Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Making Ice Creams, Ices and Sundaes

1020s photo of a round platter holding there spoons and two ice cream sundaes in glass dishes. A glass filled with a whipped cream fruit mixture sits beside them.
Enjoy a vintage Pineapple Marshmallow Sundae, South-Pole Sundae, or a Marshmallow Parfait this summer.

During the warmer months sometimes the weather gets really hot. Short of dumping ice water over your head, how do you stay cool? Before the advent of air conditioning, cold drinks, hand and electric fans, and ice creams helped to bring temperatures down. Not really, but it’s hard to be sad while you eat a nice bowl of ice cream. So today I’m going to talk about making ice creams, ices and sundaes –– straight from a Twenties source.

It’s relatively easy to make all sorts of fancy ice creams at home. You can go beyond bowls of plain chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and peach, which were the Ice Cream Standards of the 1920s. Instead of a plain bowl of ice cream, why not serve a sundae? Even the most fancy version starts with a base of vanilla ice cream and then adds syrups and whipped cream. In the Twenties a sundae might also be decorated with preserved, fresh, or candied fruit.

Ice creams and sundaes from your own kitchen

This article will tell you how to make a Pineapple Marshmallow Sundae, South-Pole Sundae, Marshmallow Parfait, Caramel Ice Cream, and a Cafe Frappe. It assumes you already know how to make basic vanilla and chocolate ice cream. I have a recipe for those somewhere that I will post a bit later in case you need it.

Ice cream was classified three ways when sundaes were new. A French ice cream was made with eggs. Today we often call that an ice cream custard and we make it with egg yolks only. A Philiadelphia ice cream was made with thick whipping cream. American ice cream was made with fresh or condensed milk with a little whole cream added. 100 years later we are still making French ice cream with eggs, but the American ice cream has replaced the condensed milk with half and half (light cream) or simply milk with a bit of cream. Even in the Twenties, commercial ice creams contained gelatin to help it maintain its consistency.

Other options for frozen desserts included water ices. We call them granitas, and sometimes they were called granites. In some recipes cream was frozen without stirring in an ice cream maker. This created a parfait or a mousse (have you ever had frozen chocolate mousse? 1000 calories of pure heaven!).

Suggestions for great results using your ice cream freezer

If you use an ice cream freezer that requires ice and salt, you might want to try kosher salt instead of rock salt and crushed ice instead of larger ice chunks. Actually, the instructions suggest that you pulverize your rock salt, but I don’t know anyone who wants to sit outside with a bag of rock salt and a hammer when you can get kosher salt instead.

Most ice cream maker instruction manuals tell you to pour in a layer of ice and then top it with a thin layer of salt, and repeat. Why not try mixing the ice and salt thoroughly in a large pan before putting it into the freezer? One part salt to three parts ice keeps it very cold. Add the ice and salt to the freezer before you add the ice cream mixture. If you add the mix to the container and then add the ice and salt, the mixture begins to freeze at the bottom before the top is cold. It then freezes unevenly.

Avoiding that grainy consistency

Have a problem with grainy ice cream? This often happens when the crank turns too rapidly at the beginning of the freezing cycle. Turn the crank slowly but keep up a steady motion. When the dasher starts to turn hard (and you’re beginning to get tired from all the turning) that’s when you beat hard and steady for one full minute.

Then remove the crossbar that holds the contraption together, remove the container lid and take out the dasher. (I always tried to find a small child who wanted a taste. The little ones are very willing to hold the dasher and try the ice cream for you while you attend to the rest of the procedure. Voilá! You no longer need to find a place to set the dasher.)

Pack the ice cream down, replace the lid on the canister, and plug the hole with a cork. Remove the icy, salty water from the pail and repack it with salt and ice to ripen the ice cream. This ice can be larger than crushed, and use about half the salt you used before. If the weather is very warm (assuming you are doing this outdoors because it creates a mess) you may have to redo the ice and salt before the ice cream is ripened.

