Baking for Bookworms: Shirley Temples from Charlotte au Chocolat by Charlotte Silver


Charlotte Silver’s memoir has an extremely close relationship to food because it is the memoir of her childhood spent at her mother’s restaurant in Boston. She was, in fact, named after the French dessert Charlotte au Chocolat. Her favorite drink as a child was a Shirley Temple, and while as an adult she lost her taste for this sweet beverage, I decided that I would try my hand at making this childhood favorite a little more grown up, using homemade grenadine syrup and mixing it with seltzer water (or club soda or soda water–whatever pleases you) instead of a lemon-lime soda to make it a little less cloying.


There are several mentions of the drink sprinkled throughout the memoir, but this is one of my favorites for its detail:

“As soon as I sat down at the table, the bartender made me my Shirley Temple. The martini glass teetered on the edge of the tray. When my waiter handed me the glass, the darker pink of the liquid splashed on the lighter pink of the tablecloth. Maraschino cherries rimmed the orange slice floating in the center and the grenadine tinted the ice cubes pink. I swallowed the beverage fast and waited of the waiter to come back to the table so I could ask for another one.”     81-82


I adapted my recipe for homemade grenadine from The Kitchn


  • 1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup sweetener of your choice (sugar, agave, honey)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla (optional, but it gives it a richer, subtler flavor)

Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan on the stove and turn to medium heat. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and let come to a boil. Boil for several minutes until the mixture thickens slightly. Store in a clean jar in the fridge (lasts about a month)

You can add this to just about any drink, but to make a Shirley Temple, add two-three tablespoons your choice of clear soda (I definitely recommend club soda for a more adult drink).

You can garnish with orange, cherries, or mint leaves.


I absolutely love this grenadine, and love the fact that it has no high-fructose corn syrup or dyes.

Women Writers Reading Challenge #21: Charlotte Au Chocolat by Charlotte Silver


I’ve been on something of a memoir kick lately. There’s something about people looking back on their lives, interesting portions of their lives in particular, that makes me feel inspired and part of something bigger than myself–connected in a way with someone I have very little in common with.

This book reminded me, somewhat inexplicably, of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (which, incidentally, if you haven’t seen you really really should). There’s something about the grand whimsy and color–almost surreal–set against a time of change and decay and collapse. Charlotte Silver’s memories of her parents’ restaurant are sensory and full of life. The characters (and you can’t really call them anything else) that worked at the restaurant are vivacious and unique, but somehow familiar, as if you know people just like them. She handles the story of her parents’ divorce with sensitivity and shows them fully realized, with strengths and flaws in tact. Though it’s clear there were things missing from her childhood, Silver makes it abundantly clear that there were so many things that were right and wonderful. I quite enjoyed this little book; it will make you hungry and nostalgic, all at the same time.