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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Syllabub medieval, delectable dessert

 •  Saying mahalo with a Christmas feast

By J.M. Hirsch
Associated Press

This syllabub uses orangecello and orange zest to flavor, but almost any alcohol may be used.

LARRY CROWE | Associated Press

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The best desserts are those that are simple to make and allow for plenty of variation.

So I was thrilled when I recently was introduced to the syllabub (SILL-uh-bub), a creamy mousse-like dessert that takes just a few minutes to make, yet rarely is heard of in the United States. Let's change that.

The syllabub dates back some 500 years in England, where it originated as a frothy blend of milk, alcohol, sugar and spices. At some point the preferred means of preparation involved milking a cow directly into a bowl or jug of wine or hard cider.

So glad we've moved beyond that.

Though it started life as a beverage, the syllabub evolved into a dessert eaten with a spoon as cream supplanted the milk. Today, most syllabubs have abandoned milk entirely in favor of heavy cream.

Heavy cream is whipped with a little powdered sugar until voluminous and thick. A dash of sparkling wine or other alcohol then is whipped into it.

For my variation, I decided to use limoncello and orangecello, syrupy and intensely flavored Italian liqueurs. I then spooned the mixture into serving cups and topped them with a bit of lemon or orange zest. Delicious and gently sweet.

But that's just a start. Syllabubs could be drizzled with chocolate syrup (or any other type). You could fold finely crushed cookies into them. Or serve it over angel food cake. For a sober variation, whip coffee syrup into the cream instead of alcohol.

Serving note: At heart, this dessert is a bowl of flavored whipped cream. A little goes a long way.


  • 1 pint heavy cream

  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • 1/2 cup orangecello or limoncello liqueur (almost any alcohol could be substituted)

  • Zest of 1 orange or lemon

    In a large bowl, combine the cream and sugar. Use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment on high speed to whip the cream until very thick and at least doubled in volume, about 4 minutes.

    Slow the mixer to low and add the alcohol. Return mixer to high speed and mix until smooth.

    Mousse can be refrigerated for several hours, but is best made just before serving. Spoon the mousse into individual serving cups or glasses. Garnish with zest.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving: 550 calories, 44 g fat, 27 g saturated fat, 165 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 2 g protein