My Mother's Secret Dessert Recipe

Posted By : Michael Phillips  |   Posted On:March 29, 2017  |   Views: 209

For those who do not want to read my ramblings about at time when I was 9 years old, scroll to the bottom of this long blog and look at the recipe.  Everyone should try it at least once.  Its easy to make and tastes great!

“Way back in nineteen hundred and none of your business” as my mother used to say, she taught me how to make this dessert.  It is easy to make.  You don’t even have to turn on the oven.  Try it with your kids… or your grandkids. It will be fun time to spend with them and you will enjoy the dessert.

On one very special day all those years ago my mother shared some quality time with me.  It was then that she passed along a secret dessert recipe to me.  Of course, the quality time we spent together that day means much more to me now than it did then.    I have made the dessert many times, and never do I make it without remembering quality times with a very special lady.

Let me share a bit of history as it relates to the dessert recipe.   From my earliest memories, every time there was a family gathering or a church social my mother’s recipe was requested.  Actually, this recipe, which has been referred to as my mother’s recipe for so many years was given to her by an elderly lady in the early to mid 1940’s,  before I was born, believe it or not.  Granted, it was not many years, but it was B.M. (before Michael). 

The ladies in my mother’s church were publishing a mimeographed booklet of recipes.  I believe she said that the booklet sold for $.50 and all proceeds went to a nursing home in Wichita, Kansas.  The elderly lady, Mrs. Larsen turned her recipe contribution in to my mother too late for the recipe booklet.  My mother put the recipe in a drawer where it stayed until she ran across it one day, not long before I was born.  She decided to give it a try.  Hopefully some of you will read this and give it a try.

The day my mother passed this recipe along to me was the day after one of the many parent/teacher conferences she attended.  I was a good student, just not a genius; definitely not the head of the class, especially in the subject of math.  Yes, this man who enjoyed a 40+ year career as an accountant was not the very best math student. 

The day after parent/teacher conferences my mother picked me up from school, as she did everyday.  She announced that we were going to the grocery store.  It was time for her to make her dessert recipe and she asked if I would help.

To a 9 year old male child, helping in the preparation of food is not the high point of the day.  I thought eating the prepared food was a sufficient contribution on my part.  It is important to note here that I was not driving the car and was pretty sure my mother would not take “no” for an answer.  So, I mustered all the enthusiasm I could when I said “yes” and off to the grocery store we went.

The ride to the store was spent talking about my day in school.  As mothers tend to do mine asked how things were going in school and she made a special point to ask me if I had any math homework.  As luck would have it, I did.  She seemed pleased and offered to help me with it.  Cool!  Is she going to do my math homework for me?  I missed her emphasis on the word “help”, which meant I would be called on to actually do the assignment, with guidance from mom.

Our conversation about school ended when we arrived at the grocery store.  As you might guess, the subject did come up again, but for now I was off the hook.

My mother was a whirlwind shopper when she knew what she wanted to buy.  The words “SALE”, “SPECIAL”, etc. did not lure her down any aisle in the store that was not within the scope of her mission.  The scope of her mission was a list of specific items she needed.  So we passed by a lot of things I would like to have put in the basket... such as ice cream.

Finally, to my surprise mom turned down the cookie aisle.  Things were definitely looking up from my perspective.  We walked past all my favorites, chocolate chip, chocolate covered graham crackers and Fig Newtons, as my mouth watered.  My mother went straight to the one-pound bags of vanilla wafers, handed me one and moved on.  I followed, staring at the bag she handed me.  Would she notice if I exchanged them?

The next stop was on the canned goods aisle.  Mom handed me a can of Eagle Brand condensed milk; a large one.  I followed, carrying a bag of vanilla wafers and a can of condensed milk.  My mother moved swiftly down one more aisle, picking up a box of raisins and a bag of pecan bits.  After our brief stop at the checkout counter we were out the door and back in the car.  Luckily none of my classmates saw me grocery shopping with my mother.  Nine year old boys can't be see shopping with mom.

Soon we were home.  Minutes later, we were sitting at the kitchen table with my math book open to a page that looked foreign to me.  One of the longest hours of my life later, my math homework was done.  My mother was pleased and I was relieved.   She gave me the standard “I’m proud of you” statement and made some mention how important math is in our daily lives.  Was this woman psychic?  Did she know way back then that I would one day become an accountant and actually use math in my everyday life?

“Okay, let’s make dessert.  We will surprise your dad and your sister with it after dinner tonight,” she said.

