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A Single Syllabub

His heart, which (to use your favourite comparison) was as delicate as sweet and as tender as a Whipt-syllabub, could not resist her attractions…
Lesley Castle
Jane Austen, 1792

Syllabub was a popular dessert in seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. It was popular for celebrations, special occasions and holidays due to its festive appearance. Many original recipes survive with various modes of preparation. Generally Syllabub was made with a mixture of whipped cream, whipped egg whites, white wine, sugar, lemon juice and zest of lemon. The quantity of white wine added would determine the consistency qualifying whether the mixture would be a creamy dessert or a popular punch. White wine could be substituted with apple cider or other alcoholic beverages. One could always detect the drinker of the beverage by the thick white mustache left behind.

For instructions on how to make Syllabub the way it was intended (straight from the cow!) visit Lobscuse and Spotted Dog, the online Patrick O’Brien Cooking Companion.

Lemon Syllabub
1 pint White wine
2 lemons
1 pint Cream

Rub a quarter of pound of loaf sugar upon the rind of two lemons till you have all the essence out of them; then put the sugar into a pint of cream, and the same quantity of white wine. Squeeze in the juice of both lemons and let it stand for two hours. Then mill (whisk)it and take off the froth as it rises. Lay it on a sieve to drain, fill your glasses with the remainder and lay on the froth as high as you can. Let them stand all night, and they will be clear at the bottom.
The London Art of Cookery John Farley, Principal cook at the London Tavern, 1796

Lemon Syllabub: A Modern Version
2 cups of whipped cream
½ cup of white sugar
1/8 cup of white wine or lemon juice
1/8 cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and zest of lemon
Grated nutmeg
Sprig of mint
Lemon slices

The following recipe will make a Syllabub Dessert Parfait for 10 people. To drink as a punch, add more wine until you have achieved the desired consistency.

Whip cream until thick in a chilled bowl. When the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar, white wine, lemon juice and zest of lemon. Continue to whip until thick. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Spoon the mixture into footed parfait glasses and garnish with a sprig of mint, a slice of lemon and a sprinkle of grated nutmeg. Serve with shortbread, Gingersnaps or other biscuits.

You can make a Syllabub with just about any fruit. Popular choices include Raspberries, Peaches and Strawberries. The internet has a host of other recipes to try. Visit Google or another search engine for ideas.

Historical information and modern adaptation from Jessup Food & Heritage, Ltd.

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