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Notes From the Test Kitchen: Marian Manners to the rescue

April 22, 2009 |  1:44 pm


Jenn Garbee's article in this week's Food section, "Marian Manners, Prudence Penny, the first celebrity cooks," takes a fun look back at a couple of the earliest "celebrity" chefs -- the in-house cooking experts and writers for the Los Angeles Times and Hearst newspapers, respectively.

While we may no longer have Marian Manners to lend a hand at the Food section, we continue to do our best to assist readers with recipe requests and tips. Our weekly Culinary SOS column adapts readers' favorite restaurant recipes for the home kitchen, and we're on hand to answer readers' requests for long-lost Times' recipes, as well as general kitchen tips and suggestions.

One recent e-mail we received is from Elizabeth, who wrote in looking for an old cookie recipe:

"I have a cookie recipe called Amerikaners I cut out over 30 years ago,  and I have lost the method and frosting parts of it. It was a German cookie and made a nice Halloween treat."

She then described the cookie (frost the bottoms with orange icing and decorate with raisins) and included the ingredients.

The cookie wasn't the easiest to find. An initial search through our archive turned up recipes for black-and-whites, those large, flat cookies covered with equal amounts of chocolate and vanilla frosting. Apparently, the cookies are known as Amerikaners in many German bakeries, but the ingredients and description didn't match Elizabeth's request. 

A further search revealed an Oct. 25, 1959, column by Marian Manners. She writes,

" 'As a child in Germany, I remember buying fat, cake-like cookies called Amerikaners,' reminisced my friend Julia. 'One interesting thing abut 'em,' she said, 'they were inverted after baking so that they rocked on a rounded base.' I have made these jumbo-sized cookies often. I think you'll enjoy baking them for a Halloween treat -- just frost the bottoms with orange icing and decorate with dark raisins."

Here you go Elizabeth -- the original recipe follows the jump. And thanks, Marian!

-- Noelle Carter

Photo by Los Angeles Times


1/2 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1½ cups sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup light or dark raisins

1/4 cup orange juice

Orange butter icing (below)

Dark raisins for decoration

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter, sugar and egg; mix until fluffy and well blended. Stir in vanilla and orange zest. Sift flour with salt, baking soda and baking powder. Rinse, drain and dry raisins. Stir half the dry ingredients and raisins into the creamed mixture. Blend in orange juice; stir in remaining dry ingredients. Drop by tablespoons on a lightly greased cookie sheet, allowing room for spreading. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove cookies and cool upside down on wire rack. Frost bottoms of cookies with orange butter icing decorated with raisins to make faces.

Orange butter icing

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup soft butter or margarine

3 to 4 tablespoons orange juice

Food coloring (optional)

Combine powdered sugar, salt, butter and orange juice; beat until smooth. Tint with a few drops of food coloring, if desired.