Columnist Note: The 2nd edition of Cooking in Merced County: A Taste of History is now available for sale in the Museum Store for $14.95. The following story and recipe was contributed by Bunny Robinson Busby of Merced.
John Abel Robinson came around the Horn, landing in San Francisco on Dec. 31, 1849. He mined until he lost half a leg in an accident.
He then began farming in Snelling and raised six boys and one girl. One of the boys was my grandfather, a namesake -- John Abel Robinson. His son, also John Abel Robinson, was my father.
He met my mother at UC Berkeley and they married in 1923. She came from Michigan and was living in Winton at the time.
My mother, Thelma Weidler Robinson, was a wonderful cook. This particular recipe was first taken from the Cook Book of the Merced Women's Club.
She adapted it to accommodate a hungry family by enlarging on it, and she adjusted some of the ingredients. The unusual thing about this recipe -- it is a cake basically, but there is no flour in it!
Our family was big on tradition and the chocolate roll became the traditional dessert for Christmas dinner -- and still is.
I have the cookbook with all the pages stained from constant use. It was probably the first community collection of recipes.
Having been born and raised here, I am very familiar with most of the names of the contributors. Lots of memories there!!
Nana's Chocolate Roll
Line a 10 x 15 inch cookie sheet with two layers of wax paper and Pam the top.
Separate 9 eggs. Beat whites until stiff.
Mix yolks, 3 Tablespoons ground chocolate, 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Fold in beaten egg whites carefully. Do not stir down!
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes -- until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and immediately turn upside down on a clean towel and roll up. When cool open flat, remove wax paper and fill with whipped cream about 1 cup. Carefully roll up and put on plate with seam side down. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting or more whipped cream (Sometimes, I add some ground chocolate to the whipped cream frosting). Eat and enjoy -- diet tomorrow!!
In addition to the cookbook, we have great gifts and other local history books in the Museum Store which opens Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. We here at the Courthouse Museum wish you a happy New Year.
Sarah Lim is director of Merced County Courthouse Museum. She may be contacted at 723-2401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.