Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sweet as Eggs.

It goes without saying that our repertoire of sweet dishes would be sadly depleted if we did not use eggs. Sure, eggless cakes (and here) are possible – but in the absence of war-time shortages, veganism, and egg-allergy, are hardly most folks’ first choice, are they? Without eggs there would certainly be no soufflés or crêpes, and chocolate mousse would be a travesty. As for a life without custard! Unimaginable!

Eggs may be essential in many of the best desserts, but they are however, an invisible ingredient – their essentially eggy shape and style lost in the mix. The challenge was up, and I set out in search of really sweet, really obviously eggy dishes. The wonderful Lady’s Companion: or, An infallible guide to the fair sex (1743) came good with these two wonderful ideas:

To dress Eggs the Italian Way.
Make a Syrup with Sugar and a little Water, and when it is something better than half make, put the Yolks of Eggs in a Silver Spoon, one by one, and hold them in the Syrup to poach. Serve them up to the Table, covered and garnished with Pistachoes, Orange-flowers, and Slices of Lemon-peel, boil’d in the same Syrup, and sprinkle a little Lemon-juice upon them.

And with the leftover whites? From the same book:

A pretty Dish of Whites of Eggs.
Take the Whites of twelve Eggs, beat them up with four Spoonfuls of Rose-water, a little grated Lemon-peel, a little Nutmeg, sweeten with Sugar, mix them well, boil them in four Bladders, tie them in the Shape of an Egg, and boil them hard; they will take Half an Hour. Lay them in your Dish when cold; mix Half a Pint of thick Cream, a Gill of Sack, and Half the Juice of a Seville Orange. Mix all together, and sweeten with fine Sugar, and pour over the Eggs. Serve it up for a Side-dish at Supper, or when you please.

Quotation for the Day.
The vulgar boil, the learned roast, an egg.
Alexander Pope.


darius said...

Any clue what "boil them in four Bladders" means?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Darius. In the days before plastic wrap and foil, food was often cooked in pigs (or other animal) bladders. Gives a new twist to the idea of 'natural containers' doesnt it?

Sharlene T. said...

Love the Pope quote... he's one of my favorites... er, ah, um...have you tried these recipes?... I guess we could locate some sausage casings, which would make one interesting oval, eh?... thanks for sharing and your hard work... come visit when you can and check out my very first vlog...

Twitter: SolarChief

Anonymous said...

As much as I love this blog, I must disagree with one minor detail.

I recently had a vegan chocolate mousse that was absolutely to die for. Somehow they managed to not use eggs. And there were only three ingredients, plus the liqueur...

(note that I'm not a vegan - happy omnivore!)

The Old Foodie said...

Interesting about the vegan chocolate mousse - no cream either, I suppose. Must have some sort of light creamy tofu in it? was the texture good?

Anonymous said...

I only had a tiny bit of my table mate's, but the texture was rich and creamy, and I think it was dense without being cloying.

It was at the Blue Plate Diner.

Sadly, their desserts change regularly, so I can't check for details on their menu!