Suzi's Blog

Fudge Icing from Seattle Circa 1960

This is a two part blog: cake and frosting. Of course, frosting comes first and tomorrow you’ll have the cake. Frosting deserves to be first. Well, icing should come first. Icing, frosting, which is it? Even in the recipe from The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford the two terms are confused. She calls this a Fudge Icing but refers to the mixture as a frosting. Oh, and it’s not fudge. It’s Mocha.

What is going on here? In mid-century, Clementine Paddleford toured America, writing for magazines and cataloging the “best” in local recipes. Those recipes were collected into her book How America Eats, which has now been republished as The Great American Cookbook. The book provides “typical but great” recipes region by region, state by state.

It is assuredly American. And it is great. Most importantly, this book captures how Americans cooked over 50 years ago. That was a different America. The terminology was different: hence using “icing” and “frosting” interchangeably. The styles of cooking were different. There is a recipe here for Hungarian Meatballs, something you’d expect to come from Pennsylvania or Ohio. No, it’s from Florida, which had a much smaller population in the 1950’s with a radically different ethnic mix.

There are recipes here with terms you’ve never heard of: Montauk Berry Duff from New York.

Today, the hottest restaurant in New York City is just two block from where I live on Worth Street. The chef is from Portland, Oregon, now listed as one of the food centers of America if not the world. I grew up in Portland. In the 1950’s the hottest restaurant in Portland was Manning’s Cafeteria where you pushed along a tray to get salmon croquettes and meatloaf and blue berry pie. For me, the close connections and yet the enormous increase in culinary complexity, well, it makes me shake my head and smile and the same time.

Ah, if you want to smile, then make this icing. It is an icing, thin and shining, not deep and thick like a frosting. But you won’t care. You can use this icing on cakes, on cookies, or even on your fingertips.

Tomorrow comes the cake that Clementine recommended.

Fudge Icing from Seattle Circa 1960

Servings: covers one 9 X 13” sheet cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons [¾ stick] unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons hot coffee
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation:

Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa into a medium bowl. Stir in the butter, then the coffee, followed by the vanilla, mixing well with a wooden spoon after each addition, until the frosting is smooth. Ice the top and sides of your cake with frosting.

Source: The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford

New Oreos from Flour

One hundred years ago, in a factory building on the Lower West Side of Manhattan [16th Street], the first Oreo was created. America’s favorite cookie has spread far and wide across this planet.

Rivals do appear in stores, but I’ve never found anything to match an Oreo there — my apologies to you Hydrox fans out there but that dryness is too much for me.

On the home front, countless cooks have tried to go one up on the Oreo. Here is a challenge from Flour that radically succeeds. No, I do not think it’s actually that close to an Oreo. The chocolate wafers are more like those classic Nabisco Chocolate Wafers than the Oreos halves.

The filling here is oh so good. No margarine here. No Crisco. No chemically things at all. This filling is good enough to make and eat on its own. Not that I would ever consider doing that. [Although I do have this syndrome where occasionally I both sleep walk and cook which might explain … And, further in my defense, this filling can just sit out on the counter for two days. Now, what do you expect me to do for that amount of time?]

This is a fun-filled cookie to make at home. Kids will love to spoon the filling on the bottom wafer, then put a wafer on top and gently apply pressure to create the “perfect” sandwich. Of course, your kids will have to clean their fingers occasionally. You should just smile and encourage them to take licks over every knuckle.

New Oreos

Yield: 16-18 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups (210 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (90 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:

  • ½ cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ⅔ cups (230 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Pinch of kosher salt

 

Preparation:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.

In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until well mixed. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough will start to seem too floury, and you will find it easiest to switch to mix it with your hands until it comes together. It will have the consistency of Play-Doh. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour to firm up.

Transfer the dough to a 15-inch square sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 2 ½ inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the sheet of parchment paper, and roll the parchment around the log. With the log fully encased in parchment, roll it into a smoother log, keeping it at 2 ½  inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm. The log may settle and sink a bit in the fridge, so reroll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain a nice round log. (At this point, the dough log can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If the dough is frozen, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Cut the dough log into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. [The slices do spread a bit. It’s easier if you make them about ⅓ inch thick!]

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequently after 16 or 17 minutes, poking them in the middle. As soon as they feel firm to the touch, remove them from the oven. You can’t judge by color because they start out black. Let cool on the baking sheet to warm or room temperature. They don’t have to cool completely before you fill them, but you can’t fill them while they are hot.

To make the filling: While the cookies are cooling, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat the butter on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely smooth and soft. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Add the milk and salt and again beat until smooth. It will look like white spackle and feel about the same—like putty.

You can also mix this filling by hand. Make sure the butter is very soft, and use your hands to mix and knead the sugar into the butter. You should have about 1 cup. (The filling can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of one cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom-side down, then press the cookies together to spread the filling toward the edges.

Repeat until all of the cookies are filled.

Source: Flour by Joanne Chang