Cooks Corner

Cookie balls can be dressed up for Fourth of July

As you make Fourth of July plans, consider this fast recipe for cookie balls that are a fun, red-white-and-blue treat to pass out while you watch fireworks.

You make them in minutes then keep chilled till needed. Use different color sprinkles for other holidays or occasions. You can also try other flavors of sandwich cookies, such as mint or peanut butter.

Reader Response: More Sex Cake

Rick tells us that the title “Better Than Sex Cake” should not go to the chocolate version we published, but to a vanilla cake by that name.

“Here is the original Better Than Sex Cake that was developed in the Boston University dorms in the ’70s,” he wrote. “There were a lot of excellent latecomers that included chocolate and even Heath bars, but this one is the real deal.”

Since my daughter is a BU alum, I won’t quibble with the origin — these things are tough to document — but will say that I published the vanilla version both in Cook’s Corner and Ladies Home Journal in the 1980s. It’s a good, doctored cake-mix recipe.

I’m not a fan of cartons of frozen whipped topping and will always choose fresh whipped cream instead, but it certainly is more convenient and will hold up better than the real thing.

Sleuth’s Corner

Q: Every day after school, my friends and I used to go to a restaurant near our high school called New York New York in Kendall. They had this incredibly delightful honey mustard sauce that had the perfect tangy taste to it. Sadly the restaurant closed. It would make my friends and I very happy if you could find the recipe for the sauce!

By the way, I absolutely love your little heaven called Cook’s Corner. My mother and I always find wonderful recipes to keep.

Meera Prasad

A: The only recipe we have from New York New York is this lovely version of Chicken Francaise, published in 1994. We’ll hope someone has the mustard sauce recipe and will share.

Gone but not forgotten

Q: Franco-American Macaroni and Cheese was a favorite canned product among many people in the 1980s. It simply had to be heated before one ate it. Of course, some people preferred to eat it cold. They stopped manufacturing it in the late 1990s. Can you give me a copycat recipe?


A: I remember my daughter coming home from a sleepover and raving about macaroni and cheese the mom let them help make for dinner — by scraping it out of a can. She wanted it again (though she’d never said a word about my finely crafted four-cheese mac in all the years she’d been eating it).

So I dutifully bought a can and was horrified by the thin pale white sauce, the squiggly pasta, and frankly just the idea of canned macaroni. It did not become a staple in our house!

Anyway, I learned by looking online that you are not alone in mourning the loss of that canned mac and cheese. There is even a Facebook fan page dedicated to this classic, which actually goes back a lot further than the 1980s. Franco-American made it until the company was purchased by Campbell’s.

At any rate, from reading the ingredient list on the can I would suggest adding white American cheese to a basic white sauce (2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 cups milk; cook the flour in the butter, stirring until dissolved, then whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat until thick as you like) and adding a spoonful or so of sugar.

As for the pasta, elbows are too short, and bucatini is too long, so I’d simply use penne and overcook it.

Q: What happened to cracker meal ? I can’t find it in stores. Can it be made out of saltine crackers?

R.E. Smith

A: Cracker meal is rarely found in grocery stores now that Nabisco stopped producing it.

In some parts of the South you may find local brands, and you can certainly substitute bread or panko crumbs in most recipes. (For those unfamiliar, cracker meal is very fine and is used to bread fish and chicken, to top creamed vegetable casseroles and make croquettes).

It is easy to make your own cracker meal: Put saltines in a heavy zipper bag and crush them with a rolling pin, or pulse them in a food processor, until they’re the crumb size you like. A 14-ounce box of saltines will yield about 2 3/4 cups of cracker meal.

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