Fine French Macaroones

Macaroons are small, delicate biscuits made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites – not to be confused with sandwich-cookie style macarons, which weren’t invented until the 1930s. The original macaroons date back to at least the 14th or 15th centuries. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, they were usually served with wine or liquor as a light refreshment, or crushed and used in trifles or other desserts. They could come in several different flavors, but most commonly were made with either rose water or orange-flower water, as in this Regency era version.

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Fanchonettes

Fanchonettes are a type of French tart, traditionally topped with meringue. This recipe comes from Charles Elmé Francatelli, who most likely learned how to make them when he was training under Antonin Carême, a famous French chef at the time. The 1836 English translation of Carême’s books, French Cookery, contains a similar recipe for fanchonettes, which can be flavored with vanilla, almonds, coffee, currants, pistachios, hazelnuts, or apricots. I chose to make Francatelli’s version, however, because his fanchonettes are made with chocolate – my favorite.

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Christmas Pudding

Eliza Acton, one of the first authors to provide a recipe for a specifically “Christmas” pudding, actually included 3 different recipes for Christmas puddings in her encyclopedic work, Modern Cookery in all its Branches. This one, titled “The Author’s Christmas Pudding,” is evidently her own recipe; she calls it a “remarkably light small rich pudding.”

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Sour Milk Ginger Bread

This gingerbread comes from Foods That Will Win the War, a pamphlet and recipe book instructing cooks how to save food during World War I. Although the United States never had official rationing during the first World War, the U.S. Food Administration ran an aggressive propaganda campaign urging Americans not to waste food, especially wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Gingerbread was perfect for this, since the use of molasses as a sweetener means that it can be made without any added sugar at all.

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Queen Cakes

Queen cakes, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, were little cakes usually baked in fancy molds. I was drawn to this particular recipe, from Eliza Leslie’s 1828 book Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, because it seemed especially fancy. Although queen cakes could be made any time of year, Leslie suggests decorating these with red and green nonpareils, which made me think they would be perfect for Christmas.

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