Plain Blanc Mange (c.1928) ★★★★

Apparently today is Vanilla Custard Day. I don't know who decides these things, but there you go. I figure it might be fun to do some themed posts, so today I have a historical variation on vanilla custard. Custard typically uses eggs to thicken it. Blancmange is a custard, except instead of eggs it uses starch. It is a recipe which appears often in historical cookbooks, and it has been around in some form or another since the Middle Ages. In fact, the precursor to modern blancmange included chicken and rice!
Blancmage was often flavoured with almond (or even almond milk), but this is the plainest of the plain recipes. I think the point here is that it is a basic recipe which can be easily adapted.

Original Recipe:
A blanc mange is usually a mixture thickened to such an extent with starchy material that it may be turned out of a mold or cut into cubes. The plain blanc mange given here requires a well-flavored sauce to relieve its bland taste.

Sufficient to serve four.

2 cups milk
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the milk in a double boiler, reserving enough to moisten the corn starch. Mix the corn starch, sugar, and salt and moisten with the cold milk. Pour into the hot milk and stir until the corn starch has thickened. Allow this to cook for 30 to 35 minutes, beat to keep smooth, and then remove from the fire and add the vanilla. Moisten cups or molds with cold water and fill with the blanc mange. Cool, turn out of the molds, and serve with any desired sauce.


The Verdict:
Not bad! The blancmange itself was quite plain. There was a hint of sweetness, but otherwise it was practically tasteless. I made a simple caramel sauce to go with this (just microwaved a little milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and butter for 2 minutes) and it improved it a lot. However...I can not handle this texture! I would eat it if it was served to me because the taste really isn't bad, but I just don't like the texture (I'm like this with a lot of foods). I also never ate any custard-type desserts growing up, so it's not something I am used to. Anyway, for those who don't mind that texture, this would be nice! I like that it's plain so that you can put practically anything on it...or even in it!
Also, it definitely didn't take me 30 minutes to make this. I could see it taking that long if you were cooking over a light bulb maybe....It took about 2 minutes once I added the cornstarch.
Oh, and I halved the recipe because I thought it would make too much for just me...which it was, because my sauce was very rich. However, it didn't make enough to even fill my mini bundt mold.


Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Volume 4)

The original recipe is easy enough to follow.


Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.

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