Wednesday, March 1, 2017


In 1790, the first ice cream parlor opened in New York. In late June 1791, a notice appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette announcing the details of that ear’s July 4th celebration. On the menu that year at Grays Gardens were the confections of Mr. de la Croiz, including “iced creams of a great variety.” Great estates, including Mount Vernon and Monticello, had their own “cream machines for ice.”

Dolley Madison, the first lady of the United States and wife of James Madison, fourth president of America, popularized ice cream in the White House. It was still a very impressive dessert because modern freezers were not introduced yet. To make ice cream, an estate relied on an ice house with large blocks of ice cut from frozen water, packed on straw and held in a cool place.


Dolley preferred oyster ice cream. She used small, sweet oysters from the Potomac River near her home to churn up an interesting dessert. In 18th century cookbooks, chefs didn’t stick to the basics. Recipes for parmesan ice cream, asparagus ice cream, chestnut cream and many other flavors that don’t grace our modern day tables were popular.

I couldn’t find her recipe for oyster ice cream, but she’d probably poach oysters in a cream base. The amount of oysters would dictate the intensity of the oyster flavor.
Here is Dolley’s Peppermint Stick Ice Cream.
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
3 c. whole m ilk
3/4 c. light corn syrup
2 whole eggs, beaten lightly
1 c. cream
4 drops natural peppermint extract
2 drops red food coloring
3/4 c. peppermint candy, crushed
Mix the sugar and cornstarch in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the milk, syrup and eggs. Cook over boiling water, stirring all the time for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Chill. Stir in cream, extract and coloring. Freeze in a 2 quart ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's instructions. When partially frozen, add crushed peppermint and continue frequently. Yields 2 quarts.