Charlotte Russe is a French chilled dessert made with ladyfingers, filled with a fruit flavored cream filling set by gelatin, a favorite cooking ingredient of the Edwardians. This version is less cream heavy with the help of egg whites. Typically you name your Charlotte after the flavoring you include.
Credit for the Charlotte Russe is given to French Chef Marie Antoine Careme (1784-1833), who named it in honor of his Russian employer, Czar Alexander I. The word “russe” means Russian in French. Charlotte is the Czar’s sister in law, Queen Charlotte, married to George III. Typically you name your Charlotte after the flavoring you include.
Luscious Chocolate Charlotte Russe
- 40-50 lady fingers (see notes on how to make your own)
- 1 package unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup Kirsch
- 8 ounces (255 g) quality dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup (59 ml) milk
- 4 Tbsp. (60 ml) butter
- 4 eggs (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup (59 ml) icing sugar
- 1 cup (236 ml) whipping cream
- You will need an 8″ spring form pan, or you can make individual versions if you like. If you use a larger pan, you might want trim the lady fingers to the height of the pan as you will have a more shallow russe, or fill the gap with lots of fruits and whipped cream (greek yoghurt is healthier).
- Add the kirsch to 1/2 cup of water in a shallow dish. Quickly roll one lady finger at a time in the alcohol and then stand up against the wall of your springform pan(s) with the rounded side facing outwards. Break the fingers into smaller pieces to place in the bottom to make the base (see photo). prepping your pans
- Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a clean mixing bowl to whip, and the yolks in a small dish which will be added to the chocolate mixture.
- Dissolve the gelatin in 2 tablespoons of water.
- Heat the chocolate and milk in a double boiler (on place a large shallow metal bowl on top of pot with simmering water. Melt until smooth but carefully watch so you don’t get the chocolate too hot as it will scorch.
- Using a wooden spoon, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, blending until smooth after each addition. Next, add the egg yolks, one a time, blending well after each. Beat the mixture for several minutes with the wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Add the gelatin and remove from the heat.
- Beat the egg whites in a clean metal bowl until stiff and then beat in the powdered sugar.
- Using a chilled large metal bowl, whip the chilled cream until it forms soft peaks.
- Fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, and then fold in the egg whites. Work gently and quickly to ensure you don’t lose too much volume.
- Pour the mousse into the prepared pans, ensuring it fills all the gaps.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator over night.
- To serve, simply remove the plastic wrap.
- Decorate with berries, whipped cream (or greek yoghurt), shaved chocolate. For presentation you can tie a decorative ribbon around the base.