Chocolate. Most of us love it. And while it isn’t just for dessert, that is part of the focus of Famous Recipes for Chocolate and Breakfast Cocoa from 1928. The other emphasis is on breakfast. Finding ways to incorporate this surprisingly versatile ingredient in our anchors of the day sounds particularly tasty…though not necessarily practical.
This pamphlet is one of the many in the Culinary History Collection that is product-based, and, to be honest, these are one of my favorite things about our collection. The unabashed advertising and self-promotion, the detail that goes into full color images, and recipes that range from the simple to the creative all come together into a 4 or 30 or 100 magical pages. These types of little publications were often given away with or without the product, or easy to order through the mail. Everyone from flour mills to gelatin makers to kitchen equipment suppliers created these, sometimes in cooperation with each other (you may notice in the baked goods above, the recipes all use Swans Down flour, hint, hint).
This example, from Walter Baker & Co. is on the lengthier side with its 64 pages of recipes, pictures, and commentary. It includes things like recipes for iced cocoa and iced chocolate in the breakfast section. I can’t help but draw attention to the “Cracked Cocoa” directions, which requires at least an hour of cooking time for a single drink! Today, time in the kitchen is often a luxury and economy is the goal. Part of it, of course, is changes in food technology (Cocoa? Isn’t that what the microwave is for?), but the products have evolved, too. We rarely use cocoa nibs or shaved chocolate to make hot cocoa, not when it comes in easy-to-use powder form. However, even in 1928, you could rely on chocolate to quickly and easily dress up a dessert.
The introduction to the chocolate dessert recipes spends three paragraphs on how chocolate sauce or shaved chocolate will improve desserts. Like many cookbooks, the emphasis here is on presentation: chocolate desserts should be topped with whipped cream, ice cream looks nice with sauce and nuts or coconut. Even simple should be elegant, especially when that unexpected company knocks on the door, wondering if that’s the delicious scent of chocolate in the air…
On another note, a colleague has suggested that in addition to sharing images and commentary, it might be fun for all of us if I (or any volunteers I can enlist) try some of the recipes and blog about the experience of creating and/or tasting gems from the Culinary History Collection. I can’t promise we’ll do that every week, but it’s very likely you’ll see us do this occasionally in the future. In the meantime, thanks for reading!