18th Century sweets for the sweet.
This will be my last post on 18th century food for a little while and I’m happy to say it’s all about desserts and sweets. True desserts served at the end of an elaborate 18th century meal were finger food, small biscuits and bonbons, nuts and candied fruit which appears in my story A Gentleman’s Folly.
What we would call desserts came with the previous two courses. Fabulous for those pudding lovers among you because you could have your sweetie treat before the rest of you meal if you wished. The use of cream and butter, large quantities of sugar and alcohol were common in this era.
Remember too there were no fridges in this period. They did have a cool pantry to leave things to set and the grandest homes did have their own ice houses to provide them with ice. London had ice cream houses from the 1760’s onwards who produced an excellent product you might recognise.
Below are some dessert recipes from the time to tempt you. If you try them let me know how you get on.
4 tablespoons of cold water
Half an ounce of gelatine
Fresh strawberries, raspberries and cherries washed stoned and cut into bite size bits. You can puree the fruit if you wish. You can have one fruit or a mix of them as you prefer.
Whites of 2 eggs
Half a pint of whipping or double cream
1 dessertspoon of vanilla *sugar
Half a pint of milk.
Pour water in a small basin and sprinkle in gelatine. Place the basin over a ban of hot but not boiling water and stir until it becomes clear. Remove and allow to cool a little, but not set.
Put jam in the bottom of a serving dish or small sundae dishes.
Whisk egg whites until they hold the impression of the whisk.
Whip the cream until it has the same consistency as egg. Stir in the *sugar.
Add the gelatine mix to the milk and mix this with the cream. When the mix begins to thicken fold in the egg whites.
Pour onto the dish of jam.
Port and Prunes
1 pound of dried prunes
8 fluid ounce of ruby port or sweet sherry if you prefer.
Half a pint of double cream.
2 ounce of fine *sugar.
The day before needed cover prunes in water and soak.
Next day simmer the prunes until very soft. Strain and leave to cool.
Remove prune stones and pound the fruit in a mortar with the port until you get a thick puree. Add more port if needed. J
Whisk cream with sugar* until it is as thick as the puree.
Fold the puree into the cream and spoon into tiny glasses.
Serve with sweet biscuits like short cake rounds.
An Orange Fool
Take the juice of six oranges and six well beaten eggs, a pint of cream, a quarter pound of sugar, a little cinnamon and nutmeg and mix all together in a pan. Keep stirring over a slow fire until it thickens, remove from fire add a little piece of butter and keep stirring until it is cold. Serve it up.
Core and halve twelve apples. Place them in a patty-pan or mazareen as close as they will lie flat side downwards. Squeeze a lemon in two spoonfuls of orange flower water and pour over them. Shred some lemon peel fine and throw over them and grate fine sugar all over. *
Send them in a quick oven and half an hour will do them. When you send them to table throw sugar * all over them.
Take two pounds of flour, two pounds of sugar* finely searched, mix them together (take out a quarter pound to roll them in). Take four eggs, four spoons of cream and two spoons of rosewater. Beat them well together and mix them with the flour into a paste (like pastry). Roll them into thin cakes and bake in a quick oven.
* Sugar in this period came as a sugar loaf or cone that had to be grated to achieve a fine powder for cooking. It was often served at table as sugar lumps nipped off the cone by pincers. I would think the sugar needed for these recipes would have been similar to castor sugar today. Vanilla sugar is made by storing your sugar for several weeks in a jar with a couple of opened vanilla beans.
Tomorrow’s post will introduce you to the delicous young lady Kitty Fisher and just this once you won’t have to pay for her company.