Artifact Corner: 18th Century Syllabub Cups

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at these beautiful 18th Century syllabub cups. These cups are part of a much larger set of Canton ware that the Delord’s owned. If you like to learn more about Canton ware, we’ve done an artifact corner video on them, so please check that out. These lovely little cups are designed to hold the dessert called syllabub. If you are unfamiliar with this dessert, you’re not alone. This sweet treat has fallen out of favor, but let’s learn a bit more about it.

Syllabub as a dessert has its origin in Cornwall England. The term syllabub comes from the word Sille, which is an area in the Champagne region of France that made the eponymously named wine, and the word bub, which is an Elizabethan slang word meaning a bubbling drink, hence Sille bub – wine mixed with a frothy cream. To make a syllabub, you would sweeten cream and whip it with a wine or cider. Syllabubs were very popular from the 16th Century right up through the 19th Century. From the 16th to the 18th Century, the frothier the dessert, the better! One recipe from 1769 actually calls for making it directly under the cow, as the act of milking produces a good froth. Here is the recipe:

“To make a Syllabub under the cow
Put a bottle of strong beer and a pint of cider into a punch bowl, grate in a small nutmeg and sweeten it to your taste. Then milk as much milk from the cow as will make a strong froth and the ale look clear. Let it stand an hour, then strew over it a few currants well washed, picked, and plumped before the fire. Then send it to the table.”

If you’d like to give syllabub a try, and don’t have a cow to milk handy, here is a recipe that might be a bit easier to follow. You will need the following ingredients: 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream, 3/4 of a cup of sugar, Juice and zest of one large lemon, 1 cup sweet white wine, and 1/2 cup of sherry.

  • Combine the cream, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer, you can mix this by hand, but it will take some time and will be a serious workout.
  • Combine the lemon juice, white wine, and sherry, blending together well. Mixing on low speed, slowly pour into the cream mixture, whipping for about 10 minutes until the syllabub is light and foamy.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set in the refrigerator to chill for about 8 hours, or overnight, to let the flavors blend together. Stir the syllabub at least once while chilling to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the chilled syllabub into small wine glasses, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  • To serve, place the chilled glasses of syllabub on dessert plates set with long-handled spoons.

This recipe will make 6 one cup servings.

If you give this recipe a try, please let us know! Syllabubs are unique dessert that kind of resembles a frothy pudding, and will be sure to delight any dinner party. Our little syllabub cups and caps are in fantastic condition, and look ready to serve a delicious treat in even though they are well over 200 years old. We are so lucky to have them in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Music: Acoustic Breeze by Benjamin Tissot,