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
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