I am visiting my mother, the woman who taught me everything I know about food and just about everything else. She lives in the country, which is what New Yorkers call anywhere two hours outside of the city. We spend a lot of time sitting round the kitchen table knitting and gossiping, and talking about food (what we are eating now, what we plan to eat later). And reminiscing: Dad’s favorite pie, the amazing chili by the friend who really couldn’t cook anything but man her chili was fantastic, my aunt’s highly unusual trifle (think Jell-O).
My mom is an expert knitter and an Anglophile—a Rowanette almost never deviating from her devotion to Rowan yarns and regretting it when she does. So when I mentioned that I wanted to make a summer dessert for a Recipe File of course she said, “You should make syllabub.”
Syllabub! (Such a fun word to say). I had forgotten about syllabub the past a few summers, and I feel bad about all the missed opportunities that implies. I’m here to make up for that.
Syllabub is simply cold cream whipped to soft peaks and enhanced by alcohol, sometimes served over berries. It has been around since Tudor times, but remains deliciously of-the-moment. Syllabub is sophisticated, like most simple things, and sexy. Simple, creamy, cold, lovely—with or without fruit.
This version calls for rosé and brandy, but have fun playing around with other alcohol flavors. If you’ve got most of a bottle of framboise in your cabinet from 2010, now’s your chance to use some.
Whatever you do, don’t leave out the lemon zest and take care not to overwhip. The mixture can go from soft peaks to curdled very quickly.
I’m calling this the perfect dessert for hot lazy late summer days. It goes like this—
1¼ cups heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
¼ cup rosé
3 T brandy
1 pint berries (optional)
- Combine sugar, wine, brandy, lemon juice, and half the zest, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a balloon whisk or mixer until firm peaks form.
- Slowly add the sugar mixture to the cream while beating vigorously or at high speed. The peaks will soften a bit once the liquid is added, and that’s fine.
- Spoon the syllabub over sliced berries (if using) into pretty glasses or bowls.
- Chill for 4-6 hours before serving. Garnish with remaining lemon zest.
Make 4-5 servings.