Quite frankly, I was pleased to think that I would be surprising my dad with a dessert that I knew he loved.  As for my sister; what 9 year old boy gets excited about pleasing his older sister?  I assure you, I did not!

For some unknown reason there was a sense of urgency with respect to my personal hygiene.  My mother sent me off to thoroughly wash my hands.  Of course the afterthought instruction to “use soap” was added to her order.

When I returned to the kitchen she was busy getting out the utensils we needed for the project at hand.  Now, I know she washed her hands at the kitchen sink, yet she sent me off to the bathroom to wash mine.  Could it be she was getting me out of the way while she gathered things together? 

My mother had an electric mixer, one of those big ones with what seemed like a million attachments.  This thing was not one of those light weight, hand held mixers that hangs on the wall.  My mother's monster of a mixer sat on the counter and everyone in the house knew when she was using it.  It was loud!

For this project she attached a grinding thing on the front of the mixer and put a large mixing bowl under it.  Now, my first involvement; feed the one pound bag of vanilla wafers into the grinder and watch them come out in powder form into the carefully placed mixing bowl.  That’s right, I turned perfectly good vanilla wafers into powder!

If I had applied the logic of this recipe step to my life I would have sought out a career in politics.  Grinding perfectly good cookies into powder made no sense at all and when was the last time a politician did something that makes sense?  I rest my case; after the cookie grinding exercise I was qualified to occupy the Oval Office.  We can all thank God that politics was not in my future.  I became an accountant instead, honest work.

Next, my mother gave me the bag of pecan bits and told me to put some in the bowl.  “How many?”  I asked, thinking I was going to have to measure them as a practical application of the math lesson.

“Just put in a couple of handfuls,” she instructed.  Then she handed me the box of raisins with the same instructions related to quantity.  No complaint from me.  Handfuls… now that was an instruction a nine year old boy could get his hands around, so to speak.

Next she had me open the can of Eagle Brand condensed milk.  We did not have an electric can opener (not sure anyone did back then), nor was the genius of the pull top can invented at that time.  So, I learned to use a crank can opener.  This was a lesson which prepared me for my life as a bachelor.  I opened many cans with a crank can opener before I discovered the pull top lid.  After discovering the pull top lid I immediately tossed the crank can opener and simplified my life.  Today, I buy only canned goods with a pull top lid. 

With the can of Eagle Brand condensed milk opened the last ingredient was added as I poured it into the bowl.  That stuff pours like molasses and requires the use of a spatula to get it all out of the can.  Of course, I found a way to get a lot of the condensed milk on my hands with that maneuver.  That did not matter as I would learn next.

I was actually ready to wash my hands again after the condensed milk ordeal, but that not a requirement.  Here is the reason I had to wash my hands earlier; the next step was to put your hands into the bowl and mix until all of the Eagle Brand condensed milk is absorbed.  I actually got to be a pro at this over the years.  It’s not on my resume, but probably should be in that section titled “major accomplishments”. 

With everything in the bowl and the mixing completed, my mother tore off a piece of waxed paper and put it on the counter top.  These days I use a plastic wrap, but my mother only had waxed paper.  “Now, make a loaf out of it,” she instructed. 

I have to admit, the loaf I made did not look like the loaves she crafted when she made the dessert, but I was proud of it.  I wrapped the waxed paper around the fruits of my labors and placed the delicacy in the refrigerator.  The minimum recommended time for refrigeration is forty five minutes. 

Of course, we did not have dinner for another two hours, which left me with an additional one hour and fifteen minutes to keep quiet about the surprise dessert.  I did manage to keep it a secret.  Everyone, including my sister, did enjoy it.  If you try it, your family will enjoy it too.

My mother passed away at the age of 74.  This column is dedicated to her memory.  I loved her dearly and I know that day, and many more like it helped to mold me into the good things I am in life.  I hope you will share this quality time with your children, or grandchildren as one lady wrote to me that she did. 

It’s time for me to pause now and thank God for a special lady, Ella Ruth Phillips.  I called her “mom”, for short.


The Recipe Ingredients:

1lb bag of vanilla wafers.

½ to 1 cup of pecan bits (substitute other nuts if you wish)

½ to 1 cup of raisins

1 large can of Eagle Brand condensed milk

Mixing Instructions:

Grind the vanilla wafers into a fine powder.

Pour in the nuts and raisins.

Pour in the can of Eagle Brand condensed milk.

Mix the contents until all of the Eagle Brand milk is absorbed

Make into a loaf.

Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Slice into serving sizes and ENJOY!!


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