Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Retro favorites, two sweet, one savory

Orange-pecan coconut candy Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Maybe it's because I love "Mad Men," or maybe it's the other way around, but the early 60s seem to have a hold on me. I can do without the floofy hair and the waist-whittling foundation garments, but everything else - pointy-toed heels, handbags and gloves; the Betty Crocker kitchen and the Corningware casseroles, I love. Maybe it's because my parents were married in 1962 and our house was filled with the everyday items of that era. Nevertheless, I'm in a retro frame of mind and a few of my childhood favorites, (no doubt gleaned from my mother's copy of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, or from a handwritten recipe card from a friend) usually grace my Christmas goodie plates.

Here are a few of my favorites, beginning with the classic no-bake treat, orange-pecan-coconut candy. If you can melt butter, you can make these treats. Another favorite, this time a stovetop treat, crispy date candy, made with Rice Krispies. The only downside to this recipe is that it makes so few, you'll find yourself hiding the box in the back of the refrigerator and sneaking little nibbles during the day, and possibly night.

Crispy date candy. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Every 60s hostess will recognize this recipe for cheese wafers, although this is the plain version. It's usually gussied up with pecans or cayenne pepper. My kids love these plain - in fact, they're quite lovely with a bowl of soup. If you're a smart cook, you'll make an extra loaf of the dough, wrap it well and place it in the freezer for those times when supper's running late and you need to feed someone something good fast.

Cheese wafers. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Cheese Wafers

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until mixture comes together to form a dough. Remove work bowl from processor and, using whatever little hands are available (my three year old loves this part), form walnut-sized balls and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet (the slick wrapper from the butter works especially well for this purpose). Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until set, but not really brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Don't let them cool too long on the baking sheet or they may stick. When cool, place in a paper-towel-lined airtight container.

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


The Teacher Cooks said...

Love all of these!!!! I need to make the cheese wafers. They are so good!!!!

Becky said...

I have always loved the date candy. I learned the same recipe from my mother-in-law who also stuffed dates-with cream cheese-they were also delicious but they looked like squashed cockroaches-maybe a good idea for a Halloween buffet