Happy accidents often occur to Antique browsers like myself. Whilst looking for something else, a new item will cross my path and bid me to bid and learn more about it.
One such item was the penny lick glass. Fascinated by its Ebay description, I discovered they came in 3 sizes: the halfpenny lick, the penny lick, and the two-penny lick, with the Penny lick being the most popular. In an article from The Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood (a very cool museum) on Edwardian Lives they wrote: “The ice cream still often came as a 'Penny Lick'… a tiny portion to be licked out of a small serving glass which was (at best) wiped between customers. This was recognized as being notoriously unhygienic even then, and because of the thickness of the glass, often gave the customer disappointingly less than it appeared to. Then from the vendor's point of view the glasses were also liable to break or be stolen. No wonder that edible ice cream cones were such a success.”
A pastry alternative to the Penny lick glass (penny licks were banned in London in 1899) was patented by Italo Marciony in New York in 1903, but this was a cup and not a cone. Many sources said the ice cream cone was invented by Syrian pastry makers based on the grid-patterned zalabia (usually soaked in an orange-flower honey syrup) around the turn of the century at an American World's Fair… myth has it an ice cream vendor ran out of containers. There are many who claim to have been the first to invent it but there are no clear winners for that title. To make it even more confusing, the field is very murky indeed with a difference between the restaurant or homemade cone with a long history and the street vender cone that appeared at the turn of the 20th century.
On the Historic Food website, Robin Weir (who has spent years trying to get to the bottom of all things ice cream) said that Mrs. Marshall mentions an edible cone or cornet made with almonds that were “filled with any cream or water ice or set custard or fruits” in her 1888 Mrs A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book.
Charles Elme Francatelli (Queen Victoria’s chef) in The Modern Cook: A Practical Guide to the Culinary Art in All Its Branches had a recipe for ice cream stuffed almond gauffres or cornets (very much like the tuilles of today) in 1859 in a dish called Pudding, A La Cerito: “cornets or cornucopia, each being filled with a little of the vanilla-cream ice and a strawberry placed on the top…” although these were part of a larger confection, the recipe for the gauffres mentions ‘garnishing’ the cornets with vanilla cream-ice.
A few years earlier, Weir has an engraving of Frascati’s restaurant in Paris from 1807 that he believes shows a woman with an ice cream cone… who can say? His book, Frozen Desserts: The Definitive Guide to Making Ice Creams, Ices, Sorbets, Gelati, and Other Frozen Delights is a killer.
Robin Weir also mentions that cornets have been made since at least 1776 when they are mentioned in The Professed Cook by Bernard Clermont (this is an amazing book, btw, and I learned ice cream as we know it was still called iced cheese or fromage glacé in 1776) but there was no instruction to use the gaufrettes for ice cream that I could find in the book.
What's Cooking in America says there were paper and metal cones in France, England and Germany in the 19th Century and my favorite Charles Ranhofer was using "rolled waffle cornets" at Delmonicos in New York in the 19th century!
It does appear that the cone came before the glass, doesn’t it? These are, however, restaurants and cookbooks by professional chefs and not street vendors. The glasses were only around for 50 years or so at best… the cone, well at least a few years before the glass!
I got my little penny lick glass from England (although they were made in the US) but think it may be a two-penny, since it has a deeper bowl than many I’ve seen. It is a little under 3” tall, so quite small but still heavy. When I made my orange ice cream flowers I was inspired by a Taste of Beirut post to combine pomegranate and rose for an ice cream flavor and thought it would be perfect for my penny lick glass.
The pomegranate juice came from the lovely people at POM Wonderful who sent me a box of 8 oz bottles. The first I used for one of my favorite guilty pleasures, brown buttered popcorn washed down with pomegranate juice, it’s just insanely good and arrived at purely by accident so many years ago (salty popcorn, nothing to drink but pomegranate juice = heaven). Three of my bottles went into the ice cream. It is sweet and tangy and terribly delicious… I can imagine it with brown-butter salted almonds or shortbread cookies. Although delicious, it is a muddy color on its own (all those lovely eggs took the red out!) so I did add a bit of red food coloring to give it the rosy glow that it deserved. Grass-fed cow’s milk and pasture-raised eggs make all the difference in taste and are better for you, the animals, the farmer and the planet, FYI!
May I recommend a use for your rosy ice cream? Try a Pomegranate Champagne Float.
It’s a float for grown-ups and very very tasty.
Pomegranate-Rose Ice Cream
3 c POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
1 ½ c milk (milk and cream from Milk Thistle Farm)
1 ½ c cream
½ c sugar
1 t vanilla
4 egg yolks (mine come from Grazin Angus Acres)
2 T maple syrup
juice of ½ lime
1-2 T Pama pomegranate liqueur (optional)
a few drops of red food coloring
2-3 drops Aftelier Rose essence (or 2 T rosewater)
Reduce 2 ½ c pomegranate juice to 1 c. Toss in the remaining pomegranate juice and reserve.
Combine yolks and sugar and whip together till a lemon yellow. Warm the milk and cream and add to the yolk and sugar mixture, blend and return to the pan. Bring slowly to 170º (about 5 minutes) stirring all the time. Remove from heat and strain.
Add the pomegranate, vanilla, maple syrup and limejuice. Add rose to taste. Chill and freeze in an ice cream maker.
Pomegranate-Rose Champagne Float, for 1
1 scoop pomegranate rose ice cream
1 glass sparkling wine (I used the Donati Malvesia)
Put a scoop of ice cream in a glass and pour the wine over it. Serve with a spoon
Get rose essence here: Aftelier Products