creams and desserts

More Retro Red Currants–testing in progress

What does one do with extra red currants? That was on my mind this past week before I had to hit the road again. I ended up getting way more red currants than I needed for the fritter experiment but it would be a shame not to use them for something else of the same time period. I looked through the White House Cookbook once more for a recipe or two. The book is delightfully vague when distinguishing between fresh currants and dried currants. Two recipes where freshness didn’t seem in doubt was “Currant Ice” and using ‘seasonal fruit’ in the recipe for “Bavarian Cream”. Both these recipes still need some tweaking but since I don’t have the time or fruit to spare at this moment I will leave you with Round One for each item and some pictures. Neither needed a whole lot of tweaking but I’d like to perfect either one so I can write out a copyable recipe.

Currant Ice–Round One


To be frank, I was a little scared of this one and did have to alter the recipe structure a little because none of my research for similar recipes came up with the bold-as-brass instructions from the original. The recipe is pretty straightforward in the beginning–press out fruit juice, add water and sugar, heat it all up, whip up egg whites…  And then you see the request to add your cool, frothy egg whites to the boiling hot liquid and mix it in. Every fibre in my being said, ‘You’re going to cook those whites and have scrambled whites floating in juice”. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I searched around and decided to, instead, whisk a little bit of the hot liquid into the egg whites, tablespoon by tablespoon and then quarter cup by quarter cup until the whites had heated up sufficiently. Then I added the mix back into the sauce pan. In the end it made flavoured whites floating on liquid but with cooling and sufficient time in the freezer, it was okay to break up the ice crystals and stir the whole lot together. After freezing it again, it made a completely edible frozen dessert. Two things that will change in Round Two are the quantities of sugar and the huge likelihood that, unlike the first round, round two will be purely raspberry. In round one I didn’t have quite enough red currant juice to make it purely currant ice, but, like the original recipe said, you can make a mixture of currant and raspberry. I made 1/3 raspberry, 2/3 red currant juice.  The sugar asked for was way, way too much. I’ll research that again for quantities but I doubt it will be the two cups asked for. Almost set one’s teeth on edge but still very refreshing on the hot night when it was tried.

Bavarian Cream–Round One


Like the currant ice, this one doesn’t need a whole lot of fixing but there were certain quantities to fix which would have made this dessert survive heat. To be honest, this test was a roaring success in terms of taste and texture. It just couldn’t survive room temperature (or slightly above, actually). Given my reviews of other bavarian cream recipes out there in Internet-land, I am pretty sure my gelatin quantities were insufficient. I would warn that this recipe does take a number of steps and that, like many older recipes, requires some time to prepare and set. Is it worth it? Oh me, oh my… there are no words to describe how much my extended family and friends think it is ‘worth it’. Some are still worried that adding extra gelatin will take away from the experience. Round two will tell.  Oh. And this is NOT for the dieter. Egg yolks, cups and cups of whipped cream fill up this recipe but let me tell you this– this round of Bavarian Cream broke somebody’s willpower. Swore up and down they did that they’d not eat sugars and eat fattening things. One finger licked led to a second fingerful and then a high pursuit chase by her husband to get some bavarian for himself. I think that story alone sells this dessert.

Round two, again, will not likely have currants in it since I doubt we’ll find any one the way back home but I’ll work that into the recipe write-up anyways since they tasted ever so good with the cream. A perfect sour-sweet counterpoint to the rich sweetness of the cream.

I hope to try both Round Twos out soon but it won’t be for at least a few days.

Categories: creams and desserts, custards, ice cream and ices, still testing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summer in a Cup–Orange Float (White House Cookbook)


I know a lot of people who talk about eating oranges in the winter to get a little taste of the sun during the long, grey days but sometimes, I think, it is important to remember how wonderful oranges are for a light dessert in the summer. Citrus hits all the right notes for a dessert on a scorching hot day—subtly sweet, just a punch of tang, gushing in the mouth. Yesterday, while we were Canada’s hot spot, and especially humid, my French Beloved and I completed our dinner with the results of my Orange Float kitchen tests. The trials took longer than expected but the final product pleased me not only in taste but managed to produce a small miracle. The Beloved doesn’t usually care for fruit desserts but pronounced it especially good and just right for the kind of sweltering weather. ‘Very light yet full of flavour,’ I think he said.

I have spent more time on this recipe than others because there really seemed to be a snag in the instructions. The sauce repeatedly didn’t turn out the way I believed it should. It called for four—yes, four—tablespoons of cornstarch. In my past experience that usually points to a sauce with at least some thickness. Yet, test after test seemed to squelch that notion if I tried following the instructions just as printed. I had to take matters into my own hands.

I googled the main ingredients and almost immediately came up with a lemon sauce recipe. Of course the quantities were different but it was the steps I was interested in. I took the same ingredients—sugar, water, cornstarch, lemon juice and pulp–and ended up with a very different creature. The original recipe calls for the sugar, water and lemon to be brought to a boil, corn starch added and then the whole thing boiled for fifteen minutes. Based on the tests, this just wasn’t going to happen. The outcome always resulted in a sauce that begged the question ‘Why bother adding cornstarch’ since it was so thin. I took the new googled recipe and used it as the basis. I took the same quantities but used their procedure rather than the original. The cornstarch and sugar were mixed together, the boiling water added to it, the mix gently brought to a boil and then the lemon and lemon pulp mixed in. It took less time than the original, too. The result was thicker and tangier.

