Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Cover it in Chocolate!

Happy Monday! Today is December 16th and time to celebrate National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day! Although there is no history to be found about the who-when-and-why of the holiday’s origin, it’s still a wonderful concept to celebrate – especially during the coming holidays!

There are many national holidays that celebrate chocolate – and why not? It’s probably the most enjoyed flavor of all-time! You can make just about anything, food or drink, taste better by adding or covering it in chocolate (bacon, too – but, that’s another celebration.)

Stress wouldn’t be so hard to take if it were chocolate-covered. – Origin un-known

Nonetheless, it seems like it’s only during the winter holidays that you can find the really good “specialty items” that are covered in chocolate and ready for unique gift-giving (even if it’s only to yourself) – spoons covered in fancy chocolate designs (for stirring into your hot coffee or cocoa); pretzels, crackers, cookies and fruit to name a few examples that are dipped into special chocolate-coatings that harden as they cool.

However, we don’t have to wait for the holidays to enjoy anything that’s covered in chocolate. You’d be surprised at how easy and quick some of those “specialty”, chocolate-covered treats are to make – thus, maybe, add some to your homemade holidays (as I discussed in last week’s blog entry – of the same name!) They make great gifts for friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, care-givers and so on. Again, as I did in that blog entry, I highly recommend Pinterest for a wide-variety of great ideas and inspiration from which to unsheathe!

Michiganders know all about the creamy, luscious, milk chocolate covered delights that are created by Sanders’ Chocolatiers! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times – Mom was a big chocolate-lover! Especially, when it came to the confections made by Michigan’s finest chocolatiers at Sanders Candy! The official Sanders story can be found at

Way back when… during Mom’s radio show interviews across the country, as the Recipe DetectiveTM, she often heard requests for Sanders’ treats from listeners who were re-located Michiganders that couldn’t enjoy Sanders Candy where they were now living. Of course, nowadays, we have the internet and we can order just about anything we want, from just about anywhere, and have it all delivered to our doorsteps! But, sometimes, homemade is just better.

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. – Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump)

I’m sure everyone has some childhood memories of special chocolate delicacies, which tickle them with feelings of love, content and comfort. According to an article by Richard Davies, called 10 Amazing Facts about Chocolate, it is widely believed that chocolate consumption releases a chemical into your body, which is very similar to what is produced when you’re in love.

Other fun facts I found about chocolate, in that article, include…

Did you know that…

…chocolate is lower in caffeine than tea, coffee and Coca-Cola?

…chocolate contains antioxidants which may help prevent cancer and heart disease?

…the shelf life of a bar of chocolate is approximately one year?

For some more fun facts, I found the following information, below, in an article, called 10 Fun Facts about Chocolate, at However, I didn’t see an author listed for whom to give credit.

Additionally, did you know that…

…chocolate comes from the beans of a fruit tree?

… each cacao tree produces approximately 2,500 beans?

…it takes about 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate?

[FYI – that equals 6.25 pounds of chocolate produced per tree.]

… a farmer must wait four to five years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans?

… chocolate has over 600 flavor compounds?

What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate. – Katharine Hepburn

When Mom developed her first copycat version of Sanders’ Hot Fudge Sauce, in the mid-1970’s era, it was part of her “original 200” copycat recipes that launched her career as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Sanders was one of a handful of companies that were flattered (rather than infuriated) by Mom’s imitations and she became great friends with the Sanders family, in the process.

A secret Mom discovered, in replicating the creaminess and flavor of Sanders’ hot fudge sauce, was to use Nestle brand milk chocolate, as no other brought the same taste and texture that she was trying to achieve. I’ve shared a couple of Mom’s copycat versions of Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce in the “Recipes” tab on this website. Her hot fudge sauce was always one of our family’s top 10 favorite treats from her homemade copycat creations!


You can use the hot fudge sauce to cover ice cream, brownies or pies – to name a few. Likewise, you can dip cookies or chunks of fruit into the sauce, like a fondue! It all sounds like the makings for a party to me! I wish I could indulge in the real thing. I probably miss Mom’s hot fudge sauce more than any other treat that she made.


