Charlotte Russe with Bourbon

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    8 to 10


Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

I have often wondered why a dessert so traditional in French pastry making should be considered so decidedly Southern. But that is the case with a charlotte russe. I was weaned on it and it remains to this day one of my favorite creations.


  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus more to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¾ cup coffee
  • 2 envelopes unfavored gelatin
  • 12 to 18 ladyfingers
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar


  • Place the egg yolks in a saucepan and add 1 cup granulated sugar. Beat vigorously with a whisk until light and lemon-colored.
  • Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan, and add it gradually to the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Add ½ cup coffee and cook, stirring, until the sauce coats a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat but continue stirring. Blend the gelatin with the remaining Vi cup coffee and add it to the hot custard, stirring to dissolve. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Let cool.
  • While the custard is cooling, lightly oil the bottom and sides of a round mold. Line the mold with the ladyfingers. To do this, start by placing a small round of ladyfinger in the center. Cover the bottom with a daisy-petal pattern, using the small round as a focal point. Stand lady-fingers side by side upright and close together around the sides. Blend the water and bourbon and brush the ladyfingers with it.
  • When the custard is cool and still unset, whip 1 cup cream in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the custard and fold it in to blend well. Pour the mixture into the ladyfinger-lined mold. Refrigerate several hours, or until set.
  • Unmold the charlotte onto a round serving platter. Whip the remaining ½ cup cream and add sugar to taste. Spread this over the top and sides of the charlotte.