Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter: Part 7 — Sweets

This post includes a lot of pie recipes. I don’t make pies, probably because I’m scarred for life from a comment a Home Economics teacher once made about my crust. 😥 However, pies loom large in my family recipes so I’ve included theses heirloom recipes in the hope that someone will perhaps enjoy them.

Aunt Barb’s Flaky Pie Crust
2-2/3 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1 cup Crisco
1/2 cup ice water
Measure flour and salt into a bowl. With two table knives, cut Crisco into flour until the size of peas. Add ice water. Mix just until dough holds together. Roll onto floured board.
I took four years of Home Economics in High School (by choice) and generally got A’s on every project. Every project, that is, except pie-making. One year, my teacher actually held up our kitchen’s pie as a bad example. Clearly, I missed out on Aunt Barb’s crust-making skill, which she kindly tried to share at my bridal shower.

Aunt Ligita’s Latvian Apple Cake by Alexandra Cohen.
Description
This is a super easy delicious apple confection that is sure to delight the entire family and all of your friends. 
Ingredients
3 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced 1 tsp lemon juice
2 TBSP sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
6 oz. margarine
1 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
sugar for sprinkling 
Directions
Generously grease a 10­inch pie pan. Toss the apple slices in a bowl with the lemon juice, 2 TBSP sugar and the cinnamon. Spread them evenly in the pie pan. Melt the margarine over medium heat. Stir 3/4 cup of sugar into the melted margarine. Gently stir the flour and egg into the mixture as well. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the apples covering all. Then sprinkle the top with 1 TBSP sugar. Bake in a 350F degree oven for about 40 minutes. Serves at least 6. 
Continuing with the “Aunt” theme, I have to admit I don’t know Alexandra Cohen, and I certainly don’t know her Aunt Ligita. I found this recipe on the Internet several years ago. It’s more like a cobbler than a cake, but delicious just the same. I’ve copied the recipe as I  originally cut and pasted, but I could only find variations online, not the original. So, whoever and wherever you are, Alexandra, thank you for sharing.

Best Cheese Cake (pie) Ever (It really is!)
1-1/3 cup fine graham crackers
1/4 cup butter
9 oz cream cheese (8 oz is ok)
2 beaten eggs
Sugar
Vanilla
1 pt sour cream (16 oz)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Let cheese and eggs come to room temperature. Mix crumbs and butter well with hands and press on bottom and sides of 9” pie pan. Bake in moderate oven (350 F) for 5 min. Cream cheese well. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar. Add eggs and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in moderate oven (325 F), 20 min or until firm. Top with sour cream topping or canned cherry or blueberry pie filling. 
Sour Cream topping: Mix sour cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 5 tbsp sugar, and cinnamon. Spread on pie. Return to oven and bake 5 min. Chill and serve. 
This is my Mom’s recipe, which was demanded by my cousins for every family gathering from the yearly reunion to the Christmas party. 

Brownies
Melt 3/4 cup margarine and 3 oz (squares) unsweetened or semi sweet chocolate. Let cool. Add 1-1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup applesauce, 3 eggs, 1-1/2 cup flour, 1/3 tsp baking soda, 3/4 cup walnuts, 1-1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp baking powder. Spread on greased cookie sheet (with sides, a jelly roll pan). Bake at 350 F, 20-25 min. Ice while still warm. 
Icing: Melt 2 oz (squares) chocolate (notes say “one is enough”), 3 tbsp margarine (butter), Add powdered (confectioner’s) sugar and cold coffee until desired consistency. Add 1 tsp. vanilla.
When I was growing up, we always used this recipe — originally from a church friend, Eula — for brownies. The coffee adds a hint of mocha to the flavor profile.

Chocolate Chip Cookies #1 
1/2 cup shortening (butter)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg, well-beaten
1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream shortening, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fold in well-beaten egg and beat entire mixture. Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture, and stir in nuts and chips. Mix thoroughly. Drop by small spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Yield: 4 doz. Bake 10 min, turning pan after five. This recipe is from Home Ec class, probably middle school because it’s mimeographed — not Xeroxed, not dot matrix or laser printed, mimeographed! It also has names next to the ingredients and directions, dividing the work between me, Lou, Carla, and Jackie. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of these girls whatsoever. On the bright side, I do have the recipe. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookies #2
2-1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1-12 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla. Add eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in morsels and nuts (if using). Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. Yield: 100 2” cookies.
Or spread into greased 15”x10”x1” pan. Bake 20-25 min. Let cool and cut into 35 2” squares. 
This is the classic “Nestle’s Original Toll House Cookie” recipe from the back of the bag.  

Cinnamon Cheesecake
2 pkg refrigerated crescent rolls
1 cup sugar
2-8 oz. packages cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
Topping: 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tsp cinnamon
Spread one package of rolls in bottom of 9”x13” pa. Mix cream cheese with 1 cup sugar and vanilla until creamy. Spread over rolls, then spread second package of rolls over the mixture. Add sugar and cinnamon to melted butter and pour over pan of cheesecake. Bake at 350 F for 30 min. 
Back when we had a rental property, I got this from one of our tenants. It looks complicated and tastes delicious, but is super easy and fast to make. 