I have a lot of great childhood memories of when Mom created her homemade, copycat versions of Sanders’ special treats for our family – and it was especially fun to help her make the hot fudge sauce! I remember, as well, when I made this treat with my own kids, when they were small – and it was a big treat for all of us to have Sanders style hot fudge sundaes! In honor of National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day, here is Mom’s favorite make-alike version of their hot fudge sauce:


By Gloria Pitzer

[Recipe Number 1my own favorite!]


14-ounce can Eagle Brand milk

14 ounces light corn syrup (use EB milk can to measure)

¼ pound butter*

(*per the “free sheet” directions; the cookbook – as it was written in 1983 – calls for ½ pound)

12 ounces Nestlé’s milk chocolate candy bars – Do not substitute on brand of candy!

a few drops vanilla extract


In top of double boiler, over simmering water, combine all ingredients as listed, stirring about 15 minutes until smooth and melted. Cover and continue cooking for at least 30 more minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes. Cool and put through your blender in small portions, using on/off agitation on high speed until mixture is satiny-smooth. Makes 1 quart. Keeps refrigerated up to a month – reheat in top of double boiler over simmering water. Freezes well up to 6 months.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 252-254)

SANDERS’ HOT FUDGE [SAUCE] was one of the nicest experiences I had in working with imitations of the famous recipes, for John (Jack) Sanders, the grandson and president of the company founded by his grandfather, Fred, was one of the sponsors of Warren Pierce’s [Detroit area] radio show. Imagine my reluctance to share, with his listeners, my version of Sander’s hot fudge.

I had previously had so many threatening letters from food company lawyers that I didn’t know what to expect if I heard from the Sanders people! To my amazement, the letter we anticipated did arrive only 2 days after I gave my version of their hot fudge [sauce] to Warren’s listeners. The letter, however, said – if it wouldn’t ruin my fun in trying to duplicate these famous dishes, would Paul and I and all the kids kindly accept an invitation from Jack Sanders to tour their Oakman Boulevard Bakery and Confection plant and meet their Head Chef, Edy Mader.

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, between my Secret Recipes and Fred Sander’s products and, I learned, encouraged many out-of-state orders for their products whenever I talked about them during my frequent radio visits around the country. As the slogan for Sanders’ Restaurants, Bakery and Candy company said, ‘When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big, big treat…’

When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big treat. – Sanders’ Candy Co.

As I said in my blog entry on July 1st, “Sanders doesn’t just create chocolate delights – while they do have a large variety of products – the best things that they create are the memories!” Here is another memory from Mom about the Sanders family, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 256).

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 256)

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Schulz

From song to movie to soap opera titles, we’ve heard how “love is a many-splendored thing.” Oddly enough, many people find love and happiness in chocolate. Mom often demonstrated how to make her version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, when she appeared on various talk shows over the decades, because it’s so quick and easy – and one of her most requested recipes.

As with her fudge sauce imitation, Mom determined that Hershey’s brand chocolate (of course) is the best chocolate with which to re-create their peanut butter cups at home. In fact, this is another one of our family’s top 10 favorites of Mom’s homemade treats and it, too, was part of her “original 200” copycat recipes!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

As I mentioned earlier, only a handful of companies, like Sanders Candy, were flattered by Mom’s efforts at imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey corporation happened to be a slight mixture of, both, frustrated and flattered. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe title, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”, because it too closely resembled their trademark name, Reese’s, “as to cause confusion between the products”, they said; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.

Then, Mom explained to the Hershey corporation the meaning behind her title and the use of the word recess (as in a retreat). She also offered to only use and promote Hershey’s chocolate in her recipe. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer…and they lived happily ever after!

