Monday, August 1, 2011

Mom's Chip & Date Cake and the bridge party

There's a story to this (actually 2 stories), so bear with me a minute.

My mother was a bridge master. The card game. It's sorta like being in the pros. And she had a group that came regularly to the house to play just for practice when they weren't in tournaments. Well, she had baked a cake, and left it out to cool while she went to get ready. I was all of 6 or 8 years old. And I wanted just one warm chocolate chip from the cooling cake. ............and one more............. and just one more.............

I'll bet you can guess the ending. Mom came out, and I had picked off every single chocolate chip from the top of the cake! Yup. I don't actually remember getting punished, but I'm sure I did.

Now Mom wasn't much a a fancy cook. She was actually the Queen of Convenience Foods. (She was a bridge master, after all. Oh - and a cop, but that's a different story). Most stuff came from a mix or a box, except for the occasional recipe from the red checkered cookbook or a magazine clipping. We're talking about 1960 or so. "Foodies" were unheard of.

Fast forward 50 years. I'm flipping through a recently acquired cookbook, Death By Chocolate, by Marcel Desaulniers. The book won the James Beard Award for Best Dessert Cookbook a few years back. In there is a recipe called "Mom's Chocolate Chip and Date Cake". He tells a long story about this being the recipe of the mother of a friend of his. And other than he throws in 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, it's the same cake! So now MY mom's chip and date cake is in his book as HIS mom's chip and date cake!

Now my mom has been gone since 1968, so I can't ask her where she got it, but I'm quite sure that if he really researched it, he'd find that his special cake was from Redbook or Better Homes & Gardens back in the 1950's.

The moral: We all have a great award winning cookbook in us. We just have to cull through our mothers' old clippings!

Recipe after the jump - click on 'Read More'.

Here's my Mom's Chip & Date Cake:

2 cups chopped dates
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup flour
2 Tlbs cornstarch
1 Tlbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease & flour a 9x13 inch pan.

Bring the water to a boil.
Chop the dates, then sprinkle them with the baking soda.  Pour the boiling water over them and set them aside to soften.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt & cornstarch.  Set aside.

Cream the shortening & sugar until fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Stir in the date mixture.

Pout the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the chips and nuts over the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean.


  1. Oh what I would give for a piece of that right now with a cup of coffee!

  2. I'm sorry ,I commented before I read your post...very cute story! One of my favorite dishes as a kid was a fettuccini alfredo recipe my dad had gotten from the back of a pasta box :) Still hard to top that recipe!