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Entries in cake history (57)

Tuesday
Feb022010

Peanutty Buddies: The Famous Salted Peanut Crisps of 1950-55

So, I wasn't actually alive in 1950, but if I had been, I can tell you what cookie I would have been eating: the Salted Peanut Crisp. According to my favorite source for all things cookie, the Betty Crocker's Cooky Book , this cookie was in high demand mid-century. As the recipe introduction notes,

Cookies Please the Younger Set -- The baby boom, begun following World War II, continues in the new decade. With "kids" in the house, cookies disappear like magic and "moms" need quick and easy cookies like this one.

Now, perhaps it's not so unexpected that recipes containing peanuts in general were rising in popularity during this time--during the war, when meat shortages were common, peanuts and peanut butter became a much valued source of inexpensive protein. Of course, after becoming hooked on its deliciousness, peanut butter sandwiches were to become an enduring staple in lunches everywhere, and the cookies and confections containing the rich, flavorful stuff were here to stay.

And to that point, as is further noted in the recipe intro,

One of our home testers wrote, "My 12-year old son carried them out by the handful." "Only modesty prevents me from calling them perfect plus," said another tester.

And you know what? Over 50 years later, I concur. Of course, I made a couple small alterations in the recipe to better suit them for modern times--first, where the original calls for 2 cups of salted peanuts, I did about 1 cup salted peanuts and 1 cup peanut butter; this gave them a nice density and chewiness. Second, instead of dropping the dough on the cookie sheet by teaspoonfuls, I went ahead and used an ice cream scoop--so instead of 6 dozen small cookies, I got about 2 dozen jumbo cookies, some of which I stuffed with mini peanut butter cups inside the dough for an even more decadent outcome. And it turns out that bigger and more decadent is even better: these cookies managed to turn at least one peanut butter cookie hater into a believer, and I hear that they even derailed an Atkins Diet follower. Yes!

Here's the recipe:

Salted Peanut Butter Crisps 

(Note: Though they are officially "Salted Peanut Crisps", since I added peanut butter too I have taken liberties)

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book  

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 cup peanut butter 

(Note: original recipe calls for 2 cups salted peanuts and no peanut butter; feel free to play with the ratios)

Procedure

  1. Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment; put to the side.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (original recipe calls for 375 but I found a longer bake at the lower temperature worked better, possibly because I made my cookies bigger).
  3. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla thoroughly.
  4. Sift flour and blend with soda and salt; stir in with wet ingredients. Mix in peanuts and peanut butter.
  5. Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop the dough and release onto your prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. If desired, place a mini peanut butter cup in the center of the dough while it is still in the scoop, shaping the dough around it so that the dough fully covers the candy before releasing it on to the baking sheet. 
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges (if you make your cookies smaller, it may be more like 8-10 minutes).
Tuesday
Jan052010

King of the Hill: The Difference Between Galettes des Rois and King Cake

Galette des rois Vs. King Cake
CakeSpy Note: the King Cake photo above left is from a previous post on this site, from flickr user bobby_emm.

Christmas may be over, but the season of the King is just about to begin. No, not Elvis--we're talking King Cake. And as the Epiphany (aka King Cake Kickoff Date) draws ever closer, it seemed like a good time to examine the Galette des Rois and the King Cake to see some of the differences. Ready?

First, let's discuss the physical differences--what are these cakes?

Galette Des Rois: This cake consists of rounds of flaky puff pastry, layered with a gorgeously dense filling of frangipane. By many accounts, this popular version of the cake seems to hail from northern France.

King Cake: This version, as we know it in the USA, is largely associated with New Orleans, and is defined by wikipedia as "a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors)... Some varieties have filling inside, the most common being cream cheese followed by praline."

Both cakes are often garnished with crowns--the galette des rois version commonly being a paper version which can be worn.

Based on my research, the New Orleans King Cake more closely resembles another regional French variation which goes by various names: Gâteau des Rois, or sometimes the couronne, or sometimes the Twelfth Night Cake, which is made of brioche and candied fruits--one could surmise that the New Orleans version is a derivation of this. (Note: Not to confuse things, but it does seem that occasionally galette des rois and gateau des rois are used interchangeably).

Physical differences aside, there are several other subtle differences between the two cakes:

The Trinket

With both the Galette des Rois and the King Cake, there will be a trinket hidden inside the cake, and the person who finds it in their slice is declared "King". However, what the trinket is can vary.

With the Galette des Rois, Individual bakeries may offer a specialized line of fèves depicting diverse themes from great works of art to classic movie stars and popular cartoon characters. According to Dorie Greenspan's entry on Serious Eats,

Feve means bean and, originally, that’s what the trinket was. But over the years, while the word feve remained, the beans gave way to fanciful trinkets. (There are feve collectors all over the world now.) It probably goes without saying, but this being Paris, the best pastry chefs change their feves each year and, yes, vie to be the most original.


With the King Cake, while variations exist, by far the most popular trinket is a baby figurine. Why? Well, as you learned in last year's King Cake entry, some say is to represent the young Christ of the epiphany; however, we like this explanation so much better: "a local bakery chain got a large shipment of such plastic dolls from Hong Kong very cheaply in the 1950's and had to use them up and there is no more signifigance than that." Who knows the real truth, but hey, it makes a good story.

Galettes des rois
The Duties of the King

Additionally, the duties associated with being crowned king can vary. With both cakes, the lucky trinket-finder gets to wear the crown that traditionally garnishes the cake; while in both cases this person is declared king of the moment, it seems that a tradition more closely tied to the King Cake is that this person is also responsible for buying the cake for the next party. It would make sense that this tradition is tied only with the King Cake though, as it is available for a longer period of time and therefore there would be more occasions for the cake to be served. Which brings us to the next point...

Dates Available

Another major difference between the cakes is the dates of availability. Though both make their big debut on the Epiphany (January 6), the Galette des Rois has a noticeably shorter season--it is generally available through the month of January, whereas the King Cake will be available for the full Carnival Season, culminating on Mardi Gras (mid to late February, or sometimes even March).

Want more?

Now, by this point you may be feeling a royal hankering for one or the other of these cakes--happily, there are sweet, sweet resources for you. Ready?

Here is a recipe for the galette des rois; here is a recipe for the King Cake.

As for places to buy? 

For the galette des rois, look to your local French bakery--anyone worth their fleur de sel should have it available at least on January 6th. As for the King Cake? Alas a harder species to find, unless you're in the New Orleans area--however, joyfully, several bakeries, such as Gambino's, Haydel Bakery, and Randazzo will ship King Cakes anywhere in the US.

Wednesday
Dec232009

America the Sweet: The First Published Christmas Cookie Recipe in America

Christmas cookies
Christmas is rich in tradition--and equally rich in cookies (hooray!). But have you ever paused to wonder what the cookie selection might have been like for our ancestors?

Well, in case you had been curious, here is a recipe from what is largely considered America's first cookbook (to clarify, the first cookbook featuring American food published in America--there had been other British books which had been released here previously), American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, which was published in 1796.

If these cookies sound more like hockey pucks than delicious treats to you, please, don't despair--after all, as Amelia advises that "if put in an earthen pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when six months old." Whew!

Christmas Cookey

From American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, 1796

"To three pound of flour, sprinkle a tea cup of fine powdered coriander seed, rub in one pound of butter, and one and a half pound sugar, dissolve one teaspoonful of pearlash (a rising agent) in a tea cup of milk, knead all together well, roll three quarters of an inch thick, and cut or stamp into shape and slice you please, bake slowly fifteen or twenty minutes; tho' hard and dry at first, if put in an earthen pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when six months old."

Friday
Nov132009

Sweet Celebrities: A List of Pastries and Desserts Named After People

Desserts Named After People
Having a food named after you seems like the ultimate legacy--until you consider someone like Gustave Doré, a French illustrator of the 19th century for whom the dish Estomacs de dinde à la Gustave Doré was named. (Hint: estomac means stomach, and dinde means turkey. Yeah.) What follows is a much sweeter list of legacies: a collection of desserts named after people (both real, and fictional).

CakeSpy Note: How was this list made? I started by first consulting Wikipedia's list of Foods Named After People, (which also served as the inspiration for this list); then I consulted other various sources and added a number of other desserts named after people which I discovered; then, each entry was expanded to include a description, interesting stories (and in some cases myth-busters!), and where possible, recipes. If you've got one to add, please leave a comment or send me an email!

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Big Hearted Al Candy Bar: Alas you won't find this one in drugstores: it was a short-lived confection named after an early-20th-century presidential candidate Al Smith (1873–1944).

Ali Babas: Alas, it's not the fictional character that this one is named after: per Wikipedia, though, "The original form of the baba was similar to the babka, a tall cylindrical yeast cake. The name means 'old woman' or 'grandmother' in the Slavic languages, and has nothing to do with Ali Baba; babka is a diminutive of the same word."

