250 Cookbooks: Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches

Cookbook #175: Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches, General Foods Corporation, Golden Press, NY, 1983 (second printing, 1985).

Baker's Book of Chocolate Riches cookbook

I have three Baker’s cookbooks on my shelves. In blog post #118, I enjoyed looking through the 1932 one, Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes, largely because it is so old. My other Baker’s cookbook is Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites, 1977.

I once tried the brownie recipe in this 1985 Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches, and the recipe is exactly the same as the 1932 version! Good recipes hold up for years.

Fudgy Brownies recipe

This 1985 Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches is definitely a cookbook I will keep. I know that each cookie, pie, cake or dessert recipe would cook up great. It’s one of my go-to books for when I need a good dollop of chocolate.

For this blog, I decide to make Crackle-Top Cookies. I’ll keep a few at home, but take most to a potluck meeting I have tonight. (Along with a bottle of wine, what is better than chocolate and wine!)

Crackle-Top Cookies recipeThis recipe is very similar to my recipe for Chocolate Chews. The differences are that this recipe has less flour, adds cinnamon, uses brown sugar instead of white, and has more nuts. Plus the baking time: these are cooked 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

Crackle Top Cookies
makes about 5 dozen

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped nuts
  • powdered sugar

Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Beat the shortening with a mixer, then beat in the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the chocolate and mix well.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in nuts.

Chill a few hours in the refrigerator. Shape into 1-inch balls, then roll each in powdered sugar. Bake at 350˚ for 10 minutes if you like chewy cookies, or 20 minutes if you like crisp cookies. (My recommendation is 10 minutes.)

Crackle Top CookiesThese are excellent! I cooked the first batches 20 minutes, and I thought they were too crisp. The last batch I cooked only 10 minutes, and they were soft and chewy. We like the soft and chewy ones a lot better!

250 Cookbooks: Menu Magic in a Nutshell

Cookbook #170: Menu Magic in a Nutshell, Diamond Walnuts, California Walnut Growers Association, 1950.

Menu Magic Diamond Walnuts cookbook

I have to admit something: the photo above is not mine. The cover on my booklet is missing, but I found the above photo online. This booklet is currently sold on the Etsy site for $12. The seller claims the book was published in 1950, and authored by cook(s) at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Who buys these old booklets? Vintage books are used in scrapbooking or decoupage. Or maybe someone lost their old copy, or simply like walnut recipes!

My mother liked walnuts This was her booklet, and I think she used it a lot. You can see how beat up the first page is:

Menu Magic in a Nutshell

It’s fun to read, isn’t it? Note it refers to the name “Diamond” branded on each nutshell. It took me a moment to remember: walnuts used to be available only in the shell. We used to spend hours shelling walnuts for Mother. In California, you could even pick your own walnuts off the trees, still in the soft skin that covered the hard shell. One birthday or Mother’s Day, us kids picked a whole bunch and shelled them all for Mother. By the time they were shelled and wrapped as a present and opened on the special day, the entire lot was wormy. Boy, that’s an old memory.

Today I buy shelled walnuts in bulk or bags. I always have some in the freezer, ready to add to muffins and breads, salads and desserts.

Let’s see what this vintage cookbook has to offer. Mixed Fruit and Walnut Salad has pineapple, dates, orange, banana, grapes, and walnuts, and is served over lettuce. Sounds pretty good to me. Diamond Chicken Salad adds walnuts to chicken, celery and mayonnaise salad. Yummy. There are several molded salads that were so popular in the 50s and 60s. Desserts are next: Brown Betty, Apple Walnut Tapioca, Raisin Walnut Pie, Walnut Peach Shortcake, Apricot Caramel Shortcake, Danish Apple Pudding, and Apple Crumb Pie all sound good. Mother marked “Prune Whip” as “good“. (Prune Whip is a meringue dessert with stewed prunes and walnuts.) She also liked Walnut Sticks, a bar cookie made with brown sugar, eggs, and walnuts. Just about all of the cookies and cakes look good to me!

