Book club dessert needed--easy and pseudo-Victorian

So my book club is meeting tomorrow night, and we have a light one this time-- To say nothing of the dog, by Connie Willis. And I want some nice, springy, easy, Victorianesque dessert recipes to serve, please! Everyone submit your favorite here.

Feel free to post whatever, but for my own purposes, I need something with no alcohol (wine, liqueurs, anything like that) and with easily obtainable ingredients – I live in a smallish town and have no ready supply of fancy items down the street.

Wow. I’m jealous your book group read To Say Nothing of the Dog. I couldn’t talk mine into it. I’d recommend some cucumber sandwiches and tea and some Turkish delight for desert. Or just pick up some marzipan cookies. I wish I could remember something mentioned in the book.

Maybe next you could read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time just to keep up the doggie theme. :cool:

Or even better Turkish Delight for dessert. Holy crap, I need to go to lunch.

For some reason a fruit salad with mint leaves in it strikes me as very Victorian. Use common rather than tropical fruits (apple, peach, orange, strawbery, pear) Garnish with almonds, and crisp biscuit fingers, serve with whipped cream. Should be served in as fancy a bowl as possible, Victorian bowls always seem very fancy to me.

A trifle sounds very British to me, and it might even be Victorian.

A recipe, you ask? Well, don’t mind if I do…

Non-Fat Trifle

Angel Food Cake

1 package Angel Food Cake mix
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Prepare mix according to package directions, adding the cocoa powder before mixing. Freeze 1/2 of the baked cake.


1 package fat free/sugar free vanilla pudding
1 ½ C skim milk
1 standard container Cool Whip Free

Make pudding according to directions, using the reduced amount of milk stated above. Let stand for at least five minutes, then whip together with Cool Whip Free


1 qt. strawberries
4 kiwi
1 pt. blueberries

Wash and cut fruit into bite size pieces. You may substitute any fruit you like for those listed, but the above will give you guidelines for the amount to put in. (about 6 cups total)


Cut or tear about 1/2 of the cake into chunks and place in horizontal layer in clear bowl. Pour over half the pudding mixture, then add layer of fruit. Repeat for one more set of layers. You will have some cake left over. The top layer should be fruit.

Makes about 12 servings

But you can’t really make a propper trifle without sherry, and the OP didn’t want any alcohol in the desert.

Can’t really answer the OP’s question, but I just wanted to say that book is terrific. I’ve been thinking of re-reading it. I do think trifle might be the best dessert (she did say pseudo-Victorian, after all, so maybe the lack of sherry won’t really hurt it.)

A chicken wing with a bit of jelly. Perhaps a dessert with violets, crystallizerd or not, pressed into the top. Something with watercress.

OK, so I produced some shortbread today*, and am putting together a trifle tomorrow. It will be a pear-strawberry-maybe raspberry trifle, with (indeed) no sherry. I probably should make seedcake or something, but that always sounded kind of dull to me…

Crystallized violets would indeed be cool, but where the heck do you get them?

*Shortbread saga: I thought it would be nice to use my shortbread pan with a design of thistles on it, but the whole thing was a disaster, and I made it plain after all. Wrong recipe. Oh well; next time! Does anyone else love those stone cookie molds? If I was rich I’d have about 20 of them.

What about candied orange peels? They strike me as Victorian, but maybe not.

You make crystallized violets. I’ve done it, but its time consuming, you need to have violets and they take 24 hours to dry. - they will keep for years however.

I was going to recommend trifle.

We read To Kill a Mockingbird years ago for my club, and in honor I baked a Lane Cake - there was LOTS of bourbon in that one. But, I suppose your bookclub has a lot of nice Mormon ladies in it - mine has a bunch of liberal urban lushes.

It does indeed. It originally was a semi-official activity of the ward’s women’s organization, the Relief Society, but we went renegade. I dunno if we’re very ‘nice’-- well some are and some not so much. :smiley:

Baked Alaska.

Okay, maybe it’s more American or French than British. Who cares, it’s yummy!

The classic simple Victorian dessert is Raspberry Fool. Crushed rapberries folded into whipped cream. It may be served with shortbreads. Frozen berries will do fine.

dangermom, I am so jealous! Your club reads fabulous books, and you get dessert along with it? That is too cool.

I was also going to recommend a trifle. I have to differ with Mithril, though, and beg you to use real whipped cream, not the non-fat stuff. If you’re going to make dessert, make a real, yummy, fatty, calorie-laden dessert.

Eton Mess

It’s just the thing! :slight_smile:

Hey, what can I say? I’m on Weight Watchers. But, seriously, if you’re ever looking for something light for dessert, give this a try. It’s fantastic! Everybody who has tried it wants the recipe. And it’s only 150 calories for 1/12 of the trifle, which is a good helping.

I do plan on using whipped cream, 'cause I’m a cream snob. My husband likes Cool Whip and I won’t buy it. :slight_smile: But the rest of it is quite nutritious, practically…

I highly recommend such a club to everyone. We’ve tried a bunch of different things; we were meeting at restaurants for dessert for awhile, once we did breakfast at a cafe, and we’ve done a meal or two as well. The books aren’t always quite so good, though–everyone gets to choose a book and host the club in turn, so it goes all over the place. We had The five people you meet in heaven awhile back, which was schmaltzy IMO. But we also recently did Uncle Tungsten and had kugel, which was the greatest. Mostly it’s really good, and we read things I’d never heard of that I turn out to love.

I’ll also highly recommend such a group. Mine had its ten year anniversary last year and celebrated by renting a hall and throwing a party with a DJ. We get to read wonderful books (we are currently reading The Passion of Artmesia, which completes the women and painters cycle which included Girl with a Pearl Earring and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. We considered reading Girl in Hycinth Blue just so we could make it a 17th century Dutch painters from a woman’s point of view cycle.) We eat wonderful desserts (although cooking for a group of women who are variously allergic to nuts, sensative to chocolate, allergic to glueten and lactose intolerant has its challenges - there is often a wonderful dessert - and fruit, preferably organic fruit). We drink wine (I mentioned the lushes part), except when we are breastfeeding or pregnant (which seems to be a fairly common state for someone in a group of ten women at our point in life). We celebrate weddings and babies, complain about our husbands, talk about our youth - and sometimes even the book we were all suppose to read.

We choose our books by consensus - reading usually in cycles of three; Asian writers - our Holocaust/Comic Book Cycle (after ten years you come up with some interesting cycles) - “Boy” authors (Hornsby, Chabon and Doyle). Not every book has been wonderful, but almost every conversation has. We host by volunteer, as not everyone has a house that works in the August heat, or a husband that will take the children out of the house for the evening.

Call your girlfriends. Make them do this.

Therein lies the problem, Dangerosa. All but one of my girlfriends are long-distance. My male friends are dear people, but their literary tastes are, shall we say, concentrated on the Robert Jordan end of the spectrum. How do I meet cool, literary women?