Alexandertorte: What's for sure is that this treat consists of pastry strips filled with raspberry preserves. Who invented it is a little hazier: Alexander I was gourmet Russian tsar who employed Antonin Carême. Per this site, Finland claims the creation, allegedly by Swiss pastry chefs in Helsinki in 1818, in anticipation of the tsar's visit there. Here's a recipe.

Gâteau Alexandra: Per Wikipedia, like her husband Edward VII, Alexandra of Denmark (1844–1925) was honored by an assortment of foods named after her when she was Princess of Wales and Queen. Besides this chocolate cake, there is consommé Alexandra, soup, sole, chicken quail, and various meat dishes.

Amundsen's Dessert: Roald Amundsen (1872–1928) was a great Norwegian polar explorer who ultimately met his end in an Arctic plane crash--allegedly he was served a was served this dessert before departing on his final flight, but I haven't been able to locate a recipe.

Anadama bread
Anadama Bread: There are several legends behind this bread (including a family that claims ownership), so I'm going to go with my favorite one: "A fisherman, angry with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing but cornmeal and molasses, one day adds flour and yeast to his porridge and eats the resultant bread, while cursing, 'Anna, damn her.' " Oh Anna, you may have been cursed, but the bread is so sweet, and delicious when liberally buttered. Here's a recipe from the wonderful Melissa Clark.

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Lady Baltimore Cake
Lady Baltimore Cake: Per What's Cooking America, A Southern specialty that in the present day has many recipe variations. A favorite wedding cake, this mountainous cake is a white cake topped with a boiled or "Seven Minute Frosting." What makes the cake so distinctive is the combination of chopped nuts and dried or candied fruits in its frosting. It takes its name from the main character in Owen Wister's Lady Baltimore. For more lore and a vintage recipe, visit The Old Foodie.

Battenberg Cake
Battenberg cake (also called window cake): Per Wikipedia: This is a sponge cake which, when cut in cross section, displays a distinctive two-by-two check pattern alternately colored pink and yellow. The cake is covered in marzipan and, when sliced, the characteristic checks are exposed to view. These coloured sections are made by dying half of the cake mixture pink, and half yellow, then cutting each resultant sponge into two long, uniform cuboids, and joining them together with apricot jam, to form one cake. Though the origins of the name are not clear, it is rumored that the cake was created in honor of the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria's grand-daughter to Prince Battenburg, with each of the four squares representing each of the four Battenburg Princes: Louis, Alexander, Henry and Francis Joseph. Here's a recipe.

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes: This sweet seems to waver between cookie and cake, but generally consists of a rich, nutty filling enrobed in chocolate. Either way, they take their name from famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923). Here's a recipe.

Betty: A Betty (or frequently, Apple Brown Betty) is a dessert which consists of a baked pudding made with layers of sweetened and spiced fruit (commonly apples) and buttered bread crumbs. It is usually served with a lemon sauce or whipped cream. The thing I can't tell you is who Betty is (do you know?); however, I can share a recipe I found.

Bismarck: Is the filled doughnut named for Otto Von Bismarck? Some say yes, some say no, but I like the explanation on Joe Pastry:

Some claim Bismarcks are called Bismarcks because Otto von Bismarck was fond of them. There's really no proof of this, since the only thing Bismarck was actually known to have an appetite for were small Northern European nation states. My guess is that the Bismarck got its name not because the Iron Chancellor loved to eat them, but because, being fairly plump pieces of pastry, they rather resembled him (he was not a thin man). But who really knows?

Either way, here's a recipe.

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Charlotte Corday: This ice cream dessert, dreamed up by Charles Ranhofer of Delmonico's, is named after Charlotte Corday (1768–1793), the assassin of the radical Jean-Paul Marat. The directions, from Ranhofer's The Epicurean Part Two are as follows:

Obtain some round crimped paper cases; cover the bottoms and sides with uncooked Andalusian ice cream and fill the centers with biscuit glacé preparation with vanilla, adding a little maraschino to it; also put in some candied orange peel cut in exceedingly thin fillets; powder the tops with pulverized macaroons and cover this with Andalusian ice cream and candied fruits. Lay them in a freezing box for an hour to finish freezing.

Apple Charlotte: Per What's Cooking America, This is a golden-crusted dessert made by baking a thick apple compote in a mold lined with buttered bread. This dessert was originally created as a way to use leftover or stale bread. Some historians think that this sweet dish took its name from Queen Charlotte, known as being a supporter of apple growers.

Charlotte Russe
Charlotte Russe: A cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers; it was invented by the French chef Marie Antoine Carême (1784–1833), who either named it in honor of his Russian employer Czar Alexander I ("Russe" being the French equivalent of the adjective, "Russian") or Queen Charlotte (1744–1818), wife of George III.

Chiboust ingredients
Chiboust cream: This heavenly substantce is a crème pâtissière (pastry cream) lightened with whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg whites. It is eponymously titled for the French pastry chef Chiboust who invented it in the 1840s, intending to use it to fill his Gâteau Saint-Honoré. The filling is also sometimes called Saint-Honoré cream, and I have also seen cream filled pastries called simply Chiboust. Check out this recipe which includes vanilla chiboust (along with caramelized bananas and doughnuts? Booyea!).

Peaches a la Cleveland
Peach pudding à la Cleveland: Another dish by Charles Ranhofer, named for Grover Cleveland (1837–1908), 22nd and 24th U.S. president--although Cleveland was reputed to not much like French food.

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Little Debbie Cakes
Little Debbie Cakes: Oh, to have an entire line of snack cakes named after you! Such is the case of the Little Debbie Brand--the story goes as follows (via the Little Debbie website):

In 1960, McKee Foods founder O.D. McKee was trying to come up with a catchy name for their new family-pack cartons of snack cakes. Packaging supplier Bob Mosher suggested using a family member's name. Thinking of what could be a good fit for the brand, O.D. arrived at the name of his 4-year-old granddaughter Debbie. Inspired by a photo of Debbie in play clothes and her favorite straw hat, he decided to use the name Little Debbie® and the image of her on the logo. Not until the first cartons were being printed did Debbie's parents, Ellsworth and Sharon McKee, discover that their daughter was the namesake of the new brand.

Oh, and if you want more Little Debbie fun, check this out.

Desdemona: Per The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections: A Comprehensive Guide This is a pastry composed of two 3-inch round biscuits sandwiched together with vanilla whipped cream, brushed with apricot glaze, and covered in a kirsch-flavored fondant; it is named after the wife of Othello in the Shakespeare play. I only wish I had a recipe!

Dione's Chocolate Roll: This very chocolatey jellyroll style cake was the single dessert served at onetime NYC eatery The Egg Basket, and was named for proprietress Dionne Lucas. A recipe can be found in Maida Heatter's Great Desserts, and a variation can be found here.

Dobostorte
Doboschtorte or Dobostorta: Per Wikipedia, It is a five-layer sponge cake, layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with thin caramel slices. The sides of the cake are sometimes coated with ground hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts or almonds but the original cake is without coat, since it was a slice of a big cake. It is named for its creator, Hungarian pastry chef Josef Dobos. Just look at this recipe.

Hello Dolly Bar
Hello Dolly Bars: I'll be honest. I don't know the story behind the name of these bars, which also go by "Seven Layer Bars"--but I love the taste enough to include them in this roundup. Here's a recipe.

Lorna Doone: This packaged shortbread cookie made by Nabisco takes its name from the character of the same name in the novel Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor (read more here). Want to try to make your own at home? Try this recipe.

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Mamie Eisenhower fudge: This rich, creamy fudge (which is also called "Million Dollar Fudge") takes its name from the first lady and the wife of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mamie D. Eisenhower. It was her contribution to a 1950's collection of recipes published by Women's National Press Club of Washington, D.C. Here's the recipe as it appeared in that book.

Elvis: I am going to go ahead and say that the banana, peanut butter and fluff combination is associated enough with Elvis to make the list. Uses for the flavor combination range from his favorite sandwich to pies and cakes. Here's just one wonderful recipe.

Essie's Cookies: This recipe, which I found in Betty Crocker's Cooky Book
, is a simple rolled cookie with almond extract; as to who Essie is, I haven't the faintest, but here's a recipe.

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Bananas Foster
Bananas Foster: This dish which beautifully melds bananas, booze, and fire, is named after Richard Foster, regular customer and friend of New Orleans restaurant Brennan's owner, which is where the dish originated. Here's the Brennan's recipe!

Frangipane: This is an almond pastry filling and tart, named for Marquis Muzio Frangipani, a 16th-century Italian of the Frangipane family (also known as Cesar Frangipani) living in Paris. He also invented a well-known bitter-almond scented glove perfume, used by Louis XIII. As for a recipe? How 'bout an apricot, cherry, and frangipane tart?

