charlotte russe

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A charlotte russe[n 1]

Borrowed from French charlotte russe (literally Russian charlotte). The origin of the term is obscure; one theory is that the dish was created by French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833) and named in honour of his employer Alexander I of Russia.[1] Charlotte (a dessert containing sponge, fruit and cream or custard) is possibly from Middle English charlet, charlette (dish made from eggs, meat, milk, etc.), probably from Old French char laitée (meat with milk):[2] char (meat) + laitée (milk).



charlotte russe (plural charlottes russes or charlottes russe or charlotte russes)

  1. A dessert of custard or whipped cream enclosed in sponge cake, often in the form of ladyfingers. [from mid 19th c.]
    • 1854, Arthur Pendennis [pseudonym; William Makepeace Thackeray], “Clive’s Uncles”, in The Newcomes: Memoirs of a Most Respectable Family, volume I, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], OCLC 809623158, page 51:
      And Mrs. Newcome was not unkind: and if Clive had been really a young duke, I am sure he would have had the best bed-room at Marble Hill, and not one of the far-off little rooms in the boys' wing; I am sure he would have had jellies and Charlottes Russes, instead of mere broth, chicken and batter pudding as fell to his lot; []
    • 1857 February 28, “Lenten Fast of Fashion”, in Harper’s Weekly. A Journal of Civilization, volume I, number 9, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, publishers, [], OCLC 883997577, page 131, column 4:
      Cod and oyster sauce; smelt tossed with eggs, and made piquant with a squeeze of lemon (don't forget the lemon); chocolate custards, and a proper variety of puff-pâtés, blancmange, jellies, ice-creams, and Charlotte russe, are not bad to take, and, moreover, commend themselves to the pious conscience, for they are not forbidden by pope or council.
    • 1867 March 9, “Lady Llanover’s Good Cookery”, in The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science, and Art, volume 23, number 593, London: Published at the office, [], OCLC 860693653, page 312, column 2:
      But people don't think of training cooks, though they train ballet-girls, sempstresses, and bonnet-makers. A good Charlotte Russe is a higher effort of talent than a bonnet.
    • 1871 April 26, “Extracts from The Yale Courant. Published Every Week during Term Time. Editors, Class of ’71: C. R. Dudley, H. R. Elliot, H. Mansfield.”, in The College Courant. A Weekly Journal Devoted to College Interests, Science, and Literature, volume VIII, number 17, New Haven, Conn.: Charles C. Chatfield & Co, publishers, published 29 April 1871, OCLC 5802687, page 203, column 1:
      When we reflect on the peanuts, oranges, soda water, cream cakes, bananas, claret punch, oysters, lemonade, Welch rare bits, ale, chicken and lobster salad, lager, pie, charlotte russe, ice cream, and cake and so forth, which are nightly mingled in the undergraduate's stomach, we are unavoidably led to remember that Blair is said to be the best undertaker in the city, though Hoadly and Co. are perhaps more handy for the student trade.
    • 1876, Mary F[oote] Henderson, “Bavarian Creams”, in Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving. [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, publishers. [], OCLC 14720009, page 283:
      The Bavarian creams all make good charlottes-russe, the peach Bavarian making an especially delicious one. Sometimes these mixtures are frozen, and put into charlotte molds; the cake is formed in molds a trifle larger.
    • 1943, Betty Smith, chapter XVI, in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, OCLC 639466728; 2nd edition, New York, N.Y.; London: Harper & Brothers, 1943, OCLC 20029079, page 120:
      There was a bakery store to one side of it which sold beautiful charlotte russes with red candied cherries on their whipped-cream tops for those who were rich enough to buy.
    • 2018, Tamar Adler, “Crying for Cream (Desserts)”, in Something Old, Something New: Classic Recipes Revisited, New York, N.Y.: Scribner, →ISBN:
      Charlotte Russe emerged during First Empire France, under the name charlotte à la Parisienne. (The Russian charlotte is the Parisian charlotte, the name change a consequence of Carême's employ; he went to work for a tsar and paid appropriate homage.) [] Variations proliferated, and charlottes Russe appeared on dessert menus from La Côte Basque, where cream was hand whisked and savoie biscuits hand piped, to the 24-hour diner on Route 2, whose fillings may have been instant pudding or canned whipped topping, cookies from a cellophane bag, and garnishes canned peaches or strawberry pie topping.




  1. ^ From Janet M. Hill (April 1909), “Seasonable Recipes”, in The Boston Cooking-school Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, volume XIII, issue 9, Boston, Mass.: The Boston Cooking School Magazine Co., [], OCLC 2052906, page 431.


  1. ^ See, for example, Judy Gelman; Vicki Levy Krupp (2012), “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn • Betty Smith [Charlotte Russe]”, in The Book Club Cookbook: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors, 2nd edition, New York, N.Y.: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, →ISBN.
  2. ^ charlet(te, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 19 June 2018; see A[bram] Smythe Palmer (1882), “Charlotte”, in Folk-etymology: A Dictionary of Verbal Corruptions or Words Perverted in Form or Meaning, by False Derivation or Mistaken Analogy, London: George Bell and Sons, [], OCLC 23927813, page 59, column 2.

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