Blancmange is a classic dessert that has been enjoyed for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to medieval Europe, where it was first made with rice, almond milk, and sometimes even chicken. Over time, the recipe evolved to include gelatin or isinglass as a thickening agent, making a smooth and creamy texture.
One of the earliest recorded blancmange recipes can be found in "The Forme of Cury," a medieval English cookbook dating back to the 14th century. The recipe called for a combination of rice flour, almond milk, and ground almonds. It was often flavored with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and saffron, giving it a delightful aroma and taste.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, blancmange became a popular dessert among the upper class in Europe. It was often molded into intricate shapes and served as the centerpiece of elaborate dinner parties. Blancmange was considered a symbol of elegance and sophistication, and many prestigious households had their own unique recipes for this delightful dessert.
Nowadays, blancmange is enjoyed in many different variations and flavors. The basic recipe typically includes milk, sugar, and a thickening agent such as gelatin or isinglass. Almonds are often added for extra flavor and texture, and the dessert can be complemented with various fruits, sauces, or toppings.
To make a delicious blancmange, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 quart (950ml) of milk
- 0.5 ounces (14g) of fine isinglass
- A handful of beaten almonds
- 2-3 bitter almonds (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 piece of lemon peel
- 4 ounces (113g) of white sugar
1. In a saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until it is warm but not boiling.
2. Add the isinglass, beaten almonds, bitter almonds (if using), bay leaves, and lemon peel to the milk. Stir gently to combine.
3. Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the isinglass is fully dissolved.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the milk mixture into a large bowl or basin to remove any solids.
5. Add the sugar to the strained milk and stir until it has fully dissolved.
6. Optionally, you can add the juice of fresh strawberries to the mixture for an extra touch of flavor and a beautiful pink color.
7. Pour the blancmange mixture into a mold of your choice. You can use a traditional blancmange mold or any other decorative mold that you have on hand.
8. Allow the blancmange to cool at room temperature for about an hour, then transfer it to the refrigerator to set for at least 3-4 hours, or until firm.
9. Once the blancmange is fully set, carefully unmold it onto a serving plate, and it is ready to be enjoyed!
Blancmange can be served as is, or you can get creative with various toppings and accompaniments. Some popular options include fresh berries, fruit sauces, whipped cream, or a sprinkle of toasted almonds. The possibilities are endless!
Fun Fact: In the 19th century, it became fashionable to dye blancmange in bright colors using natural food dyes. This was often done to create visually stunning and whimsical dessert displays.
Similar dishes to blancmange can be found in different culinary traditions around the world. In France, there is a dessert called "pouding au riz," which is similar to blancmange but made with rice instead of almonds. It is often flavored with vanilla and sometimes topped with caramel sauce.
In Latin America, there is a similar dessert called "flan," which is a creamy, custard-like dessert made with eggs, milk, and sugar. It is usually served with caramel sauce on top.
Overall, blancmange is a delightful dessert with a rich history and endless possibilities for flavor variations. Whether enjoyed on its own or adorned with a variety of toppings, it is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any gathering.