it didn’t collapse…

Happy cooking.


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2 Responses to Charlotte aux fraises

  1. Celia Savage says:

    Thank you for this charlotte, which sounds lovely, and so easy. Just a thought: as and when you make another one, might you be able to post a photo of it sliced so that we can see how it should be?

    • Meg says:

      Hi Celia. I actually did post a photo of a slice of charlotte on the recipe page, and I have now added it to this post. Unfortunately it’s not a great photo, as I am dependent on natural light for the pix for this site and the weather in Paris has been so atrocious that getting good light has been difficult lately. If I make another one, I can try for a better shot. Cheers, Meg

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