I’ve been doing some major remodeling on my condominium including getting rid of the orange—and yes, it really was an orange sherbet color–Formica countertop (I kept waiting for this 1960 trend to come back in style but when it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen, out it went), tearing down walls and pulling up carpeting that had seen way too many spills by my daughter and her friends including the time she did some sign painting inside. Believe me, that did not work out well.
During all this renovation, I had to pack up just about everything in the condo including all my kitchenware and though the project was just going to take a couple of months–well, you know how that goes—I am just beginning to unpack boxes. One of my latest discoveries is my KitchenAid stand mixer, which I really, really missed. Opening the box that contained the mixer, buried under a bunch of other stuff, coincided with my friend Joyce Lin sending me a copy of The Vintage Baker: More Than 50 Recipes from Butterscotch Pecan Curls to Sour Cream Jumbles by Jessie Sheehan (Chronicle Book 2018; $24.95). Sheehan, who worked as a junior baker at Baked, a bakery in Brooklyn, New York, was also an avid collector of vintage recipe booklets (there’s one included in her cookbook) and The Vintage Baker is based upon those recipes, albeit with Sheehan’s adaptations to modernize them. She did so by adding such intriguing twists as making her popovers using pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper as well as black pepper and rum in a butterscotch pie and mixing thyme in the ladyfinger recipes she used in creating her own take on the classic Charlette Russe, layers of cookies or ladyfingers, cake and a cream filling.
“My go-to chocolate-chip cookie recipe is full of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and I was over the moon to discover how frequently cookies with cereal surfaced in my booklet collection,” Sheehan writes in her introduction to her recipe for Cornflake Macaroons with Chocolate Drizzle, noting that a recipe from “55 Recipes for Hershey’s Syrup” (1945) formed the base for her macaroon. “Adding salt to the batter proved essential–so many of these original recipes don’t call for salt. I drizzled the cookies with chocolate after baking, rather than combining it with the batter, allowing these cornflakes to truly shine.”
I was so happy to have re-discovered my mixer that I made several of the recipes from Sheehan’s book. Here are a couple that I think you would enjoy including an old fashioned ice box cake.
Cornflake Macaroons with Chocolate Drizzle
3 egg whites
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
2½ cups cornflakes
1½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and continue whisking until thoroughly combined and thickened. Fold the cornflakes and coconut into the egg whites using a rubber spatula. Once combined, and using your hands, crush the cornflakes in the bowl, mixing all of the ingredients together, until the mixture stays together when you squeeze it in your hand. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. The mixture will be much easier to scoop once it has been refrigerated.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop 1 to 1½ tablespoons of dough with a small cookie scoop or measuring spoon, making sure to really pack the batter into the scoop/spoon. Place on the prepared pan and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned. Sprinkle with the sea salt and let cool. Place the melted chocolate in a zippered plastic bag, cut a very tiny hole in one corner of the bag, and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate harden before serving.
The macaroons will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days, but they get less crunchy with each day.
Coconut-Chocolate Icebox Cake with Toasted Almonds
3 (13 1/2-fluid-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
9 ounces crisp chocolate wafer cookies
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Place the cans of coconut milk in the coldest spot in your refrigerator upside-down and leave them there for 24 hours. This will allow the coconut cream in the milk to solidify and separate from the liquid.
Line a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap that hangs slightly over the sides of the pan.
Flip the cans of coconut milk right-side up, open the cans, and, using a rubber spatula, carefully scrape the solid coconut cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Save the liquid for another purpose. Add the almond extract and confectioners’ sugar, and whisk on medium speed until smooth and thick. Add the heavy cream and whisk on medium-high speed until the cream holds stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Add the toasted coconut and fold it into the cream with a rubber spatula.
Using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread a thin layer of the whipped cream on the bottom of the lined pan. Cover as much of the cream as possible with a layer of wafers, filling any gaps with broken wafers, to create a solid layer of wafers.
Continue layering whipped cream and wafers until you run out or reach the top of the pan, ending with a layer of wafers. Gently cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 to 8 hours, or preferably overnight. If you have whipped cream left over, store this in the refrigerator along with the cake.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator prior to serving and peel off the plastic wrap. Place a serving plate over the pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Carefully remove the pan and plastic wrap lining and, if using, thinly spread the remaining whipped cream over the sides and top of the cake. Re-whip the cream if it looks too soft to spread. Sprinkle the cake with the toasted almonds, lightly pressing them into the cake.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into slices and serve. The cake will keep, lightly wrapped with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
When buying coconut milk, gently turn the can up and down in the store to make sure the contents sound full and solid. If it sounds watery and seems like the can is filled only with liquid, grab a different one.
What: Author Talk Jessie Sheehan: The Vintage Baker
When: Sep 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Read It & Eat, 2142 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL
FYI: 773-661-6158; readitandeatstore.com
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