Discussion:
Ratafia Essence
(too old to reply)
Jean B.
2011-07-17 00:47:13 UTC
Permalink
Does anyone have a recipe for ratafia essence? Actually, I may
have just the book to look in, but it is still packed. Somewhere.
I may not find it for a LONG time. I am looking at a recipe for
Harrogate Almond Tart that calls for that and ratafia biscuits
(which are described elsewhere as being much like amaretti). Oh,
and I do have bitter almond oil and can get apricot kernels.

Thanks.
--
Jean B.
Lee Rudolph
2011-07-17 20:26:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jean B.
Does anyone have a recipe for ratafia essence? Actually, I may
have just the book to look in, but it is still packed. Somewhere.
I may not find it for a LONG time. I am looking at a recipe for
Harrogate Almond Tart that calls for that and ratafia biscuits
(which are described elsewhere as being much like amaretti). Oh,
and I do have bitter almond oil and can get apricot kernels.
I presume you've already got as much information as the
OED has, but in case you don't, or some other reader
doesn't, here it is, excerpted from the full entry.

The etymology is included, not as being helpful to your
quest, but because I think it's cool.

==begin==

Etymology: Apparently < French ratafia (although this is first
attested slightly later: 1694 denoting a drink, 1675 as a toast
in form ratafiat), of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately
(perhaps via Antilles Creole) < an unattested post-classical
Latin expression *rata fiat, formula to seal a bargain (short
for *rata fiat conventio let the agreement be ratified; 3rd
singular present subjunctive of classical Latin r.r.: see ratio
n.), used as a toast, and subsequently understood to be the name
of the drink. Compare Louisiana French Creole tafia (18th cent.),
probably < French, with loss of the first syllable.

[inserted comment from LR: maybe you could include "tafia"
in your searches to some good effect]

1. a. (a) A liqueur made by steeping nuts, kernels, fruits,
or herbs in any sweetened spirit; (b) a sweet aperitif traditional
in several regions of France, made by adding brandy to unfermented
grape juice and ageing it in a barrel; sometimes flavoured with herbs
and other fruits.

Almonds and the kernels of cherries, apricots, and peaches are the
ingredients most commonly used to flavour ratafia (sense 1a(a)).

...

b. More fully ratafia essence. An essence used as a flavouring for
food and drink, typically extracted from almonds or the kernels of
cherries, apricots, and peaches (cf. sense 1a(a)).
...
1851 Penny Cycl. Suppl. I. 106/1 This substance...forms...the
volatile oil of bitter almonds.... It is sold in different degrees
of dilution to cooks, confectioners, and others, to flavour cakes
and liqueurs, under the name of essence of ratafia.
...
1998 C. G. Sinclair Internat. Dict. Food & Cooking 445/2
Ratafia essence, an alcoholic extract of the kernels of cherries,
peaches, almonds and other stone fruits used as a flavouring.
...

==end==

I do have one other book that might contain an actual
recipe (it's a just-pre-FDA compilation of compounding
druggists' recipes, for such things as asthma cigarettes
incorporating both tobacco and dried Jimson weed, and
hemorrhoidal suppositories made with extract of opium,
cocaine, and belladonna; but it also has some recipes
for condiments--e.g., a Worcestershire sauce that only
has a *little* choloroform in it--, and some for liqueurs);
and in fact, I actually saw it (for the first time in
years) while trying to rationalize my office last month.
But today it's gone missing again.

