February 1941: Cajun Macaroons

February 1941: Cajun Macaroons

This is the first recipe in the book! I didn’t make it first, though, because it uses an ingredient I don’t stock: almond paste.

In fact, I’d never used it before, but it was easy enough to find at my local hippie grocery store. The recipe says “Work until smooth with a wooden spoon”, but the notes from the editor who collected it into the book says “Use a food processor”. Sadly, they don’t actually say *how* to use the food processor, so I put in the plastic dough blade, ran that on the almond paste for a bit, and then started adding in the other ingredients.  It appears to have worked, but I have no idea if this is what they meant.  Also, the recipe called for 1/2# of almond paste, but my tube was 7 oz. I have to assume this had some effect on the results, but I can’t find it—these look almost exactly like the picture.  Cleanup was easy, too—since these baked on parchment paper, the baking sheets were practically clean already, and the only other thing this required was the food processor and a pastry bag(1).  Clearly I have to make these again, too.  They’re dairy-free, and I bet you could use rice flour and make them gluten-free, too, since the structure is coming from the almond paste and the egg whites.

I planned from the beginning to give most of these away, since I wanted a thank-you gift for someone.
But these are so good I had to put myself on the other side of the room to stop eating them. I packed up the ones I am giving away immediately, lest they disappear in a tea-fueled cookie-blogging frenzy.  

 I piped the cookies in little swirls, but they spread into 1″ circles.  Even the ones I piped into interesting shapes ended up more or less as circles, though I bet I could have piped bigger shapes and gotten something reasonable.  The recipe made a lot, too—about 60 little cookies—but they aren’t going to last long. 

February 1941: Cajun Macaroons

(1) Okay, you caught me. It was a gallon zip-lock. I don’t have any idea where my cookie press or related items ended up when I cleared the drawer they had been in to put baby-feeding supplies there. 

July 1957: Lace Cookies

We were craving something sweet last night, and the lace cookies (an almond florentine) seemed like just the thing—fast, easy, and sweet for an after-dinner treat with tea.  They *were* all those things—but they came out really nothing like the picture in the book, nor really like a florentine.

Brian helped me with these, running some almonds through the food processor to get the finely ground almonds we needed, while I creamed the butter and sugar and a scant 3 tablespoons of flour.  Somewhere in here, something went wrong: Instead of being flat and crinkly and spreading out to big flat wafers, these came out chewy and puffy. (They did crisp up as they cooled completely, but they are still much puffier than they should be).  

Our best theories are:
(1) I put in more than 3 tbsp of flour
(2) The butter wasn’t soft enough
(3) the dust from grinding the almonds in the food processor acted like extra flour

(4) we creamed the ingredients too much, or overbeat the egg

Or some combination of all of the above.

Anyway, they aren’t florentines, but they *were* really tasty. This made about 20 cookies.

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July 1957: Lace Cookies (bottom)

June 1942: Honey Refrigerator Cookies

Closeup: Honey Refrigerator Cookies

Gourmet published this recipe because sugar was rationed, so they wanted to show people that honey could be used instead.  Since it actually uses honey and brown sugar both, it still needs sugar—I guess you can make more cookies from your sugar ration?  

Either way, these were a *huge* hit with our guests last night, and were quite easy. The only tricky bit was getting the dough made 1-2 days before baking so it could mature in the refrigerator. 

Apparently they keep well—but I’m not sure I’ll ever know. Of the yield of 40, 2 didn’t make it to the oven, 2 disappeared straight off the baking sheet, and only 6 are left now.  They are not too sweet, have lovely honey and walnut flavor, and are dairy-free.  Unlike a lot of my recent cookies (which have been very fragile) these are nicely robust and awesome dipped in tea or coffee.  I will be making these again.

Before Baking: Honey Refrigerator Cookies

After Baking: Honey Refrigerator Cookies

Still not a cookie: California Nut Bread

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We had my in-laws up for the weekend, so I made a new kind of bread.

The "California Nut Bread" from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook(1), made with walnuts and walnut oil,??is absolutely amazing. So good, in fact, that my father-in-law wanted to eat nothing else, and my mother-in-law left with a copy of the recipe.

This bread can be made with any kind of nut, it says, as long as you use the corresponding nut oil. ??Otherwise, it's a pretty simple
white bread with buttermilk, but it comes out *really* tender and nutty. ??You really have to use the nut oil, but while you're at your favorite hippie grocery store getting that, you can pick up the vital wheat gluten and the SAF yeast it calls for (2) and the buttermilk powder that I use in preference to buttermilk.

(1) I love this book!
(2)??You can use normal yeast—SAF yeast only comes in big packets, as far as I can tell, so it's wasteful if you don't bake often—but it really does seem to rise better. This one nearly hit the top of the bread machine, and then the big fluffy top was squashed when I turned it out of the pan. Oh well—I will never get prizes for presentation with bread-machine breads!