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Missing Mary Meade's 7-minute frosting

RecipesBill DaleyChicago TribuneAdvice Columns and ColumnistsAnn Landers

Q: We are looking for a receipt out of this cookbook that one received when ordering the Chicago Tribune from the late 50s. We would like the name of the book as well as the receipt. The frosting was cooked and then beaten to form peaks. Light and fluffy and not sweet. I am from Canada and doing this research for a senior in the States.

—Rosemarie Morisette, Hope, British Columbia

A: Emails back and forth fleshed out this story. Seems Ms. Morisette has a neighbor in Lakeland, Fla., who received a Chicago Tribune cookbook around the time she was married in 1957. The marriage eventually ended and the husband walked off with the cookbook. Apparently, Ms. Morisette's friend has missed the book and the recipe all these years.

At first, I was thinking there was little chance I'd be able to find the recipe because the clues were too vague, the time period too long gone. Then, while searching our test kitchen for another book, I discovered "Mary Meade's Kitchen Companion: The Indispensable Guide for the Modern Cook" by Ruth Ellen Church. It was published in 1955 by The Bobbs-Merrill Co.

Church wrote for the Tribune under the pen name of "Mary Meade" in the days when such things were done (think Ann Landers and Dear Abby). She retired from the Tribune in 1974 after 38 years as food editor, cooking editor and columnist.

There is one cooked frosting recipe in the book: "Seven-Minute Frosting." The recipe makes enough to frost the top and sides of a 3- or 4-layer cake, or serve as the frosting and filling for a 2-layer cake, the book reports. I'm assuming the "Seven-Minute" title refers to how long it takes to make.

Here's the recipe as written:

Place 2 egg whites, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup or 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/3 cup cold water and a few grains salt in top of double boiler, over boiling water, and beat with rotary or electric mixer until mixture forms peaks. Remove from heat, add 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until frosting has spreading consistency.

In a short head note, Church describes it as "a popular frosting with several variations." Those she cites include:

Chocolate: Fold in 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled, before spreading.

Marshmallow: Add 1 cup quartered marshmallows when removing frosting from the heat, beat by hand until spreadable.

"Sea foam" or brown sugar frosting: Use packed measure of brown sugar instead of white. Omit the corn syrup or cream of tartar.

Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: wdaley@tribune.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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RecipesBill DaleyChicago TribuneAdvice Columns and ColumnistsAnn Landers
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