Main courses? You can include walnuts with apples and sweet potatoes, or walnuts in turkey dressing, or in meatballs. The meatless walnut loaves do not appeal to me, though. Finally, candies: Divinity (Mother marked it “good”), Uncooked Fudge, and Sugared Walnuts. Looks like I’m missing pages 23-30. Sad, because the index tells me those pages included the bread recipes.

Well, I guess I’m going to have to keep this little “cookbook”. Maybe I’ll find the rest of this booklet someday.

For this blog, I choose to make Ice Box Cookies. I like refrigerator cookies because I can always have them on hand to bake up fresh, and I can bake just a few at a time. Mother marked this recipe with her notes, so I know they are “Good”!

Ice Box Cookies recipe

I like brown sugar, so I am going to up the amount of brown sugar and decrease the amount of white sugar. Mother noted, and then crossed out, that there is too much flour in this recipe. I’ll add the flour very gradually and use the mixer to combine it in.

Ice Box Cookies
makes about 4 dozen

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream the shortening and sugars for several minutes. Add the egg and beat in well. Mix in the walnuts and vanilla.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add gradually to the creamed mixture. (Do not add all of the flour mixture if the dough no longer holds together.) Remove from the mixing bowl and, with your hands, press the dough into one solid mass, then form it into a couple 1 1/2-inch logs. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 48 hours.

Cut into 1/8-inch slices and bake 7 minutes at 425˚.

Comments

My dough was too dry. I should have paid attention to my mother’s first note. In Colorado, I know from long experience that flour is very dry here. Next time I’ll use 1/4 cup less flour, though. They were kind of crumbly to slice before baking.

But are they good?

Ice Box CookiesYes! These are sweet, crisp, and tasty. I had one, and wanted more!

250 Cookbooks: Land O Lakes Cookie Collection

Cookbook #165: Land O Lakes Cookie Collection, Favorite Recipes™ Magazine, Publications International, 1990.

Land O Lakes Cookie Collection cookbook

Cookies, more cookies! Do I really need another cookie recipe? Well no, but just can’t resist.

This cookbook-magazine was published in December 1990. I am sure I was planning my Christmas cookie selection for that year, standing in the grocery line and looking for something to read, and it caught my eye and my interest. Only $2.50! So I put it in my cart and took it home.

Favorite Recipes™ magazine published recipes for various brand names: Best Foods and Karo Syrup are two examples revealed by a google search. Land O Lakes is currently a co-op for milk products and eggs. This little 1990 cookbook, though, is all about butter – butter in each and every recipe. I used to use margarine in cookies, thinking it prevented them from spreading out too much on baking. These days, I much prefer natural butter, and am adapting my current margarine recipes to butter instead. So, Land O Lakes Cookie Collection is of more interest to me in 2016 than it was in 1990.

Today I can buy this booklet online for $1.49! Guess I could have saved myself a little money by waiting.

I don’t think I ever tried any of these recipes. None of the recipes look familiar, and there are no markings, no food stains. There are about 100 recipes in this book, and most of them look pretty good. Drop cookies, bars, fancy cookies, they are all here. I’d love to eat them all, but that old friend/enemy, calories, lurks in every recipe.

I decide to try “Coconut Snowdrops” for this blog. These are simple drop cookies with lots of butter and coconut.

Coconut Snowdrops Recipe

The recipe says you can put everything in a mixer bowl in one step. I am in the habit of mixing the butter and sugar, beating in the eggs, and then adding the flour last, so that’s how I made these.

Coconut Snowdrops
makes about 3 dozen

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling

Beat the butter with the sugar, then add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat again. Slowly mix in the flour and coconut until incorporated.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet. (I rolled the dough between my hands to form round balls, but that is optional.) Bake at 350˚ for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Coconut SnowdropsThese are excellent cookies! Soft and rich, but not too sweet. We all liked them, and they disappeared in a hurry!

I will keep this little cookbook and try another recipe someday. I do like the butter-y-ness of these cookies. And it might help me convert some margarine-based recipes to butter instead.

250 Cookbooks: Recipes for a Small Planet

Cookbook #152: Recipes for a Small Planet, Ellen Buchman Ewald, Ballantine Books, NY, 1973.

