I Scream…

One of the surest signs of summer where I live is the sudden disappearance of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches from local grocery stores’ freezers on the first really warm day of the season. Ice cream is extremely popular in New England—I remember reading somewhere that more ice cream is consumed here in the chilly northeast than any other region of the US.

Old England had its share of ice cream lovers too, as you can see from this 1824 Ackermann print of a ball dress at right. What flavor does it look like she’s eating…black raspberry, perhaps? In fact, the earliest known recipe for ice cream (or “Icy Cream”) is English, dating to a recipe book written by a Lady Anne Fanshawe in the 1650s. Lady Anne suggests flavoring her Icy Cream with mace or scenting it with orange-flower water or (oh dear) “Amber-greece.” Mace might make a pleasant ice cream flavoring, but cool dish of ice cream flavored with whale secretions probably won’t fly these days.

France too enjoyed its cold treats: this scene at left from a Le Bon Genre print entitled “La Belle Limonadiere” shows a young lady consuming what looks like a tiny egg-cup of lemon sorbet while admiring her waiter’s fine figure.

And an ad from around 1840 (I wish the ad had included a picture!) describes the virtues of “FULLER’S FREEZING MACHINE, by which four ICES can be made at one time, and repeated as often as required.” Ices and ice cream were a popular refreshment at balls and parties, both because they were something of a delicacy and because it was nice to slurp down something cold after dancing all evening.

We aren’t talking Ben & Jerry’s, however. I found a handful of ice cream (or iced pudding, as they were called) recipes in the 1846 cookbook The Modern Cook, written by Queen Victoria’s chef, Charles Francatelli. Flavorings included pureed pineapple, ground almonds, ground hazelnuts and cherry puree, and, believe it or not, rice. From the amounts of sugar in some of these, ice cream was preferred tooth-achingly sweet. Here’s a recipe:


Grate one pound of pineapple into a basin, add this to eight yolks of eggs, one pint and a half of boiled cream, one pound of sugar, and a very little salt; stir the whole together in a stewpan over a stove-fire until the custard begins to thicken; then pass it through a tammy [a kind of cone-shaped filtering device—modern cooks know it as a tamis], by rubbing with two spoons, in the same manner as for a puree, in order to force the pineapple through the tammy. This custard must now be iced in the usual manner, and put into a mold of the shape represented in the annexed wood-cut; and in the center of the iced cream, some Macedoine ice of red fruits, consisting of cherries, currants, strawberries, and raspberries in a cherry-water-ice, must be introduced; cover the whole in with the lid, then immerse the pudding in rough ice in the usual way, and keep it in a cool place until wanted.



About Marissa Doyle

Marissa Doyle originally planned to be an archaeologist but somehow got distracted. At long last, after an unsurprisingly circuitous path, she ended up writing historical fantasy for young adults (the Leland Sisters series) and contemporary fantasy for slightly older ones, most recently By Jove from Book View Cafe. She is obsessed by the Regency period, 19th century stuff in general, and her neurotic pet bunny. Visit her at www.marissadoyle.com


I Scream… — 10 Comments

  1. Back in the seventies, friends used to host parties at which they’d excavated recipes for favorite foods and desserts from children’s stories, or novels, or periods of history, and one thing I discovered was how cloying or over-spiced so many were. One thing modern refrigeration has given us is the possibility of subtlety!

    • And if you had a mold as depicted in the annexed wood cut, could you fit it in your freezer? I’m quite certain I couldn’t fit it in mine.

      If one were willing to deviate from the recipe as written, however, I think a bundt pan – or its ancestor, the Old World kugelhopf pan – might be a passable substitute. I have a small collection of NordicWare bundt pans with different shapes and textures. In principle I could freeze newly-churned ice cream in any of them if I wanted an impressive presentation… if only I had room in my freezer.

  2. Whoa, a whole pound of sugar for a custard made with eight egg yolks and three cups of milk?!

    It so happened that I had a cookbook with ice cream recipes next to me as I read this and I could immediately compare ratios. My 2005 cookbook calls for 200 grams of sugar (less than half a pound) for eight egg yolks, one pint milk and one pint (roughly) heavy cream. And this is a recipe for vanilla ice cream, without any pineapple or any other source of additional sugar. I think the Iced Pudding a la Chesterfield would be very near inedible to my palate.

    • I wonder if the pineapple they had available at the time was much more sour than the pineapple we get now? That might account for some of the excess sugar.

  3. I note this is a pre-Fanny Farmer recipe: a bunch of notes for someone who already knows how to cook, on how to add something new.

  4. Metal molds are challenging to unmold (dip it into a vast kettle of hot water and then quickly flip it?). If you’re going to go out and buy one, get silicon. I have a charming ice mold, in the shape of the Death Star.