Lee Rudolph (which may be a good thing; after rereading
that, completely serious, list of examples, I've decided
that any recipe for ratafia in that book would probably
involve prussic acid...)
Jean B.
2011-07-18 00:59:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lee Rudolph
Post by Jean B.
Does anyone have a recipe for ratafia essence? Actually, I may
have just the book to look in, but it is still packed. Somewhere.
I may not find it for a LONG time. I am looking at a recipe for
Harrogate Almond Tart that calls for that and ratafia biscuits
(which are described elsewhere as being much like amaretti). Oh,
and I do have bitter almond oil and can get apricot kernels.
I presume you've already got as much information as the
OED has, but in case you don't, or some other reader
doesn't, here it is, excerpted from the full entry.
The etymology is included, not as being helpful to your
quest, but because I think it's cool.
==begin==
Etymology: Apparently < French ratafia (although this is first
attested slightly later: 1694 denoting a drink, 1675 as a toast
in form ratafiat), of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately
(perhaps via Antilles Creole) < an unattested post-classical
Latin expression *rata fiat, formula to seal a bargain (short
for *rata fiat conventio let the agreement be ratified; 3rd
singular present subjunctive of classical Latin r.r.: see ratio
n.), used as a toast, and subsequently understood to be the name
of the drink. Compare Louisiana French Creole tafia (18th cent.),
probably < French, with loss of the first syllable.
[inserted comment from LR: maybe you could include "tafia"
in your searches to some good effect]
1. a. (a) A liqueur made by steeping nuts, kernels, fruits,
or herbs in any sweetened spirit; (b) a sweet aperitif traditional
in several regions of France, made by adding brandy to unfermented
grape juice and ageing it in a barrel; sometimes flavoured with herbs
and other fruits.
Almonds and the kernels of cherries, apricots, and peaches are the
ingredients most commonly used to flavour ratafia (sense 1a(a)).
...
b. More fully ratafia essence. An essence used as a flavouring for
food and drink, typically extracted from almonds or the kernels of
cherries, apricots, and peaches (cf. sense 1a(a)).
...
1851 Penny Cycl. Suppl. I. 106/1 This substance...forms...the
volatile oil of bitter almonds.... It is sold in different degrees
of dilution to cooks, confectioners, and others, to flavour cakes
and liqueurs, under the name of essence of ratafia.
...
1998 C. G. Sinclair Internat. Dict. Food & Cooking 445/2
Ratafia essence, an alcoholic extract of the kernels of cherries,
peaches, almonds and other stone fruits used as a flavouring.
...
==end==
I do have one other book that might contain an actual
recipe (it's a just-pre-FDA compilation of compounding
druggists' recipes, for such things as asthma cigarettes
incorporating both tobacco and dried Jimson weed, and
hemorrhoidal suppositories made with extract of opium,
cocaine, and belladonna; but it also has some recipes
for condiments--e.g., a Worcestershire sauce that only
has a *little* choloroform in it--, and some for liqueurs);
and in fact, I actually saw it (for the first time in
years) while trying to rationalize my office last month.
But today it's gone missing again.
Lee Rudolph (which may be a good thing; after rereading
that, completely serious, list of examples, I've decided
that any recipe for ratafia in that book would probably
involve prussic acid...)
I thought it was cyanide or some related thing. This may help. I
see it COULD be bitter almond oil, although one shouldn't use a
lot of that. The impression I have is that it is more in the
almond-bitter almond family than one that contains the fruits
themselves. I am not sure how good a substitute current almond
extract would be, although I gather it does contain some bitter
almond.

My source, which I managed to find, didn't contain this, alas. I
have one more source and really have no idea where it is. I am
also thinking I might look in MacKenzie's 10,000 and my
techno-chemical receipt book, but again, they are still not organized.

Hmmm. Maybe something like this from Ellet's "Practical
Housekeeper Containing 5000 Receipts & Maxims":

Ratafia.--Blanch two ounces of peach and apricot kernels, bruise
and put them into a bottle, and fill nearly up with brandy.
Dissolve half a pound of white sugar-candy in a cup of cold water,
and add to the brandy after it has stood a month on the kernels,
and they are strained off; then filter through paper and bottle
for use. The distilled leaves of peaches and nectarines, when the
trees are cut in the spring, are an excellent substitute for
ratafia in puddings.

But is this an essence????
--
Jean B.
Lee Rudolph
2011-07-18 13:28:38 UTC
Permalink
Well, I found my possible source for information
on ratafia essence, and it came up blank. On
the other hand, here's the recipe for North of
England Sauce that I mentioned (misnaming it).

NORTH OF ENGLAND SAUCE

Powdered pimento............ 5 pounds.
Powdered cloves............. 3 pounds.
Powdered black pepper....... 3 pounds.
Powdered assafoetedia....... 4 ounces.
Cayenne papper.............. 1/2 pound.
Acetic acid................. 2 gallons.
Malt vinegar................ 4 gallons
Water....................... 6 gallons.
Macerate together for three days,
then strain, and wash the marc with 4
gallons of water. Reserve the strained
portion, then boil the marc for ten
minutes with 24 gallons of water, add
Molasses.................... 12 pounds.
Salt........................ 12 pounds.
Burnt sugar................. 2 pounds.
Soy......................... 6 gallons.
Boil for another quarter of an hour,
and strain. When cold mix the
strained liquors, and add salicylic acid
one-half ounce dissolved in spirit of
chloroform 2 ounces.