Recipes for a Small Planet

“If you are already complaining that your don’t want to spend an extra minute in the kitchen, read no further.” So writes Ewald in her introduction to Recipes for a Small Planet. That could be the intro line for this-here blog of mine!

This book goes hand-in-hand with Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Lappé, a book I covered in a previous post. Recipes for a Small Planet provides hundreds of recipes for high protein meatless cooking – combining different vegetables (with dairy) to get complete or complementary proteins, while Diet for a Small Planet focuses mainly on the theory behind the method. (Since Lappé’s book was published, the research her “complementary proteins” is based on has been disputed. Read the Diet post for details.)

The two women, Ellen Ewald and Frances Lappé – or “Frankie”, as Ellen calls her – were close friends. Lappé writes in the Diet for a Small Planet introduction:

“The fun of writing this book was increased immeasurably by the aid and encouragement of friends. First I must thank the person who created the delicious dinner that introduced me to the pleasures of eating without meat – Ellen Ewald. After dinner I went through her kitchen asking: What’s this? What’s that? And she sent me home with a variety of samples – soy grits, whole oats, buckweeat groats, bulgur – all these strange sounding foods which are really amount the most common foods in the world! Ellen is also the person you  can thank for many of the appetizing redipes you’ll find later in the book. Her help made compiling the recipes an adventure.”

Ellen Ewald’s preface reads:

“If we all took a little time to nourish our bodies in the best way possible (instead of in the quickest way), life could be long and healthy. If we choose to disregard the importance of what is in the food we eat, we may as well disregard the importance of having clean air to breathe. (But it should be obvious to all of us that most industries, including the food industry, consider profit before they consider air polution and the internal polution of our bodies.)”

“Food industry”. Unless we have our own gardens, we are dependent on it, for better or worse.

The recipes in this book tend to have long lists of ingredients. Yes, Ellen Ewald likes spending extra minutes in the kitchen! Each recipe is followed by a little box that shows us the “complete protein” combination. Note that hers is not a vegan diet; milk products and eggs are prevalent throughout the book.

The chapters are: breakfast, lunch, soups and stews, salads, dinners, breads, cookies and bars, desserts, and dairy drinks. Some of the recipes do not appeal to me at all: oatmeal soup (stock, milk, garlic, onions, rolled oats, tomatoes), barley and yogurt soup, cabbage soup, garbanzo stuffed cabbage, soybean stroganoff, and split peas in a cheese sauce over rice. I did find several recipes in the bread, dessert, and cookie sections that were more up my personal-taste alley.

My pantry is not stocked with the ingredients to make many of the recipes. Ewald relies heavily on soy beans. Soy products, once the darling of the vegetarian movement, have faded in popularity. It’s not too hard to find soy beans in local stores, and tofu, but soy grits or soy flour can require searching several natural foods markets or online sources.

I choose to make “Banana Spice Bars” for this blog.

Banana Spice Bars recipeI really don’t think these bars will be “light as cake”, not with the whole wheat flour and nuts and seeds to weigh it down. I couldn’t find soy grits, so I used 3 ounces of tofu.

There are 17 ingredients in these bars!

The box at the bottom of the above recipe lists the sources of protein in these bars. The eggs and buttermilk have complete protein on their own; the whole wheat flour and soy grits are complementary; the peanuts and sunflower seeds are complementary. I am making a half-recipe in a 9-inch pan; if I cut them into 9 bars, each will have 5 grams of usable protein.

Banana Spice Bars
makes one 9-inch pan

  • 3/4 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup honey (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 2 tablespoons soy grits OR 3 ounces tofu
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds

Put the bananas, egg, honey, oil, buttermilk and almond extract in a blender or food processor. If you are using tofu, add that too. Process until smooth.

Stir together the flour, soy grits (if you are using them), the spices, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and peanuts and sunflower seeds. Pour in the banana mixture and stir to combine (do not overmix).

Pour the batter into an oiled or non-stick-sprayed 9-inch pan. Bake at 350˚ 30-35 minutes, until they test done with a toothpick.

Banana Spice BarsTo my surprise, these really are light as cake! And delicious too! They fall into my personal classification as “healthy”: honey instead of sugar, whole wheat flour, very little oil, tofu, and nuts and seeds. A good snack for an active day.