Joe Frogger: These molasses-rich cookies take their name from "Black Joe", whose partner, Lucretia Brown, invented the recipe.Find a recipe and more lore here.

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Cherry Garcia
Cherry Garcia ice cream: This is a cherry and chocolate flake-flecked ice cream homage to Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead by Ben & Jerry. And, there's actually a recipe to make it yourself at home!

Garibaldi biscuits: These raisin or currant-filled English biscuits were named for Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807–1882), an Italian patriot and leader of the drive to unite Italy, after his wildly popular visit to England in 1864. (Per Wikipedia, There is also a French demi-glâce sauce with mustard and anchovies, and a consommé named after him.)

German Chocolate Cake
German chocolate cake: It's named after a good German, but he wasn't actually German. This chocolate and coconut throwback to the 1950's to Sam German, who developed Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate (which falls somewhere between milk and semi-sweet) in 1852. Here's a recipe.

Gianduja: Per Wikipedia, this is a sweet chocolate containing about 30% hazelnut paste, invented in Turin by Caffarel and Prochet in 1852. It takes its name from Gianduja, a Carnival and marionette character who represents the archetypal Piedmontese, the Italian region where hazelnut confectionery is common. Here's a recipe from Dana Treat for gianduja mousse!

S'more Party!
Graham crackers: These s'more-mobiles take their name from Graham flour, which in turn takes its name from Sylvester Graham, 19th-century American Presbyterian minister and proponent of a puritan lifestyle based on teetotalling, vegetarianism, and whole wheat, who probably twists uncomfortably in his grave every time a deliciously chocolatey, marshmallowy s'more is devoured. Remember when CakeSpy introduced the world to S'moreos?

Bombe Grimaldi: Per Wikipedia, this kümmel-flavored frozen dessert probably named for a late-19th-century member or relative of Monaco's royal Grimaldi family. There is also an apple flan Grimaldi. However, I don't think either of these are related to the pizza.

Gundel Palacsinta: This is a crêpe-like pancake stuffed with rum-infused raisins and nuts and served with a chocolate-rum sauce, named for (and invented by) Hungarian chef Gundel Károly. Recipe? This one sounds good to me.

Gypsy Bar: Apparently there was a candy bar named after Gypsy Rose Lee (you know, the one that the musical was based on!). What flavor is it? Sorry friends, I am not sure.

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Hamantash (or Hamantashen): A small pastry allegedly named for the hat of the cruel Persian official outwitted by Queen Esther and hanged, Haman, in the Book of Esther. Hamentashen are traditionally eaten at Purim. You can read more here and find a recipe here!

Heath bar: This American "English toffee" bar is named for brothers Bayard and Everett Heath, Illinois confectioners who developed it in the 1920s and eventually turned the local favorite into a nationally popular candy bar. Here's a homemade Heath Bar recipe!

Oh Henry!: This candy bar, introduced by the Williamson Candy Company in Chicago, 1920, was named for a young man who frequented the company store and was often called (or perhaps admonished?) with said phrase.

Hernani Biscuit: Another Charles Ranhofer special, comprised of a Savoy biscuit with marmalade, fondant, chocolate and pastilles; possibly named for the rascal in Victor Hugo's play.

Hershey Bar: To say that Hershey is "just a chocolate bar" would be a vast understatement. It's a company, a product...and a town! And it is all named for the guy who started it all, Milton S. Hershey, who developed the bar in 1900. Read more here.

Hiroko: This raspberry Grand Marnier cream cake tart (cake and tart! at once!) takes its name from pastry chef Hiroko Ogawa; a recipe can be found in Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible .

Gateau St. Honore
Gâteau Saint-Honoré: Per Wikipedia,

this dessert is a circle of puff pastry at its base with a ring of pâte à choux piped on the outer edge. After the base is baked small cream puffs are dipped in caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top of the circle of the pâte à choux. This base is traditionally filled with crème chiboust and finished with whipped cream using a special St. Honore piping tip. The pastry is named for the French patron saint of bakers, confectioners, and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré or Honorius (d. 653), Bishop of Amiens. The pastry chef Chiboust (see Chiboust cream) is thought to have invented it in his Paris shop in 1846.

Houdini Bar: I am not sure about the origins of this delicious cream cheese, yellow cake, nut and coconut bar cookie, but I discovered it fairly recently; it is said to be named because the bars are so delicious they disappear as quickly as the famous magician. Here's the recipe.

Humboldt pudding: Another Ranhofer special, an elaborate molded pudding named after Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), the famous explorer and influential naturalist.

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Iago: Per The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections: A Comprehensive Guidethese pastries are composed of two 2-inch round biscuits sandwiched together with coffee-flavored pastry cream, brushed with apricot glaze, and covered in coffee-flavored and colored fondant. They take their name from the villain in Shakespeare's Othello.

It Bar: The connection is perhaps indirect, but this candy bar of yesteryear took its name after "It" girl Clara Bow.

J
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Cousin Jack Cookies: This name is more symbolic, a "Cousin Jack" being a catchall term to describe the working-class miner immigrants from Cornish who settled in the midwest--but these drop cookies with currants are worth noting. Here's a recipe.

Apricots with rice à la Jefferson: Another Ranhofer delight! At the time of its invention, Ranhofer used a recently developed strain of Texas rice. It was aptly named, as apparently (per Wikipedia) Jefferson was very interested in improving American rice culture.

Johnnycake: These corn cakes were not sweet, but they were some of the earliest pancakes in the USA! However, to do some myth-busting, they aren't actually named for a guy named Johnny. Per What's Cooking America,

The origin of the name johnnycakes (jonnycakes) is something of a mystery and probably has nothing to do with the name John. They were also called journey cakes because they could be carried on long trips in saddlebags and baked along the way. Some historians think that they were originally called Shawnee cakes and that the colonists slurred the words, pronouncing it as johnnycakes. Historians also think that "janiken," an American Indian word meant "corn cake," could possibly be the origin.

K
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Kaiserschmarrn: Per Wikipedia, this is a light, caramelized pancake made from a sweet batter with flour, eggs, sugar, salt and milk, baked in butter. But even better than the delicious treat is the story behind it:
It is generally agreed that the dish was first prepared for the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I (1830–1916). There are several stories. One apocryphal story involves the Emperor and his wife, Elisabeth of Bavaria, of the House of Wittelsbach. Obsessed with maintaining a minimal waistline, the Empress Elisabeth directed the royal chef to prepare only light desserts for her, much to the consternation and annoyance of her notoriously austere husband. Upon being presented with the chef’s confection, she found it too rich and refused to eat it. The exasperated Francis Joseph quipped, “Now let me see what "Schmarrn" our chef has cooked up”. It apparently met his approval as he finished his and even his wife’s serving. Thereafter, the dessert was called Kaiserschmarrn across the Empire.

Here's a recipe.

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Lafayette Gingerbread: Per Saveur, according to tradition, this gingerbread was named after General Lafayette in the 1780s after George Washington's mother served him a piece, captivating him forever. Saveur also has a recipe.

Lamingtons
Lamingtons: Per Joy of Baking, Lamingtons are very popular in Australia and consist of a small square of white cake (sponge, butter, or pound) that is dipped in a sweet chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut. I suspect Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 - 190l), their namesake, might be surprised at how popular these cakes have become. Joy of Baking also features a recipe.

Lane Cake
Lane Cake: Per this site, Lane Cake is a quintessential Southern dessert, with a signature filling of a rich coconut and raisin mix. It has been around at least since the late 1800s, when Emma Rylander Lane, of Clayton, Alabama, won first prize with it at the Alabama State Fair. The Lane cake appeared in her cookbook in 1898, when it was called “Prize Cake.” Here's a recipe.

Leibniz-Keks: This German butter biscuit (similar to petit beurre biscuits) is named for philosopher and mathematician Leibniz, although as Wikipedia informs, ". The only connection between man and biscuit is that Leibniz was one of the more famous residents of Hanover, where the Bahlsen company is based."

Lindy Candy Bar: This candy bar was named for Charles Lindbergh, the famous pilot who was first to fly solo, non-stop, across the Atlantic Ocean. He also had another bar named after him: the "Winning Lindy."

Sally Lunn: Sweet, yeast-risen buns which are considered a British classic. They are traditionally served warm, split in half and spread generously with butter or cream. So who is Sally? Well, some claim that the chef who invented them in Bath, England was named Sally Lunn. Others claim that the name actually comes from the phrase "sol et lune", a French cake. Yet others claim that it is derived from the Alsatian bread solilmeme, a rich type of brioche. Whatever the true story is though, bet you'll enjoy this recipe (which can be translated).

