As it did with so many young girls, the book Little Women made quite an impression on me. A lot of my friends identified with one or the other sister, but I didn’t. Not until I read this passage about Jo taking a special dish to an ailing Laurie:

Blancmange – or cornstarch pudding – is a light and tasty dessert, especially when you include tea in the recipe. (Photo source: stock image)

Blancmange – or cornstarch pudding – is a light and tasty dessert, especially when you include tea in the recipe. (Photo source: stock image)

“Mother sent her love, and was glad if I could do anything for you. Meg wanted me to bring some of her blanc-mange; she makes it very nicely, and Beth thought her cats would be comforting.”

“That looks too pretty to eat,” he said, smiling with pleasure, as Jo uncovered the dish, and showed the blanc-mange, surrounded by a garland of green leaves, and the scarlet flowers of Amy’s pet geranium.

“It isn’t anything, only they all felt kindly, and wanted to show it. Tell the girl to put it away for your tea; it’s so simple, you can eat it; and being soft, it will slip down without hurting your sore throat…”

What was this blancmange? It sounded so … French! I knew it must be something truly elegant!

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I learned that blancmange was simply cornstarch pudding, a dessert that my mother used to cook up for us at least once a week. And that I like to fix every so often.

A few years ago I started experimenting with substituting tea for some of the milk called for in the recipe. “Candy” flavoured teas – vanilla, coconut, chocolate, and the like – were the most successful. Recently I fixed a potful with Angel’s Dream tea, which combines two of my favourite flavours: maple and blackberry. The result? In a word: tea-licious!

Here’s the very simple recipe. Do give it a try with whichever tea you prefer. Leaves and flower petals are optional ;-).

Blancmange
About 4 to 6 servings

1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
1½ cups plain (not unsweetened) soy milk
1¼ cups Angel’s Dream tea, or flavoured tea of your choice, prepared at regular strength
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread© (optional, for a richer texture)

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in the milk and then the tea until smooth (a whisk is handy for this). Turn the heat on to medium high. Cook, stirring and scraping the pot continuously so it doesn’t burn, until the mixture begins to boil, about ten minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the Buttery Spread until well blended. Transfer to a four-cup bowl or to four to six individual serving bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

Variation: Add a few berries to the bottom of the bowl/s before pouring in the pudding.

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