Here’s a fun recipe that’s both fictional AND historical. You know I love when that happens. ;) This is from Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, just out as a television series (as A Discovery of Witches), and from what I’ve watched so far, it’s fantastic. Seriously, can we get more history professors writing awesome fiction, please?
This recipe comes from the second book in the trilogy, and is deceptively simple. Although the main Diana Bishop doesn’t quite nail the beverage in the books, it’s well worth a try in your own kitchen. Caudles were often served to the sick or infirm (and are thus related to the term “molly-coddling”), but I think they’re a nice little robust drink that deserves a little love of its own. Consider it a cousin of eggnog, and you’ll already be on the way to thinking well of it.
The resulting drink, made correctly, comes out somewhat thick and rich. The egg yolks give it a nice velvety smooth texture, and the sweetening softens the alcohol. I can’t vouch that it’ll cure what ails (ales!) you, but it can’t do much harm, and that’s saying something as far as historical recipes go. ;) So give it a try, and see what you think!
A Caudle for pains in the Head
For my proportions, I’m pulling from the historical collection very succinctly named “Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books”, which you can peruse here, if so inclined (protip: try reading it aloud, if you’re struggling to understand the non-standardized spellings!). Neither these intrepid cooks nor Diana give measurements for the liquid amounts, so I’ve had to adapt it for our somewhat more specific cooking needs.
“Take faire tryed yolkes of eyren, and cast in a potte; and take good ale, or elles good wyn, a quantite, and sette it ouer ye fire. And whan hit is at boyling, take it fro the fire, and caste yere-to saffron, salt, Sugur; and ceson hit vppe, and serue hit forth hote.” -Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 cups ale, white wine, or hard cider
- pinch of saffron (optional)
- pinch of salt
- sugar or honey to taste
- pinch of fresh nutmeg
Beat together two egg yolks in a small pot along with the ale, saffron, salt, and sweetener over medium-low heat, whisking gently all the while. After about 5 minutes, the mixture should have thickened noticeably(go slowly, or the mixture may split!). Remove from heat, strain into a clean heatproof glass, and top with a pinch of nutmeg.