Alcott · Little Women

Jo’s Blanc-mange & Strawberries with Cream

Author: Alcott, Louisa May
Book: Little Women
Difficulty rating: Little Women
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

Part of Miko’s Solo Challenge: Jo’s Standing Joke of a Dinner

Blanc-mange and Strawberries

Did it measure up?

Surprise! It was kind of delicious! The addition of the egg made it smoother and custardy, almost like panna cotta. We were all surprised — I was the only one who found Meg’s Blancmange from last year edible. Even Cam, who has a horror of blanc-mange, had a second or third spoonful of it.

I have to say though that I’ve tried making it twice since the first success, and it was terrible both times. The eggs cooked too quickly in the first retry and became scrambled within the blanc-mange. I used a wooden spoon instead of a whisk to mix while it cooked — that might have been the problem. I made my girlfriend try it, and she shuddered and said it “gave her the heebie-jeebies.” In the second batch, the eggs weren’t cooked enough and it reeked of raw egg. Awful.

Adapted from The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. Cornelius

Mrs. Cornelius’s recipe for “gelatine blanc-mange” is about as detailed as her recipe for lobster salad dressing: “Allow a quart of milk. Take a quarter of a paper of English gelatine, and put it into a gill of the milk to soften. In a quarter of an hour, set the remainder of the milk in a tin pail into a kettle of hot water, with a few sticks of cinnamon in it. When the milk boils (or foams up) add a small teaspoon of salt, and stir in the cold milk and gelatine. Stir it steadily a few minutes, till the particles of gelatine are dissolved, then put it into moulds. If lemon or some other essence is preferred to the cinnamon, add it after the pail is taken out of the hot water. A beaten egg is an improvement.”

No further information on how or when to add the egg to the blanc-mange, of course. In the end, I combined this recipe with the Meg’s Blancmange method from last year.



  • 2 small saucepans or a double boiler
  • 1 cup whole milk, the best you can find
  • 1.8 sheets gelatin (each sheet is 4 grams)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 beaten egg
  • 2 scant tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Strawberries & cream

  • Strawberries
  • Heavy cream (the best you can find)
  • Sugar


1. Put the sheet gelatin in 1/4 cup of the milk for 15 minutes to let it bloom.

2. Put the remainder of the milk in the top of a small double boiler. Add lemon zest. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

3. Whisk egg and sugar in a bowl. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into beaten egg.

4. Whisk over low heat until the mixture thickens and starts coating the whisk. Do not let it boil.


5. Add the bloomed gelatin and the rest of the milk and stir until dissolved.

6. Add the salt.

7. Strain the mixture into a mold that’s been rinsed with water. Let it set for a few hours.


8. When you’re ready to unmold the blanc-mange, dip it into a bath of hot water for a few seconds till the edges just begin to melt. Flip onto a plate.

9. Cut the leaves from the strawberries. If your strawberries aren’t very ripe (like Jo’s and mine), you can carve out a cone from the middle unripe part of the berry like so:


10. Put the strawberries in small bowls and sprinkle well with coarse sugar.

11. Pour the cream over the berries and serve.

By the way, these are the steps I would take now that I have access to the internet. When I had to go it on my own, I added the egg and sugar to the cold milk and slowly warmed it over the double boiler till it got thicker.

Alcott, Louisa. Little Women. Reprint. 1896. New York: Viking Penguin Inc, 1926.

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