Lussekatter (or, St. Lucia buns): These yeast-and-saffron buns are named for Saint Lucia of Syracuse (283–304), whose name day on December 13 was once considered the longest night of the year. Lucia means "light", and these buns certainly are a ray of shining sweetness on a cold, dark night. Here's a recipe.

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Madeleine: These tres-Frenchie sponge cake cookies are best known for their shape (usually a scalloped shell) and for their famous writeup in Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Alas, which Madeleine inspired the name is a bit less clear. Per Wikipedia, some sources, including the New Oxford American Dictionary, say madeleines may have been named for a 19th century pastry cook, Madeleine Paulmier, but other sources have it that Madeleine Paulmier was a cook in the 18th century for Stanisław Leszczyński, whose son-in-law, Louis XV of France, named them for her. The Larousse Gastronomique offers two conflicting versions of the Madeleine's history. Want a recipe? How about Orange and Brown Butter madeleines, via Cannelle et Vanille?

Bain-Marie: This isn't a food, but it's a term often seen in sweet recipes: a bain-marie is a double boiler; it was initially developed for the practice of alchemy, but pretty early on it became evident that it's a great asset to baking too. But who is the Marie to whom the name can be attributed? According to Wikipedia, there are a few theories:

  • According to culinary writer Giuliano Bugialli, the term comes from the Italian bagno maria, named after Maria de'Cleofa, who developed the technique in Florence in the sixteenth century.
  • Alternatively, the device's invention has been popularly attributed to Mary the Jewess, an ancient alchemist traditionally supposed to have been Miriam, a sister of Moses.[citation needed] The name comes from the medieval-Latin term balneum (or balineum) Mariae—literally, Mary's bath—from which the French bain de Marie, or bain-marie, is derived.
  • According to The Jewish Alchemists, Maria the Jewess was an ancient alchemist who lived in Alexandria—although this would seem to contradict the tradition that she was Moses' sister: Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 334 BC, while Moses is thought to have lived around 1450-1200 BC.
Martha Washington's Cake: Also called the "Great Cake"--a behemoth which called for 40 eggs, 5 pounds of fruit, and so on, it's named for (duh) the first First Lady of the US, Martha Washington.

Poires Mary Garden: This dessert dish was created by Escoffier (who also created Peach Melba and several other dishes in honor of various famous ladies) for Mary Garden (1874–1967), a popular opera singer in Europe and the U.S. at the turn of the century.

Mary Jane: This peanut butter and molasses candy bar (alas, the one we never ate from our trick or treating bounty) was developed by Charles N. Miller in 1914; it's named after his favorite aunt.

Mars Bar: Think this chocolate bar is cosmically good? Well, you're right, but the name's inspiration isn't planetary: it comes from Frank C. Mars, whose mother taught him how to make candy at an early age and ultimately started the Mars candy company.

Massillon: This is a small French almond pastry is named for Jean-Baptiste Massillon (1663–1742), a famous preacher of his day who was, for a time, favored by Louis XIV (they later had their differences). The pastry originated in the town of Hyères, where Massillon was born, proud of their hometown hero. Alas, I was not able to easily find a recipe!

Peach Melba: A post-dinner dish of peaches and raspberry sauce accompanying vanilla ice cream. This sweet treat was invented by famous chef Chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in the 1890s, after he heard the famous singer Nellie Melba performing at Covent Garden. Should you prefer sweet treats to sweet music, here's a recipe.

Mozart: Per Manna Cafe, "The composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) scored this ball of pistachio and almond marzipan with an outer layer of nougat coated with bitter chocolate in 1890 in Salzburg. Eat your heart out, Salieri!"

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Nadege Tart: This lemon curd tart is unique in that it is devoid of starch; it is named for Nadege Brossllet and a recipe can be found in Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible

Napoleonic Wars
Napoleon: Though few will argue that this treat, composed of cream and flaky pastry layers all topped with a decorative fondant icing, is extremely tasty, there is some argument over the name. Some say that this pastry it is named for the emperor; however, what is more likely is that it is actually named for the city Naples. To that point--in France, they don't even call them Napoleons, they call them mille-feuille.Here's a recipe.

Nesselrode Pudding (and Nesselrode Pie): This chestnut-rich (sometimes secretly supplemented with cauliflower!) confection takes its name from Russian diplomat Count Karl Robert von Nesselrode (1780–1862). As a pie, Nesselrode enjoyed a vogue in the New York area in the 1950s, but has all but disappeared. Read about my relentless search for the pie here.

Marshal Ney: Per Wikipedia, This is an elaborate Ranhofer dessert, comprised of molded tiers of meringue shells, vanilla custard, and marzipan, is named after Napoleon's Marshal Michel Ney (1769–1815), who led the retreat from Moscow and was a commander at Waterloo.

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Bath Oliver biscuits: These digestive biscuits (I know! How appealing!) were dreamed up by Dr. William Oliver (1695–1764) of Bath, England--two guesses as to where the name comes from. These biscuits aren't actually very sweet, but I really wanted something to bulk up (get it?) the "O" section of this list.

Othello: Per The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections: A Comprehensive Guide , this pastry is composed of two three-inch round biscuits, similar to ladyfingers, sandwiched together with chocolate pastry cream, brushed with apricot glaze, and completely covered with chocolate fondant.

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Pastilles: These flavored candylike tablets were named for and invented by Giovanni Pastilla, Italian confectioner to Marie de Medici.

Pâte à Panterelli: This early version of what would become Choux pastry is named for Panterelli, a chef for Catherine de Medici who was brought to France from Italy. He had a dough recipe which became known as Pâte à Panterelli. This is the dough that was altered and perfected to become what we now know as choux pastry--and anyone who has ever had a cream puff knows what an important service Panterelli provided to all of mankind.

Pavlova: This lovely and light fruit and meringue dessert is named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), famous Russian ballerina; both Australia and New Zealand have claimed to be the places of invention, though it looks good for Australia in my opinion, as it is their national cake and all. One thing is for sure though: the ballerina only shared a "light as air" similarity with the dessert; I've heard it is unlikely she ever partook. Here's a recipe.

Praline: To clarify: we're talking about the French type of praline here, which is a caramelized almond confection-- Per Wikipedia, it takes its name from César de Choiseul, Count du Plessis-Praslin (1598–1675), by his officer of the table Lassagne, presented at the court of Louis XIII. The caramelized almond confection was transformed at some point in Louisiana to a pecan-based one (probably because of availablility?). Though it's not the authentic French version, Paula Deen's Pecan Praline recipe looks mighty good.

Toronchino Procope: Another Ranhofer confection! This ice cream dessert was named after the Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, whose Café Procope, which opened in Paris in 1686, is cited as the first flavored ice joint in the City of Lights!

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Queen Elizabeth Cake (Canada): What's the story behind this rich date-based cake? According to Practically Edible,

Apparently the recipe might have been sold, for 15 cents a copy, as a fund-raiser during the Second World War, and as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was very popular in Canada and rallied people during the war, it may have been named in her honour there. It definitely appeared in war-time cookbooks during the 1940s. It re-appeared in Canadian cookbooks in 1953, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and since then, due to its ease, has been a staple at country fairs since then. It is also known in the UK and in the States, though it's not as ubiquitous there as it is in Canada.

Practically Edible also has a recipe.

Queen Elizabeth Cake (USA): This is a fruit-and-whipped cream cake which was made in the 1950's by Chicago area bakery Deerfield's in honor of a Chicago visit by Queen Elizabeth; it's still one of their popular cakes. It seems to be unrelated to the Queen Mother's cake in flavor, it is nonetheless named for the same queen.

Queen Mother's Cake: A flourless chocolate cake which, according to Wikipedia, was served to Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother) in the 1950s by her friend Jan Smeterlin (1892–1967), well-known Polish pianist. Smeterlin had acquired the recipe in Austria, and the Queen Mother's fondness for the cake produced its name, via either Smeterlin, food writer Clementine Paddleford or dessert maven Maida Heatter.

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Sally Rand: Another candy bar named for a stripper! You won't find it anymore, but it took its name from the (in)famous Sally Rand.

Reggie Bar: Another now-extinct candy bar, this one was named for Reggie Jackson, the American baseball icon.

Rigo Jancsi
Rigó Jancsi: Per Wikipedia, this Viennese cube-shaped chocolate sponge cake and cream pastry is named after the famous Gypsy violinist, Rigó Jancsi (by Hungarian use, Rigó is his last name, Jancsi his first, called literally 'Blackbird Johnny'). Here's a recipe!

Robert E. Lee Cake: This lemon layer cake hails from the American south and is named for American Civil War General Robert E. Lee (1807–1870). Here's a recipe (and here's more of the story)!

Robert Redford Cake: Also called "Better than Robert Redford Cake" or "Better than Sex Cake", I've never quite understood the appeal of this cream cheese n' pudding layered confection, but to each his (or her) own. Here's a recipe.

