Nana Recipe Wednesday–Chocolate Charlotte

by Sarah on November 10, 2010

Just how freaking stylish is Nana? That dress was awesome–it was a wrap dress that I often wished fit me because it was so cool.  I pretty much love everything about this look.

From style to dessert, in one fell swoop!   Now, who wants a good holiday dessert that doesn’t involve pumpkin?  You know you want at least one, and this may be the one you want.  It’s fancy enough for company, yet it’s a great one to make in advance.  In fact, you don’t really have a choice about that–it needs to sit in the fridge for 12 hours before you serve it.

The recipe calls for simple chocolate chips, but I bought this melting dark chocolate at Corti Bros that I thought might be better.   You can use either.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Or in a bowl set on top of a pan of boiling water, like I’ve got here.  Just watch out, that bowl gets hot.

Get it completely melted and set aside.

You’re going to add egg yolks to the chocolate, but you have to temper the eggs first.  Meaning you’ll need to add a tiny bit of the hot chocolate into the yolks and mix it fast so that the eggs don’t scramble.  That would be gross.  Then add a little more chocolate in and mix.  It should then be ok to add to the larger amount of chocolate.

I still try to stir it around fast, just in case.

The chocolate mixture will thicken up and not look as appetizing as before, but that’s ok.  That’s how it’s supposed to look.

Next you have to whip the egg whites that you reserved.  You reserved them right?  Good.  You want it to be at stiff peaks.  How do you know it’s a stiff peak?  Well, the egg whites shouldn’t fall off the beater.

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then whip the cream with the vanilla.  Fold that in next.

Looks pretty good just like that, huh?

In a springform pan, line the bottom and sides with ladyfingers.

Fill with the chocolate mousse, then cover with more ladyfingers.  Nana says to layer chocolate and ladyfingers, but I didn’t have enough.  I know she sometimes didn’t have enough too, because I used to go swipe them off the counter when her back was turned.  Wow, that’s when I was shorter than the counter, I remember that clearly.

Anyway, cover it and pop it into the refrigerator for 12 hours.

Do not make fun of my janky Charlotte.  I did not take the time to trim the ladyfingers into even and more attractive pieces.  I did not decorate the dessert with fruit, or more whipped cream.  We just dug in and ate it.

It looks just as good as the fancy ones once it’s served.

After refrigerating, the ladyfingers soften and become like a sponge cake and the chocolate is a thick mousse.  You will probably want to use a serrated knife to cut this.

Can’t you just taste it?

I’m making myself hungry again.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner, maybe we’ll have a Chocolate Charlotte beside our pumpkin pie.

Nana's Chocolate Charlotte


  • 6 oz. chocolate chips or other chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 36 ladyfingers


  • Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Add sugar and water and mix well. Remove from heat. After tempering the yolks, add to the chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Cool.
  • Beat egg whites 'til stiff and fold into the cooled mixture. Whip the cream and add the vanilla. Fold into the chocolate mixture.
  • Arrange ladyfingers on sides and bottom of springform pan. Pour in chocolate mixture, alternating layers of chocolate and ladyfingers, ending with the ladyfingers on top. (Alternately, do not make layers--just have ladyfingers on the bottom, sides and top). Chill at least 12 hours.
  • Variation: Add a few drops of creme de menthe to whipped cream mixture when half-whipped.

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