Molly MacRae Monday: Irish Moss Blancmange – Make Mine Minty!

Molly MacRae joins the minty celebration this month with this very interesting concoction…-Amy 

This dessert doesn’t start out minty, but the recipe calls for “flavoring” and leaves the choice of that flavor up to us. So let’s join Amy’s minty celebration of her new Alana O’Neill mystery, Struck by Shillelagh, by making this a Minty Irish Moss Blancmange.

The recipe comes from Dutch Oven: a cook book of coveted, traditional recipes from the kitchens of Lunenburg, compiled by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Lunenburg Hospital Society in 1953. A dear friend in Nova Scotia sent the book to me. Every recipe in it is handwritten, and many of them are illustrated with charming line drawings. The book is a gem. So is Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, by the way. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America.

I’ve loved the idea of blancmange ever since seeing the Monty Python sketch where intergalactic blancmanges plot to win Wimbledon by turning people into Scotsmen.

Before reading the recipe, I hadn’t put a lot of thought into Irish moss, otherwise known as Chondrus crispus. By “hadn’t put a lot” I mean “hadn’t put any.” I didn’t even know Irish moss is seaweed. In fact, it’s the kind of seaweed that releases the gelling agent carrageenan when you boil it. And when you think about how often you see that ingredient in readymade puddings and ice cream, etc., then the idea of Irish Moss Blancmange makes perfect sense. It even sounds tasty. Here’s the recipe:

Irish Moss Blanc Mange

¾ cup Irish Moss

1 quart water

1 16oz. tin evaporated milk

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon flavoring

Wash Irish moss and soak for thirty minutes. Using a double boiler. To the Irish moss add one quart water. Boil until thick. Strain, add milk, salt and flavoring. Pour into molds to set. Serve with sugar and cream. Fruit may be added if desired. You can obtain Irish Moss at low tide off the Nova Scotia coast. It grows on rocks and ledges.

Recipe from Jennie E. Smeltzer (Mrs. E.S.)

The last time I was on the coast of Nova Scotia at low tide, 41 years ago, I didn’t get around to foraging for Irish moss. But you can bet the next time I go I’ll be checking out those rocks and ledges. I’ve put it on my bucket list – and I’ll be sure to take a bucket.

For information on Irish moss and a similar recipe from the Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, Penobscot Bay, Maine, click here: http://www.atlanticholdfast.com/irish-moss/

For the Monty Python blancmange sketch, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVbb6pZLfzU

 

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