A History of Ice Cream | A Recipe from 1789
Chocolate peanut butter ice cream, that is my favorite flavor and not what we're making today. No, today we are going back to the 18th century and making a parmesan cheese ice cream, so thank you to Wondrium for sponsoring this video on parmesan cheese ice cream. Perhaps Gene Parmesan's greatest disguise. "Geeeeene! Oh gene isn't he the best! This time on Tasting History.
So it seems kind of weird, cheese and ice cream, or rather it seems like a flavor that would be made in some hoity-toity New York restaurant like wasabi ice cream, or garlic ice cream, both of which I have tried. But in the 18th century they were more adventurous with flavors than Ben, Jerry, Baskin and Robin's combined and many of the weird flavors of which we will speak come from 'The Complete Confectioner' by the Englishman Frederick Nutt written in 1789 and that's where we get today's recipe. "Number 150. Parmesan Cheese Ice Cream. Take six eggs,
half a pint of syrup and a pint of cream; put them into a stew pan and boil them until it begins to thicken. Then rasp three ounces of parmesan cheese mix and pass them through a sieve, and freeze it." It's actually really simple and since it was written before the imperial pint was around I didn't have to do a lot of math to make the conversion to modern American units. So for this recipe I need six eggs, six medium eggs to be specific because eggs were smaller back then but if you are using extra large eggs use five and it's not going to make much of a difference. Also what does make a difference is they need to be at room temperature.
1 cup or 235 milliliters simple syrup, 2 cups or 475 milliliters heavy cream, and 3 ounces or 85 grams freshly grated parmesan, and it has to be freshly grated because if you buy pre-grated they usually add other things to make it so the gratings or shavings don't melt together, but that's also going to make it so they don't melt in in the ice cream and that's going to be gross. So first whisk your room temperature eggs in a medium saucepan, and then add the cream and the syrup and whisk to combine. Then set it over a low heat on the stove and don't be tempted to raise the heat because you don't think anything's happening because you'll end up with scrambled eggs. Also once it does start to get warm you'll want to start stirring it continuously so it stays perfectly smooth. Now it should start to thicken right around 170 degrees Fahrenheit or 76 degrees
Celsius, and you don't want to let it go too much above that because again scrambled eggs. Now if you don't have a thermometer you can just do it by taking a spoon, dipping it in the custard and running your finger over the back of the spoon. If it leaves a defined line your custard is ready. At this point take the pan off the heat and add in the parmesan cheese whisking until it's all melted. Then pour the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl and let it cool. And speaking of cool
nothing is cooler than learning, and a great way to learn is with today's sponsor Wondrium. Your brain is going to love this place. Now if you've watched this channel before you've probably heard me talk about the Great Courses Plus, and the team over there has taken the Great Courses Plus and in the words of Walt Disney plused it they've added a bunch of new stuff to create Wondrium. It's essentially the Great Courses Plus + with a well-researched catalog of short form and long-form videos tutorials documentaries and travelogues. It is the place to find out about pretty much anything you've ever wondered about hence the name Wondrium. I was watching a series on pirates, because pirates are awesome as long as you don't actually meet one in real life, and the instructor was talking about 18th century Swedish pirates in the Baltic Sea. I had no idea that was
a thing, mind blown. So if you've ever wondered about pretty much anything Wondrium is going to be your new favorite place and they are offering a free trial for the viewers of Tasting History. Just click the link wondrium.com/tastinghistory in the description below to start your free trial today. Now once your parmesan custard has cooled it is time to freeze it. Now you can use an old
style manual churning and freezing technique, or you can use a modern one. They pretty much tend to do the exact same thing but regardless of what you use to churn your ice cream go ahead and hit that Like button, and as your ice cream churns let me churn you up the story of ice cream. So iced foods and iced drinks are really nothing new. The ancient Romans and the Greeks both took mountain snow and put honey and wine over them and Athenaeus describes Greek ice houses to keep it cold.
