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The Food of Downton Abbey: Meringues in Brandy Vanilla Custard Cream

Only five ingredients to create an elegant dessert fit for royalty.
Only five ingredients to create an elegant dessert fit for royalty.
Chef Larry Edwards/Casa de Cuisine

We are only a scant few weeks from the UK debut of season four of the internationally acclaimed series Downton Abbey (America, you still have a few months to wait). Now is a perfect time to start planning those delicious Downton viewing parties.

When it comes to the food of the Edwardian era and the award-winning television series Downton Abbey, elegance was a way of life. Just because something is elegant, however, doesn't mean it is difficult to prepare. Matter-of-fact, most of the dishes served at the abbey's during the Edwardian ere were very easy to prepare. When abbey cooks are preparing up to eight meals per day for numerous guests, they must be rather quick. This very simple, yet very elegant, dish is a perfect example of the abbey cooking of the period.

Meringues in Brandy Vanilla Custard Cream was a very popular dessert during the Victorian and Edwardian eras in England. As a matter-of-fact, this dessert was actually presented in both season one and season two of the show. As time has wandered from the eras in question, an adaption of this dessert has become quite popular in some of the most famous restaurants in the world under the title "Floating Islands."

To make the meringues is quite simple. Beat the egg whites with 1/3-cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon them onto a lined baking sheet and place into a 325 degree oven until they have dried (the time depends on the size and shape of the meringues).

For more incredible dishes of the Edwardian era and Downton Abbey, go to the free Facebook page called The Food of Downton Abbey.

Ingredients needed to make Meringues in Brandy Vanilla Custard Cream (serves 4):

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 2 Tbs. vanilla
  • 6 eggs, separated (the whites to be used for the meringue)


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk the half-and-half, sugar, brandy and vanilla until the sugar has dissolved and just to the point where it comes to a simmer.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale.
  3. Whisk 1/2-cup of the hot cream into the eggs.
  4. Slowly whisk the egg yolk mixture into the hot cream.
  5. Stir the custard cream until it has thicken (see picture in the slideshow).
  6. Remove the custard cream from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  7. Make your meringues (see note above).
  8. Spoon the custard cream into serving bowl, top with meringues and serve.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."

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