Covering the ice cream freezer with an old blanket or a thick cloth helps to keep the cold in. If you get it wet before laying it over the freezer, it will help keep it that much colder. The original instructions said to keep the blanket wet with the brine from the ice cream freezer, but I can’t imagine what that level of salt water would do to old fibers in a blanket. Maybe this is where all the old quilts went.

And on to the cold treats!

Now that you have an idea of some of the forgotten advice on ice cream making, let’s make some warm weather goodies. Making ice cream and sundaes at home can be great fun. Like most Twenties recipes, some of these may sound a little odd at first. Give one or more of them a try and you can have your own Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social.

All of these recipes should serve from four to six.

Pineapple Marshmallow Sundae

You will need:

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Marshmallow cream filling (like Fluff or Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Cream. Look for it at your grocery store.)
  • One slice of canned pineapple per person
  • Shredded coconut (packaged. Moist. Not dried coconut. Available in your baking aisle.)
  • Whipped cream
  • Juice from the canned pineapple


  1. Half fill a sherbet glass with vanilla ice cream.
  2. Top this with a dollop of marshmallow cream filling.
  3. Press a slice of canned pineapple onto the marshmallow cream.
  4. Top with a tablespoon or so of the soft shredded coconut.
  5. Finish off with a topping of whipped cream.
  6. Pour a little of the pineapple syrup over the top of the sundae.

South-Pole Sundae

You will need:

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Real chocolate fudge. You don’t have to make it fresh for this; if you made chocolate fudge in the past couple days you can reheat it and pour it over the ice cream. Melt it enough to pour by placing it in a pan set in a larger pan of boiling water. It shouldn’t be very hot. A double boiler works, too. Or [Sh!! Don’t tell!] even a quick zap in the microwave.
  • Candied cherries or Maraschino cherries


  1. Place a tablespoon of vanilla ice cream in the bottom of a glass. I would use a six or eight ounce glass Pyrex dessert dish.
  2. On top of this pour a just a little of the soft chocolate fudge.
  3. Heap the glass bowl with ice cream.
  4. Give it a thin topping of fudge.
  5. Decorate with candied cherries.

This tastes a little like the chocolate covered ice cream bars that were all the rage in 1922. The secret to this is to make the fudge layers thin, like a frosting.

Marshmallow Parfait

You will need:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 lb marshmallows
  • 2 Tbsp shredded pineapple
  • Candied cherries/ Maraschino cherries


  1. Whip the cup of cream and sweeten with the sugar. Set into the freezer to chill while you make the rest of the dessert, or set on ice in a bowl.
  2. Cut the bananas, orange, and marshmallows into small pieces. Stir in the pineapple.
  3. Remove the cream from the ice or freezer. Beat the fruit lightly into the cream and fill tall glasses with the mixture.
  4. Decorate with candied cherries or maraschino cherries.

If you find that you like this parfait, which is not actually frozen, you may also like this recipe for Fruited Cream. It’s similar.

Caramel Ice Cream

You will need:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 4 cups whole/heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat the brown sugar into a small frying pan and stir over medium heat until it melts and begins to smoke a little. You want it melted and hot enough that it tastes caramelized but not dark enough that it tastes burned.
  2. Heat together the half and half (light cream) and cream, mix the liquid sugar with them and flavor with vanilla.
  3. Remove the mixture from the fire and stir until it cools.
  4. Strain the mixture to remove any large sugar particles.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream freezer as usual.

The flavor of this ice cream is varied by the length of time the brown sugar is cooked. Be very careful –– hot melted sugar like this can cause dreadful burns.

Cafe Frappe

This is the original method of making a frappe, without the help of a blender. It’s more of an ice than an ice cream, since 3 of the five cups of liquid are water based.

You will need:

  • 3 cups strong black coffee
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Whipped cream for serving


  1. Scald the cream and dissolve the sugar in it.
  2. Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix coffee with the sweetened cream. Add the vanilla.
  4. Pour into an ice cream freezer and freeze slowly until it reaches a mushy consistency.
  5. Serve in glasses with a spoon of whipped cream on top.

