Artful Ways To Frost And Decorate…The Main Course

IMG Swans Down promo 1947

I had never heard of a frosted ham until I read about it in Carolyn Coggins’ Successful Entertaining At Home (1952). She is the lady who writes about how to give a cocktail party in a tiny apartment when your kitchen is so small that it can be concealed behind a curtain (i.e. about the size of a shower stall). She got the ham idea from “the chef at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico [who] arranges the most beautiful buffet each Sunday evening that I have ever seen.” His 35′ long buffet table is full of “breathtaking things” which include “an enormous frosted ham.” (The use of this adjective always reminds me of the Seinfeld episode called “The Hamptons,” in which an ugly baby and Elaine are both called “breathtaking.”)

Frosted Ham

For frosted ham (let us pretend you have two small ones), neither score nor glaze, but bake until completely done. When the rind has been removed, cool and slice one ham, leaving the other whole. Make whatever size slices you desire, half or fourth of a slice wedges. Cover the whole ham with iced, boiled frosting and decorate with candied fruits, citron and fruit peels exactly as you would decorate a handsome cake. Then use the same frosting and similar decorations for the ham slices, arranging them on a large tray so tht people can help themselves.

This is really reminding me of that sausage Bundt cake I wrote about awhile ago. Why would you want a ham to look like a big old fruitcake, no matter how “handsome’ it was? I understand that ham goes well with sweet things like – well, sweet potatoes, and pineapple if you must. Or a spiced fruit compote, maybe – though that would be better with pork chops or something. But boiled or royal icing – not so much. And what about the business of decorating each slice individually? That sounds like a good way to drive myself crazy AND make a mess.

But people liked their frosted hams, apparently. Take a look at this ad from 1959 – just mentally add some candied fruit and you have Ms. Coggins’ masterpiece. Although it is studded with little greenish dots – so that frosting could be cream cheese and chives. I can’t read the text so I don’t know.

We are having a roast ham today and it will not be coming anywhere near cake frosting or candied cherries either!

Ms. Coggins also suggests that for Easter we can also “mold colored gelatin half-eggs in egg cups” and stick them together with mayonnaise “to make an Easter egg dessert.” No, no – please. No mayonnaise in the dessert – and no icing on the ham! Why don’t we just switch  them quietly and see if that isn’t loads better.

[P.S. I know that you can use mayonnaise in some cake recipes; I will go and find one to share with you for my next post, to contrast with the frosted ham].

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