I'm not sure why this cake is called a puzzle cake, unless it's because of the interesting contrasting colors on top of the finished product. This came from another of our virtually unused cook books, Old Fashioned Family Cookbook, by Clarice L. Moon, published by Ideals Publishing, Corp. I believe I acquired this series as a reward for subscribing to a local newspaper. For each month I continued my subscription, I earned another cookbook in the series.
As you might expect, the recipes in this cookbook were not incredibly novel or exciting. They are, well, traditional. As a result, I found that I already had favorites of many of the dishes included (jambalaya, for example, or tuna casserole). Others were completely unappealing (take salad dressing cake or ham loaf). I also don't love the format--few photos of the end result, and the photos aren't usually any where close to the recipe in the book. But puzzle cake looked like it had potential, so I tried it last Monday night. The result was acceptable. No one has been begging for this dessert since then, but no one turned it down, either, and most of the plates were clean when we were finished even though one of the kids came to a stark realization that dates are a dried fruit (gasp!), not the nuts she had believed them to be as we have used them in other recipes for years.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup softened butterMix together the flour, sugar and butter until crumbly. Set aside one-half of the crumb mixture. Spread remaining crumb mixture in an 8 x 12-inch pan and pat down. Bake in a 350-degree oven for ten minutes. Remove from oven and spread on Filling (see recipe below). Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine dates, coconut and nuts. Whip egg whites until stiff and add sugar and vaniilla. Fold in the date mixture.
The dessert was good, but probably not worth keeping the cookbook over. Nevertheless, there are a couple of other basic recipes that might serve me well--like a good basic biscuit recipe or a couple of ideas for breakfast cake. Stay tuned for the final verdict.