THE laying out of deserts depending so much on taste and fancy, very little is necessary to be said. The plates subjoined will serve to show the manner they are placed on the table. In large deserts, it is necessary that the desert be laid down upon the floor of an adjoining room, in the same order it is to be placed upon the table, a short time before serving, leaving spaces for the ice fruits. You place yourself at the head of the desert, having it betwixt you and the servants who carry it in. Take up two plates, and in putting them into the hands of the servants cross your hands, and so go down the range next you; the row next them does not require the crossing of the hands. There is generally two plates of each article in a desert; but when for a very large company, four plates of each. The fruits are garnished with sprigs of myrtle, laurel, bay, boxwood, &c. and are placed in corresponding angles of the table, or on opposite angles of divisions. The following articles are what deserts are generally composed of, out of which may be chosen what you like best.
|Burnt, or Crisped Almonds|
|Preserved Oranges whole|
|Orange and Lemon Chips|
|Ditto Pine Apples|
|Wafers, white and coloured|
|Oranges with Custards|
|Artificial Fruits in Ice|
|Red and White Currants|
|Melon in Flummery|
|Temple in ditto, &c.|
Along the middle of the table are placed ornamental frames at equal distances; betwixt each, may be placed three salvers, one upon the top of the other, and fixed by means of a composition made of bees wax, rosin, and a little tallow, melted in a pipkin; and when cold work a little of it soft and fix the bottoms of the salvers. In the top glass may be placed a preserved orange carved, and in the top place candied angelica, cut in the form of leaves. Upon the salvers are placed jellies, creams, syllabubs, and wet or dry sweetmeats, in small crystal dishes, and garnished with flowers. The frames are mirrors, upon which are fixed trees, castles, temples, bridges, waterfalls, flowers, &c. by means of the wax; the walks are then strewed with the pounded marble, which may be coloured to imitate walks, grass, &c. or green wax made to imitate grass. There is another kind of ornaments in more general use, made of wire and gum paste, gold, and coloured foils, into a variety of fanciful shapes. These ornaments may be bought from three to ten guineas a set. But it is now customary for confectioners to hire out ornaments for deserts.
Ornaments require great care in keeping, and when you are done with them they should be carefully packed in boxes, with paper shavings, the lids put on with screw nails, and paper pasted round all the joinings of the boxes, to keep out dust or smoke, which would entirely destroy them. The ices are the last thing placed upon the table in deserts, and ought to remain amongst the ice in the tub until a few minutes before sending in the desert; dip the moulds in cold water and they will slip out easily.
When fresh strawberries compose part of a desert, a small bason of cream, and one of grated loaf sugar, should be placed beside them. Fresh fruits should always be preferred when in proper season; the brandy and preserved fruits, when others cannot be got. Garnishing with flowers, has at all times a chearful and pleasing effect.
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