Since I am going to quibble, in this recipe, with methods, I will also quibble with quantities. I don’t know how big Victorian oranges were but, if you supreme the oranges like I did, the four or five suggested isn’t enough. Eight or nine seems to be the better choice if you are using the Valencia oranges I used. I suppose it might be accurate for navel oranges but the juicy Valencias are smaller.

I can’t say for sure if I totally changed the dessert as it would have been eaten by the Victorians but the recipe provided the basis for one smashing dessert that I am bound to make many times in the future.


ORANGE FLOAT.– Original recipe

To make orange float, take one quart of water, the juice and pulp of two lemons, one coffeecupful of sugar. When boiling hot, add four tablespoonfuls of cornstarch. Let it boil fifteen minutes, stirring all the time. When cold, pour it over four or five oranges that have been sliced into a glass dish and over the top spread the beaten whites of three eggs, sweetened and flavored with vanilla. A nice dessert.


ORANGE FLOAT–based on original recipe

8-9 Valencia oranges

Lemon Sauce:

2 lemons

1 scant cup of white sugar

4 tbsp cornstarch

4 cups water

Meringue Topping:

3 eggs whites

6 tablespoon white sugar

¾ tsp vanilla flavouring

1)      Supreme the oranges—cut off the ends of the oranges right into the pulp. Cut off the peel, pith and outer membrane of the entire orange. You will see sections of orange. Slice your knife beside the membrane sections and pull out just the slice of inner flesh. You can see it pictorially here at Baking Bites.

2)      Set aside supremed orange sections in a glass or ceramic container along with the juice from the cutting board. Put in the fridge to chill until needed.

3)      Supreme the 2 lemons. Squish out a lot of the lemon juice from the sections into a glass or ceramic container but leave the pulp in the juice after squeezing. It will go into the sauce as well. Set aside.

4)      Put sugar and cornstarch into sauce pan. Stir until completely blended.

5)      Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a kettle. With kettle in one hand and spoon in the other, mix the hot water slowly into the sugar mix until all the water is in the sauce pan and the sugar and cornstarch are completely dissolved. Place sauce pan on stove element

6)      Put stove on medium heat and stir the liquid constantly. Gradually the liquid will thicken and then start to come to a boil, about 8 minutes.

7)      As soon as the liquid begins to boil, add the lemon pulp and juice. Turn down the heat to low. Mix the liquid until completely blended.

8)      Take sauce off the stove. Set aside and allow to cool. When cool enough, place sauce in the fridge until needed.

9)      Place egg whites into a metal bowl that has been completely washed of any fat or grease spots (a lemon juice wash helps). Begin to beat eggs until they start to froth thickly. Add one tablespoon of sugar and continue beating. Continue in this fashion until all the sugar is used up and the egg whites have at least reached the soft peak stage. Add vanilla and continue to beat for another minute.

10)  Set oven on low broil.

11)  If you are making individual bowls or glasses of the dessert, place parchment paper on a baking sheet and draw around the circumference of the bowl/glass on the paper with a pencil. Your meringues should be placed within those circles to fit the bowl/glass properly. If you are using a large container, you can do the same with the larger container on the parchment paper.

12)  Place small piles of meringue within the drawn circles on the parchment paper.

13)  Place baking sheet with meringues on a middle rack under the low broiler for 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted golden-brown.

14)  You can use the meringue at this stage or you can take out the meringues, turn the oven to 185 degrees and let them gently bake for about a half hour or until firmer.

15)  To put together as if in bowls or dessert glasses– place about 12 to 15 pieces of orange in the dessert cup, pour sauce over top orange sections, top with meringue cap.

16)  Enjoy.

Categories: creams and desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not So Lucky After All? — The ongoing saga of the Orange Float

I mentioned before that I was making Orange Float along with the Chicken Hash. Orange Float is a seemingly simple dessert but there are blips that seem to make this test a bit bumpier than other recipes so far.

The principle seems straightforward– cut oranges covered with a thick lemon-sugar sauce and topped by a meringue. The meringue has been easy to prepare although toasted for modern cooking standards. Two attempts on the oranges shows that supreming (cutting off pith and membranes) was better than the original slices I tried. The taste was far better in combination with the meringue and the sauce.

The sauce, however, appears to be a bit of a puzzle. The fact that a lot of cornstarch is to be added suggests a thick sauce but twice the sauce has cooled off to a thin syrupy liquid. On the first attempt I tried to follow what was asked, adding the corn starch, mixed with some of the hot liquid, into the sugar water and boiling the fifteen minutes.  Result… a whole lot of thin liquid that tasted lemony sweet and quite nice but seems too much for the amount of oranges. On the second attempt, I mix the cornstarch with some liquid held back from the lemon, sugar, water mixture adding it when it comes to a boil. It seems thickened but, following the directions, I let it boil the fifteen minutes. Again the result, when cooled, is thin and syrupy, only slightly thicker than the last try.  Frustrated, I think that maybe I’ll take the same liquid, make a corn starch slurry, add it to the cold sauce and let it heat up gradually, stirring all the time.  Oh, I got it thickened up all right but despite the lower heat and the constant stirring, the liquid began to burn on the bottom. I found that more upsetting than the thin liquid.

I will pursue on because, having eaten the result of the first try, it is a VERY nice summer dessert.

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