Back to previous post: January is Zombie Month

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Wrong on So Many Levels

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

January 27, 2012

Misleadingly Named Recipes
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:47 PM * 48 comments

In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day (27 January, and no, I’m not making that up): From the Old Family Recipe bin, Scotch Chocolate Cake and Seven-Minute Frosting.

Scotch Chocolate Cake contains no Scotch. (The name is actually an ethnic slur: The cake is supposedly inexpensive.) Seven-Minute Frosting takes way longer than seven minutes to make. You will, however, be beating it for seven straight minutes.


Scotch Chocolate Cake

(2 and 1/2 dozen cupcakes, or 2 9” round pans greased and lined on the bottom with wax paper)

  • Melted together and cooled:
    • 2 1-ounce squares baking chocolate in
    • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 and ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup shortening (e.g. Crisco)
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, well beaten
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted with the flour (second sifting)
  • 1 tsp vanilla plus a few drops almond extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Cream sugar and butter well.
Add cooled chocolate mixture
Add eggs; blend well (fold-over method).
Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, a little at a time (begin and end with flour). Mix about 500 strokes.
Add flavoring.
Bake in moderate (350°F) oven until surface springs back when pressed with a finger.

Seven Minute Frosting


  • 5 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 ⅓ cups sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk water, cream of tartar, sugar, egg whites and corn syrup together in a large stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. Make sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed (or a hand mixer if you’re a masochist with arms like Popeye) until the mixture reaches 140°F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet, or the egg whites will be overcooked. If you cannot hold the thermometer stem in the egg whites while continuing to beat, remove the bowl from the skillet just to read the thermometer, then return the bowl to the skillet. After the egg-mixture temperature reaches 140°F, beat on high speed for exactly 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the skillet and add the vanilla. Beat on high speed for 2 more minutes.

Use immediately: This sets up fast.

Cooking with Light (recipe index)

Comments on Misleadingly Named Recipes:
#2 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 06:32 PM:

Welsh rabbit.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 06:53 PM:

Here in the Netherlands they observe Twede Chocoladetaartdag (on the 28th) instead. Which is convenient for this household, since that's Fiona's birthday.

I'll be baking this in honor of the day.

#4 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 07:14 PM:

Someone offered me an egg cream recently. I thought of saying "No thanks, I don't like either egg or cream" but (a) this would be two lies and (b) the irony wouldn't communicate.

#5 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 08:02 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @4: Similarly, hilarity has ensued in British gatherings where an American was asked to go to the kitchen and get 'some orange squash.' Means something else over here, of course, but still a kitchen item ...

#6 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 08:29 PM:

British lemonade isn't quite the same as American. That might confuse people a bit, too.

#7 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 08:32 PM:

P J Evans @6: In my experience, if you order 'lemonade' in Britain (or, at any rate, in Edinburgh, which is my one datapoint) you are liable to be given anything ranging from tart lemon-juice-and-water-with-some-sugar through limonata all the way to Sprite. And the waiter will give you a weird look if you order a Sprite and then complain when they give you lemonade, because apparently to them it's all the same thing ...

That vacation verged upon Picky-Eater Hell for me, though I've gotten better since then. It was Educational.

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 08:38 PM:

Elliott, a month spent mostly in England left me able to drink tea with milk. Or with sugar. (I still prefer it without either, given a choice.) Educational, oh yes. (Sometimes I actually want a grilled tomato.)

#9 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 09:30 PM:

P J Evans @8: I would have been much happier if I'd found out sooner than 2/3 through the vacation that every pub in Edinburgh serves, all day, *baked potatoes with your choice of stuff in them*. Ambrosia!

#10 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 11:12 PM:

pj @ #8, I went through a period of trying different things in my college days and trying tea with milk, English style (after a trip to London with my family) made me an addict.

I've always liked grilled tomatoes with any meal including breakfast, mom would do that during the summers when we had so many tomatoes we had to do Something About It (including canning, different kinds of relishes and canning, etc.).

#11 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2012, 11:44 PM:

I don't believe I've ever had grilled tomatoes. And I grew up in Sack-o-Tomatoes, so it's not as though it wasn't an option...

