I've been spending a lot of time cooking from the 1950 and 1961 Betty Crocker cookbooks. It's fun revisiting old recipes. Some are good, some are just okay.
However, a couple of standout ones have crossed my path recently.
From the 1950 Betty Crocker, I've found a very good, very easy chocolate filling (filling for a cake, that is) recipe. It's so good and easy, I'm surprised it didn't make it into the 1961 edition, but for some reason it didn't. This sets easily and has a very good, stiff, non-sticky texture. It has a fine, deep, but not bitter chocolate flavor, which is very complimentary to white or yellow cakes. For a 8-9 inch layer cake, however, this makes a pretty thin layer of filling. For a thicker (like 1/4 inch) layer of filling, as depicted in the picture at the beginning of the chapter, I think you'd need to double this recipe. It's a fine one, and the beating off the heat doesn't take but 2-3 minutes before it sets up nicely
Dark Chocolate Filling
Mix together in a saucpan 1 large egg yolk and 3 tablespoons cream
Blend in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate cut up, and 1 tablespoon buttter.
Cook over moderate heat only until bubbles appear around edge, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Beat until thick.
This recipe below, for biscuit "sticks" appeared on so many of the menu suggestions in the 1961 edition that I felt like I needed to try it. According to this edition, too, Bess Truman even served these at home in Missouri (!) Whether or not that is true, these are one of those recipes that another poster so aptly called "better than they ought to be". It's heavy on the butter, so I didn't even put butter on the table with these when I served them. They really don't need them -- they are delicious and very pretty. I'm not sure why the book insists that these are really just a dinner quick bread -- I think they would be really fantastic at breakfast with soft scrambled eggs.
Cholesterol watchers -- don't freak out. This does actually say melt half a stick of butter, then dip the biscuits in them and then bake in a pool of melted butter. It's not as bad as it sounds, however, since there is no fat in the biscuit dough itself, and butter is certainly better than that terrible trans-fat that biscuits are usually made with. Be careful to not add too much milk to this batter -- it's incredibly soft. I would only add part of the milk while mixing, and add more if necessary. As with all biscuit recipes, the less you handle this the better. If you only pat the dough rather than roll it, don't handle it to much, and are light with your hands during cutting and dipping, these are incredibly light and tender. I've made these twice now for different sets of diners, and each time these were wolfed down and people asked for more. I'm not sure why this recipe hasn't survived -- I've never seen it in anyone else's house, and it hasn't gone into lore like so many of the other good Betty Crocker recipes have. It surely is a good one. It may take a couple of tries to get it perfect, but it's very much worth the time. It's nice to know that, with only pantry ingredients and about 30 minutes, you can always put a delicious and pretty quick bread on the table. So if company shows up, or you run out of last minute ideas for a starch, this is really nice to have in your repetoire.
Makes 18 smallish biscuit sticks. I'd think 2-3 would be a serving, but people just keep eating these until they are gone, so beware!
1/4 cup butter (salted is best in this instance)
1 1/4 cups flour (measure by dip/level/pour, then sift)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in a square 9x9 pan in the oven. Remove the pan as soon as the butter melts (do not let the butter brown). In a bowld, stir dry ingredients together (I sifted them together). Add milk. Stir 30 strokes ONLY with a fork, until the dough clings together. Turn out on a flourd board. Knead lightly about 10 times (if dough is sticky, knead on a piece of wax paper, and fold up the end of the wax paper under your hand while kneading). I repeat, knead LIGHTLY. Roll (I just pat, actually) ou 1/2 inch thick, into an 8-inch saquare. With a floured knife or bench scraper, cut half into two pieces 4-inches wide. Then cut crosswise to make 18 sticks. Dip both sides of the sticks into the butter in the bottom of the square pan; place in 2 rows in the pan. They will expand, so place evenly. Bake 15 to 20 minutes (it was more like 22 minutes in my oven, which is actually very accurate in temperature). Serve hot.
If anybody's got another golden nugget mined from either of these cookbooks, let me know!