I was going to recycle this cookbook, but this recipe turned out so well that I think I’ll keep it around and try a few other recipes.

250 Cookbooks: Best You Can Bake Chocolate Desserts

Cookbook #141: Best You Can Bake Chocolate Desserts, Better Homes and Gardens, The Nestle Co., Inc., 1983.

Best You Can Bake Chocolate Desserts cookbook

“Free with purchase of one 12-oz. bag of Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels” reads the text in a white burst on the front of this booklet. Another manufacturer’s advertising booklet. Who needs one more book of recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, desserts and candy? Not I. But it’s in my hands, and it was my mother’s . . . so I’ll find something to bake from it.

I am surprised to find the original recipe for Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies as the first recipe of this booklet. These are my “signature” cookies, and I wrote about them three years ago in December 2012. I wondered back then where I clipped the recipe – now I know that it might have been from the back of a bag of Nestlé chocolate chips! My recipe for these cookies has evolved from the original – I use more frosting to make them totally decadent.

It’s kind of cute how the chapters in this booklet are named: Celebrated Cookies, Classy Cakes and Pies, Festive Desserts, Cookies Especially for Kids, Sweet and Fancy Candy. I’ll keep this cookbook, heck, it doesn’t take up much space.

I decide to make “Oatmeal Chippers” for this blog. This recipe has a lot of oatmeal in it – twice as much oatmeal than flour. It has peanuts in it, different from my usual choice of walnuts for chocolate chip cookies. I can see a need for these cookies in my repertoire!

Oatmeal Chippers recipe

Oatmeal Chippers

  • 1/2 cup butter (salted is okay)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups oatmeal (the quick kind)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts (not dry roasted)

Beat the butter and shortening for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Stir together the flour and baking soda and then add this mixture to the beaten mixture. Beat until well blended. Stir in the oatmeal, chocolate chips, and peanuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased baking pans. (I always line my pans with parchment.) Bake at 375˚ for 8-10 minutes.

Oatmeal Chippers

These are delicious! The oatmeal gives these a light and crisp texture. And the peanuts and chocolate? Yum. A good change-of-pace chocolate chip cookie.

250 Cookbooks: 101 Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookbook #137: 101 Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gwen Steege, Storey Communications, Inc., Pownal, Vermont, 2000.

101 Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies cookbookI must have purchased this cookbook in a weak moment! The recipes are great, all of them. But calorie-laden. If you like chocolate chip cookies but are in a cookie-rut, it’s time to open this book and make a slightly different batch of these delights. Me? I love chocolate chip cookies, but I’ve only tried one so far from this cookbook: “Joyous Chocolate Chip Cookies”.

Who contributed the cookie recipes to this book? Well, they are the best recipes from entries to a contest in 1987 sponsored by The Orchards, an inn in western Massachusetts. Entries came from “almost every state, as well as from Italy, Canada, and Mexico”. So, the recipes were contributed by people like you and me. Each recipe has a note written by the person who sent it in. It’s a very friendly book.

And how can there be so many chocolate chip cookie variations? The chips can be chunks and can be of differents sizes or different chocolates (milk, semi-sweet, or bittersweet), or non-chocolate chips can be added to the mix. Flour can be white or whole wheat; a grain like oatmeal can be added. Butter, margarine, vegetable shortening or oil can be used. Different sweeteners are employed: brown or white sugar, honey, corn syrup, molasses. Peanut butter and nuts, fruits and vegetables are nutritious additions.

The first chapter of this book is a great reference for the effects of different oils and sugars on the texture of cookies. For beginners, it’s also a great reference for basic cookie mixing and baking techniques.

Gwen Steege published this and one other cookie book, and a book on gardening. She’s published lots of stuff on knitting.

I decide to make Apple Orchard Chocolate Chippers.

Apple Orchard Chocolate ChippersI used the maximum amount of flour and I did add nuts, and I changed the cooking temperature. I had my own apple butter to use in this recipe. Below is my version.

