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Charlotte Russe is a cake that the mold of the cake pan is lined with sponge fingers (Ladyfingers) and then filled with a custard. Sometimes cake or bread slices are used in place of the Ladyfingers. Charlotte Russe is served cold with whipped cream.
Charlotte is a corruption of the Old English word charlyt meaning a “dish of custard.” There is a lot of doubt surrounding the origins of the name “charlotte.” Meat dishes that were known as charlets were popular in the 15th century.
History of Charlotte Russe:
Following information is from the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, by John F. Mariani, 1999
“Charlotte Russe. A French dessert (supposedly created by Marie-Antonin Careme) made in mold with ladyfingers and Bavarian cream. . . While this confection is known and made in the United States, a simple version consisting of a square of sponge cake topped with whipped cream (sometimes with chocolate sprinkles) and a maraschino cherry was also called a “charlotte russe”. . . This was a standard item in eastern cities, particularly among urban Jewish Americans (some of whom pronounce the item “charely roose” or “charlotte roosh”), who made it at home or bought it at a pastry shop, where it was set on a frilled cardboard holder whose center would be pushed up as to reveal more cake as the whipped cream was consumed.”
18th Century – The Charlotte Russe Cake is said to have been invented by the 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.
Some historians say that the word Charlotte refers to the Czar Alexander’s sister-in-law, Queen Charlotte, Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818), who was the wife of George III, king of Great Britain and Scotland.
Types of Charlotte Russe:
Apple Charlotte – It is a golden-crusted dessert made by baking a thick apple compote in a mold lined with buttered bread. This dessert was originally created as a way to use leftover or stale bread. Some historians think that this sweet dish took its name from Queen Charlotte, known as being a supporter of apple growers.
Charlotte Malakoff – It has a lining of ladyfingers and a center filling of a souffle mixture of cream, butter, sugar, a liqueur, chopped almonds, and whipped cream. It is decorated with strawberries.
Cold Charlottes – They are made in a ladyfinger-lined mold and filled with a Bavarian cream. For frozen charlottes, a frozen soufflor mousse replaces the Bavarian cream.