Blancmange and Little Women + A Pre-Order Bonus

Blancmange with Strawberries from The Little Women Cookbook.

“ ‘That looks too pretty to eat,’ Laurie said, smiling with pleasure, as Jo uncovered the dish, and showed the blanc-mange, surrounded by a garland of green leaves, and the scarlet flowers of Amy’s pet geranium.”

Blancmange is the quintessential dessert in Little Women, and it’s one of my favorite recipes in my upcoming Little Women Cookbook. This creamy dessert is a little like a custard, but thickened with gelatin instead of eggs.

I especially love this dessert in summer when served with zippy and bright fruit sauces or fresh fruit. It does this neat trick that I love in a great dessert: It’s both rich (because it’s made with milk and cream) and refreshing (because it’s chilled and served with that bright fruit sauce).

Trouble is, my cookbook doesn’t come out until October 1st. And while there are many great autumn-worthy desserts in the book (Jo’s Gingerbread and Apple Turnovers, for instance), I think the Blancmange recipe is best right now. That is, with summer fruits or fruit sauces.

So, I’ve partnered with my publisher (Harvard Common Press/Quarto Publishing) to put together a mini e-cookbook that offers my master recipe for Blancmange with Strawberries, plus five great sauces to go with it: The five bright and zingy sauces are: Raspberry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Peach, and Cherry.

The Little Women Cookbook: Due out October 1, but you can get a taste of it if you pre-order today.

While a master recipe for blancmange with strawberries will appear in the Little Women Cookbook, the optional summery sauces will not. We simply didn’t have room to put them all in!

To get this e-cookbook (which also tells the story of Blancmange back in the days of Little Women), all you need do is pre-order The Little Women Cookbook, then send a proof of purchase (such as a screen shot of the order details OR the order confirmation email from Amazon) to 

Within one business day, you should receive the ebook. I think you’ll really enjoy it — and it will give you a taste of the kinds of recipes and historical lore you’ll find in the upcoming cookbook.

By the way: Yes — if you already bought the book, you qualify for the free e-book. Just send in your order details OR the order confirmation email from Amazon to

Also — the great thing about pre-ordering on Amazon is that you get their “Pre-Order Price Guarantee.” That means the price Amazon charges when they ship the book will be the lowest price offered by between the time you placed your order and the end of the day of the release date. Amazon’s prices fluctuate often, so ordering now is a great way to ensure you’ll get the best price.

Enjoy. And thank you for reading Chez Bonne Femme.

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Kugen Is My New Clafouti

Last spring, while writing The Little Women Cookbook, I dove deep into the realm of 19th-century American cooking. While the book is finished and being printed as I write this, I continue to seek out and fall in love with heirloom American recipes.

They aren’t just good for a trip down nostalgia lane. They’re good, period.

Here’s one recipe that I recently wrote about in a recent issue of dsm magazine. Though it didn’t make it into my book (this pie is more early-20th century than Civil War era), it fits into the spirit of gratifying, simple-yet-splendid food from years gone by.

This Berry Kugen is a century-old recipe of my friend Vicki Goldsmith, a retired school-teacher who was once named Iowa Teacher of the Year. Vicki got the recipe from her farmwife-grandmother, Laura Keck.

The dessert, a fruit-and-custard pie, was originally the recipe of Laura Keck’s mother-in-law, Manno, who hailed from Germany. Goldsmith guesses that the pie was a “farmwife’s last resort.”

Last night I made this with dark sweet cherries and blueberries. Divine.

“It was likely something my great-grandmother came up with when she didn’t have quite enough fruit to make a double-crust fruit pie,” Goldsmith says. She estimates that the pie first appeared on her family’s table in 1919, when Laura Keck married Vicki’s grandfather.

Vicki’s bright fruit-filled, sweet-and-tangy pie is a revelation. Read all about it — and get the recipe — on the dsm Magazine website.

P.S.: I just made it again last night — with sweet red cherries and blueberries — and it was splendid. Enjoy!

P.P.S: Curious about my new cookbook? Find out more, here.

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Announcing ... The Little Women Cookbook

Note: This post uses affiliate links, meaning that (at no additional cost to you), I will earn a commission if you make a purchase through any of these links.

Announcing: Recipes from Little Women

Hello friends. I’m very happy to tell you about my next project, The Little Women Cookbook. It’s coming out this October 1st, in advance of a new film version of the movie, starring two of today’s most gifted actors, Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, in the leading roles. Oh, and if that’s not enough, Meryl Streep is in it, too (!).

Here’s my “elevator speech” about the book:

The Little Women Cookbook celebrates the scrumptious and comforting food that play a prominent role in Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women. Recipes include Blanc-Mange, Apple Turnovers, Vanilla Butter Cookies with Mr. Bhaer’s Chocolate Drops, Amy’s “Pickled Lime” Sugar Cookies, Hannah’s Turnovers, Hannah’s Pounded Potatoes, Captivating Little Tarts, Jo’s Gingerbread Cake, and other breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes inspired by the foods that the March family and their friends enjoyed throughout the book, plus more recipes from the time period. The book also holds fascinating insights into the way Americans cooked and dined during the era of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Fans of Little Women — both the book and the upcoming film version starring Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, and Emma Watson — will love recreating these heirloom recipes for friends and family. Author Wini Moranville, an established cookbook author and veteran food writer and editor, has ensured that each recipe calls on a straightforward instructions and easy-to-find ingredients. Combining modern ease with the warmth and spirit of yesteryear’s cooking, Wini has ensured that the recipes beloved by the March family will become your favorites, too.

Let me tell you — I had a blast researching and writing about foods from the book and time period. The testing + eating = pure joy. I’ll share some of my more fascinating discoveries in future posts (e.g.: Did you know that exotic spices were thing in the Marches’s time? Sriracha sauce has nothing on some of the condiments of their time).

Here are a few images from the book (Yes! There will be photos!)


So … I’d like to ask you a favor. If you’re interested in this book (and I hope you are!), I would be very grateful if you’d pre-order it from Amazon. From what I understand, pre-orders can make or break sales of a book. So if you know any fans of Little Women (or if you’re a fan yourself), or if you enjoy the warmth and well-being of great American home cooking … please consider ordering it.

By the way — order now and if the price decreases between your order time and the release date, you’ll receive the lowest price. Because’s prices fluctuate often, this is a great way to guarantee you’ll get the best price between now and then.

I’ll leave you with a few images from my recipe testing … they’re not nearly as pretty as the photos from the book, but they do tell a good story, I think.

Every morning, Hannah, the March family’s Irish cook, bakes hot turnovers for the sisters to help them keep their hands warm on the way to work and school. Here, then, are Hannah’s Turnovers (before being turned over and baked, of course!). Savory cheese-butter crust with a dot of sweet jam filling. Oh my.


Mr. Bhaer always brings Meg’s twins chocolate drop candies. And so, I made these treats into “Vanilla Cookies with Mr. Bhaer’s Chocolate Drops.” So. Good.


Remember all the trouble that Amy gets into when she brings pickled limes to school? These “Pickled Lime” Sugar Cookies are a tip of the hat to that little fiasco.

There are many more recipes that honor the honest and gratifying food of that book and time period. Got any questions? Ask them below! And thanks for your consideration.

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