Blackberry Blanc-Mange Recipe from 1877

I found a recipe for Raspberry Blanc-Mange in an 1877 cookbook that had been submitted by Mrs. J.P. Rea of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mrs. Rea suggested that other fruit could be substituted for raspberries. Since I had fresh blackberries in the fridge, I used blackberries.

Blancmange is a new dessert to me. I’d never made or eaten it. This sweet dessert is usually made with milk and sugar. Cornstarch, gelatin, and Irish moss—a seaweed found near Ireland—are used to thicken the blancmange.

The dessert is traditionally white, but this fruity recipe is a rich burgundy color.

As with most of the recipes in the 1877 cookbook, there is a lot of guesswork. It didn’t suggest how much fruit to “stew” in the first step.

I washed 12 ounces (1 ½ cups) of fresh blackberries and put them in a medium saucepan. I added a cup of water, which ended up being a good amount for this amount of fruit.

These cooked on a medium heat. After they began a slow boil, I cooked them around 8 – 10 minutes, long enough to extract the flavorful juices from the blackberries.

Strain the fruit. Discard the blackberries and return the juice to the pan. There will be a little more than the amount of water added in the beginning.

In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per pint of juice. Mine made a little over a cup, so I used 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. To this add twice the amount of water—2 tablespoons of water for mine. Stir and set aside.

Mrs. Rea suggested sweetening the juice to taste. Having no idea how sweet blancmange is, I stirred in ¼ cup of sugar. When this mixture begins to boil on a medium heat, drizzle in the reserved cornstarch mixture. It thickens immediately.

Whisk constantly while it continues to boil for another minute or two. Remove from heat.

Rinse molds in cold water and add the blancmange. Chill for at least 2 hours to allow the dessert to set.

Twelve ounces of blackberries made 2 servings. Adjust the quantities for the number of servings desired.

Turn the mold onto a serving plate. Mrs. Rea suggesting eating it with cream and sugar. I liked it plain.

Though it didn’t turn out overly sweet, I will reduce the amount of sugar next time to 2 tablespoons for 2 servings.

I loved the rich color of the blancmange. I like blackberries and the refreshing taste took me back to summer days of eating cobblers and jams. I will reduce the amount of sugar next time to 2 tablespoons for 2 servings.

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe with other fruits.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Blankmange,” Wikipedia, 2018/01/13

Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.