Apple Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen

  • 1/2 cup butter (preferrably unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (use less if your butter is salted)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
  • 1 medium apple, cored and grated
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the butter and sugars, then add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add the apple butter and mix well.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this mixture to the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips, apple, and walnuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 375˚ for about 12 minutes, or until they are beginning to brown.

Apple Nut Chocolate Chip CookiesThese are great! They are kind of cake-like, some said they even are like “muffin tops”. They definitely satisfy (or encourage) my sweet tooth.

250 Cookbooks: Forrest Gump™ My Favorite Chocolate Recipes

Cookbook #132: Forrest Gump™ My Favorite Chocolate Recipes, Oxmoor House, Inc., Birmingham, AL, 1995.

My Favorite Chocolate Recipes cookbool“Forrest Gump” was a cultural phenomenon in the 1990s. Probably most Americans of a certain age have seen the 1994 film, starred in by Tom Hanks as the slow but wise and likeable character Forrest Gump who bumbled through life with a Southern accent and a good attitude and lots of amazing adventures. I admit that it isn’t among my favorite flicks, so I am sort of surprised that I own this book. Maybe it was on sale? Dunno.

The book does not credit an author, but the copyright page credits Winston Groom as the author of the Southern-accented introductions to the recipes. Who is Winston Groom? Aha, the author of the novel, Forrest Gump. He also authored several other novels as well as history books.

The recipes are all chocolate and rich. I did use this book – chocolate stains on the pages! Chocolate, cream, butter, candy bars, nuts, sugar, ice cream, cream cheese . . . it’s hard not to make a good tasting dessert. But as I’ve stated before, these lovelies rarely fit into my diet plan. (Moderation, yes, is the answer, but it’s hard to adhere to.)

For this blog? I decide to make Triple-Decker Brownies. With a slight hint of nutrition from oatmeal and pecans, these will be a sweet treat for Halloween festivities, shared with my daughter’s family to spread the calories around. I am already looking forward to my first taste of these brownies!

Triple Decker Brownies
Triple Decker Brownies

Triple Decker Brownies, Forrest Gump™
makes 2 8×8-inch pans

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted oatmeal (quick type; toast in dry pan on stovetop until fragrant)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Frosting

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (sifted if it is clumpy)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Crust: Combine oatmeal, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add the 3/4 cup melted butter and stir well. Press into two greased 8-inch square pans. Bake at 350˚ for 10 minutes.

Filling: Melt 2 ounces chocolate and 1/2 cup butter in a pan. Off heat, add sugar and eggs and mix well. Combine the 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and add to the chocolate mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spread over the baked crust. Bake at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

Frosting: Melt 2 ounces chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in a pan. Off heat, stir in powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir in an additional 3 to 3 tablespoons water until frosting is desired spreading consistency. Spread on cooled brownies.

Triple Decker BrownieThese are sinfully good. I ate one and wanted more more more! Will I make them again? Only if I have help eating them!

250 Cookbooks: Cookies

Cookbook #127: Cookies, Natalie Hartanov Haughton, HPBooks, Inc., Tucson, AZ, 1983.

Cookies CookbookCookies. One of my favorite foods in the world. Homemade, of course!

Cookies was a birthday gift from my mother to me in 1987. My mother was a master cookie baker, as I’ve probably mentioned quite a few times in this blog. Looking through this cookbook today, I realize she put a lot of thought into the choice of this particular book. The recipes are definitely her type of cookie, and the collection reflects her entire repertoire – especially the drop, bar, and rolled cookies.

Cookies birthday noteI have totally under-used this cookbook. There is a coffee-cup stain on one page and I see a couple wrinkled pages here and there, but I didn’t mark any recipes as “tried”. I guess there are huge swaths of my life when I just didn’t make cookies because of the calories. Or, I just baked a handful of same-old-recipes when we all needed a cookie fix.

This will change: today I well reshelve this cookbook with my very-favorites! There are lots of recipes I want to try in this book and all are from-scratch. The photos are great too.

Cookies begins with a few pages of cookie basics. “Successful Cookie Baking” reiterates  the way my mother taught me to bake cookies – and the way I continue to bake them to this day. I actually wrote down some important cookie-baking points in 1993 when I made a bound “Cookie Book” as a present for a friend:

“I always measure flour by dipping a measuring cup into a large canister of flour; I almost never sift before (or after) measuring. I always use unbleached flour. I use margarine (the cheap, stick kind) but you are welcome to substitute butter – I’m sure it would make everything better. Do use real chocolate chips and real vanilla.

