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Did we mention treats for the holidays?

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Here's our last chance to tempt you with holiday sweets.


If you like pecans, the Franklin Nut Cake should be your choice -- it's loaded with pecans and a ton of butter. The cake also calls for bits of dried cherries and pineapple (this is not a fruit cake), which add color and moistness and complement the flavor of the pecans. The cake is supposed to be baked for three hours at 250 degrees. We tested the cake after 2 hours 15 minutes and found it was done -- a little too done. We suggest testing after 1 1/2 hours and periodically after that.

Our second recipe, Rum Cake, was a big hit with our fellow employees. Their descriptions of the cake ran from super moist to great flavor (they loved the rum and butter glaze). This cake is a keeper.

What's the difference between dark rum and light (or clear) rum? Dark rum has a dark amber color and the flavor is rich and full-bodied, while light rum is clear, with a mild flavor. We chose light rum only because we didn't have dark rum (state stores are closed on Sunday). The next time we make this cake (and we will make it again), we'll use the dark rum. This cake only gets better with the butter, rum and sugar glaze.

Mary Jane Hyatt of Penn Hills thought our readers would like to have this recipe for the holidays.

Franklin Nut Cake

1 pound butter, no substitu- tions
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, beaten
4 cups flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 pound candied cherries, cut in half
1/2 pound candied pineapple, diced
1 pound pecans, broken in small pieces, not chopped

Cream butter and sugar; add beaten eggs. Add 3 cups of the flour, sifted with baking powder and salt.

Mix remaining flour with cherries, pineapple and nuts. Add vanilla. Batter will be very thick.

Pour into a tube pan that has been lined with lightly greased parchment paper. Bake at 250 degrees for three hours. Let the cake cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Invert onto rack.

Lynn Thomas of San Jose, Calif., formerly of Charleroi, sent this recipe. We loved the cake and her letter. Here's an excerpt: "If your readers want a cake that's delicious and oozing with rum, here's the recipe. I've made it several times and it always gets rave reviews. Anything with a cup of rum in it sure gets MY attention! This is a fantastic cake. Very tasty -- hic! When I made the glaze I kept tilting the dish and scooping up the liquid to put back on top of the cake. Do this until you have very little coming off the cake."

Rum Cake

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Package yellow cake mix (do not buy the pudding-in-the- mix type)
3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup dark rum

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and set the oven rack at the upper middle level. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan.

Mix together all cake ingredients, beating until smooth. Pour batter over nuts and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees, until golden brown.

Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan. Invert onto a serving platter. Prick top and sides of cake with a fork.

Make glaze by melting butter in a small saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cool glaze slightly and stir in rum. Drizzle glaze generously over cake. Serves 8 to 12.


Franes Reiter of Florida writes: "I remember fondly the fantastic cakes that were purchased at OKEMO Cake Kitchen in Massachusetts. The cake was a cross between a sponge and chiffon. The frosting was similar to a boiled seven-minute frosting yet different. Another request is for Italian sugared almonds -- my grandmother was a great cook and unfortunately I do not have this recipe. The almonds are coated with a white rough sugar and are found in Rome and Aquila. Please help me locate these two recipes."

Here's a request from Cynthia Taibbi-Kates of Highland Park: "I grew up in the Boston area and my mother frequently bought a candy concoction she referred to as molasses puff. Bolan's candies in Erie sells something similar they call sponge. This puff looked like a sea sponge and was the color of caramel and was very hard; it melted slowly in your mouth and if you bit into it, it stuck horribly in your mouth. Mom always bought it in chunks the size of a potato and we broke it up into smaller bite-size pieces. It was not dipped in chocolate. Does anyone out there know were I might purchase molasses puffs or have a recipe so I can make it myself?"

Ruth Ann Smith of McKees Rocks would like a good recipe for homemade fudge.

B. Powell of Eighty Four writes: "I need a crumb topping for a Dutch Apple pie that stays soft. I have a problem with mine getting very hard and crunchy. I use: 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix first two ingredients, add butter and mix till crumbly. I bake my pies at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. I even covered it with tinfoil, and the topping was still hard. With all the good cooks out there, someone must know the secret."

Rose Rosenberg of Squirrel Hill would like a recipe for apricot chicken (using apricot preserves), and a recipe for turkey breast coated with pecans.

Jerry Howard of Monroeville is searching for pecan rolls: "I would like a recipe for pecan rolls (not the ones using Bisquick), the 'old time' recipe, as it were. My daughter has been asking for it and I have searched through all my many cookbooks and recipes and can't find any."

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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