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Charlotte misu

Charlotte misu
Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

What ever became of charlotte russe? Once upon a time, she was the queen of desserts. It's time to bring back that golden age, when ladyfingers were ladyfingers and desserts did not shrink from simple grandeur. A century and a ... Read more

Total time: 45 minutes, plus at least 6 hours or overnight chilling | Serves 8

Espresso sauce

  • 3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso or other strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Step 1Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. Serve warm or at room temperature. May be covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. Makes about 1 cup.

Charlotte and assembly

  • 1 (7-ounce) package ladyfingers (savoiardi)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup amaretto liqueur
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • Bittersweet chocolate curls for garnish
  • Espresso sauce (See related recipe)

Step 1Cut 6 ladyfingers in half then make a V shape on one end of each to form a teardrop shape. Arrange the teardrops in the bottom of a 2-quart charlotte mold with the V pointing in to the middle, forming a flower design. Line the sides of the mold with 16 ladyfingers with the sugar side facing out.

Step 2Whip the cream with one-fourth cup sugar until stiff. Beat in the vanilla and set aside.

Step 3Place the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and three-fourths cup sugar on medium-high speed until pale yellow, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, for about 1 1/2 minutes.

Step 4Place the egg mixture in a medium saucepan and stir in a little of the hot milk to blend, then stir in remaining milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 2 1/2 minutes, being careful not to let it lump. Remove from the heat before the mixture starts to boil.

Step 5In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over one-fourth cup cold water to soften. Strain the custard through a very fine strainer into a glass bowl and stir in the softened gelatin, stirring until the gelatin has dissolved. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water and continue to stir until it cools and just begins to set. Stir in the amaretto.

Step 6Remove the bowl from the ice water. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and gently fold into the custard. Fold in the whipped cream.

Step 7Spoon one-fourth of the mixture into the bottom of the mold. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chocolate over the top. Add another one-fourth of the custard and sprinkle with more chocolate making four layers of custard and chocolate, ending with chocolate. Chill until set, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Step 8To serve, place a plate over the top of the mold and holding it down with the handles, turn the mold over and lift it away. Brush the ladyfingers with the espresso or coffee, repeating several times to saturate the cookies. Sprinkle chocolate curls and remaining chopped chocolate on top. Slice and serve with espresso sauce.

Note: From Donna Deane and Mary Ellen Rae. Make the espresso sauce while the charlotte is chilling. When making the charlotte, have all of the components except the espresso or coffee ready before you start because as the custard and gelatin set you'll need to work quickly to incorporate the egg whites and whipped cream.


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