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Charlotte russe

Charlotte russe
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

Strawberry coulis

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

Step 1Wash and remove stems from strawberries. Place in a food processor or blender with 1 tablespoon sugar and process until smooth. Taste and add additional sugar if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Charlotte and assembly

  • 1 (7-ounce) package ladyfingers (savoiardi)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup rum
  • Strawberry coulis (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 to the middle, forming a flower design. Line the sides 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 and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks with three-fourths cup sugar on medium-high speed until a pale yellow color, 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, continue to stir 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.

Step 6Remove the bowl from the ice water. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and gently fold them into the custard.

Step 7Fold the whipped cream into the custard mixture.

Step 8Spoon the mixture into the mold and refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Step 9To serve, place a plate over the top of the mold and, holding it down with the handles, overturn mold and plate. Lift the mold away from the charlotte. Brush the rum onto the ladyfingers, repeating several times to saturate the cookies. Slice the charlotte and spoon strawberry coulis around each wedge.

Note: The strawberry coulis may be made after the charlotte is completed and put in the refrigerator to chill. When making the charlotte, have all of the components 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. Ladyfingers are available at well-stocked markets.



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