I hope you enjoyed these recipes for making ice creams and sundaes in your own kitchen.

Parties and Visits · Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Recipes for Your Porch Party

Table filled with tea sandwiches, dessert, coffee, and cake for a porch party.
Put together a porch party your friends will remember.

In the Twenties and Thirties porch parties gathered people together. In a day before air conditioning, home owners and guests embraced any opportunity to spend time outside. Picnics on the grass weren’t for everyone, although they were popular. The porch party gathered everyone onto the cool front porch. They sat in comfortable chairs and enjoyed special nibbles or even a full luncheon. And if the gang didn’t gather for a special occasion, such as a shower, guests usually brought along their workbags. Knitting, embroidery, tatting, and crochet kept hands busy while conversation flew. Porch parties were so popular that entire menus often appeared in magazines and cookbooks.

Revive this tradition and host a porch party of your own. All you need is a clean, nicely decorated porch, a few guests, and some food. Invite a few favorites over and give these recipes a gander. These recipes for your porch party will fit your vintage (or not so vintage) gathering perfectly. They were designed for outdoor entertaining in warmer weather.

You could add hot tea to this menu and call it an afternoon tea. Or use the Peruvian chocolate recipe from the list and call it a luncheon party. (You may want to have a pitcher of water available, however. The Peruvian chocolate recipe is very rich, iced or hot.)

Add a small bowl of mixed olives and a bowl of mixed nuts to the foods listed here and you have a beautiful Twenties porch luncheon. The cream mints provide the perfect ending to a vintage luncheon. They cleanse the palate after a meal, and appeared on tables regularly.

1. Sweet and Savory Sandwiches

These Sweet and Savory Tea Sandwiches offer four options for quickly made, tasty sandwiches. Serve them at your next vintage-style small gathering or formal tea. And if you’ve never hosted a formal tea but always wanted to, these sandwiches will start you off.

2. Peruvian Iced or Hot Chocolate

This Peruvian chocolate tastes like something between a normal hot cocoa recipe, and the thick drinking chocolate that you find in cafés. This is a drink to savor. It’s not too sweet. Enjoy this one with a friend or friends and some good conversation.

3. Fruited Whipped Cream

If you’re looking for a light and cool dessert for warm weather, look no further. This Fruited Cream recipe from the 1920s fills the requirement. It’s smooth, fruity, sweet, and cold. And Fruited Cream gives us an example of some of the best from the Twenties kitchen.

4. Many Layered Jam Cake

The Many Layered Jam Cake is one rich cake. A bit more involved than an everyday cake, Many Layered Jam Cake definitely tastes like more than a sum of its parts. This is a delicious, decadent cake for your next vintage gathering.

5. Colored Cream Mints

Looking for something to add sparkle to your next small get-together? These easy fondant Cream Mints are simple to make and they taste great! And even better, this 1920s recipe was almost lost to time.

Use these recipes for your porch party. Or your patio party. Or your pool party. These dishes will make your party, whatever it is, a memorable event.

Gluten Free Adaptations · Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Oatmeal Gem Muffins

If you love oatmeal in a bowl but don’t have the time or inclination to make it every morning, these oatmeal gem muffins might be the perfect solution. Only slightly sweet, these muffins taste like you’re eating prepared oatmeal from the palm of your hand. Best of all, you start them overnight. Then you only need to stir in a few ingredients in the morning and bake them.

Three golden oatmeal gem muffins on a white plate. The photo shows only part of each muffin.
Oatmeal gem muffins, ready to eat!

Published in 1919, this recipe was called Oatmeal Gems. Gems are muffins baked in cast-iron gem pans. A gem pan could look like a muffin pan, or it could turn out half rounds of bread. Usually, a gem pan contained some kind of open area to allow air and heat flow around the individual muffin cups. If this concept fascinates you, The Cast Iron Collector web site gives more information on gem pans than you will ever need for a vintage home kitchen. After all, the well-equipped home kitchen contained one gem pan. Just one. The vintage kitchen provided no room for storing extra, unneeded utensils and pans. (Thankfully, I have a garage that I use to do just that.)

