The first draft of my book on 18th century rose desserts has gone to my editor. It has been interesting testing each of the 60 recipes that will be included in the book. The most rewarding comments from my taste testers was how disappointed they were that the testing is over for now. My amazing taste testers want more! The book is scheduled for release in the Spring of 2016.
So, though Summer has ended, a bit about one of my favorite topics. Ice cream! What follows is a brief history of ice cream in the 18th century…..
The first English confectionary book to include an entire chapter of recipes for ice cream and ices was The Court and Country Confectioner (1770). Flavors varied by season. In Summer, flavors included berries, fruits, and flowers when they were fresh and ripe. Winter flavors included coffee, chocolate, cinnamon and other spices. These ice creams were often moulded, in a profusion of shapes: grapes, apples, peaches, pears, asparagus spears, flowers, boar’s head, hams, etc. After freezing and unmolding, these shapes were often painted and decorated with colors to imitate Nature.
A Rose Petal Ice Cream which was pressed into a rose mold.
Ice cream was made by confectioners. It was a difficult and laborious task, physically taxing, and time consuming; as it was hand turned in a sorbetière (a copper cylinder with a lid and handle on top) nestled in a bucket of ice and salt. Obtaining and storing ice was expensive, and salt was costly since it had to be purified. Without refrigeration the milk and cream often curdled.
In the photos below we see a Lemon Curd Ice Cream being made at a public demonstration by Mrs. Sarah Nucci and Mrs. Samantha McCarty of the 33rd Regiment of Foot, Inc.
This first image shows the still warm mixture being strained through cheesecloth into the sorbatière.
The sorbatière is placed in a bucket, then is surrounded by ice and salt.
Turn, turn, turn! It can take up to an hour of constant motion for the mixture to cool down enough to set up.
The finished product was absolutely wonderful with some gingerbread cake crumbled into it!
In America, ice cream was rare until well after the American Revolution. Pastry chefs and confectioners were few. Pleasure or ice cream gardens appeared in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. These were usually adjunct to Taverns, for a light meal and/or drink. The earliest advertisement featuring ice cream appeared in the Rivington’s New York Gazatteer, (November 25, 1773)
Thomas Jefferson’s papers included 8 recipes for ice cream written in his own hand, including one for vanilla ice cream.
Thomas Jefferson’s Ice Cream recipe:
2. bottles of good cream
6. yolks of eggs
1/2 lb. sugar
mix the yolks and sugar.
put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla.
when near boiling take it off and pour it gently into the mixture of eggs and sugar.
stir it well.
put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent its sticking to the casserole.
when near boiling take it off and strain it thro’ a towel.
put it in the Sabottiere
then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served. put into the ice a handful of salt.
put salt on the coverlid of the Sabotiere and cover the whole with ice.
leave it still half a quarter of an hour
then turn the Sabottiere in the ice ten minutes.
open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the Sabotiere.
shut it and replace it in the ice
open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides
when well taken (prise) stir it well with the Spatula.
put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee.
then put the mould into the same bucket of ice.
leave it there to the moment of serving it.
to withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out and turn it onto a plate.
The Monticello web site has more information about Jefferson and ice cream: