Posts Tagged ‘Dessert’

Mrs Beeton’s Most Delicious Dessert

June 25, 2010

This has got to be the most delicious dessert I’ve ever eaten from Household Management.

Undoubtedly the ridiculous amount of cream in Mrs Beeton’s Apple Trifle went a long way to its delicious-osity.  My boyfriend very rarely gets involved in kitchen stuff, but the look on his face when he realised there was cream in the house was priceless (as he’s a guy who happily sprays an entire can of whipped cream down his throat, to my cringing disgust, I do my very best to hide such things from him.  Lucky for me he can hardly tell the difference between a fridge and a dishwasher).


10 good-sized apples, the rind of 1/2 lemon, 6 oz. of pounded sugar, 1/2 pint of milk, 1/2 pint of cream, 2 eggs, whipped cream.


This is a 3-stage recipe.  Creating a syrup-ified base of sweetened apples comes first, followed by the custard, followed by the (“More!  Put some more on!” whipped cream on top.

By the time I got around to doing stage 2, my boyfriend, sensing that something to his sweet-toothed benefit was actually afoot, suddenly appeared by my side and offered to help.  No, just not offered to help – he actually took over the whipping and beating of the cream while my back was turned.

“I think you should let this set for a while,” he instructed, popping the trifle gingerly into the fridge before turning back to lick the cream bowl.

We waited 30 minutes before hurrying back to the kitchen, my boyfriend scurrying about 2 million steps ahead of me.


The Cheshire Cat held nothing over us as we stuck in our spoons and grinned like naughty, naughty children.


“Double mmmm.”

“It’s good.”

“It’s damn good.”

“The apple’s a bit sweet.  And that’s coming from me” (commented my ridiculously sweet-toothed other half).  “But I like it.  ‘Specially the cream!”


It’s not the ‘traditional’ trifle I’m familiar with (i.e. with alcohol-soaked sponge cake ), but everything about this dessert is just incredible (incredibly delicious, incredibly easy, incredibly calorific…).


Apple Trifle (Recipe 1404):

Apricot Tart with a Shuffle

June 19, 2010

No matter how hard I try, there’s a particularly irritating sound I find very difficult to bite my tongue and ignore.

For anyone who’s gone food shopping with a partner who is not as “into it” as yourself, the hopelessly bored shuffle of unwilling feet behind you as you go about trying to gather everything you need can be a bit of a – now, how can I put this politely? – pain in the posterior.



There’s not much that I love more than food shopping, especially at the market.  Most of the time I manage just fine getting it all home (with a fair bit of dexterous arrangement) on my bicycle, but occasionally a little help is needed.  On these occasions, I tend to play on the ‘you’ve got such big muscles’ tack, but I think I’m wearing that one out.

But anyway, on to the main theme.

We had friends round for dinner tonight, and of course I leaped at the opportunity to “do something Mrs Beeton-y”.

With a bag of golden-orange apricots in my boyfriend’s unwilling hands (“Can you please go and weigh these?” I directed, hoping to distract him from sighing and twitching desperately behind me.  Off he went, shuffling and sighing forlornly.  Geez and blimey!!!)


INGREDIENTS – 12 or 14 apricots, sugar to taste, puff-paste or short crust.



“Sweeten with good moist sugar”, Mrs Beeton advises.  I’ve long been puzzled as to what ‘moist sugar’ is – I’ve been given a few hints about modern equivalents, but I’ve found myself puzzling over the question on occasion for quite a while.  Eventually, after quite a bit of internet research, ‘moist sugar’ in Mrs Beeton’s world was something like Muscovado Sugar (which is not actually moist, but has a higher molasses content, apparently, hence the ‘moist’ – in comparison to other sugars – label).  Off I rushed to hastily grab a box, my poor suffering boyfriend shuffling forsakenly behind me.



Our friends are German, and they’d never heard of Mrs Beeton.

“She studied in Heidelberg, really?’ one of them cried.  An instant convert was born.

I opted for (shop-bought) puff-paste (pastry) – one of these days I’ve got to give Mrs Beeton’s recipe for this a try.  In the meantime, the pre-made stuff made a very good substitute.


However, the recipe doesn’t specify clearly whether pastry is meant to form the sides of the tart, or if it’s just to go on top.  After debating it with my boyfriend for a few moments, we figured she meant ‘just on top’.  On it went, over the fresh apricot halves, and popped into the oven.



Unfortunately, I served the dessert after a rather large dinner and too short a pause between the main and sweet courses.  Politely reluctant looks dressed the faces of our guests as I keenly encouraged them to try a little bit, whilst at the same time deftly putting all the blame on Mrs Beeton should it not be to their taste.


Thankfully, they really liked it.  I accompanied it with Mrs Beeton’s custard, which I’ve made before (   This time, unfortunately, I curdled it ever so slightly – but I sploshed enough brandy into it to mask any deficiencies.  I hope.).


“Mmm, interesting,” one of them commented about the sauce as she took another bite.  Luckily, this sort of custard is not a typically German thing, so I got away with the slight curdling by saying it was an English sauce.  (“Oh, OK then.”)

The fact that there was nothing left is a testament to the simple tastiness of this simple dessert (thank you Mrs Beeton).


Apricot Tart (Recipe 1239 ):

Lemon Brandy Custard (Recipe 404):

Lemon Blancmange

June 5, 2010

I’m really getting into the swing of making a more-than-occasional dessert these days.

I’ve never been big on them, and certainly wouldn’t order them in a restaurant (My typical splutter: “What! €7 for a ball of ice-cream and some sauce?  No thanks!”).

But, as the crafty hausfrau that I am, a lightbulb plinged brightly in my head as I read through Mrs Beeton’s recipe for Lemon Blancmange.  With quite a lot of fresh lemon juice being added at the final stage, surely, I realised, surely this is an excellent (and yet so subtly sneaky!) way of slipping in the benefits of more fruit into our – well, specifically my veg-and-fruit-shy boyfriend’s – diet.

I sincerely hope he never reads this post.


INGREDIENTS – 1 quart of milk, the yolks of 4 eggs, 3 oz. of ground rice, 6 oz. of pounded sugar, 1–1/2 oz. of fresh butter, the rind of 1 lemon, the juice of 2, 1/2 oz. of gelatine.


Again, this is a recipe where agar agar (or, I guess, any other vegetarian gelatine substitute) works very well.

It’s a 3-stage recipe, but none of these are long or complicated – and in fact, I had some of the pots with various separated ingredients on the go at the same time.  At the final stage, everything gets added together – including the lovely, fresh, vitamin-rich lemon juice – and popped into the refrigerator to chill.

The only thing I was a little confused about was the ”lemon rind”.  Most recipes these days calls for it to be grated.  However, Mrs Beeton made no mention of this, and later refers to ”…leaving out the lemon peel” (which I could only assume meant the aforementioned lemon rind).  So I peeled the rind into thin slices and added this to the mix, removing them later just before chilling.

“How did you like it, then?” I queried cheerily as we finished our bowls (to which I’d added the first of the season’s sweet cherries and strawberries, plus a helping of vanilla ice-cream for good measure).

“It was OK.  Nice.  Very nice.  I mean, nice.  It was OK.”

It was OK, nice, very nice, OK.  It would have been more OK, nicer, very much nicer, nicer, more OK, had I not accidentally added a little too much rice flour (I’d absent-mindedly added the remains of the pack into the mix, instead of the precisely weighed amount I’d already put aside for use).  Possibly if it was a little more sweeter, that would also have helped.

But, I don’t think he’s against finishing the rest of the blancmange for dessert tonight.  Especially with the sweet lure of bourbon vanilla ice-cream heaped alongside it!


Lemon Blancmange (Recipe 1142):

Apricot Cream

June 4, 2010


Well, this is not exactly a cream.  Actually, it’s more like a jelly.  A creamy, smooth-bodied jelly, flavoured with new-season apricot.


INGREDIENTS – 12 to 16 ripe apricots, 1/4 lb. of sugar, 1–1/2 pint of milk, the yolks of 8 eggs, 1 oz. of isinglass.


We had a friend coming round for dinner, and I wanted to make a light dessert to go with the after-dinner coffee, as well as to satisfy my boyfriend’s insatiable sweet tooth (if I haven’t mentioned this already, he typically takes 3 HEAPED tablespoons of sugar in his coffee.  And he drinks a minimum of 5 cups of coffee a day.  Despite my horrified retching whenever I catch him flavouring a mound of sugar with coffee, I’m still waiting for him to develop diabetes or for his teeth to fall out, to provide me with a smug ‘I told you so’ opportunity.   Alas, so far the gods are on his side…).



This is a simple, 2-stage dessert to put together.  Firstly, an apricot compote is made by boiling the fruit in a sugar syrup, then it’s mixed together with the other (pre-simmered) ingredients.  The recipe calls for 1/4 lb of sugar, but this is a mistake – it actually needs 1/2 lb sugar (as discovered when I read the recipe process steps).

I just made half the quantity as the dessert was only for three people.  Still, I couldn’t quite bring myself to use 4 egg yolks (cue some cheeky, grinning tut-tutting from my boyfriend, and his perpetual crow of ‘What would Mrs Beeton say?’ when I balk and gasp at some instruction or other).  Even with three yolks, it didn’t seem to adversely affect the final outcome.  And boy was our oldest, greediest cat Saturn excited when she was given the fried-up egg whites as a treat!



As with the previous Mrs Beeton jelly-like dessert I made, I substituted agar agar for isinglass (I’ve never even heard of isinglass for cooking before I ‘met’ Mrs Beeton, anyway).  This time, I was a bit savvier with the quantity, and added slightly more agar agar to give the dessert a firmer consistency and appearance.



Despite the amount of sugar used, and despite it being a really nice dessert (especially when served with vanilla ice-cream), it wasn’t quite sweet enough even to my taste.  Perhaps it’s something to do with the agar agar, which smells a bit like chlorine (but, thankfully, doesn’t taste like it – I don’t want to be thinking of swimming pools when I’m eating dessert!).



“Maybe you should’ve used 4 yolks like she told you to,” grinned my boyfriend wickedly.

Maybe.  Perhaps.  It’s possible.  But, I’m more inclined to blame it on the apricots I used, which were rushed-to-the-shops, early season specimens and not as fruitily, robustly ripe as they will be in a few weeks time, when the season is in full-swing.



Roll on spring and summer, with the glorious bounty of fruit and vegetables you usher in with you!


Apricot Cream (Recipe 1405):

Rhubarb, Rhubarb – How Colourful Art Thou Rhubarb

April 19, 2010

The piles of pink-and-green rhubarb at the market are a wonderful sight to be seen.  Nothing trumpets the arrival of spring – real hearty spring, not just the still-frosty beginnings on March 21st, but the cheerily triumphant blast of fine weather that quick-steps its way in during early April – than a fantasia of rainbow-stacked market produce.

In a bid to encourage my boyfriend from consuming enormous quantities of sugar and chocolate throughout the week (how does he stay so lean?  How?  How?), I’ve decided to have the occasional ‘pudding night’ at home.  Although I’m not big into dessert as a regular fixture on household menu, I have no objections to something sweet after dinner once or twice a week.

Thought the recipe for Rhubarb Tart contains that elusive ingredient – moist sugar – I figured that shouldn’t stop me from trying something new.


INGREDIENTS – 1/2 lb. of puff-paste No. 1206, about 5 sticks of large rhubarb, 1/4 lb. of moist sugar.


Already aware that rhubarb is possibly not my boyfriend’s favourite fruit (“I don’t like rhubarb”), I sense that he would probably enjoy it more if it wasn’t so, well, tart.  This recipe certainly does that.  Why the Victorians liked to consume enormous quantities of sugar (if Mrs Beeton’s recipes are anything to go by) is beyond me.  When I started measuring out the sugar (moist or otherwise), I quickly realised that if I used the full stated quantity, this tart would come out of the oven swimming in sweet sickly liquid.  My boyfriend may revel in that; I do not.  So, I halved the quantity and prayed to the gods of Fussy Boyfriends that this revision would pass muster with my live-in food critic.

“A small quantity of lemon-juice, and a little of the peel minced, are by many persons considered an improvement to the flavour of rhubarb tart”, states Mrs Beeton.  With the help of a garlic mincer (surprisingly, this worked marvellously when mincing small quantities of lemon peel), I added a good teaspoon and stirred it into the fruit and sugar mix.

I cheated somewhat with the puff pastry, in the sense that I already had a pre-made pack in the fridge and thought it best to use this, rather than make some afresh.  (Hey, at least it’s organic).

After a good 30 minutes in the oven, the ‘R’ and ‘C’ on each respective pie looked crispily, cheerily tan.  I whisked them out of the oven and ran for the ice-cream.

Rather to my surprise, the sugar seemed to have been almost completely absorbed by the rhubarb.

“Mmmm, very nice.  I like it,” commented my boyfriend as he downed a spoonful of vanilla ice-cream and rhubarb tart.

“What, really?  I thought you’d hate it?” I confessed with a surprised splutter.

“No, it’s good – nice” he affirmed.

I checked my glass of wine to see if I’d somehow consumed a bottle by accident.  But no.

This is a lovely fresh dessert – especially with a sweetly chilled complement of ice-cream on the side.


Rhubarb Tart (Recipe 1339):

Royal Coburg Pudding

April 14, 2010

With a name like that, how could I resist making such a pudding?  The very name conjures up a deliciously rich, creamy and, well, sumptuous dessert fit for a king.

