Every couple of weeks or so, I get a "recipe 911." These "emergency" e-mails, phone calls, letters -- and I kid you not, the occasional knocking on my front door -- consist of pleas to help recover a lost recipe, fix a broken one, or coax the ingredients out of a reluctant chef or restaurant.
While for the most part I'm successful, I usually have to resort to some good old-fashioned detective work through old cookbooks, Internet sleuthing and a little pleading from my foodie friends for their input.
The recipe I'm most proud of finding is for Marshall Field's Maple Hermit Cookie. When I tell you I have been seeking this recipe for more than 10 years, I am not exaggerating. It was, and is, just about my favorite cookie of all time. The sheer pleasure I had the first time I made this (and ate the entire batch myself, thank you very much) is almost indescribable.
Needless to say, I get requests from readers saddened that their favorite bakery or restaurant is no longer around, or that they've lost an old family favorite -- and could I please, please, help them.
If anyone out there is searching for a recipe that recreates their grandma Ethel's pot roast or neighbor's kugel, send me a line, and I'll see what I can do.
Old-Fashioned Root-Beer-Float Cake
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand and Jacquelyn Smola. This was one of the cakes entered in the Whirlpool Unique Cake Contest. I had the recipe several years ago, lost it and just rediscovered it.
1 cup butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cake flour
11/2 Tbsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
31/2 tsps. water
1 Tbsp. root-beer extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
71/2 cups confectioners' sugar
21/2 cups butter
3-5 Tbsps. heavy cream
3 tsps. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.°
Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, then add the sugar. Mix until light and fluffy.
Meanwhile, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the water and eggs to the butter mixture until blended. Mix in the root-beer extract and vanilla. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to form a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until just set, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.
To Make the Frosting: In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the confectioners' sugar and butter. Mix on a low speed until well-blended, then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the cream and vanilla, and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream, if needed, to reach spreading consistency.
Marshall Field's Hermit Cookie With Mocha Frosting
A signature cookie/mini-cake from Marshall Field's bakery. This hermit recipe was a favorite until the stores closed.
1 tsp. baking soda
3 Tbsps. buttermilk
2 sticks butter
11/3 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup molasses
4 cups cake flour
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup nuts, chopped
1/2 cup each: currants, raisins
Mocha Icing Ingredients:
5 Tbsps. butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tbsps. Dutch process cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
5 Tbsps. hot coffee
Preheat oven to 375°.
Dissolve soda in buttermilk in a small bowl; set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla to the sugar mixture; beat well. Add the molasses and the buttermilk mixture; beat well.
Sift together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and cloves.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Mix in the nuts, currants and raisins.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2 to 3 dozen.
For the Frosting: Cream the butter, gradually adding confectioners' sugar, cocoa and salt. Add the hot coffee. Beat until creamy. Spread a thin coating of mocha icing on hermits.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
11/2 cups peanut butter
4 cups Cocoa Puffs cereal (or other similar kind)
In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and honey. Boil mixture until the sugar is melted, but not yet turning brown.
Remove the mixture from the heat and then stir in the peanut butter. Mix until the peanut butter melts, then add the Cocoa Puffs. Gently mix to combine.
Drop large spoonfuls of the mixture onto wax paper and let cool.
Makes 24 to 30, depending on the size.
Eileen Goltz is a freelance food writer and the author of Perfectly Pareve. E-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org .