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Charlotte Russe recipe for Christmas gift

Here’s a request that tugged at my heartstrings: Alisa Catanzaro emailed that her 89-year-old father, John, told her recently that he couldn’t afford his favorite dessert back in the ’60s, so she decided to make him Charlotte Russe at Christmastime. Since I have a tradition of making my grandmother’s Christmas stollen for my own elderly mother, I had to find a recipe. Here’s one from the Food Network and Paula Deen.

CHARLOTTE RUSSE

1 packet unflavored gelatin

¼ cup milk, room temperature

3 cups heavy cream (divided use)

1¼ cups sugar (divided use)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Angel food cake, spongecake or ladyfingers

2 tablespoons sweet sherry (don’t use cooking sherry)

½ cup fruit preserves, optional

7 large egg whites

Fresh berries or cut fruit, for garnish

Soften the gelatin in a bowl with 1 tablespoon cold water. Pour in the milk and completely dissolve the gelatin. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the filling, stirring every now and again to keep gelatin from separating and settling to bottom.

Sweeten 2 cups of the cream with 1 cup of the sugar and beat until fairly stiff. Add vanilla. Gently but thoroughly fold in gelatin mixture.

Cut cake into ladyfinger-sized pieces, about ½-inch thick by 1-inch wide and as long as your mold is deep. Line bottom and sides of a 3-quart mold or bowl with cake, being sure that there are no gaps in it. Hold back enough cake to cover top of mold or bowl. Sprinkle cake with sherry and spread it with a thin layer of jam or fruit preserves, if using.

Beat egg whites into stiff but not dry peaks with a hand-held electric mixer, then fold thoroughly into whipped cream and gelatin filling. Spoon filling into cake-lined mold, making sure there are no gaps or air pockets between filling and cake. Press reserved cake on top of filling.

Chill until cream is set, 4 to 6 hours. When you are ready to serve, gently run a knife around edges of the mold, then invert onto plate. Carefully lift off mold.

Lightly sweeten remaining 1 cup cream with remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until it is stiff. Pipe it on top with a pastry bag, or spoon it on, covering any gaps or splits in outer layer of cake. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Serves 6 to 8.

— Recipe adapted from the Food Network

READER FINDS

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Readers?

Submit information to Heidi Knapp Rinella, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070. You also can send faxes to 702-383-4676 or email her at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Include your first and last names and, if emailing, put “Taste of the Town” in the subject line. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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