It seems I have been reading a lot of books from University of Minnesota Press lately. The book Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food by Susan Marks was a gift from our local library last year. The Hutchinson library holds an adult reading program during the winter and last year when you finished reading (I think it was 12 books) you got to pick a book from the magic bookshelf. I chose this one mostly for the great old-school advertisements but today I actually started looking at the recipes. Actually I opened it up to a recipe and decided to make it right away.
My parents dropped off a tub of raspberries yesterday before leaving town and I was hoping to do something pretty with them before my son ate them all. The recipe I opened to was actually an old ad (that included a recipe) for something called colorvision cake. The caption below the ad says, “Inspired by the popularity of color television, Betty cross-advertised in magazines as well as appearing in CBS’s first color television commercial.” The ad in the book isn’t in color but that didn’t matter much to me, I was envisioning Technicolor cake and was ready to bake!
Because this is an ad for Betty Crocker, it’s probably no surprise to you that there isn’t a lot of baking involved. All you do is add 2TB your choice color of Jello with a box of cake mix. That’s the cake. The ad uses raspberry for an example which is what I chose as well since I had the raspberries for garnish. The ad gives a recipe for a meringue as well:
-the remaining Jello package
-1 cup sugar
-2 egg whites
-1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup water
Heat all ingredients in pan of double boiler while mixing with hand mixer. Once stiff peaks form, remove from heat and beat an additional minute. This felt like it took forever! I was tempted to add powdered sugar but I didn’t. Eventually it started to thicken. I did a few mini cake bites and some regular-sized cupcakes.
Next I took my raspberries and dipped them in a little bit of sugar. I placed them in a dish and froze them for a little while so they wouldn’t get juice all over. They look okay but next time I might want to use two different colors to give them some contrast. These are almost too pink even for me, but they would probably go over well for a girl-themed baby shower.
As far as taste goes, they actually taste really good for a box mix concoction. I don’t usually do a box mix unless I’m desperate but these might be an exception in the future. The raspberry flavor is subtle, the cake moist and the meringue extra-sweet almost to the point of being candy-like. The tart raspberry on top is almost a necessity. I don’t want to get too carried away with these retro Betty Crocker recipes, but they are a lot of fun and something a little different. I imagine there could be a lot of fun color combinations and playful potential.