Easy English Toffee
1-1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
10 tbsp butter (do not use margarine)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkle walnuts in the bottom of a 9” round cake tin. Combine sugar and butter in saucepan. Cook and stir until mixture reaches 290 F on a candy thermometer, stirring the toffee constantly while melting the brown sugar and butter. Remove melted toffee from the heat and cool slightly (about 5 min). Pour over walnuts and spread evenly. Immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let the chips melt from the toffee’s heat, then gently spread the chocolate over the top of the hardening candy. If desired, sprinkle a few more chopped or ground walnuts on top of the chocolate while still warm. Cool at room temperature until hard (2 hours minimum), then break into pieces and store in an airtight container. 

Fantasy Fudge 
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated (not sweetened, condensed) milk
1 tsp vanilla
1-12 oz pkg semi sweet chocolate chips
1-7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, any kind)
Melt butter, sugar, and condensed milk, and bring to full boil stirring constantly. Boil 5 min over med heat or until candy thermometer reaches 234 F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until melted and add remaining ingredients, mixing until blended. Pour into a 9”x9” or 13”x9” pan. Cool at room temperature and cut into squares.
Fudge is so easy (and quick!). (At least, this recipe is.)  And yet, whenever you share it, the recipients always seem so excited, though it’s straight off the marshmallow cream jar. I’ve been making this recipe for Christmas every year, and it’s so much easier than cookies. 

Famous Oatmeal Cookies 
Click through for a classic, straight from the Quaker Oats website. I made them a lot in college at The University of Akron, which is appropriate because Ferdinand Schumacher the German Mills American Cereal Company — which eventually evolved into Quaker —  in Akron in 1850. Oatmeal has some fiber, and if you add raisins or nuts, you can almost convince yourself that a cookie or two is really a healthy snack. 

Grandma’s Strawberry Pie
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Bring to boil. Mix 3-1/2 tbsp corn starch, 3 tbsp jello, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 tsp salt. Add all this to the above and cook slowly until mixture clears. Remove from heat. Add red food coloring and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Crush a few berries and place in the bottom of baked pie shell. Pour cooled glaze over enough berries for shell. Cool. Top with whipping cream or Cool Whip. 
Grandma Armstrong (my mother’s mom) gave me these pie recipes for my bridal shower. I’m putting them down for posterity, though as yet, I’ve not tried them. Perhaps it’s time to give pies a chance. 

Grandma’s Pecan Custard Pie
2 eggs
1/2 cup W Karo Syrup (Karo Syrup is corn syrup, I think the W maybe means white or light corn syrup?)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
dash salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans
6 tbsp milk
Mix well. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake 425 F until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 min or longer. 

Great-Aunt Anne’s Rice Pudding
This recipe is from author Kristan Higgins’s blog, and though she’s not British, it’s the sort of dish I think of when I hear the English expression “stodgy pudding.” Click through for a warm and comforting dessert. Warning: You’ll need lots of milk on hand. It takes more than 2 quarts.

12 thoughts on “Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter: Part 7 — Sweets

  1. Ahh, Home Ec! My Sophomore year at Cuyahoga Heights, I took Home Ec. Our section on pies was memorable to me due to the fact that I was in charge of piercing the crust before baking. Apparently, I didn’t do a good job, because when the teacher looked in the oven, the crust was puffed like a balloon! I thought she was going to have a heart attack! She grabbed a mitt, pulled the crust from the oven and poked it. I thought it was funny. No harm, no foul. Once the filling was in, you couldn’t tell anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I recall, I thought the pie in question in my class was pretty good. I think I tend to focus more on the filling anyway. They quit offering any kind of Home Ec classes at Darling Daughter’s high school, replaced the kitchens with a science lab, and while I understand the importance of the sciences, I think every kid should learn to cook and do basic home repair. If I were in charge of the world, every student would take at least a semester of basic Home Ec and basic Shop. 🙂

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      • I agree. Natalie graduated from BHS and I was shocked that any kind of “life courses “ weren’t even available to take until senior year! By then, they have their courses planned. She would have like to take some kind of finance class.

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      • That’s another one that should be required! I learned how to balance a checkbook in General Business from Mr.Diamond – weirdest teacher I ever had. And the only thing I learned from that class.

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  2. I love pies and I wish I could make a prettier crust. At least they taste good. But I am glad I took the sewing option of Home Ec. The other semester I opted for Agriculture.

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    • At my HS, they offered a one semester version of Home Ec for boys, but no equivalent of Shop. Agriculture would have been helpful too, though my family always had a big garden, and I picked up some knowledge from that almost by osmosis. 🍅🥒🍠

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      • I had Mr. Diamond, too! He was odd! I wasn’t good at the debits and credits thing, but I do balance my checkbook! Yes, he was the weirdest teacher I ever had! My brother, Don, took the Home Ec portion, but you’re right..I never realized they didn’t offer the shop class to girls.

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      • Andy took Stag Shop too (that was what they called it, wasn’t it?). And I actually got in trouble with Mr. Diamond once – me, the ultimate goody goody – for putting nail polish on a run in my pantyhose. Gosh that makes me sound ancient, doesn’t it? Like us hearing how women used to draw lines on their legs during WWII because there were no stockings. No one even wears hose anymore, and , no wonder, they were soooo uncomfortable!

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  3. I too have walked the walk of Pie Crust Shame. It seems my hands are too warm for pastry, but perfect for bread. One thing I have learned if I absolutely can’t avoid making pastry is to put the fat content, whether butter or vegetable shortening, into the freezer for half an hour, then coarsely grate it into the flour instead of all that faffing about with knives or pastry cutters. Oh, and mix the dough with a table knife, inserting the warm paws into the mix as briefly as possible. But these days I buy frozen ready-made pastry without shame. You can get very good quality all-butter pastry without added nasties.

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