WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Roaring Trade

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Roaring Trade

Valentine’s Day was yesterday, so we all know what that means…

There is no shame in my game.

Unfortunately, we’re experiencing winter here in East Texas, consisting of several inches of snow and intermittently icy roads. This means only fools leave their houses because only fools are on the roads checking out what the other fools are doing on the roads.

If I can’t purchase chocolate, might as well write about it.

Roaring Trade

A quick trade.

Normally I would be quickly trading my cash for chocolate, but since I’m stymied this year, let’s talk historic chocolate. While chocolatiers such as Lindt and Guittard have been around since the mid-19th century, they were not making the bars and confections we recognize today. They also didn’t have shops in Regency England.

Chocolates did exist, however. Historian Barbara Ketcham Wheaton writes this of a French cookbook from 1750:

“There are also some chocolate candies: the still familiar diablotins — flat disks of bitter chocolate, thickly sprinkled with nonpareils, chocolate ‘olives’ (which we call chocolate truffles), and a conserve of chocolate, which turns out to be very like fudge.”

Le Cannameliste français, ou Nouvelle instruction pour ceux qui désirent d’apprendre l’office, by Joseph Gilliers, 1768.

Now these are French confections from a French cookbook, and we all know that the English considered French food to be fit for dogs…but they did adore those heathen-made sweets.

One thing we can be certain of from this era is the drinking chocolate. This specific form was introduced to England around 1600, and became firmly ensconced in society and politics: it set up shop in the coffeehouse.

Trade Card of William White, chocolate and cocoa dealer, circa 1800, courtesy The British Museum.

As this is a post about chocolate rather than culture, I’ll skip any history lessons on the latter and include links below; the subject is fascinating. One tidbit that I will let slip is about Sir Hans Sloane, whose collection of various and sundry items began what is now the British Museum. As with all “first to” designations this is fiercely contested, but Sir Hans is believed to be the first to have blended chocolate with warm milk. The rest, as they say, is history…forever to be fought over.

So let’s talk recipes.

Sir Hans Sloane’s Milk Chocolate, from The British Museum

(modern adaptation)

1 pint (568ml) whole milk
100g plain chocolate (over 80% cocoa solids)
1 tablespoon honey (or sugar)
2 dried chillies (whole)
1 cinnamon stick (halved)
1 vanilla pod (crushed)

Finely chop the plain chocolate and put to one side.

To a saucepan add the milk, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and chillies.

Bring to the boil, then turn off and leave for 5 minutes to infuse.

Remove the cinnamon, vanilla and chilli from the milk mixture.

While the milk is still warm, add the chocolate and whisk heavily until the chocolate is dissolved and there is froth on top.

Serve in a wide-bottomed cup and enjoy!

You’re going to need something to dunk in that chocolate, so why not make something out of more chocolate?! From The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, by Laura Kumin, comes a recipe that makes “nuggets of intense chocolate (that) are gluten-free and simple to make. Think of them as a cross between cookies and candy.”


18th Century Crispy Intensely Chocolate Cookies also known as Chocolate Puffs

Ingredients:
1 cup superfine sugar + 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch processed, plus 1 1/4 tablespoons
1 egg white from large egg
1 pinch cream of tartar, optional

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 225 F. Set aside two parchment-lined cookie sheets.

In a medium-small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cocoa until they are a unfirom color. Set the mixture aside.

With a hand beater, stand mixer, or clean whisk, whip the egg white until it is very frothy and beginning to stiffen. (When using a hand or stand mixer to whip egg whites, start at a low speed and slowly raise the speed to medium. Do not use the higher speeds because egg whites whipped that way are less stable. If desired, add a pinch of cream of tartar to help the egg white froth and stiffen. Once the egg white reaches the soft peak stage, slowly add the sugar/coca mixture while continuing to beat the egg white. The result should be a thick paste.

Wet your hands slightly and form the batter into small coins about 3/4-inch diameter. Place them on the parchment-lined cookie sheets. Optional step (which I discovered after the book was published) – if you let the formed cookies sit on the cookie sheet for aobut 30 minutes before baking, they seem to puff up more. Bake for 1 to 1 &1/2 hours.

Store the cookies in a tightly covered container.

Recipe Notes:
I added confectioners sugar on the top of the cookies for the photos. While it’s a nice visual touch, that sprinkling of sugar does not affect their taste.

The recipe in the book allows for cooking 60-90 minutes. At 60-70 minutes, the cookies are crunchy. After that, they begin to become like biscotti, great for dipping.