Strawberries Romanoff: I love the story I found on Epicurious:

When he was the chef at the Carlton Hotel in London, Escoffier created Strawberries Americaine Style — strawberries in orange liqueur, blended into whipped cream and softened ice cream. Little did he know that it would one day be the star dessert of every posh dining spot in California. "Prince" Mike Romanoff "borrowed" the recipe and gave it a new moniker. Soon it was the hottest item on the West Coast. The L.A. Biltmore called it "Strawberries Biltmore." The Palace Hotel in San Francisco served it with anisette and maraschino.

Incidentally, Epicurious also has a recipe.

Rosalinda: Per The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections: A Comprehensive Guide, this pastry is comprised of

two three-inch round biscuits, similar to ladyfingers, sandwiched together with rosewater or kirsch-scented whipped cream, brushed with apricot glaze, and covered in pink rosewater or kirsch-flavored fondant.
This pastry takes its name from the character Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like It.

Runeberg Cakes
Runeberg Cake (Also Runebergintorttu / Runebergstårta): This is a cake comprised of a dry almond cake infused with a splash of rum and topped with a ring of icing and a healthy dollop of jam. It was made in honor of the Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877) by his wife, Fredrika. It's frequently served on February 5th (Runeberg Day, natch!). There is also a variation of this called the Fredrika-pastry. Here's a goodlookin' recipe.

Baby Ruth candy bar: Who is the real Baby Ruth that this chocolate covered caramel-and-nut confection? Per this site there are three theories:

  • The bar was named after "Baby" Ruth Cleveland, the first-born daughter of President Groveland Cleveland.
  • The bar was named after baseball slugger George Herman "Babe" Ruth.
  • The bar was named for a granddaughter of Mrs. George Williamson, Mrs. Williamson being the wife of the president of the Williamson Candy Company and one of the developers of the "Baby Ruth" bar formula. Explanation #1 is the "official" explanation that has been proffered by the Curtiss Candy Company since the 1920's.
Which do you believe? Better grab a Baby Ruth bar while you mull it over, or better yet, why not try out this Baby Ruth Layer Cake?

Sonia Rykiel Chocolate Tart: This tart is described in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets
as "filled with chocolate ganache and topped with a sunburst of sliced bananas, one of Sonia Rykiel's favorite fruits, and, with chocolate, one of the world's best flavor combinations"; it was created by chocolatier Christian Constant in honor of the chocolate-loving clothing designer. Here's an adaptation of the recipe with caramelized bananas.

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Sacher
Sachertorte: Per What's Cooking America,

Sacher Torte is a famous Viennese cake, probably the most famous chocolate cake of all-time. It consists of chocolate sponge cake cut into three layers, between which apricot jam are thickly spread between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake. The whole cake is then iced with a velvet-like chocolate and served with a side dish of whipped cream.

It was created by pastry chef Franz Sacher (1816-1907) in 1832 for Prince Clemens Lothar Wensel Metternich (1773-1859) of Austria, the Austrian State Chancellor, and it is for him that it is named. However, that's not all there is to the story--read about the drama of the Sachertorte here!
Though this one isn't the traditional cake, I find these Sacher Bites fascinating (and delicious-looking).

Sal-de-Dand Bar: Per Confectionarium, this was the first candy bar named after a stripper – Sally Rand, whose “fan dance” at the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair shocked and titillated the nation.

Salambô: Per The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections: A Comprehensive Guide, this is an "individual round pastry made from a choux pastry puff and filled with kirsch-flavored pastry cream; the top is dipped in hat caramel or iced with gren fondant and sprinkled with shaved chocolate. It was named for the heroine in a novel which was also adapted into an opera."

Queen of Sheba cake: Or, if you're feeling authentic, the French Gâteau de la reine Saba, this is a chocolate cake which takes its name from the ancient African Queen of Sheba, famous guest of King Solomon of Israel. Check it: here's a recipe.

Simnel Cake: Per Wikipedia, this is

a light fruit cake, similar to a Christmas cake, covered in marzipan, and eaten during Lent or at Easter in Great Britain, Ireland and some other countries. A layer of marzipan or almond paste is also baked into the middle of the cake. On the top of the cake, around the edge, are eleven marzipan balls to represent the true disciples of Jesus; Judas is omitted.

and as it goes on to tell us,
A popular legend attributes the invention of the Simnel cake to Lambert Simnel, but this is clearly false since the Simnel cake appears in English literature prior to Lambert's escapades.

Here's a recipe.

Savarin
Savarin: This is a yeast-raised sweet cake soaked in Kirsch or rum; it is named for the legendary chef Brillat-Savarin. Here's an interesting recipe!

Schillerlocken: These cream-filled pastry rolls are said to have been inspired by the curly hair of German poet Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805). Here's a recipe.

Crepes Suzette: This sweet and boozy crepe confection is undeniably delicious, but who the "Suzette" in question was is a bit of a mystery--as for my favorite story? According to The Old Foodie, "The favoured myth is that she was the mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII), although he vehemently denied knowing anyone by that name (surprise! surprise!)." Here's a recipe.

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Talleyrand: This cherry-and-booze dish is named for epicurean French statesman Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754–1838). An influential negotiator at the Congress of Vienna; Antonin Câreme worked for him for a time, and Talleyrand was instrumental in furthering his career; hence the bevy of dishes named after him. Here's a recipe.

Sweet Potato Tarte Tatin
Tarte Tatin: This upside-down tart can be made with a variety of different fillings; the style is sometimes called à la Demoiselles Tatin, after the two sisters who are said to have invented it, Stephine Tatin (1838–1917) and Caroline Tatin (1847–1911), who ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte Beuvron, France. As lore has it, Stephine allegedly invented the upside-down tart accidentally in the fall of 1898. The pastry in fact may be much older, but they gave it a name. Here's a recipe.

Shirley Temple: Per Wikipedia, A Shirley Temple (also known as a Grenadine Lemonade) is a non-alcoholic mixed drink made with ginger ale or Sprite or 7 Up and grenadine syrup garnished with maraschino cherries. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel at Waikīkī in Honolulu, Hawaii claims to have invented the Shirley Temple cocktail in the 1930s; it was named for the famous child actress Shirley Temple, who often visited the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Here's a recipe.

Alice B. Toklas Brownie
Alice B Toklas Brownies: The connection is legitimate, if tenuous. Her so-called "autobiography" had actually been largely written by Toklas' lifelong companion, Gertrude Stein, who died before its completion. According to this article, "With the deadline only a few months away, Toklas, then in her mid-70s, found herself half a book shy. So she began soliciting recipes from her artsy friends"--one of which was Brion Gysin's recipe for "Haschich Fudge". While the editors stateside removed the recipe, the British version didn't, and the media blitz began. An in a case of "you can't unring that bell", her name became associated with cannabis foods, most famously "Alice B. Toklas brownies" (or "Alice Toke-less" brownies) forever and ever amen.

Tootsie Rolls: To tell you the truth, I've never been exactly sure what Tootsie Rolls are, but they sure are sweet. They're named for Clara "Tootsie" Hirshfield, the small daughter of Leo Hirshfield, developer of the first paper-wrapped penny candy, in New York in 1896. Hey, if you have any leftover Tootsie Rolls from Halloween, why not try this recipe?

Tortoni or Biscuit Tortoni: This is a type of ice cream made with eggs and heavy cream, often containing chopped cherries or topped with minced almonds or crumbled macaroons. It is named for a gentleman named Tortoni, who is said to have invented the dish while working at the Parisian eatery Café Velloni. Later on he bought the place and renamed it the Café Tortoni. Here's a recipe.

Truman Pudding: Also called Bess Truman's Ozark Pudding, this fruit-and-nut pudding is served warm; it is said to have been one of Harry Truman's favorite recipes from wife Bess Truman's baking repertoire. Here's a recipe.

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Victoria Sponge Cake
Victoria Sponge or Sandwich Cake: This cake, which combines light sponge cake with cream and fruit, is named for Queen Victoria (1819–1901). Apparently, according to Wikipedia, many other dishes are named for the British Queen, including sole, eggs, salad, a garnish, several sauces, a cherry spice cake, a bombe, small tarts, and more. Here's a Victoria Sponge Cake recipe.

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Poires
Pears Wanamaker (also called poires Wanamaker): The only reference I could find to this dish was in a 1971 issue of New York Magazine! It is said that the dish was likely named for the Philadelphia merchant family Wanamaker, particularly the son Rodman Wanamaker (1863–1928) seems most likely to be the inspiration for this dish; he went to Paris in 1889 to oversee the Paris branch of their department store. When he returned to the U.S. in 1899, he kept his Paris home and contacts (and pear recipes?).

Washington Pie: A cream pie which takes its name from George Washington--you know, that guy. Here's a recipe!