“I always beat the shortening, sugar, and egg mixture extremely well, until quite fluffy. Then, add the combined dry ingredients and mix only until they are all mixed in.”

I have switched to butter rather than margarine in most of my cooking. It used to be that we were told margarine was healthier (and cheaper) than butter, so I used margarine a lot. Health advisories have changed, so it’s butter for me these days whenever I try a new recipe. But: many cookie recipes bake up differently with butter than margarine. I remember an Alton Brown episode of Good Eats wherein he made chocolate chip cookies three ways – with butter, with margarine, and with shortening – and each turned out different. And that is my experience too. (When I was still living at home, a girlfriend came over and we made chocolate chip cookies. She pulled butter out of the refrigerator instead of the margarine the recipe called for, and those cookies spread way out on baking. Wow! A first experience with experiments in baking. (Mother always – always! – followed a recipe to a “T”. I hardly ever do that these days.)

Anyway. I am only gradually changing my older margarine-based recipes to butter-based, making sure each time that adjustments do not need to be made to have them turn out the way I like.

I pick up this cookbook on a morning when my day’s plans include something very special: I am going to spend the afternoon with my 20 month old grandson. Thought I: “Ah, I know what I’ll do! I’ll whip up a cookie batter at home and take some to bake with him!”

Grandmothers and cookies, YES!

Which recipe to bake? I choose “Zucchini Drops”. I think they will pass the strict codes of “natural and healthy” foods that my daughter wants for her child. Except the sugar: I’ll have to play that down. “Just a little sugar in these, honest! A ton of zucchini and walnuts – good foods!”

Zucchini Drops recipeZucchini Drops
makes about 6 dozen small cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup grated unpeeled raw zucchini
  • 2 – 2 1/4 cups flour (use some whole wheat flour if you want to)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • some salt – only if you are using unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flaked cocout
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Using a mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in the zucchini. Add 2 cups of the flour along with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, (and salt), and beat just until thoroughly blended. If the batter is pretty wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. Stir in the coconut and walnuts.

(The wetness of zucchini varies. Basically, you want the batter to be stiff enough to drop onto baking pan – my batter needed the extra 1/4 cup flour. If your first batch of cookies flattens out too much, add a bit more flour.)

Drop by teaspoonfulls onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375˚ for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned. (I first tried these at 350˚ for 15 minutes, but I like them a little better baked at the higher temperature.)

Zucchini DropsThese were a big success! They are very soft and moist and flavorful. And a little healthy. They don’t taste real sweet, actually, my husband calls them “muffin tops” instead of cookies. (Go ahead and eat them for breakfast!)

Cookie EaterMy little cookie eater takes his cookies very seriously! He ate two and wanted more. They put him in a very good mood!

250 Cookbooks: Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes

Cookbook #118: Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes, General Foods Corporation, 1932.

Baker'a Chocolate CookbookThis small cook book had me totally fooled. Piled in a messy stack of booklets, I thought it was just another manufacturer’s cookbook from the sixties or seventies. The cover is missing. The recipes read “modern”, not dated. I find my mother’s notes on a few of the cake recipes, so it wasn’t mine. Finally I think to ask: “when was this published?” OMG, it’s from 1932! It should have been shelved with the vintage cookbooks.

I have found another treasure, albeit a little one.

Here is a photo of the cover that I got on the internet:

cover of bakers 1932 CBIn a previous on the Mexican Cookbook, I wrote about the South American origins of chocolate. “The Spaniard ships that returned to Europe were laden with seeds and cuttings, which flourished in various climates.” By 1932, chocolate had been a part of American cuisine for four hundred years. Here’s a quote from the introduction of Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes:

“Four hundred years of popularity. Few flavors have ever had the widespread popularity of chocolate. Rich . . . smooth . . . fragrant . . .  its delightful flavor has appealed to everyone wherever and however it has been served.”

