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
- 2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons [¾ stick] unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons hot coffee
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
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
I used to work with Navy fighter pilots who taught me the concept of scanning. How do they see a “bad guy” up in the sky? They visually scan the sky but in a very meticulous, systematic manner. You “see” detail with the middle of your eye but any motion is best detected peripherally. So a proper scan will let you find things on the move or details that show something has changed.
Like the contents of a refrigerator.
Suzen opened our refrigerator door to get some milk. I held my breath. As her hand reached up and her head moved, would she notice anything? She grabbed the milk and pulled back. I was safe.
“What’s in that container with the dark stuff?” she asked me. I was not safe, but I was prepared.
“Oh, that? It’s chocolate ganache,” I admitted. “Here,” my hand swept from behind my back, “try this.” The “this” was a small square of fudge.
She looked at me, put the milk down, and said, “Let’s talk about it.” She walked towards the porch.
“Okay,” I said, happy to have cleared this hurdle
“Brian,” she added, “bring the fudge. Bring all the fudge.”
As promised, here is the Fabulous Fudge recipe from Choclatique: 150 Simply Elegant Desserts.
The concept in Choclatique is to make every recipe using some variety of pre-made chocolate ganache and the previous post here gave you the recipe for the Dark Chocolate Ganache used in this recipe.
Author Ed Engoron lives and works in Los Angeles but got his inspiration for this fudge at the Texas State Fair. He learned a secret from some fudge mavens: use a hand held electric mixer to beat the fudge into a super smooth state, beginning when it is hot off the stove and ending after smoothness has been achieved. During that beating, the temperature will drop rapidly. The achievement here will be a texture that is smooth without any of the graininess that comes from sugar crystals.
You may have used a mixer before in making fudge, or tried to arduously beat fudge with a wooden spoon. The innovation here is the hand held mixer, rather than a stand mixer, which really does a better job and lets you maneuver to attack all the volume.
Is this fudge fabulous? Yes, if Suzen wants to enjoy the whole batch, then, trust me, it’s really good. Now, my first batch was soft, and it definitely needed the time in the refrigerator that is called for. I think I did not beat it enough, but the only way to know is to make more. Thankfully, I now have Suzen’s permission. I hate sneaking around late at night when she is asleep and having to vent all those luscious chocolate smells out the house.
I have yet to try some variations, like adding in some marshmallow fluff. Suzen and I will let you know, or please tell us your opinion.
Yield: about 24 fudge squares
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup Dark Chocolate Ganache
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened
- condensed milk
- Dash of salt
- Optionally, ½ to 1 cup roasted chopped nuts [walnuts, pecans, almonds]
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Line the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
In a heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate chips, Dark Chocolate Ganache, condensed milk, and salt over low heat. Stir with wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, if using, and the vanilla.
Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the mixture for 5 minutes or until as smooth as possible. Spread the fudge in the prepared pan and refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm. You can eat this straight from the fridge but you will get more flavor if you let it warm just to room temperature.
Source: Choclatique by Ed Engoron