The confectioner's rich productions, though they do not take precedence in the entertainments of the evening, yet fail not, when the reign of the chef de cuisine has ended, to divide the pleasures of the dinner, of the banquet, and the ball, with those of the cook's recent labours; for the works of the confectioner stand high in artistic skill and bold device. — "Confectionery — the poetry of the kitchen."
Where a confectioner is kept, the housekeeper is eased of the duty of preserving; — and in passingly speaking of the housekeeper, it cannot but in justice be admitted that no establishment can identify its perfect management more strikingly and successfully than that one possessing the excellence of a good housekeeper — of one knowing the requirements of her house, and in vigilant carefulness ever active in providing for them.
The still-room maid has her duties chiefly devoted to the housekeeper; yet many of her instructions are also received from the confectioner.
The style of working the different sugars according to art is the base of the confectioner's talent; and sugar to him, in its vaiious processes, is of as much value and consideration as stock is to the chef de cuisine. His art is ever to vary the degrees and forms of his sugars into caramels, bon-bons, and candies. In his art is all his genius thrown, showing therein its variety and scope of invention and improvement; and the able confectioner is as active in producing new improvements as is the chef de cuisine in his particular department.
There have been many writers upon cookery, yet, strange to say, there are but few confectioners who have written in this country upon their tasteful and elegant art; and confectioners now seem so few, that for every one of them you may reckon ten cooks. In fact, the confectioner is found only in the palace, or some few of the mansions of the wealthy. It hence would almost appear that the value of this class of artist is much on the decline, and his art open to piracy. How often is this effect apparent when the splendid dinner is given! — Cleaving the whole of the preparation and arrangement of the dessert to the housekeeper; and she, however clever, cannot, among the multiplicity of other duties which she necessarily has to attend to at such entertainment, properly devote her time to this department.
Good dinners are always worthy of a good confectioner: his style of dressing his dessert, the arrangements of his asaiettes-montees, tambours, compotes, and ices, at once point out the sterling value of this artist on such occasions.
We know not why the confectioner is so seldom to be found in the establishment of the noble, since the value of his services must be admitted; for by them he not only adds to the usefulness of the establishment, but also to its economy. There is nothing brought from the garden of the nature of fruit, which otherwise might go to decay, but by his ingenuity he preserves, and converts to a future delicacy for the table; and in the same way, those fruits which, after having been presented at the dessert and left unused, he applies his skill and taste to preserve for future use.
The second course of an elegant dinner, either in the palace or elsewhere, developes the ability and ingenuity of the pastry-cook; since at this stage of the dinner his talent undergoes ordeal, whether it be in his flans a la Pairisienne, a la Milanoise, de marrons, timhales of rice or macaroni, souffles, croque-en-bouches, beignets, plombieres, croquettes, meringuea, gelees, cremees, vol-au-vents, for the construction of his elegant piece montee, for he to this portion of the service chiefly yields the supply, the exceptions being wholly of roasts, flanks, and the vegetable productions.
But though, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, the cook may have to perform not only his own duty, but that of the pastry-cook, and, indeed, sometimes in addition that of the confectioner, yet when the grandeur of entertainment calls forth the ball, it cannot be accomplished without the united aid of the talents of the cook, the confectioner, and the pastry-cook, each in his department, harmonized to complete the chef-d'oeuvre.
The pastry-cook's services are largely drawn upon by the ball, as he has, among many other things, to supply or furnish the sultanes, nougats, macarons, biscuits, gateaux, biscottes, masse-pains, cremes, baba, brioches, corbeillesy, Charlottes, gelles, and pieces montees.