Lost Desserts

In Search of Forgotten Recipes

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“I want the cookies with the dots,” my 5-year-old great-nephew announced.
We were standing in front of the cookie case at a local grocery store. The attendant graciously dropped two of the cookies into a white paper bag and handed it over to J.T. with a smile.

“He always gets the same ones,” she said, laughing.

Clutching his bag, he was happy as we made our way around the store. I plucked a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milanos (my personal favorite) off the shelf and dropped them in the cart. While we waited for my order in the meat department, J.T. and I discussed our cookies. We agreed that we would enjoy them once we got home to share them with Papa Rock, my husband (who, by the way, J.T. thinks is my daddy).

Over cookies and cold milk, I explained to J.T. that when I was a youngster, we rarely had store-bought cookies.

“We made little sugar cookies called ti gateau sec. Another great treat, especially for special holidays, were les oreilles de cochon – fried pastries formed in the shape of pigs’ ears and drizzled with cane syrup. Sometimes we made gateau de sirop, a syrup cake that was often served as dessert but also could be Sunday morning breakfast.”

He stared at me with wide brown eyes and then turned to Papa Rock.

“Maybe we could make these sometime,” he suggested.

J.T. is always up for anything. (For example, several months ago, Papa Rock told him that they could train his chocolate Lab, Cocoa, to talk just like the dog on the Bush’s beans television commercial. J.T. had no reservations and agreed to give Cocoa some speaking lessons.)

J.T. also has the memory of an elephant. A week later he called to ask when we were going to make those pigs’ ears and the “other stuff.”

We settled on a date and invited a couple of his cousins to join us on the appointed day. Everyone was given a task. J.T. and Papa Rock were in charge of rolling out the pastry for the pigs’ ears. Eli and his sister (known in the family as Sister) were going to tackle the sugar cookies. All of us were going to try our hand at the syrup cake.

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