Friday, October 15, 2010

The Penny Lick and Pomegranate Rose Ice Cream

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


SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Another beautiful and wonderfully informative post, Deana! Somehow ice cream sounds so much better than iced cheese! I love drinking Pom juice straight from the bottle too. The flavor of the pomegranate ice cream just be tangy and not too sweet -just the way I like it. I love your Penny Lick glassware and the beautiful glass you used for the float.

Unknown said...

Daaahling, dont you know the shopping rule? When you are looking for something specific, you always find something else, and when you have no money to spend, you see loads of stuff you want LOL.
Your happy accident is ours too though. What a delicious morsel of history with a great desert on the side.
Have a wonderful weekend.
*kisses* HH

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Divine. Utterly divine!!

Lazaro Cooks said...

Two lovely desserts. Both very creative. I love those Penny Lick glasses. I am big fan of small portions and those look perfect.

Just please wash them well before giving to another guest. Yikes...

tasteofbeirut said...


I could picture myself licking this float and ice in a castle in England; what a dream! wonderful take on our traditional pomegranate drinks here in the near east.

Stella said...

Wow Deana, your photos of the pomegranate rose ice cream in the penny lick glass are so beautiful. I wish someone would hand me such a wonderful homemade ice cream adorned in one of those!

El said...

The penny lick does seem a bit unhygienic :>0 Your ice cream, however, looks marvelous!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

It is the first time i hear about the penny licks! Cute little serving glasses. Your ice cream looks and sounds so divine!



andrew1860 said...

I will have to make this pomegranate ice cream! A good friend has a early 19th century Frascati's Restaurant 1807 engraving.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Deana dearest, WOWOWOWOWWW! WAIT...I need to make this. My husband and I are MADE ABOUT pomegranates and ROSE???? HAVE YOU EVER HAD LAVENDER ICE CREAM? This is an exquisite recipe and as always, the history to back up your featured recipes is always top-notch! And YES, that is me playing the harp, I really do play and how kind of you to compare me to Audrey! Teeeeeheee! The older I get, the more interesting things get. As a teen, they said I looked like Cher Bono or Marlo Thomas....I wonder who I will resemble in my sixties!!!

GREAT POST, and have a marvelous weekend! Oh, have you ever visited Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks? He has a killer diller pizza recipes....Fondly, Anita

Fresh Local and Best said...

What an interesting history on the penny-lick glass. It so great that you go scouring for such treasures on eBay, I never seem to know where to start. POM Wonderful sounds delicious and I bet the ice cream was even better!

Linda said...

This looks simply lovely and I so appreciate all the background information....
I love coming to visit you Deana!

Marjie said...

I think you've just provided me with a reason to go buy POM juice.

And I'd love to have a penny-lick glass or 2, just for fun! Do you think it would help me control my weight better?

Chef Dennis Littley said...

I am loving that float!! what a great use of POM, and so much history of my favorite food....I do love ice cream! Its hard to imagine anything costing a penny, or half penny .....
thanks for another incredible post!

pierre said...

hi deana it is quite cold here but your ice cream wouls still be welcome !!pierre

Barbara said...

Well Deana, you've done it again. I love the penny lick glasses! Aren't they just PERFECT?? It's amazing how looking for one thing leads in other directions...much to our advantage BTW... having a friend like you who will investigate histories.

Much as I love the ice cream recipe, I'll join you in the champagne float, thank you very much. (Need I say Bellinis are my favorite holiday treat? This is surely an elegant twist!)

Faith said...

What interesting glasses they are! Very pretty too. The ice cream is a great use for POM juice, and I actually have some in my fridge right now waiting to be used!

2 Stews said...

Where do I start...Penny Lick glasses are new to me and I'm an old antiquer. Love them!

Brown butter popcorn washed down with pomegranate juice...that is next on my list. Then, I know the family will just love the ice cream. Thank you so much, Deana. Wonderful and lovely post.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I LOVE the glasses, even though the lack of hygene is shocking. I guess if a family keeps a set, that's OK. By the way, I'll take two of the champagne floats!

Mo said...

Beautiful ice cream! I'd never heard of penny licks before - your blog is so educating, I love it! :)

Unknown said...

This looks gorgeous! If something has pomegranate, I am almost guaranteed to love it - and ice cream, how lovely! Great post. I am now your newest follower!

Gemma said...

They are a very nice glasses, perfect for this pomegranate-rose ice cream.
I like fresh pomegranate and this ice cream looks me wonderful!

Ken Albala said...

I swear I was just writing about Mrs. Marshall the other day! Amazing, and I'd never even heard of her until I was looking for a good example of very fussy Victorian cooking, and there she was.

The ice cream looks fabulous BTW.

From the Kitchen said...

A penny lick would certainly not satisfy me in the pomegranate ice cream department! What an interesting post. I'd never heard of these glasses--and certainly wouldn't have wanted to lick from them. Maybe I shouldn't say that. Perhaps folks (children especially) thought it was worth sharing germs to have. I've never given thought to how we came to have ice cream cones but am certainly grateful to the person who came up with the idea.


Sarah said...

Makes sense, doesn't it. Ice cream was invented before cones. Very interesting post, once again! Love the classic float served as an elegant dessert.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That is So interesting about the penny lick glasses and yes it sounds like it would be quite unhygienic unless of course you owned them like you do! :D

Unknown said...

Your photographs are beautiful and I am loving the float in the beautiful glass, such an interesting recipe presented in such a lovely manner:)

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

divine, just divine! i love this post. thank you for sharing:)

Dee said...

I too am always on an antique search as well. These are exquisite. Love the POM Ice Cream as well. Too perfect. Have a marvelous day.

Cathy said...

What a fabulous post, Deana. The penny lick glasses and ice cream cones have a fascinating history. My dinner guests would be thrilled with a champagne - ice cream float after dinner.

Needful Things said...

So refreshing and so beautiful. I would have never thought of Rose and Pomegranate together & I now I wonder why not?
Love the penny lick glasses - perfect for serving ice cream or sorbets.

Anonymous said...

I like those glasses too, though it's easy to see why cones make more sense for commercial venues. I may just try the ice cream as a way of working through this bottle of rosewater that I've been neglecting.

OysterCulture said...

What a fascinating read, I loved it, and it only got better with the recipes for the ice cream. The combination of pomegranate and rose sounds incredibly refreshing.

Roland Antonelli said...

Myths vs documentary evidence. I have been in the cone industry all my life im Manchster England and would like to place on record documented facts.Antonio Valvona secured a patent for wafer cups before New York. He was also rolling sugar cones commercially in Ancoats Manchester 1898 recorded in the trade directory and in the 1901 census employing seven bakers. It was said in historical articles that he had a factory in New York but to date no documentary evidence.

Stephaniejgng said...

Daaahling, dont you know the shopping rule? When you are looking for something specific, you always find something else, and when you have no money to spend, you see loads of stuff you want LOL. Your happy accident is ours too though. What a delicious morsel of history with a great desert on the side. Have a wonderful weekend. *kisses* HH

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