Wibele: These pastries are made of egg white, vanilla sugar, flour and confectioners' sugar and shaped like figure-eights; they are named after Jakob Christian Carl Wibel, who is said to have invented it in 1763 in Langenburg, Germany. If you happen to be in Germany, it looks like you could probably get some wibele here!

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Zserbo
Zserbo: Per Manna Cafe, Emil Gerbeaud (Zserbo) arrived in Budapest from Paris in 1882. The signature four-layer pastry in his eponymous café, which still remains in Vörösmarty Square, is made with apricot (barak) and walnut (dios) fillings and a rich chocolate icing on top.

Monday
Nov092009

Sweet Bounty: Discovering the Art of the Venetian Table with Cake Gumshoe Megan

Venetian Dessert Table Guest post from Cake Gumshoe Megan
CakeSpy Note: Cake Gumshoe Megan thought she’d seen it all when it came to wedding desserts, but recently she was pleasantly surprised by what can only be described as a sugar smorgasbord.

The backstory: Over the weekend I attended my college roommate’s wedding. With seven bridesmaids, she was peppered with questions all throughout the rehearsal dinner, and most of mine revolved around the food. I’ve been to weddings with good, bad and no food, so I’m always curious what lies ahead.

I needn’t have worried. Beyond the endless finger foods the bridal party ate all day, the cocktail hour - which served more food than some people’s receptions - and then her actual reception, I should have been stuffed to the gills by the time dessert (literally) rolled around. And I actually was, but when the wait staff raced the loaded-down tables onto the dance floor, I had to make room.

Discovering the Venetian Hour: Whether you call it a Viennese or Venetian Hour, the point is decadence. Wikipedia defines a Venetian Hour as a Sicilian tradition in which the bride and groom display “a dazzling array of pastries, fruits, coffees, cakes, presented in great quantity with much celebration.” That’s a big ten-four. The dessert table at my friend’s wedding was a large oval made up of at least eight tables (I was too stunned to count) and involved pyrotechnics (see above photo).

We had our choice between fresh fruit kabobs and a chocolate fountain, an ice cream sundae bar featuring our choice of ice cream flavors as well as five different toppings and whipped cream and/or hot fudge, and then there were the cakes and cookies – tiramisu, diner-style strawberry shortcake, Black Forest, Napoleon, sfogliatelle, zeppole, Italian cookies…I could go on, but the liqueur shots taken out of edible (and yummy) chocolate thimbles made my memory a little fuzzy. I am absolutely not ashamed to admit my groomsman and I circled the tables twice!

Coming to America: While researching this delightful and heretofore unknown tradition, I realized it existed in small pockets of the US in another form. Brought to America by Italians and Eastern Europeans immigrants who settled into the industrial areas of northeastern Ohio and the coalmines of western Pennsylvania, it morphed into the cookie table, a common feature at weddings, showers, birthdays and graduations there.

For the wedding cookie table, the cookies are traditionally prepared by the bride’s female relatives. Each woman can be responsible for up to seven dozen cookies, depending on how many people participate. Communal baking also serves as a time for the women to catch up on each others’ lives.

In a very pleasant turn of events, researching this custom opened my eyes to the presence of it in my own childhood. I have relatives in central Pennsylvania, and every wedding I attended with that part of the family involved a cookie table. I thought it was just my aunt over-baking! I made so many trips to that table, hiding the cookies in my hand so my parents wouldn’t see how much I ate. And my aunt was always sending relatives home after the receptions with napkin-covered plates heaped with cookies of all flavors and types.

The final word: I’ve reached an age where my friends are starting to get married, so I’m going to do my part to bring this tradition to the mainstream. As far as I’m concerned, the more dessert, the better!

Tuesday
Oct202009

Chow Bella: What Kind of Sweets Do Italians Eat?

Cuppie in Rome
When I think of Italian sweets, I immediately think of the Little Italy-style bakery, with rows of cookies by the pound, breads stacked in the back, and various cakes and pastries out front. But what kind of sweets do Italians--you know, in actual Italy--really favor? While conversing with Cake Gumshoe Elisa, who is based in Italy, while she noted that "Italy has 20 regions and everyone has its particular baked goods", she dished up some of the things you might expect to see at her Italian dessert table; I've put together a little explanation of what they are (with a little help from Wikipedia). 

CakeSpy Note: Please note, however, that the photos are mostly from my (American) archives, so they should be viewed as a mere reference and might not necessarily look the way they would in Italy!

 

Amaretti: This little cookie is a holiday tradition in Italy (and beyond) which has a delightful story: "In the early 1700s, a Milanese bishop or cardinal surprised the town of Saronno with a visit. A young couple, residents of the town, welcomed him and paid tribute with an original confection: on the spur of the moment, they had baked biscuits made of sugar, egg whites, and crushed apricot kernels or almonds. These so pleased the visiting bishop that he blessed the two with a happy and lifelong marriage, resulting in the preservation of the secret recipe over many generations."

Brutti ma Buoni: Literally translated as "ugly but good", these craggy little cookies are made using a mixture of nuts, egg whites, liqueur, and a bit of cocoa . You can find a recipe from Mario Batali here.

A Cannoli! In Seattle! From Remo Borracchini
Cannolo alla Siciliana: What we would call a cannoli here in the US (as in, "leave the gun, take the..."). These little sweeties consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta cheese (or alternatively, but less traditionally, sweetened Mascarpone) blended with some combination of vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, Marsala wine, rosewater or other flavorings.

Dolce Italia, Queens, NYC
 Cassata: The cassata siciliana consists of round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese, candied peel, and a chocolate or vanilla filling similar to cannoli cream. It is covered with a shell of marzipan, pink and green pastel colored icing, and decorative designs. The cassata is finally topped with candied fruit depicting cherries and slices of citrus fruit characteristic of Sicily. 

EATS Market Crostata
Crostata: A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, and a form of pie. It is traditionally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the top of the jam/marmalade filling, creating a more "rough" look, rather than a uniform, circular shape and topped with various jams, pastry cream or fresh fruit. A typical central Italian variety replaces jam with ricotta mixed with sugar, cocoa or pieces of chocolate and anisetta; this is called crostata di ricotta. In terms of recipes, doesn't this one from Herbivoracious sound fantastic?

Pandoro (or pan d'oro): This one is fairly similar to panettone in that it is a traditional Italian sweet yeast bread, most popular around Christmas and New Year. What defines it? Well, it is generally more cakey and less fruit-heavy than panettone, and it is traditionally shaped like a frustum with an 8 pointed-star section. And--deliciously enough--"Modern taste sometimes calls for Pandoro to have a hole cut into its bottom and a part of the soft interior to be removed, the cavity is then filled with chantilly cream or vanilla gelato. Cream or gelato can be served as a garnish to pandoro slices." You can find a recipe here.

Panettone: This is another traditional holiday treat. Simply put, it's "a soft, north Italian yeast brioche with candied fruit, usually prepared for Christmas"--but it's steeped in tradition and lore which you can read about here, if you're so inclined; you can find a recipe here.

Tiramisu at Dishes, Grand Central Market
Tiramisù: This treat is not baked, but it sure is delicious, made of savoiardi (otherwise known as lady finger biscuits) dipped in espresso or strong coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks, mascarpone, and sugar, and topped with cocoa.

 

Thursday
Aug272009

Butter Me Up: The Famous St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake
Photos and recipe c/o CakeSpy buddy Kerry of Lollicakes.

I first learned of the existence of the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake a while back during the Regional Specialties cake poll. The name alone had me hooked: I had to know more.

But first things first: what is a Gooey Butter Cake, this food that the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission calls "one of St. Louis' popular, quirky foods"? While variations exist, it seems that the most important aspects are a bottom layer of buttery yellow cake and a and a top layer of...well, gooiness: but depending on who you ask, the top layer will consist of either egg and cream cheese, or butter and sugar. But in general, it is served as a coffee cake and not as a dessert cake.

As it turns out though, the foundation of the cake's story is about as soft as its gooey innards: there are varying accounts of who invented it and when.
Gooey Butter cake

Photo credit: Jen V., CakeSpy reader

According to Wikipedia, a legend about the cake's origin is included in Saint Louis Days...Saint Louis Nights, a cookbook published in the mid-1990s by the Junior League of St. Louis:
The cake was supposedly first made by accident in the 1930s by a St. Louis-area German American baker who was trying to make regular cake batter but reversed the proportions of sugar and flour.
But then again, according to What's Cooking America, at least two families take credit for the cake. The first is the Danzer family:

 

In late 1942 or early 1943, Johnny Hoffman of St. Louis Pastries Bakery was working on a Saturday and made what eventually turned out to be Gooey Butter Cake. You're right, it was a mistake! He subsequently called Herman Danzer, my dad, and told him he thought he may have something and asked to come to my dad's shop on Spring & Gravois to see if they could duplicate it.

