Submitted by Carol Selkin (email@example.com):
Ronnie – As “Aunt Alice’s” daughter, I can testify that my mother was NOT a cook, although she had a refined and educated palate (my folks ate out a lot, and well). However, she was clearly not motivated in the kitchen. My brother and I considered canned Chef Boy-Ar-Dee ravioli a real treat (not surprisingly, it’s still a fave of ours, and—weirdly—of our local granddaughters)! In the fifties, my mom bought an impressive rotisserie machine from which we ate chicken at least once a week. A “gourmet” meal was baked, seasoned chicken pieces coated in egg and cornflakes. All spinach was from the frozen bricks. She hated lima beans, and never ate them, though she begrudgingly served them (I loved them). Dessert was often red Jello with sliced bananas–my mother could never remember which of her kids hated red Jello (me), so she just served both of us. Later, my mother graduated to nearly undiluted green jello poured into a drained can of sliced pineapple (after gelling, the bottom was opened and the “molded” tower of pineapple was pushed out and sliced). So you can imagine how amazed we were when she baked! She had a few quick and easy recipes: “Split Second” cookies, a lovely apple crisp, the Betty Crocker yellow cake mix with added Jello lemon pudding (not realy so bad…!), and the famous Schwarzwalder Kirchtorte. I must admit I haven’t had it for more than 40 years, and sometimes, as you write, “food pushes emotional buttons”— old “homey” things may be memorialized as terrific when they just represent the good time we had eating them (like canned ravioli?!). But I did find Alice’s original recipe, with my handwritten “Yum Yum Yum” at the bottom. I think your recipe looks much more tempting, but this certainly looks like an easy way out. P.S. My aunt (my dad’s brother’s wife, Roz) was an excellent baker, and some of my fondest memories of baked goods were the wonderful shoeboxes of pecan tartlets she would make for each of her nieces and nephews!
AUNT ALICE’S SCHWARZWALDER KIRCHTORTE from the ’50s
2 eggs; 1 c. sugar; ¼ lb melted butter (or margarine); 2 tbs. Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa; 1 tsp. vanilla extract; 1 tsp. almond extract; ½ c. sifted flour; ½ c finely ground nuts (done in a blender); 1 tsp. baking powder; 1 (16 oz.) can unsweetened (tart, sour) cherries DRAINED AS DRY AS POSSIBLE! (Alice’s note)
Beat eggs thoroughly. Mix eggs with melted butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and sugar.
Add flour, baking powder, nuts, cocoa. Coat a greased 8” (2 ½” high) springform pan with a fine dusting of nuts, or even fine bread crumbs. Pour mixture into pan. Spread drained cherries evenly over batter. Bake about 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Well this gave me two laughs and a half early in the morning!
I am so happy you found that recipe but I do want to say: IT IS NOT THE ONE SHE SERVED THAT NIGHT!!!
The one she served for dessert had no cherries in the cake — only on top. And it was covered with whipped cream and there were perfect rosettes of whipped cream too, topped with maraschino cherries and plenty of shaved chocolate over everything.
It didn’t matter. We had a good time and an evening — obviously — that lasts in the memory. So, as we both know, food can evoke great memories, even if the food wasn’t cooked by the person serving it.
I loved hearing about your memories of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, jello molds and lima beans.
What are split second cookies?