The frothy, drink-ish dessert was wildly popular from Versailles to Buckingham Palace when it first appeared around the 16th sixteenth century. Syllabub was a mixture of easily found ingredients like white wine, whipped cream, and sugar. By the eighteenth century, new versions of syllabub became available—there was whipped (“whipt”), everlasting (firm), and solid, and newly available liquors and exotic ingredients like Seville oranges were included. Largely forgotten today, Syllabub was prominent in its day and was often on the menus of the more aristocratic colonial homes.
For my new cookbook, The Unofficial Poldark Cookbook, I made a firm, panna-cotta-like version with another popular flavor of 18th century England, elderflower.
Depending on your ramekin size, serves 4-6
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 packet of unflavored powdered gelatin
⅓ cup sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup elderflower liqueur (we used St. Germain)
Lightly grease your ramekins with a neutral-flavored oil or spray.
While the heat is still off, pour milk into a saucepan on the stovetop. Sprinkle gelatin over the milk evenly. Allow the gelatin to sit on the milk (this technique is called bloom) for 5 minutes. Do not stir.
Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the milk to warm for 2 minutes before stirring. Please do not allow the milk to boil; you want to warm it up.
Add sugar to the milk, stir, and allow to dissolve over the heat for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Gently whisk heavy cream, salt, and liqueur into the milk mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and cool in the refrigerator for 3 hours or more.
To remove the syllabub from the ramekin, dip the sides and bottom in warm water for 10 seconds or so. Place a small plate over the top of the ramekin, hold the two dishes together, and flip over so the syllabub will sit on the plate. Do not worry if it does not come out of the ramekin; it is still delicious.