"In the island of Kimolos underground refrigerators are constructed in summer, where the people store jars full of warm water and draw them out again as cold as snow." Well how about that. Now further east in China during the Tang dynasty they were heating fermented milk with camphor then letting it cool, and pouring it over ice and in 4th century Japan emperor Nintoku declared June 1st to be National Ice Day, though he was using it mostly to chill his sake, but none of these would really be considered ice cream like today. The fermented milk is probably the closest thing. No the next real step in ice cream's evolution which actually didn't involve cream took place in 11th century Arabia and Persia. They made something called sharbat or serbet,
and we get a detailed description of it from Sir Thomas Herbert on his travels to Persia in the 1620s. "Their liquor is sometimes fair water, sugar, rose water, and juice of lemons mixed and sugar confected with citrons, violets, or other sweet flowers; and for the more delicacy sometimes a mixture of amber; his we call sherbet." That liquid was then poured over crushed ice or snow much like a modern snow cone, and that is probably actually what finally made its way to Medieval Italy. Now we don't know who actually brought it to Italy though it was most likely not Marco Polo even though he almost always gets the credit but when it did get there they called it sorbetto, something the French would later call sorbet. Sorbet?! My kids do not eat sorbet, they eat sherbet and they pronounce it sherbert and i wish it was ice cream.
But it was the Italians that did some kind of crazy stuff with it. In 1558 Giambattista de la Porta described a wine slushie made by chilling diluted wine with ice and salt peter, later on just salt. Now that combination had been used in freezing and preserving foods all over the world for a very long time but this seems to be the first time at least in Europe that it was used to make anything like ice cream. Now it's also around this time that doctors began to weigh in on the dangers of this cold dessert. Cold food and drink had been taboo since Hippocrates and Galen. For as the Byzantine physician Antimus wrote, "The stomach grows chilled and loses its efficacy."
And later European doctors would take that even further to claim that iced foods and even just putting ice in drinks could lead to blindness, paralysis, or even sudden death. But even the threat of a Subzero fatality was no match for the deliciousness of this ever-evolving frozen treat, and one such evolution came in 1692 when Antonio Lantini wrote a recipe for what he called milk sorbet, a precursor to gelato. It was flavored with lemon and pumpkin and frozen with snow and salt, and it really only took one more ingredient to make ice cream and that was eggs, and Europeans had been making egg custards for centuries though they usually use them in baking or just serve them kind of at room temperature. They had names like cream almond
and crema catalana and surely someone making these creams saw what Lantini had done and said well if he can freeze that I can freeze this, and thus was born ice cream. Around this same time 1686 a Sicilian Francesco Procopio Cuto moved to Paris and opened Il Procope which is believed to be the first Parisian cafe and ice cream parlor, and he kicked off an ice cream or creme glace craze in France, at least amongst the wealthy because pretty much all of the ingredients were rather expensive. Ice, sugar plus fancy flavorings like chocolate, anise, coffee, vanilla and some weird ones like artichoke, avocado, asparagus and foie gras. There's even one recipe that calls for heart's horn which is like shavings or gratings from the antlers of a stag a male deer, and it gave off kind of an ammonia scent. It was actually used later on in smelling salts but they were putting it in ice cream and just like you might add texture today with sprinkles or chopped nuts they would add texture to their ice cream in the form of dried rye bread crumbs which actually kind of weird sounding but I bet it's pretty good.
So it's not that weird that our recipe today uses parmesan cheese, especially when you consider that one of the early names in France for ice cream was cheese, fromage glace, not because it was actually made with cheese but because it would be frozen in molds. The same molds that were used to mold cheese and I'm sure this is not the case but I do kind of wonder was the first person who added cheese to ice cream just making an error in translation? All right then it says we just add a bit of cheese. Cheese did you say? It- that doesn't seem right.
Says right here fromage. I took two semesters of French so don't question me. Just add the cheese and let me go on with my work. Frederick Nutt the author of our recipe today also mentions using molds to freeze the ice cream though by the time he's writing it wouldn't have been big cheese molds but smaller molds that were usually in the shape of people or animals or foods like mushrooms or pineapples. Now you may remember I did a bit of a deep dive on the "Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy" by Hannah Glass in the episode on everlasting syllabub and in it I read some passages that kind of sounded like she was talking down to her audience and many people said oh she wasn't she was it was tongue-in-cheek um and and I'm okay with that but then I read her ice cream recipe and I gotta question. Does she kind of think her readers are maybe a little dumb?
