Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's Chocolate Cookies

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's Chocolate Cookies 
Source: Maida Heatter's Cookies (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997 ed.), pg. 17.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was an American writer who wrote novels and short stories based on her life in rural Florida. She won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Yearling" in 1939. In 1942, she published the autobiographical "Cross Creek" (it was made into a movie starring Mary Steenbergen in 1983). Rawlings was also an avid cook and "Cross Creek Cookery" (published the same year) is a book that Maida Heatter often mentions.

While traveling through Cross Creek, Maida and her husband stopped at a gas station and purchased some homemade brownies that the owner's wife had made. He said the recipe came from Rawlings, who his mother-in-law had worked for. The brownies were actually drop cookies and Maida found the recipe in "Cross Creek Cookery". She omitted the baking powder and added the coffee (the gas station owner's wife had added the chocolate morsels.

The cookies are chewy and very chocolate-y. And best of all, they are very easy to make.

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Scant 2 tsp. instant coffee
1/4 cup boiling water
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups walnuts, broken into large pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat the oven to 350 and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour and salt and set aside.

Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water. Add the chocolate, place over low heat, and stir until smooth.

In a mixer bowl, beat the butter until soft. Add the vanilla and then gradually add the sugar, beating until mixed. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well (it is okay if the mixture is still warm).

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them in well. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until mixed.

Stir in the raisins, nuts and chocolate morsels.

Place tablespoons of the mixture on the parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Bake for 13-15 minutes, reversing the pans halfway through baking. The cookies are done when they barely spring back when pressed. Do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

The recipe makes 25 large cookies (you can make smaller ones if desired). Store in an airtight container. They keep well.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake (Source: Maida Heatter's Cakes (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2011 ed., pg. 176).

My father's favorite cake was Carrot Cake and my mother made it often and always on his birthday. I could not find my mother's recipe. While searching, I kept coming across recipes that had pineapple and hers did not have that. Maida to the rescue! She actually has several different Carrot Cake recipes but this is the one that I remember.

I decided to make this as a loaf cake so that it would be easy to share. I don't believe it made any difference in taste and it made two loaves. I also used pecans instead of walnuts. The cake is very, very moist and delicious. Of course, the icing is arguably the best thing about the cake!

The recipe calls for corn oil but you can use vegetable or saffron oil.


1 cup dark raisins
4 cups shredded carrots, firmly packed
2 cups minus 2 TBS. sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 TBS. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/4 cups corn oil
1 1/2 cups walnuts, cut into medium-sized pieces

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare three 9 inch cake pans (or you can use 2 loaf pans like I did) by buttering them and lining them with parchment paper. Dust with fine bread crumbs.

Steam the raisins (or you can let them soak in warm water for 5-10 minutes). Dry them on a paper towel.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Place the eggs in a mixing bowl and mix or whisk just enough to mix. Beat in the vanilla, both sugars and the oil. On low speed, add the dry ingredients. Stir in the carrots and the nuts.

Divide the batter among the pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and let it stand for about 2-3 minutes before turning them out. Allow the cake to cool completely. Freeze the cake for at least one hour or overnight before frosting it.

Cream Cheese Icing

16 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese (at room temperature)
4 ounces unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

Beat the cream cheese and the butter until soft and smooth. Beat in the vanilla and sugar until smooth.

If you making a layer cake, apply the frosting between the layers as well as around the sides.

This frosting is one of the best things on earth!

(She also recommends decorating the cake with marzipan carrots and provides a recipe for them but I have not done this.)