How to Make Blanc-Mange (Blancmange)

Molded Blanc-mange on plate
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Blancmange is a sweet dessert usually made with milk or cream, sugar, and thickened with gelatin, cornstarch, Irish moss, or isinglass. It’s usually set in a mold, cups, or wine glasses and chilled before serving.

In old cookbooks, blancmange was spelled using two words and sometimes with a hyphen in between.

Before commercial gelatin was produced, isinglass was used in certain desserts. Isinglass is a form of collagen made from the dried fish bladders of fish.

Recipes Below from 1800s Cookbooks.

It is best to make it the day before it is wanted. Put into a bowl an ounce of isinglass (in warm weather you must take an ounce and a quarter). Pour on as much rose water as will cover the isinglass, and set it on hot ashes to dissolve. Blanch a quarter of a pound of shelled almonds, (half sweet and half bitter) and beat them to a paste in a mortar, one at a time, moistening them all the while with a little rose water.

Stir the almonds by degrees into a quart of cream, alternately with half a pound of powdered white sugar, and add a large tea-spoonful of beaten mace. Put in the melted isinglass, and stir the whole very hard. Then put it into a porcelain skillet, and let it boil fast for a quarter of an hour. Strain it into a pitcher and pour it into your molds, which must first be wetted with cold water. Let it stand in a cool place undisturbed till it has entirely congealed, which will be in about five hours. Then wrap a cloth dipped in hot water round the molds, loosen the blanc-mange round the edges with a knife, and turn it out into glass dishes. Instead of using a figure-mold, you may set it to congeal in tea-cups or wine glasses.

Blanc-mange may be colored green by mixing a little juice of spinach with the cream. *Cochineal which has been infused in a little brandy for half an hour will color it red and saffron will give it a bright yellow tinge.

*Cochineal are insects found on the prickly pear cacti. They are dried to produce the natural dye that produces shades of red.

In one teacupful of water, boil until dissolved one ounce of isinglass or of patent gelatine (which is better). Stir it continually while boiling. Then squeeze the juice of a lemon upon a cupful of fine, white sugar. Stir the sugar into a quart of rich cream and half a pint of Madeira or sherry wine. When it is well mixed, add the dissolved isinglass or gelatine, stir all well together and pour it into molds previously wet with cold water. Set the molds upon ice, let them stand until their contents are hard and cold, then serve with sugar and cream or custard sauce.

Take a tea-cup full of arrow root, put it into a large bowl, and dissolve it in a little cold water. When it is melted, pour off the water, and let the arrow root remain undisturbed. Boil in half a pint of unskimmed milk, (made very sweet with white sugar,) a beaten nutmeg, and eight or nine blades of mace, mixed with the juice and grated peel of a lemon. When it has boiled long enough to be highly flavored, strain it into a pint and a half of very rich milk or cream, and add a quarter of a pound of sugar. Boil the whole for ten minutes, then strain it, boiling hot, over the arrow root. Stir it well and frequently till cold, then put it into molds and let it set to congeal.

Put two ounces of isinglass into a pint of water and boil it till it has dissolved. Then strain it into a porcelain skillet, and add to it half a pint of white wine, the grated peel and juice of two large deep-coloured oranges, half a pound of loaf-sugar, and the yolks only of eight eggs that have been well beaten. Mix the whole thoroughly, place it on hot coals and simmer it, stirring it all the time till it boils hard. Then take it off directly, strain it, and put it into molds to congeal.

Soak half a pound of tapioca in one pint of milk for half an hour, then boil till tender. Add a pinch of salt, sweeten to taste and put into a mold. When cold, turn it out and serve with strawberry or raspberry jam around it and a little cream. Flavor with lemon or vanilla.

Take one quart of sweet milk and put one pint upon the stove to heat. In the other pint, thoroughly mix four heaping tablespoonfuls of cornstarch and half a cupful of sugar. When the milk is hot, pour in the cold milk with the cornstarch and sugar and stir altogether until there are no lumps and it is thick. Flavor with lemon, take from the stove and add the whites of three eggs beaten to a stiff froth.

Stew nice, fresh fruit (cherries, raspberries, and strawberries being the best). Strain off the juice and sweeten to taste. Place it over the fire in a double kettle until it boils. While boiling, stir in cornstarch wet with a little cold water, allowing two tablespoonfuls of cornstarch to each pint of juice. Continue stirring until sufficiently cooked, then pour into molds wet in cold water and set away to cool. Serve with cream and sugar.

photo credit SKopp on wikipedia

 You may enjoy the book:

Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today’s Sweet Tooth

although the recipes will be a little more modern than the ones in this post.

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Author: Angela Johnson

I’ve been interested in cooking since I was a teenager. Growing up in a small town in Illinois, I ate many home-cooked meals and tried out recipes (mostly cookies). Wherever I live or travel, I check out grocery stores for unusual foods, eat at local restaurants, and buy regional cookbooks. I’m also fascinated with learning how people in the past lived, and how they obtained food and prepared it.

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