Founding Fathers (and First Lady Dolley Madison) Favorite Dessert

Chef Walter Staib of A Taste of History shares this vanilla ice cream recipe.  According to Chef Staib the founding fathers were critical in bringing the dessert to America, even First Lady Dolley Madison was a fan.  One respected history of ice cream states that, as the wife of U.S. President James Madison she served ice cream at her husband’s Inaugural Ball in 1813.

Vanilla Ice Cream

ice cream with peaches and raspberry sauce

This vanilla ice cream is pictured with sauce and almonds, which you may add or change to include your own toppings.

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed

Directions:

  1. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water and setting a slightly smaller bowl atop.
  2. In a medium sized sauce pot, bring the cream, half of the sugar, and the vanilla beans and pod to a simmer
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl whisk together egg yolks and remaining sugar until light
  4. Slowly add hot cream to egg mixture, ¼ cup at a time, whisking all the while.
  5. Return the pot to the stove and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Transfer the custard to the ice bath and cool it, stirring occasionally, until it is cool to the touch. Remove from ice bath, cover, and refrigerate until cold.
  7. Spin in ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

DOLLY MADISON’S PEPPERMINT STICK ICE CREAM

Yield: 2 quarts
Ingredients:

Dolly Madison ice cream

20th century advertising co-opted Madison’s reputation for serving ice cream in the United States White House
Photo by Private Collection

  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 c. cream
  • 4 drops natural peppermint extract
  • 2 drops red food coloring
  • 3/4 c. peppermint candy, crushed

 

Directions:

  1. Mix the sugar and cornstarch in the top of a double boiler.
  2. Stir in the milk, syrup and eggs.
  3. Cook over boiling water, stirring all the time for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Chill.
  4. Stir in cream, extract and coloring.
  5. Freeze in a 2 quart ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. When partially frozen, add crushed peppermint and continue frequently.

 

Dolley Madison’s Cheese Straws

The following recipe is credited to First Lady Dolley Madison.

First Lady Dolley Madison

First Lady Dolley Madison

Dolley Payne Todd Madison (May 20, 1768 – July 12, 1849) was the wife of James Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 1817.

According to Wikipedia, she was noted for her social gifts, which boosted her husband’s popularity as President. In this way, she did much to define the role of the President’s spouse, known only much later by the title First Lady – a function she had sometimes performed earlier for the widowed Thomas Jefferson.

Dolley Madison also helped to furnish the newly constructed White House. When the British set fire to it in 1814, she was credited with saving the classic portrait of George Washington.

In widowhood, she often lived in poverty, partially relieved by the sale of her late husband’s papers.”

Ingredients: 

  • 4 c. sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated, room temperature
  • 1 c. butter, room temperature
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper

Directions: In a bowl, cream cheese and butter together. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly to form dough.

Roll out dough on a floured board to 1/4″ thickness.  Using a sharp knife, cut into strips about 1/2″ x 4″ wide.  Place strips on an un-greased baking sheet.

Bake 400°F for 8 minutes until golden brown.

Yield: 6 dozen

Calories:  70 calories per serving

Source: Famous White House Recipes, The American Collection Cookbooks, Volume 1

Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake

This delicious white cake, with a subtle almond flavor, was one of Mary Todd Lincoln’s specialties.  Some historians say the First Lady didn’t serve the cake with frosting, but it certainly adds great flavor.

Mary Todd Lincoln

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

Yield: 1 cake
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes (includes cooling)
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
Recipe Created By: Charlyn Fargo
Recipe From: Illinois Farm Bureau Partners

Mary Todd Lincoln's White Cake

Abe was honestly crazy over Mary’s white cake.

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds, chopped
  • 6 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Frosting:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup candied cherries, chopped
  • ½ cup candied pineapple, chopped
  • few drops vanilla or almond extract

 

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift together flour and baking powder; remove 2 tablespoons and set aside. Add sifted ingredients, alternating with milk, to creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Combine almonds with reserved flour and add to batter.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff. Add in salt. Fold into batter. Pour into three greased and floured 8- or 9-inch cake pans.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool 5-10 minutes then remove from pans and cool on racks.
  • While cake is baking, prepare frosting: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil; cover and cook about 3 minutes until the steam has washed down any sugar crystals that may have formed on side of pan. Uncover and cook until syrup reaches 238-240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Whip egg whites until frothy; add in syrup in thin stream, whipping egg whites constantly until frosting is spreading consistency. Mix in cherries, pineapple and vanilla or almond flavoring. Frost cake once it has cooled.

Presidential Favorite – New England Clam Chowder

John F. Kennedy, the 35th United States President, was reportedly not a big eater and had to be reminded about meal times.  But when he did dine, he was true to his New England roots.

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy sits aboard the United States Coast Guard boat Manitou in Narragansett Bay, Newport, R.I., August 26, 1962. ROBERT KNUDSEN/WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHS, JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM

From EatingWell: September/October 2008

Yield:  6 servings, generous 1 cup each

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp.  canola oil
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 medium red potato, diced
  • 1 clam juice, (see Makeover Tip below)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 c. low-fat milk
  • 1/2 c.  heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 12-ounce fresh clam strips, (see Shopping Tip below), chopped, or 3 6-ounce cans chopped baby clams, rinsed
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

 

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer half of the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add onion, celery, and thyme to the pan; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add potato, clam juice, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Whisk milk, cream, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the pan and return to a simmer, stirring, over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add clams and cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams are just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.
To serve, discard bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with some of the reserved bacon and scallions.