They worked all Saturday, and through many trials and errors got it pretty good. The final batch they made, my dad suggested they add glycerin to get it really gooey. It worked - whereupon my mom, Melba Danzer, came into the shop from the store to see what these two guys were doing. When she tried it she said "this sure is gooey" subsequently, the name.

And then there's the Koppe family:

 

My father, John Koppe, a St. Louis baker, also developed the Gooey Butter Cake in the early 1940s...he owned and operated Koppe Bakery during World War II on California and Arsenal Streets in South St. Louis. His shop was located on the corner of two major bus lines, so people who were transferring would often stop in while waiting for their bus.

The Gooey Butter Cake was a smash hit with customers. The lines of customers spilled out the door and around the block. This cake was very gooey, rich, and exceptionally delicious! I remember that the goody butter cake is best described as very "GOOEY." You could eat it with a spoon! The top was sprinkled with powdered sugar and the edge was slightly crispy to hold it together - almost like a pudding. It was baked in a square shape and, of course, was light colored, like butter.

But while the cake's origins may be up in the air, one thing's for sure: it's a St. Louis institution. One company, Gooey Louie, specializes in a variety of takes on the Gooey Butter cake, including a variety of different flavors (including a "design-your-own-flavor" feature) as well as individual-serving cakes and tiny "Gooey Butter Bites". Around the St. Louis area it's a common cake to find in bakeries. Though not as common elsewhere, at least one savvy Cake Gumshoe sighted a version of it in a Seattle area Safeway!
Gooey Butter Cake
And happily, another Cake Gumshoe, Kerry of Lollicakes, was brave enough to try out the recipe to see for herself. Here's the recipe she used:

 

The Best St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix (Pillsbury works best) 
  • 4 extra large eggs 
  • 1 stick melted butter 
  • Pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese 
  • 1 box powdered sugar (3 1/2 cups)
  • Crisco or pam for greasing pan
Equipment:
  • 9 X 13 Pan 
  • Mixer 
Directions:

 

BUTTER CAKE MIXTURE:

  1. Get 9 x13 pan and grease with Crisco on the bottom and all sides. 
  2. Put yellow cake mix in mixing bowl. DO NOT FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE CAKE BOX. Add 2 extra large eggs, 1 stick of melted butter in microwave about 35 seconds, and 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract. Mix together in mixer. Batter will have a very most feel to it. Take cake batter and spread evenly through 9 x 13 pan so it evenly covers the bottom of the pan. 
  3. Clean off mixers and mixing bowl. 

GOOEY MIXTURE:

 

 

  1. Melt cream cheese in microwave about 45-50 seconds. 
  2. Put 3/4 of the powdered sugar in mixing bowl setting aside about 1/4 of the box for topping to sprinkle on after the cake is baked and cooled. In mixer add 3/4 powdered sugar, melted cream cheese, and 2 extra large eggs. Mix together in mixer. This will have a very GOOEY consistency as this is the gooey part of the cake. Take the Gooey mixture and layer on top of the cake batter mixture in pan. 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Here at sea level we bake it at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the top of the cake is browned (Note: Kerry baked hers for 35 minutes and thought it was perhaps slightly over-baked). You want to make sure the gooey mixture on top of the cake is not too gooey otherwise it will be like a liquid. It is okay if the edges are brown and the top of the cake is lightly browned as well. 
  2. Once cooked remove from oven and let cool about two hours before cutting and adding remaining powdered sugar. Add remaining powdered sugar to coat/cover top of cake, cut like brownies and serve. 

 

Monday
Aug242009

Plymouth Rocks: The Story of the Jumble for Serious Eats

Jumbles
Have you ever been curious about what the pilgrims ate on the Mayflower? 

Well, you're in for a treat: check out the writeup I did for Serious Eats about the Jumble, one of the first cookies that made it over to the US from the old world. Jumbles originally gained popularity because of the fact that they kept amazingly well on sea voyages (although undoubtedly they became pretty dense and rocklike by the end of the trip!). These days they've evolved into a soft, moist drop cookie with unlimited flavor variations. You can more about one of our nation's oldest cookies--as well as get a delicious recipe for a soft, spicy, frosted version (complete with mini candy rocks as a shout-out to Plymouth Rock!), on Serious Eats!
Jumbles, the Plymouth Rock treat

 

Monday
Aug032009

Edi-Mology: Cake

Closeup of Cake
Edi-mology is a new featurette on CakeSpy, designed to explore the etymology and meanings of the terminology behind the baked goods we all love so much. One thing is for sure: this hunger for knowledge can sure give you an appetite for baked goods!

Today's lesson: CAKE

Definition:

Cake: [keyk] noun a sweet, baked, breadlike food, made with or without shortening, and usually containing flour, sugar, baking powder or soda, eggs, and liquid flavoring. (source: dictionary.com)
Baby Cakes at Black Hound
Etymology
This sweet term came to us circa the year 1230 from Old Norse kaka "cake," from the West Germanic "kokon-", from the Proto-Indo-European base "gag-" or "gog-", which meant "something round, lump of something." 
Surprise, surprise: Cake is not related to the Latin coquere ("to cook") as formerly supposed. Replaced its Olde English cognate (cognate = two words that have a common origin), coecel
Originally (until c.1420) it meant "a flat, round loaf of bread." (source: etymoline.com)
Of course, if you're wondering how it made the leap from referring to a flat, round loaf of bread to the delicious confection that we call cake today, here's a little excerpt from Foodtimeline.org:

 

According to the food historians, the precursors of modern cakes (round ones with icing) were first baked in Europe sometime in the mid-17th century. This is due to primarily to advances in technology (more reliable ovens, manufacture/availability of food molds) and ingredient availability (refined sugar)....The first icing were usually a boiled composition of the finest available sugar, egg whites and [sometimes] flavorings...It was not until the middle of the 19th century that cake as we know it today (made with extra refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast) arrived on the scene...Butter-cream frostings (using butter, cream, confectioners [powdered] sugar and flavorings) began replacing traditional boiled icings in first few decades 20th century. In France, Antonin Careme [1784-1833] is considered THE premier historic chef of the modern pastry/cake world. You will find references to him in French culinary history books.


(Note: if you're interested in more Cake Lore, you might also want to check out Leslie F. Miller's book Let Me Eat Cake) 

First known publication: 
"What man, I trow ye raue, Wolde ye bothe eate your cake and haue your cake?" ["The Proverbs & Epigrams of John Heywood," 1562] (source: etymonline.com)
"What does Cake have that I don't?"
Idioms: 
A piece of cake: something easily done: She thought her first solo flight was a piece of cake.
Take the cake: a. to surpass all others, esp. in some undesirable quality; be extraordinary or unusual: His arrogance takes the cake.
b. to win first prize.
Let them eat cake: this is from Rousseau's "Confessions," in reference to an incident c.1740, when it was already proverbial, long before Marie Antoinette. The "cake" in question was not a confection, but a poor man's food. (source for these idioms: etymonline.com)
(CakeSpy Tip: If you're into idioms, bet you'll love Chocolate & Zucchini's "Edible Idiom" series!)

 

Wednesday
Jul152009

Look To The Cookie: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Timeline

Chocolate Chip Cookie Timeline
Oh, Chocolate Chip Cookie. Ever since you were discovered by accident by Ruth Wakefield in the 1930's, you've taken the nation by storm, claiming our affections and our appetites. But while much has been made of your discovery, pinpointing your progress from regional specialty to worldwide superstar is a little bit harder. And so, dear cookie, in an effort to get to know you better, I've created a timeline in an effort to see where you've been and where you're going. In short, Chocolate Chip Cookie, this is your life:

1930: Ruth Wakefield moves into the Toll House, which was originally constructed in 1709 as a haven for road-weary travelers, where passengers. Here, passengers paid toll, changed horses and ate much-welcomed home-cooked meals”. The 1930s incarnation (sans toll) was quite similar. (Source: verybestbaking.com)

1934: Could this be a wrinkle in the story of the cookie's invention? According to foodtimeline.org, the Hershey's 1934 Cookbook contains a recipe for "Chocolatetown chip cookies" (p. 75) that includes a 12 ounce package of Hershey's Baking Chips. Here's a link to the book.
Cookie Flower
1937: According to verybestbaking.com, this is the year Ruth made the One day, while preparing a batch of Butter Drop Do cookies, a favorite recipe dating back to Colonial days, Ruth cut a bar of our NESTLÉ Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny bits and added them to her dough, expecting them to melt.
Instead, the chocolate held its shape and softened to a delicately creamy texture. The resulting creation became very popular at the Inn. Soon, Ruth's recipe was published in a Boston newspaper, as well as other papers in the New England area. Regional sales of the NESTLÉ Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar skyrocketed.

