Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

blancmange is a pudding made of milk, cornstarch (cornflour in the United Kingdom), and sugar in Western cuisines today, although this version only appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The much-altered recipe evolved from medieval Arab cuisine. By the thirteenth century, the predecessor to blancmange—known either as mamûniyya or muhallabiyya (names that were also used for a variety of other dishes made with meat and rice)—was prepared from shredded chicken breast, pounded rice, milk, and sugar. A recipe for muhallabiyya in a thirteenth-century Andalusian cook book begins with the following story, suggesting that the dish originated in Sassanid Persia: “It is reported that a cook of Persia had his residence next to that of Muhallab b. Abi Safra and that he presented himself to prepare for him a good dish and so that he could test him; he prepared it and offered it to him; he was pleased and called it Muhallabiyya.”