Having recently completed Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin series of novels (AKA the "Master And Commander' series, made (more) popular by the movie of the same name), and being at home with Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife out for the day, I thought I'd destroy her kitchen and do a little historically-inspired dessert-making. This is the third time I have finished the series, and as it was last time, it is still my all-time favorite read.
Syllabub is a relatively easy to make dessert from the 18th to the 19th century, but has fallen into obscurity, or at least I hadn't heard of it until reading O'Brien's works. It's a wine-based dessert, which made me doubt that I'd like it, wine being somewhat wasted on my working-class palate... but nope, it has a simple, refreshing and complex flavor that makes the wine very difficult to discern, but when discerned, it adds to the dish considerably.
With my claim to be a true Triple Threat of a husband (The greatest and most powerful in the kitchen, in the bathroom AND in the bedroom!), I felt my kitchen game could use a little support. And, so, we have an obscure treat that would be found on a King's table.
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 pint of WHITE port wine
5-6 oz of powdered sugar
3/4 tsp orange blossom water
juice of 1 orange
zest of one large or 2 small lemons.
Put the cream and the sugar and mix them with a beater until the sugar is dissolved. I use slightly less than 5 oz because Brazilians don't like refined sugar, preferring the sweetness from fruit, but the recipe calls for 6oz. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until a meringue- like foam forms, with hard peaks. Takes about 5 minutes with a stand mixer, and like a meringue, probably about 30 mins if you don't have a little electric mixer of some form or want to go old-school and whisk by hand. Portion it out, and refrigerate.
Seriously, that's it. I could probably have bullshitted my way through talking about this, and you can if you want. The flavors are complex and very pleasant and subtle. It doesn't taste like the ingredients above. The dish as I make it is sweet, but not cloying, which to be fair, many American cakes and baked treats are to me now. The orange blossom water I had to order off Amazon, but you can get it at an Arab or Indian ethnic market. It's bitter on it's own. I think it worth repeating, and luckily Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife, who is a real bear to please in the kitchen, was suitably impressed. Although she somehow managed to contain herself, I absolutely could feel her undressing me with her eyes, despite her denials and also her telling me I had put my shirt on inside-out again.