Monthly Archive for February, 2011

The Gallery: For Cholera. For Dysentery.

These pages come from a handwritten, leather bound journal that was given to me for Christmas.  It belonged to a friend’s grandmother; the inside cover is signed “Annie S. Bush” and “Warren Koons.”  According to my friend, Warren is a relation of her grandmother, and Annie Bush was Warren’s first wife.  She was born June 20, 1854 and died Sept 1, 1883.  I suspect Warren picked up the book after his wife died (her signature appears to be written earlier) and wrote in it until his untimely death in 1910.  Warren and his second wife were brutally murdered by their son-in-law: read the New York Times article here.

In addition to home remedies like these, the book is full of beer and wine recipes; baked good reciepts from Annie; and a study of wild mushrooms.  I’ll be sharing more pages over the next week.

Chocolate Delight: Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Tunnel of Fudge cake bakes up tall, with a glossy, brownie-like crust.  Break pieces off and eat it; no one will know.

I’m wrapping up Chocolate Delight week with a bang: a cake that has a built-in Tunnel of Fudge.

The legend of this cake was related to me by Jessica, the author of Pictures of Cake.  This cake won second place at the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-off, losing to ‘”golden gate snack bread,”‘  a yeast bread made with instant flour, processed cheese spread, dry onion soup mix and butter.(source)”  Blech.  The snack bread has been long forgotten, while Tunnels of Fudge lives on.

The Tunnel of Fudge cake was a technical revolution: first, it produced a moist cake with a fudgy, uncooked center, perhaps the ancestor of the modern Molten Chocolate Cake.  Second, it used a Bundt pan.  For a little more information on that, take a look at Jessica’s invitation to her ToF Cake party:

Third, this cake is quite possible the least healthy thing I have ever made.  It contains approximately 60 eggs, 1 millions pounds of butter, and 20 cups of sugar.  Originally, it was made with a pre-packaged, powdered frosting mix called Double Dutch Fudge Buttercream.  

Tunnel of Fudge Cake(original recipe)
1 1/2 cups soft Land O’ Lakes Butter
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups Pillsbury’s Best Flour (Regular, Instant Blending or Self Rising*)
1 package Pillsbury Double Dutch Fudge Buttercream Frosting Mix
2 cups chopped Diamond Walnuts

Oven 350° [ed. 350 F / 175 C]
10-inch tube cake

Cream butter in large mixer bowl at high speed of mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Gradually add sugar, continue creaming at high speed until light and fluffy. By hand, stir in flour, frosting mix, and walnuts until well blended. Pour batter into greased Bundt pan or 10-inch Angel Food tube pan. Bake at 350° for 60 to 65 minutes. Cool 2 hours, remove from pan. Cool completely before serving.

Note: Walnuts, Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix and butter are key to the success of this unusual recipe. Since cake has a soft fudgy interior, test for doneness after 60 minutes by observing dry, shiny brownie-type crust.


After the frosting mix was discontinued, Pillsbury developed a modern recipe which you can find here. This is the recipe I baked from, with a few minor changes that I will include below.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake, REMIXXXX

Adapted from and
The 17th Annual Pillsbury Busy Lady Bake-Off Cookbook, 1966

2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups  (2 and 3/4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
6 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chopped walnuts (the recipe notes that “Nuts are essential for the success of this recipe.” ha!)

1. Grease a bundt pan and dust with additional cocoa powder.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.

3. Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about three minutes at medium speed.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one.

4. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients.  Scrape bowl, then mix until combined.

5. With a spatula, fold in walnuts.  Spoon batter into bundt pan; bake 45 minutes or until top has a dry, shiny brownie-type crust.  Cool upright in pan on wire rack 1 1/2 hours. Invert onto serving plate; cool at least 2 hours.


Can someone please tell me how to get a cake out of a bundt pan?  Mine always comes out in broken, shameful pieces.

When I cut my cake, it wasn’t puking out fudge like in the 1966 photo; but, running down the middle was a dense spine of goopy fudgeness.  My oven tends to run a little hot, so I think the cake was slightly over-baked: ten minutes less would have allowed a much thicker fudge vein.

The cake was good; the walnuts were a nice break from what would have been a total chocolate assault.  But the cake also had a greasy mouth-feel thanks to the million pounds of butter.  And it’s sooooo swweeeeeet.  I even made it with a cup less sugar than the Pillsbury recipe calls for.

I don’t know.  I’d be curious to have more people give this bizarre chocolate cake a whirl and tell me what you think of the final results.

Chocolate Delight: Chocolate Wafers

Chocolate Wafer cookies; from Gourmet, February 1950.

Faced with the task of consuming chocolate, I decided to reference a book that I had gotten for Christmas: The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe From Each Year 1941- 2009. It’s a cool anthology that reflects the changing tastes of the last 70 years.  I wanted a rich, chocolately cookie, and I found this recipe for Chocolate Wafers from Valentine’s Day, 1950:

“Chocolate Wafers: Good cooks were pleasing their menfolks with chocolate cakes back during the early settling of the New England colonies…Modern ways are upon us, atom bombs bedevil our dreams, standardization of taste haunts our mealtimes–but chocolate is still chocolate.”

