Presidential Desserts: Celebrate the Season with Recipes Inspired by Lincoln

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Mary Todd Lincoln White Cake

Legend has it that although Abraham Lincoln ate sparsely, he did have a sweet tooth. He was particularly fond of a white cake made by his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as her version of an apple pie that included a dollop of hot rum sauce.

Historians say that famous Lexington, Ky., confectioner Monsieur Giron actually created this white cake recipe on the occasion of Marquis de Lafayette’s visit to the city in 1825. The Todd family received the recipe from Giron when Mary was young. She treasured the recipe and served it on special occasions in Springfield and at the White House. Historians say she often made this cake for the president – even before they were married – and he always commented, “Mary’s white cake is the best I have ever eaten.”

Green Apple Pie

President Lincoln also loved apples, and he enjoyed them served in a dish popular at the time: apple pie with a good coating of hot rum sauce. Use any tart green baking apple from Granny Smith to Virginia Greening, a variety from Lincoln’s day, to cut the sweetness in this delicious dessert.

The Lincolns often had cookies in the cookie jar. When they were hosting a big party, they purchased macaroon pyramids (macaroon cookies stacked in a pyramid and covered with caramelized sugar drizzle) from local confectioners. Mary also served strawberries and cream, probably with cookies.

Apricot Tea Cookies

Oral tradition says that the neighborhood children were guaranteed a cookie or doughnut from Mrs. Lincoln when they played with the Lincoln boys. With Mary’s copious amounts of sugar purchased, she certainly could bake plenty of cookies. During the course of one week in 1849, historians note that Mary purchased 13 pounds of sugar.

The tea cookies are adapted from a recipe in the Lincoln cookbook sold at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. Visit the library’s website at alplm.org to learn more about the 16th president and his strong ties to Illinois – including his favorite foods.

Recipes:

Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake

Green Apple Pie with Hot Rum Sauce

Apricot Tea Cookies

Cinnamon Apple Sponge Cake

3 Comments

  1. Judy

    November 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I would like to receive the Partners magazine. My husbad has been a member of fb for over 40 years

    John & Judy Bates
    504 N 21st. Street

  2. Roy Kronsbein

    November 24, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for the Lincoln recipes! Detroit Catholic Central High School has the honor of hosting the Lincoln Exhibition for six weeks beginning Sept. 2 2015 until Oct 16th. We are having a grand opening and our Mothers Club will be serving to our 1,500 guests, desserts enjoyed and served by the Lincolns.

  3. Charlotte Richarz

    August 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    to Charlyn Fargo. I love your recipe for Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake. The ingredients seem to be closer to historically accurate than others I have seen. I make this cake for our Civil War Reenactment Tea Parties.

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