Colonial Syllabub

Another way colonists used alcohol was in this delicious dessert that was clearly part of upper class tables, with the brandy, lemon, and nutmeg as prized, if pricey ingredient.

4 servings


  • 1/2 cup white wine or sherry
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup superfine sugar to taste
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) chilled heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Stir together the wine or sherry, brandy, lemon juice and rind and let it sit in a bowl overnight.

The next day transfer this to a 2- to 3-quart bowl, add the sugar, and stir until it is dissolved. Add the heavy cream very slowly, stirring it continuously to blend thoroughly with the other ingredients. Add the nutmeg. Beat the mixture with a large whisk until it thickens and holds a soft peak when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. This may take 5 minutes or more, but be patient—it will thicken. The result must not be grainy or curdled. Spoon it into 2- or 3-ounce glasses, add a little lemon zest, and serve cool but not chilled. It is best when eaten soon after whisking, although it can be kept in a cool spot for a whole day.