Carlota de limón or postre de limón is an easy dessert served during holidays, as well as during the spring and summer. A Carlota, also sometimes known as a Charlotte in English, is an ice box cake.
In Mexico City, this dessert is often simply called postre de limón. No matter what it’s called, though, it’s a perfect dessert to share with family and friends.
What is a carlota or ice box cake?
Ice box cakes became popular in the 1930s and 1940s when home freezers became accessible to many households. The ice box cake is a spin on a traditional Charlotte that was easier for the average housewife to create at home.
It includes a filling layered with cookies that needs to be frozen in order to get the right consistency, which is almost ice cream-like. It’s similar to a trifle or a traditional Charlotte, but does not necessarily contain Bavarian cream or custard. Instead, a carlota usually contains fruit.
What ingredients are in a carlota?
There is some debate about the method and the kind of cookie to be used: ladyfingers versus galletas María. While ladyfingers, sponge cake or even stale bread dipped in butter have been used since the 1800s (it was invented by a French chef), galletas Marías are most common in a Mexican carlota or postre de limón.
Carlotas can be made with all different kinds of fruits. My favorite kind uses lime juice, but feel free to try other fruit juices or purees. I have found that citrus juices thicken the filling slightly better than other fruit juices or purees.
I use cream cheese in my recipe, which gives it a dense, creamy texture.
What kitchen tools do I need to make a carlota?
It’s easiest to prepare this dessert
- glass trifle dish or casserole dish (you can also use small, footed ice cream or trifle dishes for individual servings)
- citrus juicer
- citrus zester or microplane grater
- stand mixer or handheld mixer
- pastry brush
- wax paper or parchment paper
Carlota de limón
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 1 hour (inactive)
- Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Yield: 10–12 servings 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: Mexican
How to make a Carlota de limón (postre de limón). This Mexican icebox cake is also known as a Charlotte in English.
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, also known as leche condensada (La Lechera)
- 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk, also known as leche evaporada
- 1 to 1 ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
- zest of 1 lime
- 8 ounces whipped cream cheese
- 1 sleeve of galletas María
Glaze for the galletas María:
- ½ cup granulated cane sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Juice enough limes to yield 1 to 1 ¼ cup juice–about 10 to 12 limes (more if you use smaller key limes). Set juice aside.
- In the stand mixer bowl (or a glass bowl if using a handheld mixer), add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whipped cream cheese until smooth. Mixture will be somewhat soupy because of the liquid evaporated milk.
- Slowly add the lime juice while stirring. Mixture will begin to thicken. Add the lime zest. Blend until lime juice and zest are completely incorporated. Cover and refrigerate.
- In a small saucepan, heat the granulated cane sugar and water until it becomes a light amber syrup. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper and place the galletas María in rows on the sheet. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, lightly coat the tops of the cookies with the syrup. This will seal them a little and prevent them from getting too soggy before the filling gets cold enough in the freezer. When the cookie tops have dried, flip them over and brush the other side. You’ll have a little bit of glaze left over, which you can use for something else or discard.
- When the cookies have dried completely, line the bottom and sides of your trifle or casserole dish with whole cookies. Remove the filling from the refrigerator and pour some over the bottom layer of cookies, being careful not to drown the cookies on the sides. Use a spatula to even out the filling if necessary. You’ll layer cookies & filling until you reach the top of your dish. You can either use whole cookies or, as I sometimes like to do, coarsely crush the cookies for the middle layers. For the top layer, I like to use crushed cookies with one whole cookie placed in the center.
- Carefully place your dish into the freezer and allow it to set for at least two hours. If you use individual-sized dishes, you may need less time in the freezer, and if you use a deep dish like a trifle dish (as shown above), you may need more than two hours. It’s also fine to leave in the freezer overnight if you want to make it the day before you plan to serve the dessert. The ideal consistency will be like an ice cream cake.
- Remove the dish from the freezer about five to 10 minutes to soften slightly before serving.
Keywords: dessert, carlota, charlotte, ice box cake
I have never heard or tried this dessert.
But, from these ingredients, my mouth is watering ( :
I will have to try this, looks SO yummy, and your pictures, beautiful as always.
as Boy George once said: – Do you want to hurt me??..Do you want to make me cry??…
Carlota, ay!..Carlota. Cuantos recuerdos me vienen a la mente con este delicioso postre casero, uno de los favoritos de mi familia y uno de los primeros que aprendi a hacer.
I make my Carlota a little bit different from yours, I add an egg to the mixture (I think we do this because my Mom or whoever used to do this wanted to make sure that the mix will hold together….) and if you don’t mind querida amiga, I will go right now to make mine, and post it in my blog soon.. 🙂
Well well well, I can’t believe I have never tried this dessert. And trust me, I love dessert and I am of Mexican decent, hijole no lo puedo creer. So I am going to have to try this (and ask my mami if she’s ever had it).
Yummy, gracias for the receta.
Oh this looks like a winner all the way. Very intriguing and delicious too!!
Sra. López says
Wow! I am so trying this. Love your blog. So many good recipes.
Marna Rojas says
I’m soooo happy to have found this recipe on your blog. I have recently moved back to the Chicago area from Acapulco where we lived for over 20 years. “Carlota de Limon” era MI POSTRE FAVORITA que hacia Doña Rosa, la queridisima cocinera de la familia. Como la extraño! Se me hace FABULOSA tu blog! GRQCIAS!
Linda Ireland says
Hi! I’m a gringa who lived in Mexico for awhile, but I never tried this dessert. I have a young Mexican American man who lives with me, and he talked about this dessert as his favorite birthday treat, so I thought I’d try making it for his upcoming birthday. Your post is much appreciated. But I have a couple of questions, when you say whipped cream cheese, do you mean 8 oz of cream cheese which you then whip, or do you need to buy it already whipped (or does it make any difference?) Also, I found a LOT of galletas Maria in the stores, is there some brand that I should look for, and how many ounces is in a sleeve?
Le agradezco su ayuda de a+ntemano. Linda
Maura Wall Hernandez says
Hi Linda, I buy the kind of cream cheese that is already whipped when you buy it (it’s easier that way) and it’s not as heavy in the dessert as regular cream cheese. If you can’t find it whipped, the best option is to soften it at room temperature and beat it with a mixer to make sure it’s smooth. The brand of galletas María that I use are made by Gamesa and have an orange box/packaging. I’m not sure exactly how many ounces are in a sleeve, but you do want the bigger sleeve, not the short stack one. Please feel free to email me (my contact info is on the contact tab here on the blog) if you have further questions! You can also leave messages on the Facebook fan page, as I tend to see those fairly quickly.
Linda Ireland says
Thanks for your help! I am going to try to make this soon, his birthday is next week. I’ll update you on whether he likes it! Hope so!
Have to try this! They make something similar here in Los Cabos called “postre frio.” They omit the cream cheese and add layers of canned peaches or fruit cocktail.