Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moonshine Dessert

Moonshine - you know, that clear, strong, distilled spirit with a high alcohol content generally made from backyard stills. Just reading the word conjures up images from prohibition times, backwoods stills, and cases of unlabeled bottles being carted around in beds of pick up trucks. It doesn't bring to mind a dainty dessert made from egg whites. The image at left is of John Bowman and his garage moonshine still, from the Library of Congress. It is from the American Memory series Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia. While he no longer makes moonshine, the image is what an actual moonshine still looks like.

The recipe 'Moonshine' from a cookbook published in 1890 and written by Frances Willey caught my attention with the first sentence - "This dessert combines a pretty appearance with palatable flavor, and is a convenient substitute for ice cream." If I were to recreate it, I'd use a cooked meringue rather than just whipped egg whites, for food safety reasons, use fresh mashed and sweetened peaches, and while the dessert doesn't contain alcohol, I'd drizzle the dessert with a favorite liqueur or my own ratafia.
Moonshine
This dessert combines a pretty appearance with palatable flavor, and is a convenient substitute for ice cream. Beat the whites of six eggs in a broad plate to a very stiff froth; then add, gradually, six tablespoons of powdered sugar, beaten for not less than thirty minutes, and then beat in, after being cut into tiny pieces; one-half cup of preserved peaches; or you can use one cup of jelly. In serving, pour into each saucer some rich cream, sweetened and flavored with vanilla, and on the cream, place a liberal portion of moonshine. This quantity is sufficient amount for eight or ten persons.



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