"Take two pewter basins... these things are made at the pewterers" Do I look like an idiot. No.
And recently a viewer sent me an early edition of that book. I think it's from the 1760s I'm not even going to open it because it's so delicate. I want to have it rebound it's probably the last time I'll ever touch it with my bare hands but I just it's like having a bit of history here in the house. It's just overwhelming so thank you so much to Shannon for entrusting me with this piece of art because that's really what it is. So ice cream had become quite popular now in England but were they eating it in the colonies? well as early as 1700 we do have some evidence that it was being enjoyed, but what really made it take off over here were our Presidents. While serving as ambassador to France in the 1780s Thomas Jefferson became enamored with ice cream and when he returned to Monticello he did so with a handwritten recipe for French vanilla ice cream.
At the same time George Washington was falling in love with the confection as he was known to own two pewter ice cream pots, which I assume were made at the pewterers, he also had a 306 piece serving set just for ice cream. And in the summer of 1790 in New York City he spent $200 on ice cream, that's around $5000 in today's money which coincidentally is the exact amount that I've set aside for my ice cream budget this summer. Then on inauguration day in 1813 James Madison, notoriously shy, had requested that First Lady Dolley Madison avid partier arrange a small gathering. So of course she invited 400 people over to the White House to enjoy what would be the first inaugural ice cream social. Then in 1829 when twenty thousand of Andrew Jackson's supporters
crowded into the White House to celebrate his inauguration they tracked in mud and destroyed the furniture, and had to be coaxed outside with ice cream and whiskey which is a wonderful combination. Though despite the claim that I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream it did have it's detractors. "Why needs any man be rich? Why must he have horses, fine garments, handsome apartments....?
Only for want of thought... we dare not trust our wit for making our house pleasant to our friend, and so we buy ice creams." That was the great Ralph Waldo Emerson who I'm guessing did not get invited to a lot of parties, and he probably wasn't too thrilled with the idea that ice cream was about to get democratized. In 1843 Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia patented a mechanical ice cream machine that sped up the process of making ice cream so much that it really ushered in the commercial ice cream industry. Why she doesn't have a national holiday or a place on Mount Rushmore perhaps, I do not know because the woman should be a national hero. Also what's cool is even though mine is electric and hers wasn't the general idea of how it works is pretty much unchanged and I don't know if it's her machine exactly that made it into the 1850 edition of 'Godey's Lady's Book' edited by abolitionist Sarah Josepha Hale of 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' fame but I love the sentiment and so I'm going to read it anyway.
"We do not think that we can do our lady readers a greater service than introducing to their notice a recent valuable invention, in the shape of an ice cream freezer and beater. Ice cream has now become one of the necessary luxuries of life. A party or a social entertainment could hardly be thought of without this indispensable requisition other delicacies might be omitted, by substituting other articles in their stead, but nothing can supply the place of ice cream." Hear, heart! Take THAT Ralph Waldo Emerson! Now while Miss Johnson was bringing ice cream to the masses on a large scale, the Hokey Pokey men not to be confused with the hokey Pokemon were bringing ice cream to the masses on a small scale. Through the 19th century Italian immigrants, many of the same saints that brought us pizza, traveled to places like the US, Germany and Scotland and with them they brought their own form of ice cream, gelato, made with milk instead of cream. They would sell it on the streets from little carts and were called Hokey Pokey men because of what they shouted.
Some variant of either "Gelati! Ecco un poco!" which meant ice cream here's a little or even closer to hokey pokey 'o que poco' meaning oh so little. Probably referring to the price because it was dirt cheap. "Here's the stuff to make you jump Hokey-pokey, penny a lump. Hokey-pokey sweet and cold for a penny new or old." In the 1897 Old London street cries Andrew Tuer wrote that, "For obvious reasons spoons are not lent. The soft and half frozen delicacy is consumed by the combined aid of tongue and fingers."
