Okay, stop the presses again. If I thought I made the best cake ever a few posts ago, I’m certain now I’ve made the best dessert ever! Of, course, this is relative. If your favorite dessert is chocolate pudding, you’ll most certainly disagree with me. But, as someone who likes light, creamy, not-overly-sweet, yet rich and flavorful desserts, I hit the jackpot with this recipe! So, what on earth is “Apple Snow,” you ask? It’s homemade applesauce folded together with light meringue and topped with whipped cream. Talk about unique! It really does taste like apple snow – soft, light, airy, nearly melts in your mouth… ah!
Anyway, let’s talk about history. The year was 1876. It had been 100 years since France began giving aid to the United States of America during the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, and the Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence. America was celebrating its centennial, and it was celebrating by putting on the Centennial International Exhibition (the first World’s Fair held in America) in Philadelphia where the Declaration had been signed.
While this exhibition was meant to celebrate 100 years of America, it was also meant to show off the industrial power the country was putting forth, along with its inventiveness, innovation, and sheer desire to achieve. 200 buildings were constructed for the fair to give it a grand appearance, and countless exhibitions and demonstrations were organized to captivate and impress audiences. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was set up at opposite ends of an exhibit hall, for example, to demonstrate a call. The Roebling Company displayed the cable they developed for use in building the Brooklyn Bridge. And, the world’s first monorail system was set up complete with a steam engine to pull it along its elevated rail.
What else did people experience at the Centennial Exhibition? Typewriters, Heinz ketchup, root beer, sewing machines, agricultural equipment, a reconstruction of a colonial kitchen (which went on to inspire the “Colonial Revival” style), a reconstruction of George Washington’s headquarters during the winter of 1779-80, and the right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty!
So, what are we cooking? Apple Snow from “76.” A Cook Book published in 1876.
When I read about the old World’s Fairs of the past, I definitely get a feeling of nostalgia for something I’ve never experienced. It’s weird, I know, but imagine all of the excitement at so large and impressive of an event filled with inventions and innovations that were just… fun. People were walking around trying things like ketchup and root beer while they watched someone’s voice go all the way across a room! It seems to simple!
So, let’s go – into the kitchen to make history!
Here are our ingredients: Apples (I used Honeycrisp apples, but any firm, semi-tart apple will do), lemon, sugar, egg whites, heavy whipping cream (not pictured: vanilla extract).
Step 1: First, we want to make our applesauce. So, I peeled six apples.
Step 2: Then, I sliced them. I didn’t bother to core them, but I did make sure to remove all of the seeds and stems as they appeared in my slices. You don’t want to make anyone sick (I hope)!
Step 3: Put all of your apple slices in a saucepan, pour in a cup of water, and squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Then, put the pan over medium heat, let the apples come to a simmer, and stem them for 30-35 minutes. You should stir them every once in a while so every apple can get under the cooking liquid, and so they can break down!
Step 4: After 30-35 minutes, the apples will have cooked down, and your stirring should have broken them down into a sauce. It’s like magic! Now, you can add in your sugar. I added three tablespoons, but you can add as much as you like!
Step 5: Stir to incorporate the sugar, mash the apples as well as you’d like, and then let the sauce cool. I’d recommend chilling it until you’re ready to serve it!
Step 6: After your sauce is done, you can prepare the homemade whipped cream for the topping. The recipe DOES say to serve the apple snow with a rich cream, after all. Chill your mixing bowl and your beaters. Then, pour in a cup of heavy cream, two tablespoons of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Step 7: Defy historic preparation and turn on your electric mixer! Beat the cream for a few minutes until stiff peaks appear. I over-beat mine a bit, but it was firm and tasty, so no complaints! I don’t think there’s a way you can mess this up… Chill the whipped cream in a sealed container until you’re ready to use it!
Step 8: Now, for the “snow” part of the Apple Snow. Crack four eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Do whatever you want with the yolks – save them for later, throw them away, feed them to your dog; it’s up to you! Put the whites in a mixing bowl.
Step 9: Beat them for a few seconds until they’re foamy, then add in two tablespoons of sugar. Add more if you have a serious sweet tooth!
Step 10: Continue to beat the egg whites until you have fairly stiff peaks.
Step 11: Gently pour in your applesauce. We’re almost done!
Step 12: And, fold (again, gently!) the mixture together until it looks like… well, apple snow!
Final step: I served mine in stemless wine glasses with a dollop of whipped cream on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Make sure you get a bite of everything together – the apple snow, the whipped cream, and the cinnamon. Yum!
I don’t know that anyone served apple snow at the Centennial Exposition, but I definitely bet it was served for dessert to guests after a day at the fair. Imagine coming back home after trying out a telephone for the first time, taking a ride on a steam-powered monorail, and drinking a cold, fizzy root beer. Imagine talking about the colonial kitchens you saw and saying, “I can’t believe that’s how they used to do things way back then! How old-fashioned!” Then, imagine finishing dinner and taking a bite of the light-as-air, melt in your mouth apple snow served for dessert. It wasn’t made the old-fashioned way. It was made on a stove, and the kitchen was lit with kerosene lamps. It was modern. It represented 1876 well – a time of progress.
From 1876: Apple Snow
- 6 firm and semi-tart apples (like Honeycrisp)
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup water
- 3 Tbs. sugar, or to taste
Whipped Cream Ingredients
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 eggs whites
- 2 Tbs. sugar, or to taste
- Peel and slice the apples. Make sure to remove seeds and stems. Place the apples in a saucepan, add the water and the juice from one lemon. Stew over medium heat with the lid off for 30-35 minutes stirring frequently. Sweeten with sugar, mash, and cool. Chill until ready to serve.
- Prepare the whipped cream. Chill a mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least fifteen minutes. Remove and add cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form. Chill in sealed container until ready to use.
- Prepare the “snow.” Place four egg whites in a mixing bowl. Beat for 30 seconds or until foamy. Sprinkle in sugar, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Gently pour applesauce into mixing bowl with “snow.” Fold gently to combine. Serve with whipped cream on top.