Literary Recipes: The Charlotte Russe

By Hannah White

Invented by Chef Antonin Carême in the early nineteenth century, charlotte russe is a beautiful trifle cake-like dessert that typically consists of layers of sponge cake, bavarian cream, and fruit elegantly surrounded by lady finger cookies. This European dessert has appeared in the popular television series Downton Abbey--it is one of the dishes cooked by Ethel for Isobel’s ladies’ luncheon.

Charlotte russe is popular in bakeries across Brooklyn, and in Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, it is mentioned that there were “red candied cherries on their whipped cream tops f...

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