1937-39: Somewhere in this period, Ruth approaches Nestle and they reach an agreement wherein she receives free chocolate or life, and they get to print her recipe on the back of their semi-sweet chocolate bar (at the time, scored chocolate bars were used for the chips in the cookies).

King Cookie
1939: The chocolate chip cookie is featured on the Betty Crocker radio program “Famous Foods from Famous Places”. This propels the cookie from regional treat to national phenomenon. (Source: Betty Crocker's Cooky Book)

Chocolate Chips
It is also this year that in an effort to make the cookies easier to bake, Nestle debuts their Semi-sweet chocolate morsels.

1940’s: The cookie’s popularity is cemented as it is commonly sent in care packages to soldiers during the war years: an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes that “when the boys in service are asked about the kind of cookie they’d like to get from home, this kind still rates high…it is not just designed for packing and boxes and shipping; it will be just as welcome to the home folks who frequent your table…and by those who like to find something in that cookie jar when they lift its lid”.

Smart Cookie
1948: According to etymonline.com, the phrase "Smart Cookie" is first documented this year.

1955: General Mills files the first known patent for dry cookie mix.

1957: According to etymonline.com, the phrase "that's how the cookie crumbles" is first documented this year.

1959: Lemon chips (lemon-flavored morsels in the style of chocolate chips) are introduced, and all of a sudden hybrids of chocolate chip cookies involving flavored morsels begin to abound; peanut butter, white chocolate, toffee and more follow. All of a sudden, the chocolate chip cookie's family expands.
Yummy cookies
1963: Chips Ahoy! Makes their supermarket debut.

1966: The original Toll House is sold to a family who tries to turn it into a nightclub; a bakery down the block continues baking the cookies based on the original recipe.

1969: The Cookie Monster (at this point unnamed) makes his debut on the first episode of Sesame Street.

Also this year, Hershey’s introduces their own morsels, the “Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips”
Sweet love
1971: The first Starbucks opens. I don't know about you, but I tend to believe that their bakery offerings were the inspiration for a lot of coffee shop bakery cases, so this would ultimately impact the chocolate chip cookie!

Cookie Shop
1975: Per Wikipedia, a failed agent decides to open what is believed to be the first chocolate chip cookie-specific store: Famous Amos. Today, there is a sign commemorating the first Famous Amos store in Los Angeles, located at West Sunset Boulevard and North Formosa Avenue in Hollywood.

Cookie Crisp
1977: Ralston debuts Cookie Crisp Cereal.

Also this year, the first Mrs. Fields store opens in California and is said to have debuted the first cookie cake.

Also this year, Great American Cookies opens in Atlanta, GA.

Also this year (what an eventful year for cookies!) there is a lawsuit involving chocolate chip cookies which gets settled in NYC.

1979: A large amount of chocolate chip cookie-specific shops start opening in NYC.

Chipwich!
1980: Per Wikipedia, the Chipwich, an ice cream sandwich made with chocolate chip cookies and extra chips rolled on the sides, is invented by Richard LaMotta, a former CBS-TV video engineer.

Tube Cookies?
Also this year, 1980: Procter and Gamble registers the first US patent for shelf-stable cookie dough.

Also this year, Maida Heatter's recipe for the “Big Sur” chocolate chip cookie (Heatter says "These California cookies are 6 inches in diameter --they are the largest homemade chocolate chip cookie I know") hits the mainstream this year and becomes a popular product in bakeries.

Big Sur Cookies
  • 1 1/2 Cups sifted AP Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 Cup granulated Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup quick cooking (not instant) Rolled Oats
  • 6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) Walnuts, cut or broken into medium sized pieces
  • 6 oz. (1 Cup) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut aluminum foil to fit cookie sheets.

 

2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon, - set aside.

3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and then both of the sugars and beat to mix. Beat in the eggs one at a time. On low spedd, add the sifted dry ingredients and then the rolled oats, scraping the bowl as nessary with a rubber spatula and beating only until mixed.

4. Remove from the mixer and stir in the nuts and morsels.

5. Now work next to the sink or have a large bowl of water handy so you can wet your hands while shaping the cookies, Spread out a piece of wax paper or foil. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure the amount of dough for each cookie. form 12 - 15 mounds of the dough , and place them any which way on the foil or wax paper. Wet your hands with cold water, shake off the water but don't dry your hands , pick up a mound of dough, roll it into a ball, flatten it to about 1/2 inch thickness, and place it on the foil. Do not place more than 4 cookies on a 12 x 15 1/2 inch piece of foil or cookie sheet. These spread to gigantic proportions.

6. Bake two sheets at a time for 16 to 18 minutes, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back as necessary to ensure even browning. Bake unitl the cookies are well colored; they must not be too pale. Watch these carefully; they might become too dark before you know it.

1983: Though the company started in 1977, this is an important year because Otis Spunkmeyer revamps their previous retail business model and creates a business model wherein they created a fresh-baked cookie program for other foodservice operators. The program included pre-portioned frozen cookie dough, a pre-set convection oven and marketing materials. This innovative program, allowed both big and small food service operators to sell fresh baked cookies (within 18 minutes) in their facilities. Today, Otis Spunkmeyer ready-to-bake cookie dough is the #1 brand in the foodservice industry. (Source: Wikipedia)

Also this year, Blue Chip Cookies is established, and it claims to be the first business to sell the white chocolate chip macadamia cookie.

Cookie Trials and tribulations
1984: The Toll House burns down, under the photograph printed by the New York Times (January 2, 1985 I 12:5) describing the fire that destroyed Ruth Wakefield's kitchen the reads "Wreckage of Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Mass. It was where the chocolate chip cookie was invented."

Chocolate Chip Coconut Pecan Cookies
1987: Cookie wars break out between David’s cookies and Pillsbury over whose ready-to-bake cookie dough products will take center stage in grocery stores.

Cookies Love Milk
1990: City Bakery opens in NYC and grabs the attention of chocolate chip cookie enthusiasts all over.
Cookie Dough Ice Cream
1991: Ben and Jerry’s is credited with bringing chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to the world in a big way this year. It wasn’t too surprising considering the runaway success of cookies n cream, debuted in 1983, though.

1992: Hilary Clinton gets in trouble for saying she’s not one who wants to “stay home and bake cookies”. In an effort to make nice later, she shares her favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with Family circle magazine.

1995: Doubletree Hotels begin giving out cookies at check-in. This becomes a popular service for several boutique hotels.

Cookie from Levain
Levain Bakery opens in New York City and brings their mountainous cookies to the masses.

1996: Not sure if they were the ones who invented it, but this is the year that Dunkin Donuts debuted the chocolate chip bagel. This was a beautiful, beautiful combination of carbohydrates and chocolate chips and at least deserves a shout-out.

Chocolate chip cookie dough is a big part of this winning recipe from the Pillsbury Bake-Off (picture from Pillsbury.com):

 

  • 1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated chocolate chip cookies
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • Dash salt, if desired
  • 2/3 cup SMUCKER'S® Caramel Ice Cream Topping
  • 5 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup Fisher® Chef's Naturals® Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 cup Hershey's® semi-sweet baking chips (6 oz)
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir or knead in oats and salt. Reserve 1/2 cup dough for topping. In ungreased 9-inch square pan, press remaining dough mixture evenly in bottom to form crust.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until dough puffs and appears dry.
In small bowl, mix caramel topping, flour and vanilla until well blended. Sprinkle walnuts and baking chips evenly over crust. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture. Crumble reserved 1/2 cup dough mixture over caramel.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen bars. Cool completely, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store tightly covered.

 

1997: The chocolate chip cookie is declared the official state cookie of Massachussetts.

Also this year, according to the New York Times, Neiman Marcus puts and end to an urban myth about their shop charging a customer $250 for their chocolate chip cookie. Turns out, they never even sold chocolate chip cookies—but they started to after the myth made the rounds. And they sold well.

Mom's super secret chocolate chip cookies
Also this year, this documentation was made of the baking and eating of the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie at the time (maybe still?).

Also this year, an application filed to patent the chocolate chip cookie pie. I still like the cookie cake pie better.

2008: David Leite’s fascinating New York Times article about seeking perfection in the classic cookie renews interest in the cookie around the world and introduces the idea of letting the dough rest to the masses, as well as the idea of using discs rather than chocolate morsels.

Those Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies from the New York Times

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
  • (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
  • Sea salt.
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

 

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

Also this year, CakeSpy teaches you how not to make a chocolate chip cookie.

Is there a sweet moment from the Chocolate Chip Cookie's history that has been missed? Leave a comment and it will be added!

 

Need a Mother's Day gift idea? Send Mom a personalized cookie gift basket with Clever Cookie, where gifts are good enough to eat.

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