(I think the perfect form of a certain kind of Sacramento snobbery is to use the phrase, "They buy their tomatoes from the store." This was inspired by the fact that my visiting MiL will buy (Florida) tomatoes from the store, even when tomatoes are in season and can be had MUCH TASTIER from the local farmer's market—in front of the store.)

#12 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 01:24 AM:

Shepherds' pie rarely contains any shepherds. Nor does toad in the hole.

#13 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 01:27 AM:

Contain any shepherds, that is. It also doesn't contain any toads, if you make it right.

#14 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 01:41 AM:

As far as I know, Monster Slim Jims contain no actual monsters, Sasquatch meat sticks are not made from sasquatches, and Little Debbie Zebra Cakes have no connection with African equids.

#15 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 02:04 AM:

Froot Loops have no fruit, AFAIK.

#16 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 03:32 AM:

Scotch Chocolate Cake, pick two.

#17 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 03:37 AM:

Yes, but do they have froot?

(Similarly, watch out for words like "choclatey" or "creme".)

#18 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 10:40 AM:

Furthermore Bombay duck is a kind of salted fish1. And if, like Anne Sheller @ 14. we're allowing brand names, many of yoou are going to find this foodstuff to be problematic on a number of levels. (In case anyone's wondering, that's not the slightest bit photoshopped. Honest.)

1. Which Wikipedia tells me is no longer available in the UK because of EU regulations. But I'm sure that can't be right, because if the EU had tried to ban a traditional British food in the late 1990's there would surely have been a memorably high-profile Daily Mail campaign to preserve it. Wouldn't there?

#19 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 10:45 AM:

Oops. I seem to have spectacularly messed up an attempt at using the /sup> tag for my footnote there. Sorry!

#20 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 11:15 AM:

praisegod #18:

That link gives me a permission error.

#21 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 11:36 AM:

Praisegod #18 - The EU declared Bombay Duck to be doubleplusungood in 1997 owing to the way it was prepared and packed. After several rounds with the India High Commission, it became legal again in 2003. The UK, however, remains unsure about this, thanks to its usual fuckwittery about EU regulations (old joke: an EU ruling covering two sides of paper will, by the time Whitehall's finished with it, have turned into a 150-page publication).

On a personal note, my mother, when she was living in the Irish Republic in the 1970s, got a letter from Irish Customs telling her that they had destroyed an entire consignment of spices because it had contained "fowl products". You guessed it...

#22 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 11:46 AM:

joann @ #20:

Click in the address bar and press enter, or perform some equivalent action. Like most hotlinking protections, it forbids direct linking from another site, but it'll let you through if it thinks you manually entered the address.

#23 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 12:14 PM:

P J Evans @ 8:

Sometimes I actually want a grilled tomato.

Yes! With melted mozzarella cheese and a pinch of oregano.

B. Durbin @ 11:

and can be had MUCH TASTIER from the local farmer's market—in front of the store.

Or picked up off the side of the road by the freeway entrance/exit where the big trucks didn't slow down enough to allow for centrifugal force and didn't tie down their tarp covers properly. There used to be a Dole tomato processing plant in Davis, just down the road from Sacramento so that was a good place to find them.

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 08:26 PM:

My mother once made a batch of pickles using cucumbers that had fallen off trucks - she used the ones that hadn't broken on landing.

I've seen oranges by the side of the freeway where the trucks were, perhaps, just a bit overloaded for the driving conditions.

#25 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 08:45 PM:

I'd mention spotted dick, but I don't know if it's accurate or not. I certainly hope not.

#26 ::: which.chick ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 09:05 PM:

This chocolate cake recipe is very similar to the one I use (down to the fluffy white seven-minute style icing), which I got from my grandmother. It's an awesome cake, very good and quite reliable.

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 10:01 PM:

eric #25: Spotted dick exists. I used to get it as a pudding at school.

#28 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 11:08 PM:

I can confirm that Spotted Dick is not only real, but is available canned in the British section (!) of my local Publix grocery store--along with, I kid you not, Mushy Peas.

There is also a recipe for Spotted Dick in the excellent Lobscouse and Spotted Dog, which it's a gastronomic companion to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin series.

#29 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2012, 11:16 PM:

Oh, I know spotted dick exists, I'm just scared to look at the ingredients.

