Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Toll House Valentine

Here's a vintage Valentine's Day recipe from my beloved Ruth Wakefield's Toll House Tried and True Recipes (first published 1930, mine is the 1943 edition). She was the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, which is a tremendous achievement I think, never mind writing a whole cookbook. She and her husband Kenneth ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, which looks just like the place Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire had in Holiday Inn (1942). People used to call chocolate chip cookies, Toll House cookies, after the Wakefields' inn. I'll post her recipe another day - she called them "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies" and made them with cut-up chocolate bars.

This was my grandmother's book and has her pencilled annotations, so it is very dear to me.

The following was not a recipe that she annotated however. She was an excellent but no-nonsense cook and her cakes came in only two shapes, round or square. Mostly round. She did a walnut layer cake that was truly astonishing in its architectural heights. And it tasted wonderful too. So will this, as it's simple and distinctly un-weird.

Valentine Cakes

Bake your favorite white cake in a large pan so that finished cake will be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. With a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the cake, being sure to keep shape accurate. Frost with plain white frosting, butter frosting, or 7-minute frosting, covering top and sides of cake. Moisten some red food paste with water. Pour over shredded coconut and knead well. When color is well mixed through coconut let stand on radiator or in a slow oven to dry out. Insert a toothpick in bottom of heart-shaped cakes and dip sides covered in soft frosting in the pink coconut. Let stand until frosting is firm before serving. Use toothpick to handle more easily. White coconut may be used instead of pink and a tiny red heart placced in the center of the white frosting for decoration.

Isn't that lovely, the bit about letting the coconut dry out on the radiator?

Toll House Pie

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