Nostalgia never goes out of style- especially in the kitchen. Who of us doesn’t crave the food we were brought up with- whether we got it from our moms, our grandmothers, or our family cooks?
On a particularly lazy afternoon last week, I tried out one of the recipes in the book: the Original Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, which was first created by the wife of a Hellmann’s Mayonnaise sales distributor in 1937. Not quite as exotic as it sounds, the mayonnaise here replaces any eggs, oil and salt one would usually use in a chocolate cake recipe. The lemon juice in mayonnaise also adds tenderness to the cake- much as buttermilk (or the old buttermilk-replacement standby of milk and lemon juice!) would. The resulting cake? Deliciously moist, and extremely pleasing- especially because of the added dates and walnuts. I share the recipe with you here:
Original Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake1 teaspoon baking soda1 cup boiling water1 cup coarsely chopped dates1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts1 cup sugar1 cup real mayonnaise (please use Hellmann’s or Best Foods)6 tablespoons grated unsweetened chocolate (I used regular baking chocolate, but you could use a bittersweet bar and remove part of the sugar)1 teaspoon vanilla2 cups unsifted cake flourGrease and flour a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, stir baking soda and boiling water together until dissolved. Stir in dates and nuts. In a large bowl with mixer on low speed, beat sugar and mayonnaise together until well mixed. Add grated chocolate and vanilla; beat until blended. Add date mixture; beat. Gradually beat in flour until smooth. Turn into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this cookbook, though, is author Michael McLaughlin’s “Gilding the Lily” notes at the end of each recipe. In them, he suggests additions or changes to the recipes. For the HERSHEY’S Hot Fudge Sauce, for example, he suggests stirring in 2 or 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier, dark rum, or Kahlua, into the finished sauce. Yum.
Back of the Box Gourmet is available at Amazon.