Happy New Year, Everyone! It’s been a long, crazy year here on Mid-Century Menu. We’ve eaten a lot of food, good and bad, and so I decided to sift through the archives and pull out the best recipes that we tried in 2014. Unsurprisingly, all of these are desserts!

Mrs. Kahn’s Banana Sour Cream Cake


The Verdict: Good

From The Tasting Notes –

The cake was good, and with the topping it tasted like a cross between a coffee cake and a banana bread. The crumb was soft and moist with a good texture. It was sweet, but not too sweet. But it did need some salt! You could definitely taste the lack of salt. So if you like banana bread or coffee cake, you should try this recipe, but just add about a 1/2 tsp or so of salt to the batter.

Chocolate Topping Pie, 1952


The Verdict: Very Good!

From The Tasting Notes –

Good! The peppermint chiffon filling was very light and airy, almost like a peppermint marshmallow. The chocolate frosting topping was great. There were a lot of suggestions about what this pie most tasted like, a few were “a sundae with mint ice cream”, “a chocolate easter egg” and even that the topping (when chilled solid) tasted like those little foil-wrapped chocolate Ice Cubes, the ones with the polar bear on them. The graham cracker crust was really good with the pie, and if you make this I highly suggest putting it in a graham cracker crust. Another suggestion would be to use a dark chocolate or omit some of the sugar from the topping to make it less sweet (the finished topping was like a milk chocolate), but that is just a personal preference. Overall, a great pie, and it was gone in two days!

Heath Brunch Coffee Cake


The Verdict: Tender Cake, A Bit Bland

From The Tasting Notes –

Good consistency for a coffee cake, tender but not overly moist.   I thought with the topping it would be sweet, but that wasn’t the case. I was expecting the cake itself to not be very sweet, but this went beyond that. The cake part was actually bland. It definitely needed salt at least. As I was eating it, I thought it might actually be really good with some peanut butter added to it or even cinnamon. But it had an excellent texture. Tom wasn’t a huge fan, but he said that if I made it again he would eat it.

Grandma’s Rhubarb Meringue Pie


The Verdict: Delicious

From The Tasting Notes –

Since this is a family recipe, we are a bit biased about this one, but we think it is really good. The filing is tart, sweet and creamy and the crust is pretty much an oatmeal cookie. How can you go wrong with that? Normally I could take or leave meringue, but when I switch out brown sugar for white it almost makes it taste like frosting. Delicious, delicious pie frosting. Yum.

Dutch Plum Cake, 1959


The Verdict: Very Good

From The Tasting Notes –

Very good, but not very sweet. Part of it was the fault of the sour fruit, but the other part was that the cake itself is not very sweet. It is more of a biscuit consistency than a cake. Out of the oven it was moist and soft with a good crumb, and when it cooled it was more sturdy and crumbly. This sort of tasted like a cross between a shortcake and a cobbler with a delicious sugary topping. Would be fantastic as a coffee cake, or good as a late summer dessert, maybe with some whipped cream or ice cream. Yum!

Spicy Party Waffles, 1963


The Verdict: Delicious, but not Waffles

From The Tasting Notes –

These were very good and very spicy, especially by mid-century standards. They had a great flavor and we all devoured them. However, if you are looking for a traditional waffle (crispy on the outside and fluffy/creamy in the center) these are not it. They were basically cake. I have a feeling that I could have scooped the batter into a cupcake pans and gotten just as good of a result. It was really good cake, but it wasn’t a waffle.  The outside was very soft and these crumbled easily. Maybe if the shortening in the recipe was switched out for butter, they would be crispier?  In any case, these would be a really fun interactive dessert for dinner party guests or to entertain your family this fall. These were good with the whipped cream and candied ginger, but they would also be good with apple topping, ice cream, caramel or all of the above!

No-Fry Doughnuts, 1976


The Verdict: Totally Delicious

From The Tasting Notes –

Though these strangely resembled bagels when they came out of the oven, these were actually pretty good substitutes for a fried yeast doughnut. They don’t have the thick, moistness of a cake doughnut,  or the fried taste of a real yeast doughnut, but they were still very good. They were more like really light and very fluffy cinnamon rolls. They were absolutely delicious while still warm from the oven and dipped in the sugar. In fact, when I make these again (because I will) I will add more cinnamon and probably make a glaze for them rather than just dipping them in sugar. Or maybe I will just go all the way and make them into actual cinnamon rolls rather than doughnuts. If you decide to make these as part of your Halloween party or evening, I would suggest making a glaze, putting out bowls of candy and letting everyone decorate their own doughnut while it is still warm from the oven. ‘Tis the season!

Aunt Maria’s Vermont Maple Sugar Pie, 1945


The Verdict: Deliciously Concentrated Maple Pie

From The Tasting Notes –

If you like toffee, or butter pecan ice cream, or ANYTHING where sugar and butter have been browned to their utmost deliciousness, then this pie is going to make you get down on your knees and weep. It was seriously that good. The pie was dense and thick, kind of like a cross between pecan pie without the pecans and buttermilk pie.  The flavor was equal parts maple and caramel. It was also incredibly rich and sweet and if you aren’t big into sweet then this may not be the pie for you. It was great with whipped cream and probably would be fantastic with ice cream. And if you put pumpkin spice ice cream on this thing, it will probably be one of the most intense dessert experiences of your life.

Frosted Cranberry Squares, 1965


The Verdict: Cranberry Crack

From The Tasting Notes –

Excellent. The cranberry gelatin is good even on its own. It’s sweet, flavorful and the ginger ale gives it a little bubbly kick at the end that was really fun. But with the topping??? It was over the top good. Even the crunchy nuts on top added a great texture. It went straight past dinner and into the dessert category. Plop a piece of pumpkin pie on top of this and people won’t even care about eating the turkey.

Never-Fail Fudge, 1959


The Verdict: It’s Fudge! Delicious Fudge!

From The Tasting Notes –

Most “fudge-like” flavor of any of the recipes so far with a good, creamy texture. A sweet and simple fudge, though Tom didn’t care for the walnuts. I liked them, but they aren’t necessary. Leave them out if you aren’t a big nut fan!

Whew!! So there they are, the Best of 2014. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on the blog this year. It’s been a blast, and Tom and I are thankful for every one of you!

Of course, make sure you stay tuned for the Worst of 2014!