Muffins in the vintage kitchen

In the vintage home, muffins accompanied a meal, or they provided part of a teatime heavy snack. Today we eat muffins as a standalone meal replacement and although that may be a vintage reality, it was never touted as the ideal. When I made these I grabbed a couple and ate them with a fresh cup of coffee. That was breakfast. 

Eaten hot from the oven, these muffins provided the cereal part of a good breakfast along with fruit, coffee or hot cocoa, and perhaps eggs. Later in the day, served at room temperature or re-warmed in the oven still hot from cooking dinner, they saved the household cook from making a second type of bread on a non-baking day. Since they aren’t very sweet they would go well with a dinner menu. 

These muffins taste sweeter at room temperature, although they also go down well with a smear of butter. They are chewy, dense quick breads.

The recipe basics

The recipe starts with sour milk. You can easily make sour milk yourself by adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of milk. Since the recipe calls for a cup and a half of milk you would add a tablespoon and a half of vinegar. Regular white vinegar will work, too, if you don’t have any apple cider vinegar. However, apple cider vinegar seems to produce a slightly thicker product.

Bowl of oatmeal mixture with a measuring cup of flour next to it and an empty teaspoon measuring spoon on the table.
Oatmeal and sour milk, with baking soda and egg added and flour standing at the ready.

The next morning you mix in some baking soda, an egg, salt, flour, and sugar. Then you bake them. I used a mini muffin pan, which helps them cook all the way through. Since this is an older recipe it offered no oven temperature outside of “hot.” I baked these minis for 15 minutes at 375º to give them a bit of brown on top. I was using gluten free flour. If you use regular flour, baking them for 13 minutes might be enough.

Mini oatmeal gem muffins still in the muffin pan, fresh from the oven.
Fresh from the oven with gluten free flour, which gives less of a browned top than regular wheat flour.

Whether you eat them with your morning coffee or tea like I did, or incorporate them into a proper vintage meal, these oatmeal gem muffins are good to have in your repertoire. They mix up easily, cook quickly, and need only a few everyday ingredients.

Oatmeal Gems

Small oatmeal muffins for breakfast or anytime.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: muffin, oatmeal
Servings: 8 people


  • 1 mini muffin pan


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup flour Gluten Free 1 to 1 flour works fine.
  • tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar


  • 1. Mix the apple cider vinegar and the milk. Let stand ten minutes to sour.
  • 2. Place the oatmeal in a medium bowl and add the milk. Stir, cover, and set in the refrigerator overnight.
  • 3. In the morning, preheat oven to 375º F.
  • 3. Add baking soda, egg, flour, salt, and sugar to the oatmeal mixture. Mix well, and fill the wells in the mini muffin pan.
  • 4. Bake mini muffins for 13 – 15 minutes. When they are done, the tops should pop back when pressed lightly. Or use the tried and true toothpick method to check.


This recipe was tested with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. Use gluten free oats if you need them. 

If you try these, please leave a comment to let me know how you like them. When I make them again I may sprinkle a little sugar on the tops before baking, or I might stir some mini chocolate chips into the batter. This is a variation unknown in 1919, since chocolate chips weren’t invented until 1937.

Interested in more vintage cooking? Check out this recipe for Breakfast Cocoa or vintage Iced Coffee!

Cooking Techniques · Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Iced Coffee – The Hot New Trend. Or Not.

When the days get warm, I start to long for a nice iced coffee. Sometimes I swing into my favorite coffee shop as I’m out running errands or shuttling offspring from one meeting to the next. More often, though, I set up the percolator on the stove and brew a nice big pot. Since I’m one of two coffee drinkers in the house, that big pot doesn’t have to be tremendously huge. Eight cups of brewed coffee produces many delicious glasses of iced java in my kitchen.

Coffee percolator and glass of iced coffee. An open book sits in front of the coffee maker and glass. Text on image reads Make Yourself a 1920s Iced Coffee.
Enjoy a refreshing vintage cold cuppa while perusing the pages of a 1920s book.

