Fruit Charlotte

Charlotte Russe

 Charlotte Russe


Charlotte Russe adapted from a recipe in an 1886 edition of Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cookbook. The first edition was published in 1884. Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book is possibly the earliest American cookbook to print a recipe for Charlotte Russe.

Charlotte Russe is a chilled, set dessert of Bavarian cream in a mold lined with ladyfingers.

Ladyfingers are sometimes replaced with day old bread (apple Charlotte) or soft biscuits and sponge cake.

Not as many have heard of this book but it changed the way Americans cooked. This book is a fore-runner to the world-famous 'Boston Cooking-School Cook Book' by Fannie Merritt Farmer, (the book that contained one of the earliest recipes for Brownies, the way they are made today).

Charlotte Russe is a French dessert created by the legendary chef Marie-Antoine Carême named for his employers, George IV's only child, Princess Charlotte and Czar Alexander I. Russe is the French word for Russian.

I use extra gelatine (if you are vegetarian use agar agar also called China grass)) to make this recipe because in India the climate is warm and cream splits easily. If you live in a cold climate and have access to high quality well homogenised cream use 15 grams of gelatin or 3 grams of agar agar. While agar agar is a good gelatine substitute it gives you a far less creamy result. Also agar agar needs to be soaked and then boiled before it is added to your Bavarian cream. Gelatin should be heated but never boiled. If you use eggless cookies or cake this dish contains no eggs.

An 8 inch round pudding tin

14-16 ladyfinger biscuits (some may break while handling) or Savoiardi cookies also called boudoir, sponge biscuits and baby biscuits

1 cup thick fruit puree or compote such as strawberry, raspberry, peach

2 tbpns sliced or whole fruit berries to garnish

For the Bavarian Cream

3/4 box gelatine (18 grams just under 3 sachets)

1/2 cup castor sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups chilled heavy cream

1 tbpsn fruit kirsch of your choice (optional)

1/2 cup boiling water

1 cup sugar syrup stirred together with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tbsp kirsch (optional)


Line the inside of the pudding pan with plastic wrap leaving a large overhang of 3-4 inches outside the mold.

Lightly brush the sides of each ladyfinger with sugar syrup using a pastry brush or drizzle with a spoon and line them one next to the other in the pudding basin to form a kind of rounded cone shape.The top of the Charlotte Russe can be a bit uneven because it will be garnished with more compote and fruit later.

The syrup on the sides of the ladyfingers will help them stick together. Place another bowl inside the basin-this will help press the ladyfingers to the walls of the basin and prevent them from falling until the Bavarian cream is prepared.

Add the gelatine to 3 tablespoons of cold water. Swirl the cup about a little bit but don't stir. Let sit 6-7 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup warm water to the softened gelatin and return to a low flame. Swirl the pan about to dissolve the gelatine but do not boil it and avoid stirring it with a spoon. Let it cool for 5-6 minutes before you add it to the cream but begin work on the cream before the gelatine begins to set otherwise you will have lumps in your Bavarian cream.

In a stand mixer or using an electric hand whisk whip the cream, sugar and vanilla on medium speed no more than 1 minute. Add the gelatine and whip again until cream begins to thicken to medium stiff peaks. Do not over beat as the cream will split, Gently stir in half the fruit puree and the kirsch using a spatula.

Remove the smaller bowl from inside the pudding basin and slowly pour the thick, whipped fruit cream inside. Some of it will spill through the spaces between the cookies-you want this because once it sets it will hold the cookies upright. Smoothen the top of the cream. Lay the remaining 3 ladyfingers over the base. This will not be seen so you can also use any broken lady finger pieces here. Press the overhanging plastic over the dessert to ensure it is properly closed. Cover with a lid if the pudding basin has one otherwise use foil.

Refrigerate ideally overnight.


Prepare a flat serving dish. Remove the mold from the fridge and open in the lid nor foil and gently open the plastic overhang. Tug gently a the sides of the plastic to loosen the Charlotte but do not pull the pudding out.

Place the serving platter over the dish and turn the pudding basin over on the platter.

Slowly remove the pudding basin and then gently peel away the plastic wrap.

Top the pudding with some more compote and garnish with berries or cut fruit.

Serve immediately.

Strawberry Charlotte

Serves 8
Meal type Dessert
Misc Serve Cold
Region French
By author Tara Deshpande
Please consult your doctor about any health restrictions or allergies before enjoying this recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (FOR THE FILLING:)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup eau-de-vie de poire (pear brandy)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons eau-de-vie de poire (pear brandy)


For the cake: Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 9" springform pan and line bottom with buttered parchment. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale yellow. Gradually beat in flour until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and set aside. Whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold whites into yolk mixture, taking care not to deflate whites. Pour into pan and bake until brown, 25–30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. For the filling: Put raspberries, sugar, and 1 cup water into a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves and berries break down, about 10 minutes. Press through a sieve set over a bowl to catch purée. Return 2 cups purée to pan and set over low heat. Reserve remaining purée for sauce. Sprinkle gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water, set aside until softened, then add to purée in pan, stirring until dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat, add eau-de-vie, and set aside to cool. Whip cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold cooled purée into cream.
3. Unmold cake and discard parchment. Slice cake in half crosswise, then return cake bottom to pan with ring reattached. Pour in filling, then replace cake top, brown side up. Cover with plastic; refrigerate for 24 hours.
4. For the sauce: Combine reserved berry purée, sugar, lemon juice, and eau-de-vie in a bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved. Slice cake and serve with sauce.