Where does Charlotte royale come from?

That’s hard to say. A Charlotte, as you may recall from my previous Charlotte project, is a sort of…well it’s a kind of a…hm. A Charlotte isn’t really a pastry since it’s not composed of layers. It’s not a cake, either. I mean, what cake there is in a Charlotte is used to cover the outside. I supposed that makes it a “molded dessert” technically, part of the trifle and pudding family.

That being the case, you won’t be surprised to learn the Charlotte originated in Britain, probably in the late 1700’s. It is named, or so it’s thought, for Queen Charlotte, the wife of the never-popular-in-Amerca King George III. In those days a Charlotte was a baked item, filled with apple compote and topped with bread crumbs. It wasn’t until the legendary French chef Antonin Carême got hold of it that it became the no-bake cream-filled apparatus that it is today.

And how exactly did that occur? you might wonder. A good question. Though Carême is synonymous with France, he spent a short time in England, working as the personal chef to the Prince Regent, the future George IV. At the time, George was ruling Britain while his father, George III, was ill. If you’ve ever seen the terrific movie The Madness of King George, you know what I’m talking about.

Though the apple version was named for the Queen, said to be a great patron of apple growers, Carême had no qualms about reinventing the Charlotte. That’s star chef moxie for you. He then took it to France as Charlotte à la parisienne. However after he accepted a job cooking for Tsar Alexander of Russia, he changed the name to Charlotte à la russe (Charlotte russe for short).

What the heck does all this have to do with Charlotte royale, Joe??? I’m glad you asked that because I’m not sure. All I know is that the Charlotte royale came along quite a bit later as a dressed up version of Charlotte russe. The “royal” treatment of a classic, you might say. As to when or where it was created, who knows? France is a safe guess, I’d think.

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