Weather might be right for some coffee and …

Are the midwinter blues beginning to get to you? Are you searching out your windows for the first snowdrops? Longing to see friends you’ve missed for these past months?

How about getting together for some coffee and … ?

You get to bake a treat from your mom’s recipe cards or perhaps the old PTA cookbook. Then you get to serve it to those missed pals. You’ll catch up on the news and perhaps discuss the ballot for town meeting or a recent book you’ve read. I’ll offer a couple of tried-and-true treats to go along with the coffee or tea.

The first is from the aforementioned PTA cookbook and a guaranteed favorite whenever it’s offered. It’s the recipe that taught me how to make pâte à choux.

Next is the very first cake I conquered as a child. Here’s one you can make with your kids, and it’s delicious.

The third is from my mom’s cards. Not sure where she got it, but it filled our tummies as kids. Plus, it takes advantage of the very berries grown right here in Charlotte.

Lastly, I offer a different sort of cookie that I have not made in too long a time.

Almond Puff Coffee Cake

1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp. water

Pâte à choux
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
3 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
3 whole eggs

Cut soft butter into 1 cup flour, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over the mixture, mix with a fork. Divide dough in half and pat into two 12×3-inch strips on an ungreased baking sheet.

Heat 1/2 cup of butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add extract and flour. Stir vigorously over low heat until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from the heat and beat in eggs all at once till satiny smooth. (I used a sturdy whisk.) Divide mixture and spread over each base, covering completely. Bake at 350 F for 60 minutes until crisp and lightly browned.

Cool a bit and frost with: 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons of soft butter, 1 teaspoon of almond extract, 1-2 teaspoons of warm water. Frost lightly while warm and decorate with sliced almonds.

Slice on the diagonal to serve. This has very little sugar, but it’s deceptively sweet.

Crumb Cake
Crumb Cake

Crumb Coffee Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup shortening (I use butter.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
ground nutmeg
ground cinnamon

Mix flour, sugar and shortening with fingers until crumbly. Leave some lumps. Set aside 1 cup. Mix in spices to suit your taste. About 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

Add rest of ingredients to original mixture. Pour batter into 9×9-inch or 8-inch round greased cake pan. Sprinkle top with spiced mixture. Bake at 350 F for 35-45 mins till firm and crisp on top.

Blueberry Cake

2 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/4 teasp. salt
1/2 cup shortening(butter)
1 teasp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teasp. baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries.

Beat egg whites till stiff and add 1/4 cup of sugar. Cream shortening; add salt and vanilla. Add remaining sugar gradually. Add egg yolks and beat until light and creamy. Set aside a small amount of flour. Sift flour and baking powder. Add alternately with milk to yolk mixture. Fold in beaten egg whites. Dredge blueberries in flour and set aside. Fold carefully into batter. Turn into greased 8×8-inch pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with granulated sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes in 350 F oven.

Date-Nut Cutups

1/2 cup shortening (butter)
1 cup sugar
1 teasp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups sifted, enriched flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 6 oz. package (1 cup) pitted dates cut up or 1 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup chopped California walnuts

Cream together shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, beating well. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture. Add dates and nuts. Divide into four portions. On greased cookie sheets, spread each into 12×2 1/2×1/2-inch strips about 3 inches apart.

Bake in moderate oven at 375 F for about 15 minutes or till lightly browned. While it’s warm, cut diagonally into bars; remove to rack. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Makes three dozen.

I hope this warms your home and the hearts of your neighbors and friends till spring makes a call.