If you keep your hands reasonably damp and smooth out the outside of the cookie they look smooth after they cook. If you handle them less, they look more like Amaretto di Saronna.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Safe Slang (and art) for Mother’s Day

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Safe Slang (and art) for Mother’s Day

WOW is a day early this week, but it’s Mother’s Day and I’m sure we’ve all wondered, “What Regency cant and vulgar slang is safe to use with Mom?”

Glad you asked.

First and foremost, do not call your mother, a Mother. In Regency slang, you would be calling her a brothel proprietor, the chief bawd, or the abbess. Instant trouble.

Instead, feel free to use any of the following slang. Impress your mother by enlarging yours – and her – vocabulary.

FAIR-ROE-BUCK ~ A Woman in the Bloom of her Beauty.

FRIGOT WELL RIGGED ~ A Woman well drest [sic] and genteel.

GENTRY MORT ~ A gentlewoman.

RUM MORT ~ A queen, or great lady. CANT.

RUM-DUTCHESS ~ A jolly handsome Woman.

RUM-MORT ~ A Queen, or great Lady.

If a thorough knowledge of Regency cant of positive descriptors of women fails to affect goodwill, consider showing her some of the portraits of French artist Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837). She was the first successful female genre painter ever, and produced steadily throughout her life. Her favorite subjects were mothers and children, although she herself never married. Her portraits conveyed an intimacy and beauty not often seen in domestic paintings, likely the influence of her appreciation of the Dutch golden age painters.

Born in Grassé, France, she moved to Paris at age eight to live with her sister Marie Anne, who just happened to be married to storied artist Jean Honoré Fragonard. Under his tutelage, and other masters of their coterie at the Louvre (they lived apartments in the Louvre for thirty years!), she became an artist recognized in her own right by the mid-1780s. After the Parisian Salons were opened to women, she became a regular exhibitor, drawing the attention of and purchase power of the likes of Napoleon and King Louis XVII. She died in Paris in 1837 at the remarkable age of seventy-six.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Premiers Pas (First Steps), oil on canvas, ca. 1788, Marguerite Gérard

Premiers Pas (First Steps), oil on canvas, ca. 1788, Marguerite Gérard

La Leçon de Piano (The Piano Lesson), oil on canvas, ca. 1785-1787, Marguerite Gérard

La Leçon de Piano (The Piano Lesson), oil on canvas, ca. 1785-1787, Marguerite Gérard

La Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, ca. 1795–1800, Marguerite Gérard

La Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, ca. 1795–1800, Marguerite Gérard

La Visite (The Visit), oil on canvas, ca. 1810, Marguerite Gérard

La Visite (The Visit), oil on canvas, ca. 1810, Marguerite Gérard

Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

La Lecture d'une Lettre (Reading a Letter), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

La Lecture d’une Lettre (Reading a Letter), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Madame de Staël et sa fille Albertine (Madame de Staël and her daughter Albertine), oil on canvas, 1803–1808, Marguerite Gérard

Madame de Staël et sa fille Albertine (Madame de Staël and her daughter Albertine), oil on canvas, 1803–1808, Marguerite Gérard

Mutterschaft (Maternity), ca. 1800, Marguerite Gérard

Mutterschaft (Maternity), ca. 1800, Marguerite Gérard

Portrait de la Maréchale Lannes et ses Enfants (The Dutchess of Montabello with her Children), oil on canvas, 1818, Marguerite Gérard

Portrait de la Maréchale Lannes et ses Enfants (The Dutchess of Montabello with her Children), oil on canvas, 1818, Marguerite Gérard

Une famille dans un jeu intérieur avec un chien (A famiily in an interior playing with a dog), oil on canvas, date unknown, Marguerite Gérard

Une famille dans un jeu intérieur avec un chien (A famiily in an interior playing with a dog), oil on canvas, date unknown, Marguerite Gérard

Une femme assise tenant une jeune fille sur ses genoux (A seated woman holding a girl on her lap), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Une femme assise tenant une jeune fille sur ses genoux (A seated woman holding a girl on her lap), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Dors mon enfant (Sleep my child), oil on canvas, ca. 1783–1786, Marguerite Gérard

Dors mon enfant (Sleep my child), oil on canvas, ca. 1783–1786, Marguerite Gérard

L' allaitement Maternel Mère (The Breastfeeding Mother), date unknown, Marguerite Gérard

L’ allaitement Maternel Mère (The Breastfeeding Mother), date unknown, Marguerite Gérard