He says that it could also be frozen hard as a brick and then wrapped in paper so you could take it to go, something that clearly was not happening everywhere because around the same time in New York City it was often sold by the lick. Outside on the streets of New York you would get a cup of ice cream and then you would lick the ice cream out, and hand the cup back get another scoop in to go to the next customer. This was clearly before New York started their restaurant health board rating system.
Unfortunately for the Hokey Pokey men and probably fortunately for their customers new refrigeration technologies and the invention of the soda fountain ushered in the age of the ice cream parlor and the drugstore soda jerk. Hot dog! That was George Bailey from 'It's A Wonderful Life' who was a soda jerk and if you've never seen that movie it's one of my favorites and you should watch it. It's a Christmas movie but watch it anytime it's just so good. Anyway, these pharmacy ice cream shops became a crucible for some real ice cream ingenuity: banana splits, parfaits, and the classic ice cream sundae. Now several cities claim to have originated the ice cream sundae, and I will not weigh in on which one is correct though Ithaca, New York is the first to provide some written evidence from 1892 but regardless of where you go the story tends to pretty much be the same. Supposedly due to the Blue Laws of America at the time and still in some parts of America today. Selling ice cream sodas on the Sabbath was seen as sinful so some smart alec soda jerk decided to circumvent the statute by substituting soda with syrups and whipped cream and then bedighting them with a cherry thus the cherry sundae.
These ice cream parlors remained hangouts mostly for kids and teens as the Chicago Tribune put it, "Only little girls and dudes drink ice cream and soda." That is until the 1920s when Prohibition made alcohol illegal, when all the saloons closed then the pharmacy got hoppin. Ice cream became cool with pretty much everyone as it should be, and it allowed nimble brewers like Anheuser-Busch and Yuenglin to stay in business by switching their business model from making beer to making ice cream, and then it switched back in the 30s. Now from there the story of ice cream really blows up because it just takes over the world and becomes popular absolutely everywhere and so I'm actually going to leave it there for today because I can't do the rest of its history the 20th century, real justice until maybe I do another form of ice cream sometime in the future.
Though I will put a link to a wonderful book on ice cream in the description, it's by Laura B. Weiss and it's really, really interesting so you can you can read that if you just can't wait, and speaking of not waiting I'm not waiting any longer to try this parmesan ice cream. So once it's churned and frozen then it's ready. Now you can eat it rig,ht now it's going to be a little bit more like soft serve but they would have eaten it like that at the time though he's not specific and he does mention freezing it in molds which would make it quite hard so you can put it into the freezer for a few hours to kind of replicate that. It's probably going to be more
like ice cream that you would get at the store today, but for me I can't wait so I'm eating it now. And here we are 18th century parmesan cheese ice cream. It is getting melty pretty fast which actually matches a lot of the descriptions of 18th century ice cream so that works.
I can't tell if I smell the cheese or not. I really was worried that it was going to be like overpoweringly smelly but let's let's give it a try. o_0 In the words of Montgomery Burns I know what I hate, and I don't hate this. In fact it's really good. One second. It's so smooth and creamy and sweet, and the parmesan is there but it's not if I didn't know it was parmesan, I don't know that I would know that it was parmesan. It's like this
interesting savory flavor but it doesn't taste like cheese and it's not like overly salty or anything. This actually may be my favorite thing that I've ever made on the channel. Like I think I'm going to eat the entire thing that I've made, not in one sitting, but I mean ice cream stays. It's delicious. This is very, very good. This is very, very good. One of my favorite comedians Lou Costello his dying words were "That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted." And I don't know that this is the best ice cream I've ever tasted but it's up there. I mean I'm still gonna go with chocolate and peanut butter but this is really, really good. Like shockingly good. Anyway you should you should definitely make it.
It's not that hard. So make sure to follow me on Instagram and click the link in the description for your free trial of Wondrium, and I will see you next time on Tasting History, a few pounds heavier because I will have eaten all this ice cream by then. Cheers! ^_^y you