From _Non-Secret Formulas_ (second edition),
T. M. Griffiths, St. Louis, 1910.

Lee Rudolph
Jean B.
2011-07-18 22:14:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lee Rudolph
Well, I found my possible source for information
on ratafia essence, and it came up blank. On
the other hand, here's the recipe for North of
England Sauce that I mentioned (misnaming it).
NORTH OF ENGLAND SAUCE
Powdered pimento............ 5 pounds.
Powdered cloves............. 3 pounds.
Powdered black pepper....... 3 pounds.
Powdered assafoetedia....... 4 ounces.
Cayenne papper.............. 1/2 pound.
Acetic acid................. 2 gallons.
Malt vinegar................ 4 gallons
Water....................... 6 gallons.
Macerate together for three days,
then strain, and wash the marc with 4
gallons of water. Reserve the strained
portion, then boil the marc for ten
minutes with 24 gallons of water, add
Molasses.................... 12 pounds.
Salt........................ 12 pounds.
Burnt sugar................. 2 pounds.
Soy......................... 6 gallons.
Boil for another quarter of an hour,
and strain. When cold mix the
strained liquors, and add salicylic acid
one-half ounce dissolved in spirit of
chloroform 2 ounces.
From _Non-Secret Formulas_ (second edition),
T. M. Griffiths, St. Louis, 1910.
Lee Rudolph
That's very interesting--especially the inclusion of asafoetida!
But wait! Salicylic acid and spirit of chloroform? The former is
aspirin, I think. Doe spirit of chloroform have any other name?
I can't say that I have seen that in a recipe before. If that is
a typical example of the book's contents, I may have to get it.

I have kind-of decided that I need to do a lot more research into
these now-lost things, both in books I own and in books I can
access in other ways. So many projects, so little time!
--
Jean B.
Jean B.
2011-07-19 17:38:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lee Rudolph
Well, I found my possible source for information
on ratafia essence, and it came up blank. On
the other hand, here's the recipe for North of
England Sauce that I mentioned (misnaming it).
NORTH OF ENGLAND SAUCE
Powdered pimento............ 5 pounds.
Powdered cloves............. 3 pounds.
Powdered black pepper....... 3 pounds.
Powdered assafoetedia....... 4 ounces.
Cayenne papper.............. 1/2 pound.
Acetic acid................. 2 gallons.
Malt vinegar................ 4 gallons
Water....................... 6 gallons.
Macerate together for three days,
then strain, and wash the marc with 4
gallons of water. Reserve the strained
portion, then boil the marc for ten
minutes with 24 gallons of water, add
Molasses.................... 12 pounds.
Salt........................ 12 pounds.
Burnt sugar................. 2 pounds.
Soy......................... 6 gallons.
Boil for another quarter of an hour,
and strain. When cold mix the
strained liquors, and add salicylic acid
one-half ounce dissolved in spirit of
chloroform 2 ounces.
From _Non-Secret Formulas_ (second edition),
T. M. Griffiths, St. Louis, 1910.
Lee Rudolph
I am flipping through F. Marian McNeill's classic In a Scots
Kitchen and found this formula, which reminded me of the above.
It is not nearly as esoteric, but I will post the ingredients
nonetheless:

Friar's Fish-in-Sauce (attributed to Meg Dods)

red or other trout, or carp, or perch

salt
mixed spices
a couple of onions
4 cloves
a bit of mace
some black and Jamaica peppercorns
a couple of glasses of claret or Rhenish wine
a boned anchovy
juice of a lemon
a little cayenne
flour
butter
stock

and, embedded in the instructions:

a little mushroom catsup (opt.)
a few pickled oysters (opt.)

This formatting does not reflect that of the book. It is
interesting to see, again, the complexity of the sauces etc.--a
complexity that has been largely lost over time.
--
Jean B.
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