Intense!  But also inaccurate–chocolate cake recipes didn’t start appearing until the later half of the 19th century.  Just FYI.

Chocolate Wafers

From Gourmet magazine, Feb 1950
As Reprinted in  The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe From Each Year 1941- 2009

3/4 cup Butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups Sugar
1 tb Rum Extract (I didn’t have any, I used rum)
1 Large Egg
1 1/2 cups Flour
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

1. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. Cream butter.  Add sugar gradually and cream together until light and fluffy.

3. Add egg and rum. Beat thoroughly

4. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

5. When completely mixed, refrigerate overnight.

6. Roll out dough 1/8th of an inch thick; cut into fun shapes; bake in a 375 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.


This recipes mixes up very quickly, but the dough is hellish to work with.  It was somehow both dry and crumbly and extremely sticky.  It did allow me to use some of my vintage cookie cutters as well as a vulgar cutter my roommate gave me for Christmas.

The cookies are tasty.  I liked the texture best when they first came out of the oven: they were really crispy and flaky.  They got a little more dense as they cooled, but still very good.  If I was going to make an artisanal Oreo, I would use this recipe.

These cookies are getting shipped off to Washington DC for a friend’s very belated birthday present.  Not the vulgar ones, though.  The balls got a little burned.

Chocolate Delight: Royal Hot Chocolate

Royal Chocolate in a royal cup.

It’s cold in New York.  Reaul cold.  At the end of a long day, I needed a little pick me up.  So I cracked a cookbook my Aunt had given me for my birthday, a 1971 reprint of a 1934 Hershey’s Cookbook.

The book has been “adapted to a modern kitchen,” so that could mean anything in terms of reinterpretations of the original recipes.  But regardless, I do enjoy cooking up some 70s kitsch.

In the “Beverages” section, I came across this recipe for Royal Hot Chocolate.

Sounds so decadant!

Royal Hot Chocolate

From the 1934 Hershey’s Cookbook (1971 expanded and updated edition)

2 squares Unsweetned baking chocolate
1 14 ounce can sweetned condensed milk
4 cups boiling water
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
Whipped cream and cinnamon (optional)

1. Melt baking chocolate in a double boiler: a glass bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water will do just fine.

2. Add condensed milk, then GRADUALLY add boiling water while whisking vigorously.  Heed this advice; I didn’t, and dumped the water in.  Despite some vigorous whisking, I ended up with grainy hot chocolate.  And the water must be BOILING, or else you’ll end up with a lump of unmelted chocolate and water.

3. Add salt and vanilla, and serve, with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon if desired.


Since it is Royal Hot Chocolate, I served it up in the royalest mug I had: A double-handled cup commemorating the Queen Mum’s 95th birthday.  When I first sipped the chocolate, I wasn’t bowled over.  But the more I drank, the more I realized how smooth it was.  How chocolately.  And not too sweet.  It was perfect in every way.  In a feat of decadence, I drank this hot chocolate while taking a hot shower.  I feel Awesome.

Chocolate Delight: Mahogany Cake

Mahogany Cake: cocoa powder and brown sugar.

Have you ever read A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn?  You should.  Some months ago, the author loaned me a book by a mysterious cake maven named Mrs. Osborne.  Read more about this fascinating woman, with a unique perspective on how to bake a cake, here.

I’ve baked one recipe from Mrs. Osborne’s book, a fairly unsuccessful Puff Cake.  But another recipe captured my attention, a brown sugar and chocolate confection called Mahogany Cake.

Mahogany Cake
From Mrs. Osborne’s Cakes of Quality, by Mrs. Grace Osborne, 1919.

I didn’t have the pans she wanted, so I baked it in a regular rectangular cake pan, which I buttered and dusted with cocoa powder.  The milk, sugar and cocoa powder comes to a quick boil, so watch out for that.  After I mixed the flour in, the batter was super smooth; when the melted chocolate was added, it was very velvety, just like Mrs. Osborne promised.  Don’t forget the teaspoon of vanilla at the end; she doesn’t list it in the ingredients.

When completed, the batter tasted like hot fudge.  The cake showed promise.  But here comes round two, Baking the Cake.  Pay careful attention, it is detailed:

I ALWAYS managed to fuck this part up, because I forget to reset the timer.  That’s how the Puff Cake got overcooked and tough last time; this time I forgot to set the timer after 230 degrees.  So I went from 230 to 300 in the last 15 minutes. Grr.

The  results: the cake had a nice fudgy flavor.  I actually do not like chocolate cake (Short story: my mother was a prize baker, once she was testing a million chocolate cake recipes, I ate too much cake and puked.  Haven’t been able to stomach it since.)  but the flavor was rich enough I didn’t find it off putting.  But the texture was not great: although the top was most, the center and bottom of the cake was really dry and unpleasant.  That’s the same problem I had when I made the puff cake.

Mrs. Osborne’s ridiculous baking methods seem like they’ll be worth the trouble; they stink of some long forgotten baking secret.  But in reality, the long, low bake time seems to dry the cakes out.  Thumbs down, Mrs. O.

