Making Charlotte Russe

This obviously isn’t the New York version, but rather the more classic version filled with Bavarian cream and topped with fruit. New Yorkers, I promise I’ll get to your eventually.

Though a charlotte is a great choice any time of year, it’s especially good in the hot summer months. For one, it’s a no-bake dessert. For two, it’s light and airy yet still rich and creamy, and can be adapted to just about any summer fruit. Here I’ve added on some sliced poached white peach, but that’s just one of any number of possibilities. Begin the process a minimum of six hours ahead of serving, a day or two ahead is ideal. To prepare the mold — and I’m using a classic slope-sided mold — get yourself a two-foot long sheet of aluminum foil.

Fold it in half.

Insert it into the mold along the sides. It won’t be a perfect fit…

…you’ll need to tear the edges so you can fold the foil down over the lip.

Press the foil as flat as you can.

For the bottom you can use a cut circle from a pre-made waxed cake circle. If you don’t have that, a piece of cardboard and a piece of wax paper work great.

Now to lay in the ladyfingers. You can see I’ve piped these a little longer and narrower than my last batch, this is because the sides of a classic charlotte mold are about 4″ high. If you were using a different mold, say a springform pan or a cake ring, standard-sized ladyfingers are all you need. Work with them frozen if you can, they’re a little easier to handle.

Trim up the edges for neatness.

Drop one ladyfinger in the mold for size.

Trim off any excess.

Then use the trimmed one as a guide for the others.

Lay them into the mold, overlapping slightly so the filling doesn’t leak out the sides.

Hmm…I seem to have a few corners still poking up there, better trim them down to the level of the bavarian cream so they won’t throw off the balance of the finished charlotte. Now where did I put my shears?

Ah yes, there they are.

Time to scrape the Bavarian cream into the mold and get it into the refrigerator.

It will take a good four hours for the Bavarian cream to set up. I recommend overnight.

Here’s what it looks like, but as you can see it hasn’t changed terribly much, except for that little rough patch where I tapped it to make sure it had thickened. To unmold it, peel back the foil around the lip and bend it outward so it won’t get caught on the mold.

Now place your platter of choice over the top, upside-down of course…

…and flip everything over.

Take off the mold…

…gently remove the foil…

…and peel back the top. Those small blobs of Bavarian cream that leaked out around the top can be easily removed at this point if you wish, or you can leave them. Either way is fine. Decorate the top however you’d like. I used peaches I’d poached, canned is fine, fresh berries or piped whipped cream work cream too.

Don’t that look purty on a plate? Tastes good, too.

8 thoughts on “Making Charlotte Russe”

  1. This looks amazingly delicious! I always assumed these were a lot harder to make, but thanks to your tutorial that thought is now one of the past 😉

  2. hi there, i love youre recepies, but i cant find the recepie for the bavarian cream on the charlotte or the lady fingers recepie.. can you help please thanks peter

  3. Thank you for the detailed instructions, I LOVE your site!!! I am making a Charlotte Russe for a Downtown Abbey viewing party this weekend and I have a question about molds. Do you think I could use a 6″ cake pan lined in foil, cardboard/ wax paper, etc? Would the construction be the same? I have a springform pan, but it is 10″ and way too big for a 3 person dessert.

  4. This is such a lovely dessert. About the ladyfingers, since I will be using the ones from the store, would I need to dip them in a syrup? Or would they be softened by the moisture from the cream?
    Thanks for such a lovely site. I was introduced to desserts I have never known existed.
    Have a good day.

    1. Hey Lana!

      Thank you very much. I have a great time adding to the site and believe me I’ve discovered quite a few things over the years myself! Readers suggest all sorts of things that surprise me. I hope to keep it up for some time yet!

      On the ladyfingers, if they’re reasonably fresh you probably don’t need any syrup. If they seem too firm I’d be inclined to brush a little syrup on, but no dipping…that will make them much too soft.

      Cheers and thanks very much!

      – Joe

      1. Hey Joe,
        Will definitely do that and make it for the weekend. Can’t wait to get started.
        Thanks for the reply.

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