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Frolicking with Prostitutes! or, a Charlotte Russe pudding recipe inspired by Ethel

Surely if Ethel can manage an edible Charlotte Russe, we can too – never mind that before today, we thought “isinglass” was a lyric from a Beatles song. Happily, Tara Austen Weaver has located a proper recipe, and so we shall not go without our pudding… 

Photo source: distopiandreamgirl on Flickr

Oh Isobel and her meddling ways. It’s almost a comfort, after the great loss of last week, to have her so reliable and consistent. A luncheon for the ladies: what a kind invitation for the Crowley “girls.”

Of course there is the issue of Ethel, the most un-domestic of all domestics. But Isobel is prepared for that. “There’s no need to cook—just fetch some ham … and make a light salad.” Easy peasy.

But Ethel has plans of her own. A bit of help from Mrs. Patmore and a full menu is planned: Salmon Mousse, Lamb Chops, and Charlotte Russe. “Anyone who has use of their limbs can make a salmon mousse,” Mrs. Patmore says.

But no one planned the uninvited invasion of Lord Grantham between the second and third course. Or the outrage of Carson back at the big house. “Frolicking with prostitutes,” indeed.

Perhaps it’s time for everyone to simmer down and have some Charlotte Russe. As Violet says, “It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding.”

CHARLOTTE RUSSE (from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management)


About 18 Savoy biscuits

3/4 pint of cream

Flavoring of vanilla, liqueurs, or wine

1 tablespoonful of pounded sugar

1/2 oz. of isinglass (pure gelatin)

Procure about eighteen Savoy biscuits, or ladies'-fingers, as they are sometimes called; brush the edges of them with the white of an egg, and line the bottom of a plain round mould, placing them like a star or rosette. Stand them upright all round the edge; carefully put them so closely together that the white of the egg connects them firmly, and place this case in the oven for about five minutes, just to dry the egg. Whisk the cream to a stiff froth, with the sugar, flavoring, and melted isinglass; fill the charlotte with it, cover with a slice of sponge-cake cut in the shape of the mould; place it in ice, where let it remain till ready for table; then turn it on a dish, remove the mould, and serve.

One tablespoonful of liqueur of any kind, or four tablespoonfuls of wine, would nicely flavor the above proportion of cream. For arranging the biscuits in the mould, cut them to the shape required, so that they fit in nicely, and level them with the mould at the top, that, when turned out, there may be something firm to rest upon. Great care and attention is required in the turning out of this dish, that the cream does not burst the case; and the edges of the biscuits must have the smallest quantity of egg brushed over them, or it would stick to the mould, and so prevent the charlotte from coming away properly.

Time: five minutes in the oven.

Sufficient for one charlotte. Seasonable at any time.


Below: Blueberry Charlotte with Lemon Crust, by Vegan Feast Catering on Flickr

Blueberry Charlotte with Lemon Custard

For more amazing Charlotte dessert photos, visit the Flickr photo group by clicking here.


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This looks pretty incredible! The Dowager Countess is right - there's NO WAY they could have left before that dessert. :)

I made that Apple Charlotte that Sir Anthony Strallon was fond of in season one. It was so simple and delicious, my husband and I loved it... And he's never keen on new pudding.

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