So, with National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day and the up-coming holiday celebrations in mind, I’d like to re-share with you Mom’s make-a-like version of the famous peanut butter cups that she called “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”; again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing. – Milton Hershey


P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

The Christmas pie (above) would taste even more awesome covered in chocolate! PLUS…


Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Homemade Holidays

Happy Monday! Did you know that today, December 9th, is National Pastry Day? Thus, it’s a great time to make those special holiday pies and tarts! In honor of this day, at the end of this blog entry, I’m including Mom’s favorite butter pie crust recipe (which, originally, came from her mom; but Mom thought it was a great imitation of the Baker’s Square product). I posted it in one of my early blog entries and it can also be found on the “Recipes” tab of this web site.

Debates are going on as to whether traditions are a joy to continue or a chore. There’s a great article about that very thing at I just finished filling out my traditional Christmas cards this weekend and, like Mom, it started out with lots of joy and excitement and wishes for the receivers but, about half way through my address book, I started feeling like it was a chore; thus, my notes and wishes became shorter and shorter. As seen in last week’s blog entry [*with an additional paragraph added to it this week]…


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book

(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)

Sending Christmas cards has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…

What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.

…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.

*Christmas cards for our family have always found us writing newsy notes to those on our list, alphabetically, from the Andreason’s to the Groff’s [names]… I manage to tell them about the five kids, but before I am through the names on our list that begin with ‘H’, I’ve run out of synonyms for IMPOSSIBLE! From the Hudson’s through Zillich, I find that my newsy little notes have usually dwindled to just plain ‘Hi!’

I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…

After writing about traditions in last week’s blog entry (titled the same), I couldn’t turn off the memories of my childhood holidays and all the traditions, including all the things that Mom usually made by hand just to make the season more special for all of us. It’s no secret that, before Secret RecipesTM took off, money was usually tight for our family of seven (nine, if you count the dog and cat!) Therefore, a lot of what we enjoyed during the holidays – be it greeting cards, food, gifts, decorations, clothes, etc. – was homemade simply to ease the budget.

Between Mom making our “treats” budget stretch and requests from her readers (when she was writing newspaper columns that focused on homemakers), that’s what inspired the “legend” we came to know as the Recipe DetectiveTM! Mom loved to imitate famous foods from famous places so we could enjoy eating out – right at home and at less of a cost! Homemade fast food and junk food – who’d have thought…!

Mom & Phil Donahue, during her 2nd appearance on his show. (1993)

As it turned out, there were millions of people who wanted to learn how to do the same for their families and they learned it from Mom, first. Now, there are all kinds of “copycats” who copied the ORIGINAL COPYCAT… yet, none of them give her the proper credit she deserves for having inspired them. The biggest culprit is Todd Wilbur, who continues to lie about from where he got his inspiration – saying it was from a Mrs. Field’s cookie recipe, but it was actually from one of Mom’s cookbooks that he ordered after her FIRST appearance on the Phil Donahue Show. Anyway, out of that rabbit hole and on to…

My childhood memories of by-gone holidays took me back to Mom’s (and Grandma’s) homemade holiday treats – such as the traditional rum-soaked fruitcake, bite-sized squares of Christmas fudge, little pastry tarts, a wide-variety of cookies and pies, hot fudge sauce, chunks of peanut brittle and, of course, the candy-covered gingerbread house.

All the memories and missing my parents have me craving the old-fashioned (and priceless) homemade holidays. When my own children were growing up and money was tight for our family, as well, we would often have homemade holidays. I still treasure all the artwork and ceramic/clay creations that my kids made for me every holiday.

Likewise, I remember Mom’s homemade gifts more often than any of the store-bought ones. My all-time favorite was a “rag” doll she made for me from scraps of material, yarn, ribbons and buttons. Oh, how I wish I still had it! Now, in hind-sight, I realize just how much love Mom poured into all of our homemade holidays.

I must say, I miss the treats immensely! Maybe I pine for them so much because I can’t have those kinds of things any longer – not if I want to continue controlling my weight and sugar levels and, thereby, my health, as well. As the old idiom imparts, “absence makes the heart grow fonder!” This holiday season, I’m determined to find ways to imitate my favorite treats in some low-carb way so that I can enjoy them once again!

The cards, treats and gifts weren’t the only things that were homemade. So were many decorations. I mentioned in my blog entries, many times, that Mom was very crafty. I remember some Christmas crafts Mom would do with us kids, back in the 1970s, making angels out of her old Reader’s Digest magazines and ornaments out of homemade salt dough.

