Blancmange Puffs
Recipe by Astrid Winegar
Since it is “Back to School” time, in whatever capacity that means for all of us during this pandemic, I thought I would wax a bit academic.

Being the casual linguist I am, I see the word blancmange and I assume it means “white food.” Being the Monty Python fanatic I am, I also picture one of their television sketches in which a giant blancmange suddenly appears on a tennis court and aggressively shoves the players around. I seem to recall this creature is some sort of alien apparently mimicking a relatively modern version of a blancmange, which is a sweet, molded, pudding-type dessert flavored with almond and can be held together by gelatin (there are variations on this theme, of course; a glance at Wikipedia is helpful here).

However, in my food history reading, I discovered that blancmange is a whole different concept, though almonds are the preferred flavor and the food is meant to be as white as possible (I think they mean beige here…). In Life in a Medieval Castle, Joseph and Frances Gies describe various dishes popular around the twelfth century: “meat might be pounded to a paste, mixed with other ingredients, and served as a kind of custard. A dish of this kind was blankmanger, consisting of a paste of chicken blended with rice boiled in almond milk, seasoned with sugar, cooked until very thick, and garnished with fried almonds and anise.”

Now, I didn’t think a paste of chicken sounded that good, but I was intrigued by the combination of flavors mentioned above and I was determined to create something that really had a Medieval influence about it, and thus, I came up with these puffs. At first, you might think the flavors are odd, but I assure you, you will find them a bit addictive; if you have leftover filling, you can mix up the nuts and chicken and simply eat it as a snack or lunch.

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Astrid Tuttle Winegar

Author, Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls

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