“A Candy Receipt”: Cocoanut Cream Bars

I have a new recipe resurrection to post soon, but in the meantime, I want to link to a relevant post at The Ugly Woman’s Guide to Internet Dating (which, despite the title, has some lovely posts about old houses and kitchen topics, including one on the Monitor Top fridge, a topic of particular interest to me).

The blog author, Rose Thornton, recently posted a great 1903 ad for Dunham’s Cocoanut, with swoopy Art Nouveau lines surrounding a picture of “Cocoanut Cream Bars,” and the “Candy Receipt” that would produce the delectable desserts.

Browsing around Google Books for some more Dunham’s ads, I came across the same recipe from 1901, in a much less exuberant design—not a hint of Art Nouveau in it. This one has more text and so the instructions are fleshed out a bit more. It’s also credited to the (then) very famous Mrs. Rorer, who compiled a recipe booklet or two for Dunham’s. (Unfortunately, the ad is a bit blurry, but at least it’s still readable.)

Interestingly, while the 1903 ad uses the old-fashioned term “receipt,” the 1901 ad just says “recipe.” (Speaking of language/spelling changes, I wonder why “cocoanut” became “coconut” sometime during the 20th century.)

The recipe itself is pretty straightforward; boil a sugar syrup until it “will form into a ball when dropped in cold water”—soft ball stage, 235° F–240° F. Then remove it from the heat, let it stand briefly, and then stir it against the side of the pan with a spoon, which should give you some crystallization. Then stir it all together and mix in the coconut quickly. (Judging from some of my previous experiences making a very similar old-fashioned fudge recipe, they aren’t kidding when they tell you to work quickly here. The stuff can thicken up fast.) It should be tasty, if tooth-achingly sweet.

Christmas might be a good time to try this one. If you do, please share how it went.

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