Do y’all remember me saying how sometimes I get a recipe in my head and I just can’t forget it until I make it? Even if it’s not the right time of year? Even if it’s a family tradition for Christmas and it’s the middle of August?
Yeah. It happened again. For some reason I got Charlotte Russe on the brain a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it. If you’re not familiar with Charlotte Russe, then please let me introduce you. This is an old, old tradition in our family. My Mama has made it every Christmas since I can remember. But the recipe goes back even further to her grandmother. It’s rich. It’s creamy. It has whiskey in it. In a word, it’s ‘perfect.’ Just one quick caution – this recipe does contain raw eggs. Just wanted you to know in case that’s a health concern for you. Me? I figure the Jim Beam cancels out any risk :-)
When I asked Mama to email me her recipe she also sent me some notes about the preparation. Here, I’ll let her tell you in her own words:
“You cannot be in a hurry when you make this. Treat each step like you are handling a baby. Very gently. You can pour it all into a trifle bowl, parfait glasses or a flat casserole dish so it can be cut in squares. I have layered it with fresh peaches, fresh raspberries, and cherry pie filling. Have used fresh strawberries, but the strawberries and whiskey don’t seem to compliment each other.
My grandmother used to make this every Christmas and Thanksgiving. She would cut it in squares and place a cherry on each piece. You had to be over 12 years old before you were served any because it had whiskey in it. Since I was only 10 when she died, I never got to taste it. Maybe that’s why I always make it for the holidays.”
So, summoning up all the gentleness I could muster, I set out to make Mama’s recipe for Charlotte Russe.
You start out by stirring together milk and gelatin and letting it sit a few minutes to soften. Then, over low heat and stirring constantly, melt the gelatin. It only takes a few minutes and very low heat. Let that mixture sit until it’s room temperature and then proceed with the recipe.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set them aside for now.
In another large bowl, beat the whipping cream and then set that aside as well.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks, gradually adding the sugar, until you have a fluffy, pale yellow mixture. Stir the milk and gelatin mixture very gently into the egg yolks and sugar. Be sure they’re thoroughly combined.
Very gradually stir the whiskey into the egg yolk mixture. Of course I used Jim Beam, a fine Southern bourbon. Mama says you can use whatever you like but not everything goes well with eggs and cream. Jim Beam goes mighty fine in this. Just sayin’.
Now, gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites incorporating only a small amount each time. Fold in the whipped cream. Again, work very gently and with only a small amount of cream each time.
Line a bowl with ladyfingers. Pour the mixture into the bowl. Cover loosely and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Garnish individual servings with a maraschino cherry or two :-)
A light, creamy, combination of eggs, whipping cream and whiskey
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 envelopes gelatin
- 1/3 cup whiskey
- 1 package Ladyfingers
- Maraschino cherries (optional garnish)
- Stir together the milk and gelatin in a small saucepan and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Place the saucepan over low and cook, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool. Proceed with the recipe when the milk and gelatin mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside for now.
- In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream. Set that aside for now.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks, gradually adding the sugar, until fluffy and pale yellow.
- Stir the milk and gelatin mixture very gently into the egg yolks and sugar.
- Very gradually stir the whiskey into the egg yolk mixture.
- Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites incorporating only a small amount each time.
- Fold in the whipped cream. Again, work very gently and with only a small amount of cream each time.
- Line a trifle or other bowl with ladyfingers. Pour the mixture into the bowl.
- Cover loosely and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Garnish individual servings with Maraschino cherries, if desired.
Other Charlotte Russe recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Chocolate Charlotte from Easy French Food
- Lemon Charlotte Russe from Sunkist
- Raspberry Charlotte Russe on Pillsbury’s web site
- Affogato Charlotte Russe from food52
What I was writing about…