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Frothy with cream, wine and citrus, syllabubs are a great palate cleanser. The acids firm the cream, and once separation is achieved, you have a nice two-part dessert blend. Just one never seems quite enough.
The syllabub is a popular 18th century dessert consisting of cream treated with an acid, usually citrus juice, and mixed with wine. The different types of syllabubs are based upon their mixing style. Once placed in serving glasses, syllabubs separate into a two-part mixture when the cream rises and the clear liquids sink. When served on glass pyramids or salvers, they became the centerpiece of the dessert table. Although no refrigeration existed in the 18th century, 21st-century people are accustomed to dairy products served cold, so once made, place them in the refrigerator for storage. The surface of the cream is easily marred, so a small garnish of mint leaves, lemon slices or candied violets can cover any imperfections. There are three syllabub recipes here. The first two are shown on the video for instruction.
Take a quart and a half a pint of cream, a pint of Rhenish, half a pint of sack, three lemons, near a pound of double refined sugar; beat and sift the sugar, and put it to your cream; grate off the rind of your three lemons, and put that in; squeeze the juice of the three lemons into your wine and put that to your cream, then beat altogether with a whisk just half an hour; then take it up altogether with a spoon and fill your glasses; it will keep good nine or ten days, and is best three or four days old; these are called the everlasting Syllabubs.
—Smith, Eliza, “The Complete Housewife,” 1753.
Note: These are the syllabubs most often seen when visiting us at the Governor’s Palace Kitchen. For something different, place a tablespoon or so of red wine in your glasses before spooning on the cream mixture. Once the separation occurs, you will have a blush liquid on the bottom that will contrast with the white cream on top.
Take a quart of thick cream, and half a pint of sack, the juice of two Seville oranges or lemons, grate the peel of the two lemons, half a pound of double refined sugar, pour it into a broad earthen pan, and whisk it well; but first sweeten some red wine or sack, and fill your glasses as full as you choose, then as the froth rises take it off with a spoon, and lay it on sieve to drain; then lay it carefully into your glasses till they are as full as they will hold: do not make these long before you use them. Many use cyder sweetened, or any wine you please, or lemon or orange whey made thus: squeeze the juice of a lemon, or orange into a quarter of a pint of milk, when the curd is hard, pour the whey clear off, and sweeten it to your palate; you may color some with the juice of spinage, some with saffron, and some with cochineal just as you fancy.
-Glasse, Hannah. “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” 1796.
One pint of cream, half a pint of wine, the juice and grated peel of one lemon, sweetened to your taste; put it in a wide mouthed bottle, shake it for ten minutes, then pour it into your glasses. It must be made the evening before it is to be used.
-Rutledge, Sarah. “The Carolina Housewife,” 1847.
Note: This non-alcoholic recipe is great for kids to help with in the kitchen.