And about chocolate milk:

“Foamy, creamy-rich cocoa is a wonderful food with which to woo finicky child-appetites – an easy and delicious way of helping to include the daily quart of milk in their meals. Grown-ups welcome cocoa, too, as a way of building up run-down systems. And in this day of slimmer waists, cocoa is popular because it provides nourishment that is satisfying but not fattening.”

According to this book, the first chocolate mill in the US was built on the banks of the Neponset river in Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1780 it became the establishment of Walter Baker and Company. We can still buy Baker’s chocolate today, although it is currently owned by Kraft Foods.

This excerpt from the book gives the story behind the logo:

chocolate storychocolate storyI will definitely keep this cookbook. Not only because it is old, but because it has good basic chocolate recipes, like for a cocoa syrup if I run out of the bottled kind, and cakes and chiffon pie and eclairs and on and on. I decide to make the brownies for this blog. Sure, I have dozens of recipes for brownies, but this one is from 1932! I think one of my older cookbooks has the original brownie recipe, but that will be the subject of a later blog post.

Here is a scan of the brownies page and the facing page, just to show you the condition of this book:

brownies recipeHere is a larger version of the recipe:

brownies recipeThat’s my mother’s “good” on the recipe. The photo of these brownies is on another page:

browniesI made these just like the recipe, except I cooked them a little less. I even used Baker’s chocolate:

Baker's baking chocolateBrownies, 1932 Baker’s version

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 ounces Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Stir together the flour and baking powder.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan and let cool a bit.

Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and beat it in. Add the chocolate mixture, beating thoroughly, then add the flour mixture, the vanilla, and the nuts.

Bake in a greased 8-inch square pan for 30-35 minutes, until they test done with a toothpick.

browniesPerfect brownies!

250 Cookbooks: Vive La Machine

Cookbook #114: Vive La Machine, Moulinex Products, Inc., editor Sue Spitler, published by Marketing Communications International, USA, 1977.

Vive La Machine CB“A superb collection of international recipes and menu suggestions prepared especially for the new breed of electric kitchen appliances.”

And what is the “new breed” of kitchen appliances? Food processors: counter-top machines that shred, slice, chop, and puree foods. They became available for home cooks in the US sometime in the 1970s. I got my first one in the 80s. It was a “La Machine”. Hence I own this cookbook!

But alas, that old La Machine bit the dust. It did a pretty good job of shredding: I used it a lot to grate cheese, zucchini and carrots. The slicer worked okay but it was often easier to slice small amounts of vegetables with just a knife. You had to hold a bowl under the spitter-shute because the shredded/sliced foods came flying out. I liked the nice small bowl with a spinning blade for dicing vegetables and grinding meats. A drawback of the  La Machine was that it was hard to clean, since the dirty parts were not immersible.

But the big issue with my La Machine was the funky connection of the top to the bottom.  I had to buy new parts at least once. I eventually replaced it with a Cuisinart brand food processor.

I kind of like this Vive La Machine cookbook. The recipes rely on freshly grated and chopped foods, thus recipes are from-scratch and up my alley.

For this blog, I choose to make “Fudge Brownies”.

Fudge Brownies RecipeI am going to re-name these “Chocolate Zucchini Brownies”. They are chocolaty, but not really fudgy.

My version is below: I halved the recipe and made a couple small changes.

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
makes an 8×8-inch pan of brownies

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter (3/8 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, lightly packed (about 1 medium zucchini, whatever that is)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a mixer, blend well the butter, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Add the milk and mix in. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until smooth. Add the zucchini and nuts.

Pour into a greased (I used non-stick spray) 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350˚ for 35-45 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick.

Chocolate Zucchini BrowniesThis recipe is a keeper! Yes I already have about a dozen great brownie recipes, but this one needs to be put in my repertoire. These are kind of light and fluffy and are especially moist. If no one told you zucchini was in them, I doubt you would guess. And the cinnamon – the cinnamon! It adds a . . . je ne sais quoi touch . . . never leave out the cinnamon.

These brownies fell just a little bit in the center of the pan. Since we live at 5400 feet, next time I will apply my high-altitude baking suggestions to see if it helps. Doesn’t matter a lot, these taste yummy!