One day, while looking through “The British Housewife; or, the Cook, Housekeeper’s, and Gardiner’s Companion” by Mrs. Martha Bradley (1756), I came upon a dessert recipe invitingly titled “velvet cream.” But its first words were, “Clean a couple of Fowls’ Gizzards perfectly well, slash them with a Knife, and set them in Readiness.”
There followed a confusing business of heating cream with sugar, pouring a few spoonfuls of it over a cupful of gizzards, letting it cool, setting the cup of gizzards over warm embers awhile and then mixing this with the rest of the cream. After repeating this three or four times, you finally cooked the cream for a quarter of an hour.
I absolutely had to give it a try. But the cup business made no sense, so I just simmered the gizzards in cream and then strained them out. After a couple of hours in the refrigerator, the cream developed what Mrs. Bradley called a “Softness.” In fact, it was like a luscious pudding. It turns out that gizzards contain high-quality gelatin.
You’d have to work hard to detect any gizzard flavor in velvet cream (it would be different if you were putting in chicken livers). Still, Mrs. Bradley’s coffee-flavored variant is more to modern taste. Everybody I’ve tried it on has gobbled it up, though I find it’s best not to tell them what they’re eating first. If you want to make it, follow the directions exactly.