Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet Charlotte

When it comes to cooking, I usually don’t get too ambitious. I enjoy cooking the kinds of food I grew up eating—the ones that I, as a child, watched my mother and grandmothers making: soups … stews … casseroles … most anything fried. But lately, I’ve had a hankering to make one of these.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a charlotte, Russe or otherwise, offered on a menu. They seem to be as scarce as hen’s teeth these days, but according to Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History by John Egerton, the charlotte was once considered a standard sweet in Southern kitchens. A recipe for one even appeared in Mary Randolph’s 1824 cookbook, The Virginia House-Wife.

Egerton notes that Randolph’s version was French in origin and more like a fruit cobbler. By the time that disruptive Civil War rolled around, the charlotte, he states, could be found in most Southern recipe collections. “As it evolved in the South,” Egerton notes, “charlotte russe was usually a molded and chilled pudding made with ladyfingers.”

While searching the Internet for the perfect charlotte recipe, I came across this one. Bananas Foster in charlotte form? Sounds mighty tasty to me.

Desserts are not really my specialty. I can make a bread pudding or a pecan pie or pound cake, but a charlotte? Well, I’ll no doubt need to do some planning akin to that of the D-Day invasion.

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