Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate Charlotte Russe VS. the original recipe

Hi guys!

Happy New Year!!

So, my father-in-law was talking about his favorite dessert again, the Charlotte Russe.

It is a very old recipe. In fact, many bakeries don't even make it anymore so they are hard to come by. Although, he's ordered a few in the past, he claims that none came close to the one he enjoyed as a child, in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. He often reminisces about it, especially around the holidays. He says he used to walk by the local bakery and admire the Charlotte Russe in the window. His family didn't buy this dessert often back then so it was a real treat when he did get to have some.

This dessert has taken many forms over the years and it changes from family to family and region to region. It’s basically a layered dessert made up of sponge cake, fruit, Jell-O or jam, and whip cream. Although many of the ingredients change, the one "constant" is that it is lined with lady fingers. My father-in-law remembered it as a layer of sponge cake, whip cream, fruit (including pineapple) and Jell-O.

So, due to the lack of acceptable Charlotte Russes, he decided that he was going to make one exactly the way he remembered it! He was determined! Problem? - he didn't have recipe and he doesn't cook. lol...So I offered my help, my kitchen and I even found him a recipe online to base himself on but he decided that he would make it on his own. He wanted all the glory! Truthfully, I was disappointed because all that talk about cake, whip cream and Jell-O got me in the mood to try it for myself.  
My fiancé André, assumed his father's cake would be an utter disaster and challenged him to a competition.  He wanted me to make a chocolate one (of course). His dad accepted the challenge and in the words of Dane Cookit was on! - complete with "trash talk" and shameless SPYING(My fiancé did the trash-talking and my father-in-law did the just made my cake)

My Charlotte had a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of chocolate pudding (mixed with a tsp of gelatin). When the pudding set, I added a generous helping of whip cream. I framed the cake with chocolate dipped lady fingers and added fresh strawberries on top. I then tied a pretty bow around the cake for the cookies to hold.
(if you want the complete recipe, let me know!)

Here's the pudding

Here are the three layers, the cake, the pudding and the whip cream.
I added more whip cream afterwards.

So, on January 2nd we were having our New Years party so, so both cakes were presented and family members were asked to vote on their favorite Charlotte. We even had a trophy that the kids made out of Lego...  :-D

Although our cake was pretty and chocolaty, my nieces and nephews voted for their Grandfather's cake and that's fine by me. (I later found out that my father in law actually voted for my cake :)

History of the Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe is a dessert invented by the French chef Marie Antoine Carême (1784-1833), who named it in honour of his Russian employer Czar Alexander I (russe being the French word for "Russian"). It is a cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers.

The Winner! - The traditional Charlotte Russe. Pretty hu? but a little like the tower of Pisa, eh?? I'm only slightly bitter about my

If anyone wants either recipe, post your request!


  1. Hi Stephanie! had a good laugh reading your story... lol Andre's dad making a caka and
    I cut out Julia Child's recipe of 'Charlotte Malakoff aux fraises' that appeared in The Gazette on Sept. 5th 2009. I haven't had the chance of making it during the holidays being so busy keeping my 3 teenagers fed... But I plan on making it at the next occasion. It is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Let me know by e-mail if you would like me to send it to you...

  2. Hi! I have been looking for an authentic recipe for Charlotte Russe for a super long time, and think that the recipe that your father-in-law sounds like the real deal. I am wanting the recipe that was originally used in Europe, and not the one used in Brooklyn and other areas of New York, one that uses homemade lady fingers and not sponge cake, and that is filled with something like Bavarian cream. I hope you can help, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!