Blancmange is a sweet, jelly/custard dessert made with a cornflour starch, gelatine, milk, flavouring and colouring. The word Blancmange is of French origin (‘blanc’ meaning white and ‘manger’ meaning to eat).
Blancmange powder in a packet is usually made with a cornflour base and added flavouring (probably vanilla) and colouring, this is then mixed with hot milk to make a dessert. The brand of Blancmange shown in the pictures is made by Pearce Duff.
The blancmange is then poured into a mould and left to set in a fridge or in previous times a cold larder.
To remove the blancmange from the mould, gently loosen the edge from the mould. Then lower the mould into a bowl of extremely hot water and hold for a few seconds. (Glass and ceramic moulds will need longer than plastic, and metal moulds need very little time.) Once the Blancmange is set place the serving dish over the top of the mould and invert it to allow the blancmange to sit on the serving plate the right way up.
An earlier type of savoury blancmange was being made in France in the 1200’s, and was in England by the 1300’s. The basic ingredients were milk or almond milk, sugar, and shredded chicken or fish, often combined with rosewater and rice flour and mixed into a bland stew. By the 1500’s, meatless versions were being made, and cream and eggs were being used instead of almond milk.
Blancmange is mentioned in the prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and in an early 15th-century cookbook written by the chefs of Richard II.