My N. Irish I laws and I have a tradition. The first cuppa tea I'm served on any given visit has milk in it. 5 minutes later, there's a horrified realization from the tea preparer that I'm the American one and the only one who likes tea with my sugar.

#30 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2012, 12:47 AM:

joann @ 20: Paul A.'s solution works for me with the link, but in case it doesn't work for you, the product in question is called - and I felt I needed to show an independent source for this - 'Brain's Faggots'.

Lila @ 28: there are many things to be said about mushy peas, but 'misleadlingly named' is not one of them. They are peas, and they are mushy...

#31 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2012, 01:44 AM:

"Thousand-year eggs" are not, thank the August Personage of Jade, really a thousand years old.

#32 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2012, 09:12 AM:

Prairie oysters. Although individual specimens may actually have originated from the prairie, so there's that.

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2012, 10:04 AM:

And their nominal relative the mountain oyster?

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2012, 10:12 AM:

There is also mountain chicken a delicacy of the eastern Caribbean.

#35 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2012, 03:36 PM:

I can report that "World Peace Cookies", though nice enough to eat, do not perform as advertised.

#36 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2012, 04:35 PM:

Steve Taylor @ 35: Or possibly you haven't eaten enough of them. I feel you owe it to the world to test this hypothesis.

#37 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2012, 07:27 PM:

chocolate truffles aren't

#38 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2012, 07:29 PM:

praisegod barebones @ 36:

Or perhaps he just didn't put in enough whirled peas.

#39 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2012, 09:23 PM:

#33, well, if you allow for the fact that the were grown in the mountains that's a 50% truth in naming.

#40 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2012, 09:29 PM:

Porcupine meatballs.

#41 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2012, 03:39 AM:

Insert standard callback to little Wednesday Addams asking about Girl Scout Cookies.

--Dave, and then there's hot pockets, which have to be kept cold, and don't contain pockets. usually.

#42 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2012, 07:16 PM:

Me: This is called Fettuccine Alfredo.
Son: Is this chicken in here?
Me: Sure. You didn't think they still made it with real Alfredo, did you?

#43 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2012, 01:33 PM:

I'm sure I've eaten enough Caesar Salad to go through at least Suetonius' 12, all on my own...

#44 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2012, 10:08 PM:

Every time I eat Altoid mints, I always wonder how many altos you have to grind up to make one tin of 'em...
Side note--Pork sausage tonight, because it is Ground Hog day.

#45 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2012, 03:27 PM:

For the fine delicacy known as "head cheese", the "cheese" is the deceptive part, unfortunately.

#46 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2012, 04:52 PM:

Alan, I was afraid of that.

On a more general note, I've come to the conclusion that the word 'delicacy' doesn't actually mean "something we think is delicious," but "something we eat in our culture and are expected to like, so we act like we do, at least in part to freak out you furriners." I expect a lot of people secretly detest their culture's "delicacies."

Usually with a background of "our ancestors had to eat this or starve, so now we eat it and pretend to like it and/or everyone who couldn't stand it died of starvation, and the ones who actually liked it had a survival advantage over the ones who had to gag it down." Nothing else explains the Icelandic rotted fish, for example.

#47 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2012, 07:17 PM:

Xopher, #46: Hence Terry Pratchett's term "local delicacy".

ObSF: In Diane Duane's The Romulan Way, there is reference to a region in which one particular foodstuff (a common tuber) is highly denigrated. The people who settled that region came from a ship in which a disaster took out most of the hydroponics section, and that tuber was pretty much the only thing they had to eat for years. It's colloquially known as "the wretched root".

#48 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2012, 09:19 PM:

Xopher, #46--good guess. I'd still be curious to see how many people today have a real, inherent liking for some fermented item and how many don't, or have to learn to tolerate it, and who they got this from. I read some pretty incredible stories about carefully (we hope) aged meat eaten by Inuit and a few hardy souls here in the southlands--"high" meat; Google it if you have a strong stomach. I am not sure what genetic linkages could be found for tolerating aged or spicy foods, let alone liking them, but it would be interesting to find out, as I suspect there is something to your theory.
Some claim that humanity started out scavenging lion kills, and I suspect those didn't stay fresh very long in that climate. Why then do human beings not have the ability to eat rotten meat like bears, etc. do all the time? We age it, but it's a bit of a different process than what happens to something that gets run over.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.