This dessert has been around since the 19th century and was supposedly created for and named after King Henry IV’s daughter, Charlotte. The delicious dessert is made with pureed fruit tucked inside a thin crust layer or cream filled and surrounded with lady fingers. The fruit version is best served hot, while the cream recipe is best served cold. Charlotte molds are traditionally made using metal because of the material’s ability to conduct both hot and cold extremely well. It makes browning the hot dishes easier and the cold dishes chill faster. All charlotte mold handle are in the shape of hearts, which is traditional for the mold, though no one knows exactly why. For hot charlottes it is best to cover them with a lid when cooking.
Cooking delicate pastries in metal can be fraught with peril, especially when removing them from the mold. Remember to coat the interior of the mold with a generous covering of butter or shortening to prevent the dessert from sticking to the inside of the mold when removing it after cooking. When making chilled charlottes, an easy way to facilitate removal of the pastry from the mold is to wrap the cold mold in a warm towel. This will let the pastry pull away from the pan just enough so they will easily fall out of the mold.