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


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


  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.




Yield: 2 quarts

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



  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.



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.”



Presidential “Crustmaster” Leaves White House

Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses

Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses*Photos by Pete Souza/White House.

White House Pastry Chef William “Bill” Yosses, dubbed the “Crustmaster” by United States President Barack Obama, is leaving for New York. He plans to teach children and adults about eating better. For details, read more in this New York Times article written by Marian Burros. (just click on link)

If you want to bake a pie fit for a President, then click here for Yosses’ Apple Pie recipe.

White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses' Apple Pie served at a White House dinner

Apple Pie served at a White House dinner made by Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses*Photos by Pete Souza/White House.