Syllabub sounds like the sister of Beelzebub. But the words are totally unrelated.* Beelzebub is Satan, syllabub is a rather angelic Old English dessert. Cranachan is the Scottish name for a similar dessert.
Originally made with milk or cream that was sweetened with sugar, then lightly curdled with wine, the roots of today’s syllabub date back to the Tudor Dynasty, which ruled England from 1485 until 1603. It was popular through the 19th century. Before it became a dessert, syllabub was a refreshing drink made of milk and cider. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the cows were milked directly into an ale pot, which created a frothy foam.
Modern British recipes make syllabub with whipped cream, sweetened with sherry or white wine and sugar. Lemon, orange and raspberry are popular syllabub flavors.
You can make a healthier version with fat-free Greek yogurt, which is closer than whipped cream to the original dessert’s curdled milk.
An apple syllabub made with yogurt instead of whipped cream. Photo and recipe courtesy FAGE Yogurt.
*The Greek word beelzeboub was derived from the original Hebrew, ba’al-z’bub, “lord of the flies.” The term syllabub is first found in print around 1530–1540, derived from the earlier words, sollybubbe and sillabub. Alas, the origin of these words is not known.
Start with this syllabub recipe. You can Syllabub should be served well chilled and can be decorated with finely chopped nuts and served with small, crisp tuille biscuits.
RECIPE: APPLE & YOGURT SYLLABUB CRUMBLE
Makes 4 servings. Prep time 5 minutes; cook time 15 minutes.
1. In a medium-sized pan, cook the apples, sugar, honey and cider until it resembles applesauce (a thick purée). Allow to cool.
2. Crush or blend the biscuits until they look like bread crumbs.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt and half the cold apples.
4a. If using alcohol, first divide the cookie crumbs into the bottoms of each of four small wine glasses. Drizzle one tablespoon of sherry or other alcohol over the crumbs. Then proceed to 4b.
4b. Whether or not you started with the cookie crumbs and sherry, spoon half the remaining apples into the glasses. Fill half-full with the yogurt mix; add another layer of apples, followed by the remaining yogurt.
5. Chill for 1 hour or longer. Top the glasses of with the cookie crumbs prior to serving. If you used cookie crumbs for the bottom layer and don’t want to add more, you can garnish with a berry or mint sprig.
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