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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.

File it!

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About The Author

For Sarah Ross, everyday cooking is about winging it—with a classic or an old favorite recipe given to her by a friend. These are the recipes that get stained with spills from being on repeat, the ones to share.


  • I’ve wondered what syllabub was! I’ve been listening to audiobooks of a certain genre and they mention it alot. Thx for explaining

  • What a great suggestion. Everything old really is new again.

    Heading to my mother’s in New Jersey later this week. She does live in the country, less than two hours from New York City. I am sure there is some “vintage” Cointreau on hand. There will be knitting as well, at least for me.

    • Cointreau sounds like it would go really well with seedless mandarins!

      • I’ll say!

  • I’ve heard that word all my life but didnt know what it was. Yum. I need to make this.

    I’d have to eat this all myself if I made it. No one in my family, church family or inner circle of friends will (or can) drink. It’s lonely carrying the fun torch.
    But thanks for your recipe! Booze AND whipped cream!

  • Yum!

  • Sounds deevine! Simple and delicious, right up my alley, thanks for the recipe.

  • Thank you for the recipe, I syllabud was new to me.

  • Love it! Typically, how long do you whip the cream for in a Kitchen Aid mixer….5 Minutes?

    • Debbie, usually quicker than 5 minutes, more like 3. Keep a close eye.

  • Thank you! – I’ll have to try this as a substitute for vanilla ice cream with the fresh peaches we’ve been eating around here for dessert. (Fresh peaches with vanilla ice cream are hard to improve upon. Especially if you let the ice cream melt a bit.) Does this keep for a day or so, or should I wait to make it till we’re having company?

    • It really doesn’t hold well, just 3-4 hours. You can certainly make it in the afternoon for that evening. The next morning it will have separated but it will still taste good. Breakfast syllabub.

      • One of my experienced-in-the-kitchen friends says to add 1 Tbsp powdered milk to the cream “to improve stability and decrease separation.” I hate to keep powdered milk on hand just for this, but it works.

  • Our favorite syllabub ingredient is Grand Marnier! When served with raspberries or strawberries, it disappears instantly!

  • I made it once with limoncello— it was fabulous. Great over strawberries.

    • That sounds amazing!

      • Heading out to get limoncello now.

  • Can another flavoring be substituted for alcohol?

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