Austen · Sense and Sensibility

Mrs Jennings’ Sweetmeats & Olives


Author: Austen, Jane
Book: Sense & Sensibility
Difficulty rating: Harry Potter
Deliciousness rating: Acceptable

Had not Elinor, in the sad countenance of her sister, seen a check to all mirth, she could have been entertained by Mrs. Jennings’s endeavours to cure a disappointment in love, by a variety of sweetmeats and olives, and a good fire (Austen Chapter 30).

Our July 2017 Jane Austen Book Club title was Sense & Sensibility. I personally never could get into Emma (if I had to read ONE MORE LINE of dialogue with Miss Bates or Mrs Elton!), but Sense & Sensibility was to become my gateway Austen! If you want to give Austen a try and find her writing daunting, I recommend starting with this one. It has made a convert of me.

Jenne and I wondered what sweetmeats we should serve for tea with olives, and since we were pressed for time, we went with a simple ginger cookie-like dessert recipe from The Jane Austen Cookbook, chocolate-covered almonds from the nearest grocery, and raisins (because people were weirdly obsessed with raisins back then.)


Did it measure up?

Eh, the gingerbread cakes were alright. Pleasant enough, but not something you’d make again, especially when there are countless delicious ginger cookie recipes out there.

Based on the recipe from The Jane Austen Cookbook

Ingredients & Supplies Needed:

  • 7 oz / 200g / ¾ cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tbs ground ginger
  • 1 nutmeg (or ½ tbs grated nutmeg if you don’t have whole)
  • 2 oz / 50g / 4 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 4 oz / 110 g / 1/3 cup black treacle (or molasses)
  • 1 generous tbs brandy
  • Flaked almonds
  • ½ tsp salt


Here’s the original recipe:

Take four Pints flour rub into it 3 quarters of a pd. of butter 2 oz: of Ginger a Nutmeg, one oz: of Carraway seeds a quarter of a pint of Brandy 2 pd. of treacle, mix it altogether; let it lay till it grows stiff then roll it out, & cut it into cakes, then you may add what sweetmeats you please.

And here’s what we did, based on the modernized recipe:

  1. Sift together the flour, ginger, and nutmeg into a bowl.
  2. Rub in the butter until the mixture is like crumbs.
  3. Add the caraway seeds.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Measure out treacle and stir in the brandy until it’s blended.
  6. Slowly blend the treacle mixture into the spiced flour. It will make a soft, sticky dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge.
  7. Roll into balls and press to flatten. Arrange on parchment on baking sheet and top with almond flakes.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.


Austen, Jane. Sense & Sensibility. 1811. Public Domain eBook Edition.

Black, Maggie and Deirdre Le Faye. The Jane Austen Cookbook. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2002. Print.

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