Southern desserts, especially in the Lowcountry, nearly all once called for a creamy sauce of eggs and milk. The holiday fruitcake is tempered with a Bavarian; angel food cake is merely a foil for a custard sauce and fruit. Baked and “boiled” custard are enjoyed alone; stale cake becomes trifle with the addition of sherry and custard. A little gelatin firms the Bavarian; surrounded by ladyfingers, it becomes Charlotte Russe. Some of the old receipts call for isinglass, a form of gelatin derived from the bladders of sturgeon. Manuscript receipt books from old Lowcountry families are filled with recipes for Italian, Spanish, coffee, orange, St. Julien, lemon, and almond creams, all derived from their distant relative, the blanc manger. Charleston’s ties to aristocratic England, very real in the minds of Charlestonians, kept these dishes in favor in the Lowcountry long after they had disappeared from the courts of England and Europe. They are both centerpiece and starting point for a number of delectables. Every ice cream recipe included is custard-based.

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