Blancmange (pronounced /bləˈmɒnʒ/ or /bləˈmɑːndʒ/, also known as shape) is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mould and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given a pink color as well. Some similar desserts are Bavarian cream, vanilla pudding (in US usage), panna cotta, and haupia.
The historical blancmange originated some time in the Middle Ages and usually consisted of capon or chicken, milk or almond milk, rice and sugar and was considered to be an ideal food for the sick. Tavuk göğsü, a Turkish dish still in use today, is made with shredded chicken, as was the medieval European dish.
The true origin of the blancmange is obscure, but it is believed that it was a result of the Arab introduction of rice and almonds in early medieval Europe. However, there is no evidence of the existence of any similar Arab dishes from that period; though the Arabic mahallabīyah is similar, its origins are uncertain. Several other names for related or similar dishes existed in Europe, such as the 13th century Danish hwit moos ("white mush"), the Anglo-Norman blanc desirree ("white Syrian dish") and Dutch calijs (from Latin colare, "to strain"). The oldest recipe found so far is from a copy of a Danish translation of German original by Henrik Harpestræng (died 1244), which dates back to the early 13th century at the latest. The German original is in turn assumed to have been based on a Latin or Romance vernacular manuscript from the 12th century or even earlier.
The "whitedish" (from the original Old French term blanc mangier) was an upper-class dish common to most of Europe during the Middle Ages and early modern period. It occurs in countless variations from recipe collections from all over Europe and is mentioned in the prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and in an early 15th century cookbook written by the chefs of Richard II. The basic ingredients were milk or almond milk, sugar and shredded chicken (usually capon) or fish, and often combined with rosewater, rice flour, and mixed into a bland stew. Almond milk and fish were used as substitutes for the other animal products on fast days and Lent. It was also often flavored with spices like saffron or cinnamon and the chicken could be exchanged for various types of fowl, like quail or partridge. Spices were often used in recipes of the later Middle Ages since they were considered highly prestigious. The whitedish was one of the preparations that could be found in recipe collections all over Europe and one of the few truly international dishes of medieval and early modern Europe.
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