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:
And, here’s the recipe updated for modern readers:
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.
There is an old saying that Blancmange should be wobbly but not as rubbery as a rubber ball. I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Chocolate Blancmange, and using the criteria in the old saying, it was excellent. The Blancmange was rich and decadent, and trembled just a little.
Even though Blancmange is an old dessert, it was new to me; and this was the first time that I ever made this lovely molded dessert.
This recipe is a keeper. As my husband finished the Blancmange, he asked, “When are you going to make this again.?”
The old recipe was part of an advertisement for Minute Tapioca. (Yes, Minute Tapioca as been around for more than a hundred years).
Here’s the original recipe:
When I saw the illustration for the Blancmange, I realized that I actually owned some old dessert plates that once belonged to my grandmother that looked very similar to the ones in the picture. I hadn’t seen the plates in years, but I pulled a chair over to my highest kitchen cupboard, and climbed up. A few minutes later I’d found the plates. They weren’t identical to the ones in the drawing, but I had a lot of fun trying to semi-replicate the old picture.
The old recipe called this dessert “blanc mange.” I think that today, the two words are generally combined into one (blancmange), so that is the way that I’ve spelled it.
In a medium saucepan stir together the tapioca, sugar, cocoa, and salt. While stirring, slowly add the milk. Using medium heat, and while stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that there is a slow rolling boil. Cook for an additional 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Be sure to stir to the very bottom of the pan because this mixture will easily burn. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour into individual molds. Custard cups work well as molds. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To serve, set the molded dessert in a pan of hot water for a few seconds; then run a table knife around the edge of the mold to loosen and turn upside down on serving plate to unmold.
If desired, serve with whipped cream.
To make homemade whipped cream, Put 1 cup whipping cream in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar. Whip until there are stiff peaks.
Cook’s note: I did not make the cocoa (hot chocolate) prior to making this recipe. It seemed unnecessary to use a two-step process. Instead, I found a recipe for hot chocolate on a can of cocoa. I combined the dry ingredients in that recipe with the dry ingredients called for in the hundred-year-old Blancmange recipe. I then stirred in three cups of milk. This streamlined process worked just fine.