Visions of a pleased grin and hearty thanks from my normally pernickity hausherr spurred me on to try this.


INGREDIENTS – 1 pint of new milk, 6 oz. of flour, 6 oz. of sugar, 6 oz. of butter, 6 oz. of currants, 6 eggs, brandy and grated nutmeg to taste.


The great thing about this dessert is that it takes almost no time to put together.

And, although it didn’t taste too sweet when I stuck a curious finger into the mix and gave it a quick lick, I figured, what does it matter, this is a royal pudding.

But – what a royal flop.

To be fair, my boyfriend very nicely (he’s still continuing on his reformed path of more diplomatic feedback – I really  hope it lasts) suggested the error was probably on my side.

‘Why did you divide it by 6?  That’s probably what the problem is.”

There’s only the two of us, so I couldn’t justify using up 6 eggs, a pint of milk, etc., all for the sake of a dish that, based on past indications, there was a 86.3% chance of being rejected outright by my boyfriend.  As I’m the one who manages the household accounts, the weekly menu and shopping list, there was no way I was going to take that risk.

Within a few minutes of being in the oven, however, I guessed that something wasn’t quite right.  Namely, the damn thing wasn’t rising.


Even before they (I’d divided the mix into two pudding dishes) had fully cooked, both the look on my boyfriend’s face and my own gut feeling told me to turn off the oven and not waste any more power on them.

This is what they looked like when I dolefully withdrew them from the oven:

“Never mind,” he consoled me.  “So, is there any ice-cream left in the freezer?”

Normally I don’t eat too much ice-cream, but this was such a disappointment that I joined him in the supermarket-provided dessert.

Ho hum.


Royal Coburg Pudding (Recipe 1260):

Chocolate Soufflé, Mrs Beeton’s Way

March 31, 2010

Dear, Dear Mrs Beeton,

Please give me an idea for a dish that is a) delicious b) easy to make c) something my boyfriend will actually like and d) something my boyfriend will actually like.

Yours truly,

Modern Upstairs Downstairs


As it’s nearly Easter, the ingredient ‘chocolate’ immediately sprang to mind when I was pondering what to bake.  Although there are only a handful of chocolate recipes in Household Management, I finally managed to find something that I had no doubts would be universally popular in our household.

“I’m not sure I like soufflés,” muttered my boyfriend under his breath when I first mooted the idea. 

Oh dear.  Well, I was pretty sure Mrs Beeton and I could change his mind with this one!


INGREDIENTS – 4 eggs, 3 teaspoonfuls of pounded sugar, 1 teaspoonful of flour, 3 oz. of the best chocolate.


The whisking, as always, was the most time-consuming part (“I think we should get you one of those electric mixers,” he commented as I shoved the bowl of egg whites into his hands and begged him to take over for a few minutes).

And, for a Mrs Beeton dish, there was surprisingly little fat or belly-expanding ingredients.  Which should have given me a heads-up as to how it would be received by my dear Hausherr.  However, I decided to persevere all the same.

As soon as all ingredients were mixed and beaten together, I popped the mix into two small pudding dishes and slid them into the oven for the required 20 minutes.

And waited.  And waited.  And waited.

After almost 15 minutes, they still hadn’t begun to rise.  The unmistakeable whiff of scrambled eggs began permeating throughout the kitchen.  Oh no, I thought.  Please tell me I haven’t made chocolate scrambled eggs!

I continued to watch the oven with trepidation, silently willing the damn soufflés to rise.

Finally, they began to dome upwards.  I gave them another few minutes, then got them out of the oven in a jiffy and called out for my boyfriend to hurry in and to try some.

“Hmmm,” he mumbled, as he slowly took another spoonful and popped it into his mouth.

“Hmmm?” I asked.  “Is that a good hmmm or a bad hmmm?”

“Well I think you’ve done a great job, super!” he smiled brightly (I’ve noticed recently that he’s trying to be more positive).


“But… it’s not really chocolatey, not really sweet, you know…”

Which, I have to admit, was true.  150 years ago, when sugar was not used as plentifully (dare I say, wantonly), I guess sweet tooths were more easily satisfied.  But to today’s tastes, the soufflé was a little on the plain side, sweetness-wise.

As for me, I rather liked it (especially as I complemented it with some chocolate-vanilla ice cream).  My boyfriend, however, plowed on for another few spoonfuls before giving in.

So, if you haven’t got an overly sweet tooth, this dessert will probably be to your liking.  If you have, another spoonful of sugar wouldn’t go too far astray.


Chocolate Soufflé (Recipe 1427):