This is a holiday dessert based on the Charlotte Russe dessert invented in the 17th century for Czar Alexander I of Russia. No, it’s not just a clothing store for teens. The traditional Charlotte Russe is made with lady fingers or sponge cake lining a mould, filled with a fruit puree or custard, or alternating layers of fruit and custard. Apparently, they were very popular in New York during the 1930s and 40s. This is a no-bake recipe. Since the instructions are missing, I looked up some basic instructions, which will be below the ingredient list.
12 double lady fingers
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1/4 cup brandy or 2 tablespoons brandy flavoring
4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream, whipped – reserve a bit for topping
Candied red cherries and green pineapple or shaved chocolate, for trim
Split lady fingers; cut off one end on each and…
Combine the gelatin, sugar, salt, egg yolks, milk and brandy, and make a pudding. Cook over low heat. Line a mould completely with the lady fingers, making sure there are no gaps. Whip the egg whites and sugar into peaks, fold in the whipping cream. Here you can layer the whipped cream with the pudding, then top with lady fingers OR you can combine the whipped cream and pudding gently and pour that into the mould, topping with the lady fingers. Chill. When chilled, turn out onto a plate, top with a dollop of whipped cream and other toppings.
The tricky part is always getting the ladyfingers to STAY. If you dip or brush them with more brandy and then stick them to the wall of your trifle dish (or whatever) they do tend to stick much better.
I saw some recipes called for sponge cake rather than lady fingers. Have you tried them both? I wonder if the sponge cake would stick better. Hmm.
I have a trick that really helps hold the ladyfingers in place until the Russe is assembled and set. Line the inside if the walls of a springform pan with a thin layer of butter, and then an overlapped later of wax paper. Put a thin line of butter on the inside surface of the wax paper, and the ladyfingers stick to it well enough to stay. Once the Russe is chilled and set, release and remove the springform and the wax paper should peel off easily.
To give credit where due, my wife found this tip online somewhere while I was trying to assemble my first ever Charlotte Russe and really having a hard time with the ladyfingers.
I have enjoyed reading some of these Holiday Recipes..some are pretty fancy. Here in Minnesota we are not quite so fancy:)
I just have found your blog. I was at a antique shop one day and found a little spiral bound note book, it had all kinds of recipes of sweets.
I wondered at the time about the woman who wrote them. I never found out but still have the notebook.
Welcome to the site – I’m glad you found me! I do so enjoy recipes and the people who love them. :-)
Made an orange version of this recipe for Chirstmas and it was absolutely amazing! I replaced the lady fingers wth panettone and made it in a round bowl. It was an absolute hit!
Will be saving this recipe forfuture use!
Thank you <3
Store bought ladyfingers are molded together in the package. Don’t cut them apart. Leave them molded together when you line them in the pan. I use a store bought sponge cake (Sarah Lee) for the bottom and use the ladyfingers to create the beautiful presentation.