BALLROOM REFRESHMENTS FOR CIVIL WAR PERIOD BALLS
by Barbara M. Pugliese
Chocolate Kisses (1846)
Serving Size : 50
3 egg whites
8 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa
24 baking wafers (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and slightly dry. Mix the sugar and flour and add to the eggs, beating continuously. Then add the olive oil and vanilla. Fold in the cocoa. Place 24 baking wafers on an ungreased baking sheet. Take scoops of about 1 tablespoon each of the batter and put 1 scoop on each wafer. Or, put the batter in a pastry bag and make spiral kisses on the wafers. Dry in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool on racks, then store in airtight containers. If you cannot obtain baking wafers, cut out 2 inch rounds of baking parchment and dust the top surface of each copiously with confectioners sugar. Pull off the paper after the kisses have cooled.
Source: Turner’s Improved Housekeeper’s Almanac for 1846 (Philadelphia: Turner & Fisher, 1845.) unpaginated. Redacted by William Woys Weaver, The Christmas Cook. New York: Harper Collins, 1990, p. 225.
Cocoa-nut Cakes (1853)
Serving Size : 20
1 egg white
Peel and grate a cocoa-nut and take half its weight in sugar and one white of egg. Mix and form into balls, and bake on a buttered tin sheet.
Mrs Chadwick, Home Cookery, 1853, p. 26
(We like to use the classic 1 bag sweetened coconut and 1 can sweetened condensed milk recipe to make coconut macaroons.)
Iced Grapes (1872)
Serving Size : 150
4 pounds grapes
3 egg whites
Choose perfect bunches of grapes; discard any blemished grapes. Trim the bunches to the desired size, then, for convenience in hanging the grapes to dry, tie a string to the stem of each bunch. Be certain the string is tied securely. Dip a paintbrush into the unbeaten egg whites and brush the grapes only enough to lightly moisten then. Dust liberally with superfine sugar. Touch up spots where the sugar misses and then hang the grapes to dry. Tie them to a clothesline or towel rack with the strings you have attached to the stems. When the sugar is dry, remove the strings and use the grapes in constructing the table centerpiece.
Source: Mrs. Winslow’s Domestic Receipt Book for 1872 (New York: Jeremiah Curtis & Sons and John I. Brown & Sons, 1871), 31. Redacted by William Woys Weaver, The Christmas Cook, p. 237.
Lemon Biscuits (1861)
Serving Size : 75
3 1/2 cups flour (1 1/4 lbs.)
1 1/2 cups sugar (3/4 lb.)
3/4 cup butter (6 oz.)
3 eggs (4)
2 teaspoons lemon peel (2 oz.)
2 desert spoons lemon juice
Mix ingredients, drop on cookie sheets. Barbara likes to roll the cookies into balls, then squish the balls a little bit. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. (These are nice with an icing of powdered sugar mixed with lemon juice.-BMP)
Source: Beeton, Isabella. The Beeton’s Book of Household Management. London; S.O.Beeton, 1861. Facsimile reprint: London, Chancellor Press 1982. p. 850. Redacted by Barbara Pugliese.
Little Plumcakes (1810)
Serving Size : 50
12 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 2/3 cups currants (almost 1 box)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat the eggs to a thick froth and combine with the sugar mixture. Sift the flour and spices together twice. Fold the currants into the batter, then sift in the flour. Gently work the ingredients together to make a stiff dough. Break off pieces and roll them into balls the size of walnuts. Set these on baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Cool on racks or serve immediately.
Source: Maria Rundell. A New System of Domestic Cookery (Philadelphia: Benjamin C. Buzby, 1810), p. 198. Redacted by William Woys Weaver, The Christmas Cook. New York: Harper Collins, 1990. p. 128.
Serving Size : 40
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Beat egg whites, slowly adding sugar and lemon juice, until very stiff. (Mrs. Beeton does not call for lemon juice. – BMP) Drop by tablespoons onto paper or aluminum foil. Bake at 250F for 45 min, then turn off heat and leave in oven to dry. Makes 40 kisses. You can color half the recipe pink with food color — Mrs. Beeton uses cochineal. The combination of pink and white is very pretty.
Source: Beeton, Isabella. The Beeton’s Book of Household Management. London: S.O.Beeton, 1861. Facsimile reprint: London, Chancellor Press, 1982. p.
730-731. Redacted by Barbara Pugliese.
Nice Wafer Cakes (1853)
Serving Size : 100
2 cups butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar (1 lb.)
6 cups flour
“Work your butter and sugar together and add the eggs. Lastly the flour. Roll very thin, cut with a form, and bake crisp.” Roll about 1/8th inch thick. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes. This makes a rich and fragile cookie. Store flat between layers of waxed paper.
Source: Mrs. J. Chadwick, Home Cookery. Boston: Crosby, Nichols & Co. 1853. p. 18. Redacted by Barbara Pugliese.
Returning Heroes Punch (1911)
Serving Size : 17
4 cups triple strength tea (12 teabags / 4 cups)
1 cup sugar
3 cups orange juice
1 1/3 cups lemon juice
1 two-litre ginger ale
1 two-litre seltzer water
This recipe was redacted by Kay Case from Fannie Farmer, but its ingredients are consistent with the 1860’s. The concentrate is made ahead of time and chilled, then mixed with cold seltzer and ginger ale in equal proportions.
We usually use 6 recipes for 100 people for a winter ball, where ice water is being served throughout the ball. You will want more if your ball is in the summer or if this punch is the only liquid you will be serving.
Most punch recipes of the 1860’s include alcohol. The ones that do not are usually tea-based or variations on lemonade.