Once the percolator does its thing and the coffee is nice, hot, and fresh, I let it sit for a bit. If you use a percolator at home, you know that fresh brewed coffee is hot. Really hot. It’s a lot hotter than any coffee that comes from a drip machine. So I let the percolator sit for a bit if I only brewed the coffee to ice it.

After the coffee is reasonably cool, I fix myself a beautiful glass of iced goodness. If I’m feeling especially decadent I add some chocolate syrup so I have iced chocolately java goodness. How thankful we are that the coffee shops of the 1990s introduced us to the wonderful reality of iced coffee in the summer!

Hold on a minute. The all-knowing Internet says that iced coffee (the frappé version) was invented in 1957. In Greece. By a Nescafe salesman who couldn’t find hot water when he needed it.

If you read the article at the link, and then look at the recipe below, what the sales rep was attempting to do was create an established drink, the frappé, without ice or ice cream to chill and thicken it. And using instant Nescafe coffee instead of brewed coffee. He did come up with a new taste and texture for a frappé, but the drink itself was well known.

Photo of iced coffee from 1920. Glass topped with whipped cream, with two straws for drinking.
This is iced coffe in 1920. Refreshing, cool, and topped with sweet whipped cream.

Let’s turn the clock back a little. While paging through a magazine that arrived in U. S. mailboxes during the summer of 1920, I found a photo and caption extolling the deliciousness of iced coffee. The food editor suggested topping it with sweet whipped cream and serving with a straw. Sound a bit familiar? The process was so simple that no detailed recipe appears with the photo. Pour chilled coffee over ice into a glass. Add a nice inch-high dollop of whipped cream to the top and stick a straw into the glass. Serve.

And then, only a few years later, a cookbook featured a selection of iced coffee recipes. Instead of one “pour fresh coffee over ice and drink” suggestion, readers received almost an entire page of tantalizing coffee recipes. The iced coffee revolution had arrived. The year: 1924.

Here are four of those iced coffee recipes, written in current language. I include the original base recipe plus three variations. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, an electric blender or smoothie maker will work. Blend just until mixed. You don’t want to heat up the coffee after chilling it and mixing it with ice or ice cream.

So the next time you take a refreshing drink of ice-cold coffee, you can thank vintage cooks going back to 1920 and maybe even as far back as 1840s Algeria. But that’s another story.

Iced Coffee for a Warm Day

This 1920s iced coffee recipe and its variations will keep you historically cool on hot days.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Cooling Time2 hours
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coffee, cold, Frappe, iced


  • Coffee maker
  • Cocktail shaker (for frappé or frosted variation)


  • 4 tbsp coffee ground for your coffee maker
  • water to fill the coffee maker to the 4-serving line
  • 4 tbsp sugar optional; may use less (or more) to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (double cream) optional; may use less (or more) to taste
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream For Frosted Coffee variation
  • 3 cups ginger ale OR apple cider For Cider or Ginger Ale variation
  • ice to fill 4 glasses 1/3 – 1/2 full preferably crushed


  • Brew 4 cups of coffee.
  • Let cool for at least 2 hours, especially if you use a percolator or another method that produces very hot coffee. If making this in advance, chill in the refrigerator for several hours.
  • Fill each glass halfway with ice, and then pour the cooled coffee over.
  • Add sugar and cream to taste.

Frappé Coffee Variation

  • Fill a cocktail shaker 1/3 with ice, heavy cream, and sugar. Add freshly-made chilled or cooled coffee and shake. Serve. Repeat for the other three servings.

Frosted Coffee Variation

  • Combine 1 cup strong, chilled coffee with 2 tablespoons of vanilla ice cream in a cocktail shaker. Shake until the ice cream dissolves, and serve. Repeat for other three servings.

Iced Coffee with Apple Cider or Ginger Ale

  • Fill each glass 1/4 full with ice. Add 1/2 cup chilled or cooled coffee, and then top with cider or ginger ale — one or the other, not both.