Charlotte Russe Recipe - French Dessert with Ladyfingers and Whipped Cream

Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe Recipe - French Dessert with Ladyfingers and Whipped Cream
Region / culture: France | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 15 minutes | Servings: 8


Charlotte Russe
Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe is a classic dessert that originated in Russia and gained popularity in Europe and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. This elegant dessert is made with ladyfingers, whipped cream, and a creamy custard filling, all layered together to create a beautiful and delicious treat.


The Charlotte Russe dessert is believed to have been created in the 18th century by the French chef Marie-Antoine Carême. The dessert was named after the Russian Czar Alexander I's sister, Charlotte, and quickly became a favorite among European royalty. The recipe eventually made its way to America, where it became a popular dessert for special occasions and holidays.


How to prepare

  1. Pour milk into a large pot.
  2. Add a pinch of salt, then bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and remove from heat.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until creamy.
  5. Add a quarter cup of milk to temper the eggs.
  6. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk.
  7. Over gentle heat, cook the mixture while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens.
  8. Make sure the heat does not exceed 185°F (82°C).
  9. Remove from heat and continue stirring.
  10. Squeeze out the water from the gelatin leaf, then add the gelatin to the hot cream.
  11. Stir until the gelatin dissolves.
  12. Pour the mixture through a wire strainer into a stainless steel mixing bowl to ensure smoothness.
  13. Place the bowl over crushed ice and stir until it starts to cool down and thicken.
  14. Fold in the whipped heavy cream and maraschino.
  15. Transfer the mixture to a round mold and chill until set. This is the charlotte.
  16. Unmold the charlotte onto a serving dish.
  17. Put a dollop of whipped cream on the flat side of the ladyfingers, then press them onto the sides of the charlotte until completely surrounded.
  18. Garnish with additional whipped cream and sliced fruit.


  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups of milk
  • 1 gelatin leaf, soaked in cold water
  • 1.5 cups of whipped heavy cream
  • 1 dash of salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 0.5 cup of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of Maraschino (cherry) liquor
  • Try adding a layer of fresh berries or fruit compote between the ladyfingers and custard for a burst of flavor.
  • For a boozy twist, soak the ladyfingers in rum or brandy before assembling the charlotte.
  • Experiment with different flavors of whipped cream, such as chocolate, coffee, or citrus.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

Be sure to use fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best results.

- Make sure to chill the charlotte in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving to allow it to set properly.

- When folding in the whipped cream, be gentle to ensure a light and airy texture.

- Garnish the charlotte with fresh fruit, chocolate shavings, or a dusting of powdered sugar for a beautiful presentation.

Serving Suggestions

Charlotte Russe can be served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, a sprinkle of cocoa powder, or a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Cooking Techniques

The key to a successful Charlotte Russe is to properly temper the eggs and cook the custard over gentle heat to prevent curdling. Be sure to stir constantly and monitor the temperature carefully.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you don't have ladyfingers on hand, you can use sponge cake or pound cake as a substitute. You can also use gelatin powder instead of gelatin leaves.

Make Ahead Tips

Charlotte Russe can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This dessert actually benefits from some chilling time to allow the flavors to meld together.

Presentation Ideas

To make a stunning presentation, unmold the charlotte onto a decorative serving platter and garnish with fresh berries, mint leaves, or edible flowers. You can also dust the top with cocoa powder or powdered sugar for a finishing touch.

Pairing Recommendations

Charlotte Russe pairs well with a cup of coffee or tea for a delightful after-dinner treat. For a more indulgent pairing, serve with a glass of dessert wine or champagne.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover Charlotte Russe can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, allow the dessert to come to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of Charlotte Russe contains approximately 250 calories.


Each serving of Charlotte Russe contains approximately 25 grams of carbohydrates.


Each serving of Charlotte Russe contains approximately 15 grams of fats.


Each serving of Charlotte Russe contains approximately 5 grams of proteins.

Vitamins and minerals

Charlotte Russe is not a significant source of vitamins and minerals.


Charlotte Russe contains dairy (milk, cream) and eggs.


Charlotte Russe is a rich and indulgent dessert that is best enjoyed in moderation due to its high fat and calorie content.


Charlotte Russe is a classic dessert with a rich history and a decadent flavor. This elegant treat is perfect for special occasions and celebrations, and is sure to impress your guests with its beautiful presentation and delicious taste. Enjoy!

How did I get this recipe?

I can still remember the exact moment I discovered the recipe for Charlotte Russe. It was a warm summer afternoon, and I was visiting my dear friend Margaret's house for tea. Margaret was an accomplished cook and baker, and I always looked forward to trying out her delicious creations.

As we sipped our tea and chatted about the latest news in town, Margaret suddenly disappeared into the kitchen. I could hear pots and pans clattering, and the delicious scent of vanilla and cream wafted into the living room. I was curious to see what she was up to, so I followed her into the kitchen.

There, on the countertop, was the most beautiful dessert I had ever seen. Layers of sponge cake, Bavarian cream, and fresh strawberries were assembled in a delicate glass dish. Margaret smiled at me and said, "This, my dear, is Charlotte Russe. It's a classic French dessert that is sure to impress your guests."

I was in awe of the elegant dessert before me, and Margaret kindly shared her recipe with me. She explained that Charlotte Russe was a popular dessert in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, named after the Russian Czar Alexander I's sister-in-law, Charlotte.

I carefully wrote down the recipe in my notebook, making sure to capture every detail and ingredient. Margaret patiently walked me through each step, from baking the sponge cake to preparing the Bavarian cream filling. It was a labor of love, but I was determined to master the art of making Charlotte Russe.

Over the years, I experimented with different variations of the recipe, adding my own personal touch with fresh berries or a hint of citrus zest. I shared this decadent dessert with my family and friends, and it became a staple at special occasions and holiday gatherings.

As I continued to perfect my recipe for Charlotte Russe, I learned that it was not just a dessert, but a reflection of my passion for cooking and my dedication to preserving culinary traditions. Each bite of this delicate dessert was a reminder of the time and effort I put into creating something beautiful and delicious.

I also discovered that the joy of cooking and baking was not just about following a recipe, but about creating memories and bringing people together. My grandchildren would often help me in the kitchen, eager to learn the secrets of making Charlotte Russe and other family favorites.

As I look back on that fateful day at Margaret's house, I am grateful for the gift of discovering the recipe for Charlotte Russe. It has brought me joy, satisfaction, and a sense of connection to my culinary heritage. And I hope that one day, my grandchildren will carry on this tradition, passing down the recipe for Charlotte Russe to future generations.


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