Me and Mom – 1971 & 2016

At Christmas time, I liked to do those crafts with my children when they were little, as well. Together, we also collected various kinds of pine cones and branches, chestnuts and acorns – all with which to make winter bird feeders, wreaths and garland. We also strung popcorn to wrap around the christmas tree like garland.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book

(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)

Breaking through the barriers of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!

The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!

The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but, not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)

Pitzer kids, group shot – Christmas Eve, 1969

LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!

We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of loving the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.

But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…

So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for loving – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!

Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the Christmas season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!

You really don’t need to be crafty to create a homemade holiday celebration with anything and everything from food to gifts to decorations. Barely more than a few decades ago, home computers were not a common thing – having a complete set of encyclopedias (in hard copy) was a must – we didn’t have the endless concepts, floating around the internet, like you have currently.

Nowadays, ideas and instructions for making just about anything and everything can be found on the world wide web by typing just a few key words into a search box. The knowledge of the world is, literally, at our finger tips! Pinterest is usually my first go-to-source for ideas and inspirations on the web, but I also like to use Bing, Google and YouTube, as well.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

My favorite inexpensive, homemade gift ideas use a Mason jar! Any size or style you choose, these jars are so versatile – and reusable too! They can be filled with dry mix ingredients and a recipe card for making/baking the product. They can be filled with natural elements (like pine sprigs, cinnamon, etc.) for potpourri that can be simmered in a pot of water on the stove. They can be filled with homemade soaps or salves – there are so many “how to” sites on the web, from which to gather many inspirations and instructions.

Pinterest is my favorite “search engine” for inspiration and ideas that I can’t find in my mom’s books, first. My own personal page at Pinterest, ldemerich(which I started years ago), can be seen at and has quite an eclectic collection of boards; while the OFFICIAL page of The Recipe DetectiveTM (which represents Mom, her last cookbook and her website) can be seen at Keep in mind – that page is still building up boards and is a continuous work in progress (WIP), as is this website, as well.



P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at

Either form (or both) will make GREAT Christmas gifts!

Butter Pie Crust, Like Baker’s Square

Butter Pie Crust, Like Baker’s Square

By Gloria Pitzer


1 stick butter (NOT margarine)

1 TB sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 C all purpose flour


Prepare a 10-inch Pyrex pie plate by spraying it in Pam. (Pyrex plates work best with this very rich recipe.) If you don’t have Pam, grease the pan in Crisco only! It might stick otherwise!

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan on medium heat until it’s frothy, but don’t let it change color or become the least-bit brown. (I like to put the stick of butter into my heat-proof, 1 ½-quart, glass mixing bowl, placing it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on “Defrost”.)

As soon as the butter is melted, and while it’s still hot, dump in the remaining ingredients.

Turn your electric mixer on high and beat mixture in a bowl for about 30 seconds or until it comes away from the center and hits the sides of the bowl.

Quickly gather mixture into a ball and pat it out to cover the bottom and sides of the Pam-sprayed Pyrex pie plate.

Bake crust at 375°F for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Then, fill as desired. Makes one 10-inch pie crust.

Note: Make one single recipe at a time. Do not double this recipe. The dough becomes difficult to work with as it cools and, then, it crumbles and breaks apart.

To make a top crust for a filled pie: Pat out a single recipe, as given above, on a Pam-sprayed and waxed-paper-lined dinner plate. Invert top crust over filled, crust-lined pan, per recipe of your choice. Lift off plate and peel back waxed paper. Make slits for steam to escape. Gently press crust to rim of pie pan with a floured fork (or a fork dipped in ice water.) Use an egg-wash if you wish (one egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water and brushed lightly – lapping it, rather than pressing it, over top of crust), but the butter in this crust should allow it to brown beautifully without the wash. Bake per filling recipe directions. Generally, the best temperature is at 375°F for 25 to 28 minutes or until filling begins to bubble up through the slits in the top crust in the crust is golden brown.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Homemade Holidays