Old-fashioned Peach Tapioca Dessert “Without Cream”

I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for the perfect peach dessert – Peach Tapioca Without Cream.  The name is a bit misleading. This luscious, refreshing dessert is topped with almond-flavored whipped cream.

The peaches are embedded in a delightful, thick, sweet, tapioca sauce made with water, sugar, and lemon. The use of water rather than the usual milk or cream creates a lovely new dimension that’s unlike any tapioca I’ve ever eaten.

This recipe was published in Good Housekeeping in 1917.  At the time, food prices were rapidly rising due to food shortages cause by World War I. Cream was expensive – so the recipe called for making the tapioca with water instead of cream. But apparently the recipe author couldn’t bring herself to totally eliminate the cream and decided that people could afford to use a little cream that could be whipped into a delightful topping.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (October, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern readers:

Peach Tapioca without Cream

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Time: 40 minutes active prep time
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Peach Tapioca

1/2 cup granulated tapioca (Minute tapioca)

3 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

juice and grated rind of  1/2 lemon

3/4 cup sugar

6 large peaches, pared and thinly sliced

Combine the tapioca, water, and salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer gently while continuing to stir; cook until the mixture is clear and thick (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and sugar. Added the sliced peaches and gently stir to combine. Put into a bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve with Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream.

Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Put cream in a bowl; beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and almond extract; beat until combined.

Peach Cup (Individual Peach Cobblers) Recipe

lndividual Peach Cobbler

I always think of  peach season as cobbler season, so I was excited when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Individual Peach Cobblers.  The cobblers are delightful when served warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

These cobblers are a double peach dessert that contains both sliced and mashed peaches. Hot juicy peach slices are embedded in this homey cobbler; and mashed peaches, which are mixed into the batter, infuse the cobbler shortbread with a light peachy sweetness.

This dessert was called Peach Cup in the original recipe. In the early 1900’s, individual cobblers and shortcakes were called cups because they were made in custard cups or muffin pans.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Peach Cup (Individual Peach Cobblers

  • Servings: 6 - 8 cobblers
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 small (3 large)  fresh peaches

1 egg, separated

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 425° F. Prepare custard cups or jumbo muffin pan by generously greasing the cups.

Peel the peaches, then mash 1  peach (3/4 of a peach if using large peaches). (I used a blender to puree the peach).  Set aside.

Slice the remaining peaches.  Set aside.

Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, egg yolk, milk, melted butter, and mashed/pureed peach. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in the egg white.

Put 1 tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each cup, add a layer of peach slices, then cover with the remaining batter. (It’s okay if the peaches are not completely covered.)

Place in the oven, and cook for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes, then remove from cups.  To remove from cups,  run a butter knife gently around the edge of the cups, then turn upside down on a plate. After the individual cobblers slide out of the cups,  flip them so they are upright.

Best when served warm. May be topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cook’s note: Canned or frozen peaches could be substituted for the fresh peaches.

And, here is the original recipe:

Peach Cup
Source: A Text-book of Cooking by Carlotta C. Greer (1915)

Notes: I divided the recipe by 2 when I made it.  The original recipe called for using peach halves, but my peaches were too large to fit in a custard cup, so I cut the peaches into slices.