Old-Fashioned Sand Tarts

Are there some types of cookies that immediately bring back warm, fuzzy memories of childhood. Well, for me, Sand Tarts are that cookie. This thin, crispy cookie is my all-time favorite.  My mother never made them (I’m not sure why.), so I was always thrilled when they were on a cookie tray at church or a friend’s house.

I recently found an awesome hundred-year-old Sand Tart recipe that makes cookies just like I remembered.  The cookies are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (“sand”), and taste almost like a thin Snickerdoodle. (Does anyone eat Snickerdoodles any more?)

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

This recipe originally appeared the American Cookery magazine during World War I. There were sugar shortages during the war. Even though the magazine chose to publish the recipe, the editors encouraged cooks not to make Sand Tarts because they “call for more sugar than ordinary cookies.”

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sand Tarts

  • Servings: approximately 75 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar + 2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

1 extra-large egg + 1 egg yolk (or 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk)

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1/2 cup sugar

whole almonds or raisins (I used almonds.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl; stir to combine, then set aside.

Cream the shortening; beat in the 2 cups of sugar, and the whole egg and yolk. Then stir in the flour and salt. The dough will be crumbly, but will cling together when pressed together. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. Roll out dough out until it is very thin (1/8 inch thick). Cut into rounds or, if desired, other shapes; and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brush cookies with the egg-white, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Set an almond or raisin in the center of each cookie. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-12  minutes or until lightly browned.

Hundred-year-old Advice for Melting Chocolate

Holiday baking often requires melting chocolate so I was thrilled to see advice in a hundred-year-old magazine for an easy way to melt chocolate without waste.The Discoveries  column in Good Housekeeping invited readers to send in their “discoveries” for possible publication Readers whose submissions were published received $1 from the magazine. This is what a reader wrote:

Melted Chocolate

To have chocolate already at hand for melting without waste, keep your chocolate in a pint jar. To melt it simply place it in hot water. Any amount desired may be taken out. Seal the jar and keep it in the kitchen cabinet when you are not using it. –Mrs. F.M.F., N.Y.

Good Housekeeping (September, 1917)

It took a really long time to melt the chocolate. Perhaps chocolate a hundred years ago melted at lower temperatures than modern chocolate. A better approach today would be to melt in the microwave.

Popped Corn Macaroons

The recipes in specialty cookbooks focused on specific ingredients are often hit or miss. The authors sometimes get so focused on using certain ingredients that taste is lost. So I had a bit of trepidation when I recently came across a cookbook published in 1918 called The Corn Cook Book: War Edition by Elizabeth O. Hiller. This cookbook was written during World War I when wheat flour was in short supply, so Ms. Hiller sought to help cooks, “save the wheat” by using corn.

I was drawn to a recipe for Popped Corn Macaroons. I was intrigued by idea of using pop corn to make macaroons, and I liked that it was a gluten-free recipe.

The verdict: Popped Corn Macaroons are light and delightful. They have a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness that works well with the popped corn.  And, Popped Corn Macaroons are very attractive with each topped with a piece of candied cherry. This recipe is a keeper, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Popped Corn Cookbook (1918)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Popped Corn Macaroons

  • Servings: approximately 15 macaroons
  • Difficulty: medium
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3/4 cup unsalted popped corn, chopped

3/4 teaspoon butter, melted

1 egg white

5 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4  teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

about 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped

4-6 candied cherries, each cut into several pieces

Stir melted butter into the chopped popped corn, set aside.

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat. Stir in the vanilla and salt, followed by the popped corn.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (It is important to use parchment paper. I had problems with the macaroons sticking to the baking sheet when I did not use it, so remade the recipe using parchment paper and it worked much better.) Drop heaping teaspoons of the mixture on the baking sheet. Space 1 1/2 inches apart. Then shape into a circle and flatten with the back of a spoon or a knife. (Spoon or knife can be dipped in cold water before shaping and flattening, if there are problems with the dough sticking.) Sprinkle with chopped almonds, and then press a piece of candied cherry in the center. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until the macaroons are lightly browned.

Hundred-Year-Old Edible Christmas Gift Suggestions

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

Food makes a wonderful gift, and is sure to please friends and family – both now and a hundred years ago. But, I must admit that some gift suggestions on a hundred-year-old list of edible gift ideas don’t work for me.  Why the heck would someone want edible moss for desserts?

The article suggests wrapping the edible gift in tissue paper. The food could also be put in boxes. When giving a gift of candy a century ago, people often made decorative gift boxes. Several years ago, back when I was posting my grandmother’s diary, I did a post on how to make a triangular candy box. The directions originally appeared in the December, 1912 issue of School Arts Magazine.

Maple-Karo Fudge

I love the flavor of maple syrup, so was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Maple-Karo Fudge. I also was intrigued that the recipe called for Karo corn syrup.