A Week of Chocolate Delights

I have an excess of chocolate.  Chips. Chunks. Powders.  It’s wedged in my cabinets: leftovers from other projects, donations from other kitchens.  It needs to be taken care of.  So, this being the time of year when we like to eat chocolate things and make kissy faces at each other (or sit at home gorging on chocolate and weeping), for the next week leading up to Valentine’s, I’ll be making all things chocolate.

Come along with me.

Cocktail Hour: Drinking Cherry Bounce

Cherry Bounce!

Remember waaaaay back in August when I told you my friend Mike was making Cherry Bounce? Refresh you memory here. When I returned to my hometown of Cleveland for the holidays, the bounce was done and ready to be taste tested.

Mike strained and bottled it before serving.  Everyone was skeptical as it was poured out: the nose was more than a little like cough syrup.  It was downed with the anticipation of fake cherry flavoring…and then, as it flowed over your tongue, you realized it was nothing but the real thing.  Delicious whiskey infused with honest-to-goodness cherries.  It was sweet, but not too sweet, and the cherry flavor was pronounced.  But don’t let its rosy color and candy sweetness fool you: it was STRONG.  It’ll put some hair on your chest, that’s for sure.

I feel like it has tremendous mixing potential, but haven’t figured out with what yet.  Perhaps just over ice in the summer, with a splash of seltzer.

Clevelanders that were there and sampled it, what did you think? Does your opinion differ?

The History Dish: Chestnut Ice Cream

Right: Rachel Wharton and I chowed down on some melty, chestnut ice cream.

Coupla weeks ago, I was featured on New York 1 making some chestnut ice cream for Edible Manhattan editor Rachel Wharton.

The idea for the recipe came from Society as I have Found It, a book written by Ward McAllister in the 1890s.  He was a New Yorker, and a well-known socialite.  The book is about his fabulous life, and he dishes out all kinds of advice, like how to throw the best dinner party:

“In planning a dinner, the question is not to whom you owe dinners, but who is most desirable. The success of the dinner depends as much upon the company as the cook. Discordant elements — people invited alphabetically or to pay off debts — are fatal.

The next step is an interview with your chef, if you have one… whom you must arouse to fever heat by working on his ambition and vanity. You must impress upon him that this particular dinner will give him fame and lead to fortune. “

Sound advice, no?  The full chapter is here.

I’d like to throw a dinner party based on his suggested menu; it’s perfect for the winter and classically late 19th-century: it consists of Turtle Soup, Terrapin, Ham Mousse, Roast Turkey, Sweetbreads, Pate in Aspic and Canvasback Ducks.   The dessert, Nesselrode Pudding, is an ice cream made with chestnut puree.

The recipe requires a lot of steps, but every one is worth it.  The result is an incredibly creamy, flavorful ice cream.

Nesselrode Pudding (Chestnut Ice Cream)
Adapted from The American Heritage Cookbook and
Miss Corson’s Pratical American Cookery by Juliet Corson,  1886.

1 pint (2 cups) half and half
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
20 chestnuts, cooked and unshelled*
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Maraschino Liquor, rum, or pineapple juice
1/2 cup currents
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

*You can find chestnuts canned, perhaps in the import aisle of your grocery store.  I found a bag of “snacking” chestnuts that were roasted, unshelled and vacuum sealed.  Perfect.

1. Soak raisins and currents in a bowl with the Maraschino.  Set aside.

2. Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar.  Scald the half and half, then add it SLOWLY to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.  Pour into a pan and cook on over a very low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, make the chestnut puree: add chestnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, water, and vanilla to a food processor.  Puree until smooth, then add to the custard.

4. Add custard mixture to the bowl of an ice cream mixture.  Allow to freeze to a soft-serve consistency.

5. Meanwhile, beat heavy cream and remaining 1/2 cup sugar with an electric mixer until stiff.  When custard has frozen soft, fold in whipped cream and fruit.

6. Pack into an ice cream mold  and place in the freezer overnight, or until frozen hard.


I let the ice cream set in the freezer overnight; while shooting for NY1, I busted it out all professional like “Oh, and we have one that’s already done!”  It was now time to unmold it: I dipped the outside of the mould into hot water until the outer layer of ice cream melted, then gently turned it upside down on a decorative platter. Simple, right?

Not for me. While decanting my ice cream, I managed to fling it across the table, where it collapsed into a sad heap.  See it all happen here.

Rachel and I managed to scoop the ice cream off of the table and make it presentable, although it totally looked like a brain.  Then we gave it the old taste test: although I was repulsed by the texture of the raisins, Rachel and I both agreed this ice cream was delicious.  On camera, we took dainty spoonfuls.  Off camera, we were shoveling it into our mouth.  The ice cream was so creamy and perfectly sweet; the chestnut flavor was interesting, delicious, and subtle.

Rachel suggested leaving out the fruit in the next batch and molding the ice cream in individual dishes with a single, candied chestnut to garnish the top.  I agree.  Hanging out with Rachel is always a treat.

The Gallery: Groceries, Provisions, Flour, Salt. Coffins.

Two interesting and beautiful receipts I found at the Brimfield Flea Market.