After I had fawned over her new things the proper amount of time, we had to have the obligatory cup of coffee and small talk. She immediately noticed the pile of cookbooks on my kitchen table ( as well as the single Cocoa Krispie that had fallen on the floor when Son3 ate breakfast this morning) and wanted to know why I had them out. I explained the personal challenge and what I hope to do this year. She looked at me confused for a moment them pronounced it the dumbest thing she had ever heard. Until...she saw Grandmother's cookbook. She had forgotten I was the one who inherited the book (possibly because I was the only grandchild who wanted it). She started looking through the pages and remembered various times they had eaten the different recipes ( including a play by play of what jobs were required of "the girls" for the various recipe preparations). She kept going back to one specific recipe. Then declared that this had to be my next recipe to try. ( I guess it was suddenly not such a stupid quest) She did not remember the actual cake recipe they used but was adamant about the filling. I am going to make it tonight simply because I have all of the ingredients on hand, and I still have coffee in the coffeepot left from this morning. (The only advantage of not being a neat freak) I will take extreme liberties with the actual cake and just make a yellow sponge cake or use a Jiffy Mix. The filling is a coffee buttercream, and that is what Mom remembers making. She said it made enough for their family to eat with none leftover, so she believes it was just a single layer cake split and filled. ( I am not sure she remembers correctly though, there were 5 kids in the family and 3 of them were teenage boys)
This is from the only cookbook my mother remembered my grandmother ever having. It was a promotional cookbook from Rumford Baking Powder and was printed in 1939. I am surprised that a promo book was not only a hardback but also a cloth covered one. I am pretty sure this is the only recipe I will try from this book. It is very fragile and really is priceless to me.
Rumford Complete Cookbook by Lily Haxworth Wallace
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons cocoa
5 tablespoons strong coffee ( means strong decaf coffee in my world)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 small box sugar ( how much is one box of sugar?) (NOW I know it means 1 cup)
In a boiler over a medium fire (directions, not my words) cook the cocoa, coffee and sugar, brushing down the sides occasionally until a drop in cold water will make a soft ball. (Softball stage on a thermometer is 248 degrees) Pour 1/2 cup into a coffee cup and add the beaten egg yolk to it. Return the mixture to the boiler and stir. (This is definitely a time before there were any Salmonella worries) Add vanilla and let cool until you can comfortably place your hand on the bottom of the pan. Add a small dot of butter to the sugar mixture and check to see if it melts. If so, continue cooling until the butter can be incorporated without melting.
OK a few minutes (4 hours) later and I have made everything and I am waiting on Son3 to take a bite of the still warm concoction . He gave it a thumbs up, but he is 17 and it is hot cake.
Well I know now for a fact a box of sugar does not mean one pound. I had to double everything after cooking for about 30 minutes because the mix was supersaturated with sugar. The crystals would not melt even when everything was at a rolling boil. I poured it all into a clean pot and started adding more coffee, a tablespoon at a time until I realized it was going to take double the amount of everything. I cooked it to softball and added the 2 egg yolks to 1/2 cup of the hot mocha mixture, bringing their temperature up before adding them to the rest of the pot. ( I confess to turning the heat back up after they were completely incorporated just for a little unofficial pasteurization.) I cheated on the cooling process and put the pot in a larger pot half filled with cold water. I stirred constantly while it was cooling and found it was tepid within about 10 minutes. I added the room temp butter thinking it would lighten the mixture a bit, but it really didn't. The final result was not like a buttercream at all (Mom swore it was a light fluffy buttercream) but more like a mocha fudge icing. I made a standard yellow cake, but baked about 2/3 of the batter in an 8 inch spring form pan. I had decided I wanted it to be a little thicker than a standard cake layer, since I was going to split it. That part worked perfectly and I wound up with a double layer cake, but the layers are thinner than a traditional cake. I toasted pecans and put them on half of the bottom layer. Son3 does not eat nuts but my husband and I will still get the nutty deliciousness without hearing complaints from the peanut gallery. I put about 2/3 of the filling on the bottom layer then put the top cake layer on it. I thinned out the rest of the mocha with about a tablespoon of half and half and poured it like a thick glaze over the top. If I were serving it to anyone but my family, I would sprinkle candied pecans on the top and probably add a dollop of whipped cream . It is not unattractive, but a little plain looking.
I just tasted it and here is my official take on it. The mocha flavor is really good and the consistency is nice. There is no salt in the recipe, but if I made it again I would put a pinch of salt just to cut the sweetness a little. The toasted nuts add a lot to the flavor. All in all I doubt I will make this again. Though it is tasty it has no real wow factor to make it stand out over any other cake. I thought the cooking process was a little involved, but that also would be partly my fault for not knowing what a box of sugar is, so I had to do some trial and mostly error cooking.
Not sure what direction I will go in for the next recipe, but I know for sure I will pick my own!!!