 

Tips & Techniques

Makeover tip: Check sodium carefully when using clam juice because the amount of sodium can vary dramatically between brands. We use Bar Harbor clam juice with only 120 mg sodium per 2-ounce serving.

Shopping tip: Look for fresh clam strips at the seafood counter.

Carters’ Corn Bread

White House Executive Chef Henry Haller’s White House Family Cookbook offers dozens of First Family recipes; a historic treasury of American cooking. Chef Haller entertains with tidbits of presidential lore and his memories of life upstairs and down.

Former President Jimmy Carter (L) and his brother Billy eating barbecue on the campaign trail in 1976
Former President Jimmy Carter (L) with his brother Billy eating barbecue on the campaign trail in 1976. Another favorite of the president is cornbread.

Yield: Makes 9 squares

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter inside of an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, yellow and white cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.
3. In a smaller mixing bowl, beat egg with warm milk, using a wire whisk. Stir in melted butter.
4. Pour over dry ingredients and mix with the wire whisk until smooth. Let stand for 15 minutes. (It is important to let batter rest before baking so that the cornmeal absorbs the liquid and the resulting texture is smooth, never grainy.)
5. Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Bake on lower shelf of preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until top is golden and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
6. Let pan stand on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm, with whipped butter, if desired.”

 

 

Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake

Mary Ann Todd Lincoln was the wife of the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.  A member of a large, wealthy Kentucky family, Mary was well educated. She was born December 13, 1818 in Lexington, KY and died July 16, 1882 in Springfield, IL.

This delicious white cake, with a subtle almond flavor, was one of Mary Todd Lincoln’s specialties. Some historians say Mary Todd Lincoln didn’t serve the cake with frosting, but it certainly adds great flavor.

Mary Todd Lincoln

Former First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln's White Cake

Abe was honestly crazy over Mary’s white cake.

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Recipe Created by: Charlyn Fargo
Recipe From: Illinois Farm Bureau Partners

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds, chopped
  • 6 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

 

Frosting:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup candied cherries, chopped
  • ½ cup candied pineapple, chopped
  • few drops vanilla or almond extract

 

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift together flour and baking powder; remove 2 tablespoons and set aside. Add sifted ingredients, alternating with milk, to creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Combine almonds with reserved flour and add to batter.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff. Add in salt. Fold into batter. Pour into three greased and floured 8- or 9-inch cake pans.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool 5-10 minutes then remove from pans and cool on racks.
  • While cake is baking, prepare frosting: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil; cover and cook about 3 minutes until the steam has washed down any sugar crystals that may have formed on side of pan. Uncover and cook until syrup reaches 238-240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Whip egg whites until frothy; add in syrup in thin stream, whipping egg whites constantly until frosting is spreading consistency. Mix in cherries, pineapple and vanilla or almond flavoring. Frost cake once it has cooled.

 

Presidential Pie Recipe

Eat Like President Obama

White House Pastry Chef Serves up a Favorite

Yield: Serves 10 – 12
Cook Time: 60-120 min

First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Pastry Chef  Bill Yosses.

First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses.

President Barack Obama calls him the crust master and says he’s the mastermind behind the best pies he’s ever tasted. Read more about White House Pastry Chef Bill Yossess’ and learn the secrets behind his apple pie.

Ingredients:
Pie Crust:

  • 3 cups (about 13 oz ) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz. (2 and 1/2 sticks) cool room temperature, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 6-7 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg and 1 teaspoon salt for egg wash

For Filling:

  • 3 lbs apples, such as Gala, Granny Smith or McIntosh, peeled cored and cut into half-inch wedges.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey, preferably local
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Zest and juice of one lemon

 

White House Pastry Chef  Bill Yosses.

White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and the apple pie loved by the president.

Cooking Directions –
Make Crust:

  1. Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse five times. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-sized pieces, about 20 seconds. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until mixture just holds together. Divide dough and form into two equal-sized balls, then press each ball down to form a 5-inch disc. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to two days. On a lightly floured surface roll out each disc into a 14-inch circle. Place one circle between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate.
  2. Grease a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan and gently place the other circle in the pan, leaving a one-inch overhang. Chill the dough in the pie pan for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Remove the pie pan with the bottom crust from the refrigerator and let soften for five to ten minutes. Fold the edge of the overhang under itself and pinch the dough to form a fluted edge. Line with foil and fill with pie weights, rice, or navy beans. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and lift out foil and pie weights; allow pie shell to cool for 10 minutes.

Make Filling:

  1. In a large saucepan, sift together the sugar and cornstarch, then toss with apples, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest. Let stand for 20 minutes.
  2. Bring fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened slightly, making sure fruit does not stick to the bottom of saucepan. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Whisk the egg and salt and brush the rim of the prebaked pie shell. Fill with the fruit filling and then lay the second dough circle over the filling, press very gently around the edges to make sure the egg wash seals the top pie dough to the bottom pre-baked crust. With a paring knife, puncture the top pie dough in a wide circle about 10 times with the tip of the knife to form steam vents. Brush top with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until the pie filling is starting to bubble out the vents and the top pie crust is golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 1-2 hours before serving.

(The egg wash is an egg that is stirred and thinned out by adding salt, it is then used as a paint to give color to the finished baked product or to stick the two doughs together, in this case the top and bottom of the pie.)