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

Many modern candy recipes call for corn syrup, but this is the first century-old candy recipe I’ve seen which listed corn syrup (and branded corn syrup at that) as an ingredient. Times were a-changing.

There are lots of pros and cons to adding corn syrup. The addition of corn syrup makes the fudge smoother and reduces the likelihood that the sugar will crystallize; but, at the same time, corn syrup is a man-made sugar that may not be healthy for us (though the Karo of a hundred years ago was not “high fructose” like modern corn syrups, so it may have been a tad healthier).

The verdict – Maple-Karo Fudge has a nice texture, and a delightful maple flavor. I added walnuts to the fudge mixture, and the nuts nicely complemented the sweetness of the maple syrup.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Maple-Karo Fudge

  • Servings: about 20 pieces
  • Difficulty: difficult
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3 tablespoons butter

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups maple syrup

2 tablespoons dark Karo

2/3 cup half and half

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans), dried or candied fruit (optional) (I added walnuts.)

Using low heat melt butter in a saucepan; add sugar, maple syrup, Karo, and half and half. Increase heat to medium, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Using a wet paper towel, wash the include of the saucepan to remove any sugar crystals. Reduce heat to low, cover and let boil two minutes. Watch pan extremely closely to ensure that the mixture does not boil over. (If there is a risk of it boiling over, remove lid in less than two minutes.) Uncover and let boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 238° F (soft ball stage). This will take approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from heat

Wipe a large plate or platter with a wet paper towel, and immediately pour the cooked fudge mixture onto the platter. Let cool then use a spatula to “knead” the mixture by lifting the edges and moving them to the center. Continue “kneading” until the mixture stiffens, and is smooth and shiny (about 10 minutes). If desired, the later part of the kneading may be done by hand rather than with a spatula – though I did it all with a sturdy spatula.  If desired add chopped nuts or fruit while kneading.

Press into a small buttered pan, about 6″ by 6″. Let sit for several hours. When firm, cut into squares.

Hundred-year-old Garnishing Tips

Even in the days before Instagram (and blogs) people wanted to present their food in attractive ways. Here’s some hundred-year-old advice for garnishing food:

Garnishing the Dish

All food must be neatly placed in the dish, and arranged or piled with some sort of symmetry, and this is the most that some people have time to do. Many foods may be served in the utensil or dish in which they are cooked, and in the case of a baking dish, if its appearance is not neat, a napkin can be folded about it. The simplest form of garnish is browning on top, which makes many dishes attractive (mashed potato).

Make the garnish simple, and have it eatable when possible. Slices of hard boiled eggs on spinach, shopped parsley and butter on boiled or mashed potatoes, parsley and slices of lemon with meat and fish.

Vegetable borders are attractive and save labor in dish washing. Arrange the meat in the center of the platter, and pile mashed potato, or boiled rice or peas or beans, or a mixture of hot vegetables around the edge. This saves time in table service, too.

Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley (1915)

 

Grated Apple Omelette (Fruit Omelette)

Similarly to what we believe today, people a hundred year ago believed that healthy eating was important, and that good nutrition could support their health.  A 1918 cookbook called the Nature Cure Cook Book is chock full of health advice and interesting recipes.

The recipe for Fruit Omelette intrigued me. Eggs and fruit are both nutritious foods, but I’d never before seen them combined in an omelette.

Source: Nature Cure Cook Book (1918)

This recipe offers lots of options. It can be made using “apple sauce, stewed pears, peaches, plums, berries, raisins, etc.” or, as indicated in the note at the end of the recipe, grated apples. And, either cinnamon or nutmeg could be used to season the omelette. I decided to go with the grated apple option and cinnamon.

I served Grated Apple Omelette at breakfast – though it had a dessert-like essence. The omelette had a nice cinnamon-apple flavor, and the liquid from the grated apples combined with the eggs during baking to create an omelette with a custard-like texture.

The old recipe calls for “sugar to taste.” I used two tablespoons of sugar when I made the recipe – though I think that it would work just fine to skip the sugar.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Grated Apple Omelette

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups grated apples, (2-3 peeled and core apples, grated)

5 eggs, well beaten

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Put eggs in mixing bowl, and beat until light and foamy. Add butter, sugar, and cinnamon; beat until combined. Then stir in grated apples.

Put egg mixture in a well-greased oven-proof skillet. Put in oven and bake until the eggs are set (approximately 20 minutes). Remove from oven,  loosen the edges with a knife or spatula, then gently flip or slide onto a plate. Fold in half to create the omelette. To make the most visually appealing omelette, it should be folded so that the side which was facing up when in the pan is on the outside of the finished omelette.

Cook’s note: Care must be used when removing omelette from pan and when folding to keep it all in one piece.