Downton Abbey Desserts & Drinks

We decided to have some 1916 desserts and drinks during our Downton Abbey premier party. So first up, I sought out some vintage dessert recipes. Selected two promising old British ones:

Fig Toast
Apple Porcupine

First up: the APPLE PORCUPINE. Cored and pared the apples, then boiling them a bit to soften. Next, stack them into a mound to make the backbone of the porcupine.

Five peeled and boiled apples

The remaining apples are cooked into a “marmalade” of apples, sugar, and blood orange (my addition, to spice up the color and flavor a bit).

Cooking the marmalade filler

Then whip up some egg whites to make a meringue and cover the porcupine.

Layering the meringue

Stick in almonds for the beast’s needles.

Spiking the porcupine

Finished Apple Porcupine


Voila! The Apple Porcupine, ringed with an egg custard after baking the meringue for color.

Apple Porcupine, edged with egg custard


While the Apple Porcupine was interesting, much better tasting was the old Fig Toast. I made a loaf of homemade bread from Jim Lahey’s book. Then, first step was to stew the pulled figs in some sugar and blood orange juice. I tossed in a bit of peach too, just for kicks.

Stewing the pulled figs

After pan frying the toasts in butter, I ladled out a fig and some juice over each one. Then topped of with fresh whip cream. Totally divine, said all my guests.

Topping the Fig Toasts

Fig Toast, Patrick Santana, 2012


Not to be outdone, Lee arrived with homemake “Mourning Cookies.” These were traditionally served around the turn of the century at funerals. The cookies were sometimes placed directly upon the deceased, whose spirit would infuse the cookie. And then be eaten by the guests.

Lee with a plate of homemade "Mourning Cookies"

Each cookie was individually wrapped in paper, sealed with wax.

Each cookie sealed

Inside was a marvelous handpainted cookie. With rye seeds and not much sugar, they were a subtle, delicious blend of sweet and savory and spiced. Lee is amazing!

Opening a mourning cookie

Mourning Cookie, Lee Griggs, 2012


Mixologist Darryl took us back in time with two old fashioned cocktails: the White Lady and the Singapore Sling. Shown here, he’s whipping up some “White Ladies” with gin and egg whites. Tangy goodness.

Darryl making "White Lady" drinks for us

Here’s a picture of a white lady guest of mine drinking one of the White Ladies. Tart!

Stacy tries the White Lady

I didn’t get a shot of the Singapore Slings (cherry brandy makes them red and tropical). Dang! But they were yummy too.