Susan Hart: Gluten-free comfort for a Downton Abbey-free Sunday

Courtesy Susan HartSusan Hart’s gluten-free Downton Abbey Charlotte Russe.

Courtesy Susan HartSusan Hart’s gluten-free Downton Abbey Charlotte Russe.

OMG! Can you believe what they did to Matthew? Downton Abbey has been just gut-wrenching this season. People (except William) didn’t die during World War I, but Lady Sybil? Matthew? Just when Lady Mary was being human, too.Well, even though contemplating eschewing all things Downton Abbey, because of the shock to our sensibilities, the withdrawal on Oscar night was intense. To wean ourselves, to comfort ourselves, the only dessert that would do was the Downton Abbey Charlotte Russe — gluten-free, of course. Seems a pity to miss such a good pudding.My recommendation is that for the cookie enclosure, only Schar’s gluten-free ladyfingers will do. You must order them well ahead of time from Amazon (J.R. Mushrooms), which is the only source I’ve found. When they have arrived, make the filling as prescribed by the Downton Abbey Eat, Drink & Be Merry Board by Pamela Foster (it can be found at Abbey Charlotte RusseGluten-free ladyfingers (purchased)2 cups strawberry puree (4 cups mashed strawberries)3⁄4 cup sugar11⁄2 cups whipping cream, whipped soft11⁄2 cups plain yogurt5 teaspoons (2 packets) gelatin powderMix the gelatin powder with 2 tablespoons sugarWarm one cup of the strawberry puree with the remaining sugar. Mix the gelatin/powdered sugar mixture into the warm strawberry puree. Mix the gelatin well to prevent any lumps from forming. Add in the remaining strawberry puree. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Stir in the yogurt, then fold in one-third of the whipped cream; when well-blended, add the remaining whipped cream.To add an extra bit of decadence, you can lightly dip the rounded side of each ladyfinger in brandy and then coat with sugar. It will help soften the cookies.If you don’t have a charlotte mold, improvise with a spring-form pan. Place the ladyfingers on end with the rounded side out in the spring-form pan, then carefully line the inside ensuring no gaps. Make a base for the charlotte by breaking a few cookies and placing them on the bottom.Gently pour or spoon the filling into the mold. Add chopped fresh fruit to top if desired.Refrigerate the charlotte for at least 3 hours. Remove the outer sides of the spring-form pan.The mousse will have firmed up quite nicely. Slice the charlotte and place on individual serving plates. Dollop with whipped cream and serve.Enjoy!The next meeting of the Carson City Gluten-Free discussion group will be Monday, April 8. If you’d like more information, email me at the address below.• Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 15 years. She can be reached at


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