Cooking With Rare Books: Valentine's Day Recipes from "The Way to Man's Heart: The Settlement Cookbook"

Cover of "The Way to a Man's Heart: The Settlement Cookbook"

KSU Honors student Camilla Stegall shares research and Valentine's Day recipes from "The Way to a Man's Heart: The Settlement Cookbook" (1930)

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 8, 2021) — Hello everyone! This is Camilla Stegall, and welcome back to the Cookery Corner! The next cookbook we’re diving into is a wonderful fit for the month of February: The Way to A Man’s Heart: The Settlement Cook Book! The Bentley has a copy of the 18th edition that was published in 1930. We’ll start with a Valentine’s Day theme and look at some yummy recipes aptly named for the holiday.

Meringue is a popular dessert made from egg whites and sugar. This minimal ingredient dessert also calls for a good amount of upper arm strength to whip the eggs and sugar to the right consistency or an electric beater. There is some dispute about where meringue came from and possibilities include Switzerland, Poland, and England. There is also dispute about when it was invented. Estimates go as far back as 1604. Meringue comes in three types: Swiss, Italian, and French. Many types of desserts are made with meringue, including Baked Alaska, Pavlova, and pies like lemon meringue. The meringue dessert we’ll be focusing on for Valentine’s Day is the small candy form of French meringue called “Kisses!”

The Kisses in The Settlement Cook Book start with a base recipe followed by several different flavor variations. We’ll go through the main recipe and then look at a couple more flavors that would be a tasty treat for Valentine’s Day!

Kisses or Meringues from The Settlement Cook Book

Whites of 4 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar, sifted

Have eggs cold and fresh; sugar fine and dry. Beat the whites with flat wire spoon until stiff enough to hold up in peaks, but not dry. Add 6 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, continuing beating between each addition, then fold in the rest lightly. Drop in well greased and floured muffin pans, or: Heap mixture in rounds from spoon or through pastry bag, ½ inch apart on tins. Bake until tops are crisp and delicately brown in a slow oven, 225° F., from 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the kisses. For a chewy center, drop in muffin pans or on paper placed on a wet board. When tops are crisp, place with the paper, on tins and bake until bottoms are crisp. If paper sticks on a wet cloth, let stand until paper can easily be removed.

That’s the base recipe from 1930! Here are a few tips that I used while I recreated the recipe:

1. Make sure that your egg whites and egg yolks are completely separated. Any egg yolk might mess up your Kisses.

2. Using beaters is NOT cheating!

3. If you do not have a pastry bag at home, you can cut a tip off the bottom of a Ziploc bag. Put the bag in a tall glass and have the top of the bag over the sides to keep it open as you put your meringue into the bag.

4. Make sure that your whisk (or beaters) and bowl are completely clean with no oil residue or else the meringue will not set correctly.

5. I used parchment paper instead of greasing and flouring my pans.

Kisses are traditionally in the shape of a candy drop, like a Hershey’s kiss, but you can be creative with your meringue. I decided to make some hearts out of mine for Valentine’s Day.

kisses-hearts-meringue

Once you’ve mastered the base recipe, here’s a couple variations:

Cocoanut [sic] Kisses

Whites of 2 eggs

¼ lb. powdered sugar

¼ 1b. shredded cocoanut

Make as Kisses, above, folding the shredded cocoanut in last.

The Settlement Cook Book also includes several menus for various holidays, such as Valentine’s Day. These Cocoanut Kisses were included on their recommended Valentine’s Day menu. So, if you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in true Settlement Cook Book fashion, I recommend these! (I ended up having to use a spoon to put these Kisses onto my pan.

Chocolate Kisses

3 whites of eggs

½ cup sugar

2 oz. grated chocolate

Vanilla

Beat whites of eggs very stiff, add sugar, chocolate and vanilla. Bake on floured tins in a slow oven, 225° F., about 60 minutes.

You can never go wrong with chocolate on Valentine’s Day!

There is another recipe called a Kiss in The Settlement Cookbook that is very similar to a coconut macaroon:

Cocoanut Drop Kisses

6 ounces desiccated cocoanut

Sweetened condensed milk

Salt

Vanilla

Chop cocoanut and mix into a paste with the milk, add pinch of salt and a few drops of vanilla. Drop the mixture from a teaspoon on a buttered tin, 1 inch apart. Bake in a slow oven, 250° F.

With Chocolate – Melt 1ounce chocolate in milk for variety. 

Enjoy these Kisses and join us next time as we further discuss The Way to a Man’s Heart: The Settlement Cook Book!

For more information about meringue and more recipes like the desserts I listed in the beginning, check out the following book:

Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner. Meringue. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2012.

©