Updated: Mar 26, 2020
In our session on sweets in history we talked about how they made sweets in medieval times. Few of the ingredients we use today were familiar, and those that were known, such as sugar, were very expensive. Chocolate was brought into Europe by the Spanish explorer Cortes in the early 1500s, and was also something that only wealthy people could afford.
Peppermint was widely grown in this country. Then as now, people knew it was good for digestion, so a peppermint flavoured sweet at the end of a meal.
Peppermint fondant creams were invented in the 16th century. The sugary paste melted in your mouth so the sweets were called fondant, after the French word 'fondre', which means 'to melt'. At first, small cakes would be dipped into the fondant and allowed to set. Later, the icing itself was a popular sweet. Fondant creams became popular in the Georgian era, when sugar became cheaper.
Alternative flavourings for fondant would include rosewater, violet (as in the flower), lemon or orange flavourings.
Try this recipe for fondant creams. You can decorate your sweets with by dipping them in melted chocolate; sprinkle with 100s and 1000s or grated chocolate; paint them with edible gold paste -- for a royal banquet especially, gold leaf would be used as a demonstration of the wealth of the monarch, and to show how important the guest of honour were.
PEPPERMINT FONDANT CREAMS
Fondant cream were made from
225g royal icingboiled waterpeppermint essence (a few drops). As an alternative, you could use a few drops of any other flavouring such as coffee essence; orange essence; lemon essence, or rosewater.the white of one egg
Sieve the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl.
Add about half the egg white and a few drops of peppermint essence
Mix everything together thoroughly until it forms a soft dough that you can easily shape.
If necessary, add more egg white to get the consistency you need
Work the mixture into a long sausage shape and divide into 20 pieces
Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten it slightly into a disc
Put each disc into a small paper case.
Add decoration – use grated or melted chocolate, gold paste, 100s and 1000s.
Leave to set.