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College Girl Fudge & Cheese Dreams


Turn-of-the-century college girls gather around the chafing dish.

Vassar Fudge

This one comes from a letter written by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, credited with establishing the definitive fudge recipe at Vassar College for generations of chafing dishes:


2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup cream
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

Combine sugar and cream and cook over moderate heat. When this becomes very hot, add the chocolate. Stir constantly. Cook until mixture reaches soft-ball stage (238 degrees Farenheit). Remove from heat and add butter. Cool slightly, then mix until fudge starts to thicken. Transfer to a buttered tin. Cut into diamond-shaped pieces before fudge hardens completely.

Toast with Cheese, "Cheese Dreams"

Toast with cheese, eventually known in tea rooms across America as "Cheese Dreams", became one of the quintessentially simple, tasty, and trendy examples of tea room fare. This recipe is from Alice Foote MacDougal's first cookbook, Coffee and Waffles

Grated cheese, highly flavored
Thinly sliced bread

Cut bread into circles with biscuit cutter. Butter each slice. Cover with grated cheese. Sprinkle with paprika. Put two pieces together. Press edges together lightly. Toast under broiler. Serve immediately. 

Dawn Sardella-Ayres

Dawn Sardella-Ayres (PhD, University of Cambridge, 2016) recently completed a tenure as the Ofstad Guest Scholar at Truman State University, teaching a course on girls’ literature and the girls’ Bildungsroman in the United States and Canada. She has published on Alcott, Montgomery, and Wilder, and researches issues related to gender and race, as well as the Kunstlerroman, in late nineteenth- and early twentieth century girls’ texts. She regularly hosts chafing dish parties, and makes wonderful creamed chicken on toast.