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35 Comforting Depression-Era Desserts

Old-fashioned desserts from the Depression Era, including puddings, pies, cakes and cookies, offer comfort during trying times.

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Cocoa Cake

This cake is so moist it doesn’t need frosting. I simply sprinkle powdered sugar over the top. It’s my favorite dessert to bring for potlucks, and there’s never a piece left to take home! -Beulah Sak, Fairport, New York

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Grandma Pruit's Vinegar Pie

This historic pie has been in our family for many generations and is always served at our get-togethers.—Suzette Pruit, Houston, Texas
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Pecan Date Pudding

This date pudding recipe was passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother. They lovingly served it with whipped cream on top. We never had a holiday without it. —Patricia Rutherford, Winchester, Illinois
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Oat & Coconut Icebox Cookies

This recipe was passed down through my family from Grandma Irene and is a favorite of my dad and cousin Dennis. It's a true cookie lover's cookie: crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and perfectly dunkable. —Lori Rowe, Tigerton, Wisconsin
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Delicious Potato Doughnuts

I first tried these tasty treats at my sister's house and thought they were the best I'd ever had. They're easy to make, and the fudge frosting tops them off well. When I make them for friends, the recipe is always requested. —Pat Davis, Beulah, Michigan
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Tillie's Ginger Crumb Cake

This recipe goes back at least as far as my grandmother, who was born in the early 1900s. Our sons and I enjoy eating it in a bowl with milk poured on it—much to the dismay of my husband, who prefers it plain! —Kathy Nienow Clark, Byron, Michigan
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Bread Pudding with Nutmeg

I always make this bread pudding recipe for my dad on his birthday and on holidays. He says it tastes exactly like the bread pudding with nutmeg he enjoyed as a child. —Donna Powell, Montgomery City, Missouri
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Green Tomato Pie

When frost nips our garden, I quickly gather all the green tomatoes still on the vine and make this old family favorite. It's been handed down from my grandmother, and now my granddaughters are asking for the recipe.—Violet Thompson, Port Ludlow, Washington
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Contest-Winning Chocolate Potato Cake

I won grand champion honors in a potato festival baking contest with this moist chocolate cake. The icing recipe can be doubled for real sweet tooths. A great-grandma, I've spent over 85 years on the farm.
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Sugar Cream Pie

I absolutely love Indiana sugar cream pie, especially the one that my grandma made for me. Here, we serve it warm or chilled and call it “Hoosier” sugar cream pie. —Laura Kipper, Westfield, Indiana
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Tiny Tim's Plum Pudding

In A Christmas Carol, everyone claps for plum pudding. Our family has made this pudding our own tradition, and it really is something to clap for. —Ruthanne Karel, Hudsonville, Michigan
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Grandma Davidson's Baked Apple Pudding

My savvy grandmother whipped up recipes like this homey cinnamon-scented apple pudding in the Depression years. Many of us still make them today. —Holly Sharp, Warren, Ontario
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Buttermilk Pie With Pecans Exps Ppp18 145869 B05 16 5b 8

Buttermilk Pie with Pecans

Branch out from the usual pecan pie with a creamy-crunchy version that comes out of the oven golden brown. Big slices are even better with a dollop of whipped cream.—Kathy Harding, Richmond, Missouri
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Cherry Coconut Treats

My great-grandmother created this recipe more than 100 years ago, so these tasty bites have appeared at many family parties. If you're preparing these for the holidays, make them festive by using both red and green maraschino cherries. —Anne Mullen, Windsor, Ontario
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Chocolate Cream Pie

Our teenage son, John, has done lots of 4-H baking. His favorite is this old-fashioned chocolate cream pie recipe with a flaky crust. —Mary Anderson, De Valls Bluff, Arkansas
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Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother insisted that my grandmother write down one recipe for her when Mom got married in 1942: the how to make peanut butter cookies from scratch recipe. That was a real effort because Grandma was a traditional pioneer-type cook who used a little of this or that until it felt right. This treasured recipe is the only one she ever wrote down! —Janet Hall, Clinton, Wisconsin
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Grandma's Sour Cream Raisin Pie

The aroma of this pie baking in my farm kitchen oven reminds me of my dear grandma who made this pretty pie for special occasions. —Beverly Medalen, Willow City, North Dakota
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Great-Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies

Not only is this recipe a favorite of my husband's, it's extra special to me because it goes back to my great-grandmother. For holidays, we like to sprinkle on colored sugar for a festive touch. —Mary Ann Konechne, Kimball, South Dakota
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Apple-Walnut Cake with Orange Glaze

I tinkered with a plain apple cake recipe to create this moist, delicious winner. The result: old-fashioned goodness with a heavenly aroma! This cake is the perfect fall treat or holiday dessert, but it’s also great as a special breakfast or brunch item. —Lisa Speer, Palm Beach, Florida
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Rice Pudding

For an old-fashioned sweet treat just like Grandma used to make, try this slow-cooker rice pudding. It has a rich cinnamon flavor and is made wonderfully light after whipped cream is stirred in at the end. —Jennifer Bennett, Salem, Indiana
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Raisin Pecan Pie

I remember my Grandmother Voltie and Great-Aunt Ophelia making this southern-style pie for Thanksgiving. It was always one of the many cakes and pies lined up for dessert. —Angie Price, Bradford, Tennessee
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Apple Cornbread Crisp

With its hearty ingredients and quick prep time, this warm apple crisp makes a smart dessert for any fall night. It reminds me of the recipe my grandmother would serve after our big family seafood dinners. It's absolutely wonderful topped with ice cream. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Chewy Good Oatmeal Cookies

These are the best oatmeal cookies with all my favorite extras: dried cherries, white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. —Sandy Harz, Spring Lake, Michigan
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Ruby Grape Pie

My wife, Paula, and I produce red and green seedless table grapes on our 75-acre vineyard. Our crop is wonderful eaten out-of-hand or in salads. Paula also uses them in this unusual and tasty pie.—Salvage Island Farm, Fred Smeds, Reedley, California
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Brown Sugar Icebox Cookies

My daughters and I have been "fair-ly" successful competitors at county fairs and bake-offs for more than 20 years. This is one of the those winning recipes.—Eilene Bogar, Minier, Illinois
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Grandma Pietz's Cranberry Cake Pudding

For generations, our family has handed down this cake recipe starring cranberries. Simple and unusual, it remains a treasured family heirloom. —Lisa Potter, Camp Douglas, Wisconsin
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Bread Pudding Pie

This unique dessert is a bread pudding-pie combo. It was created by my paternal grandmother's family. They had a farm and made their own bread, which made this a low-cost dessert. — Kelly Barnes, Lexington, Indiana
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Grandma Krause's Coconut Cookies

When my two daughters were young, their great-grandma made them coconut cookies with oats. Thankfully, she shared the recipe. —Debra Dorn, Dunnellon, Florida
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Mom-Mom Bessie's Coconut Molasses Pie

I'm the keeper of my husband's grandmother's handwritten recipe book. Mom-Mom Bessie was one of the best cooks I knew, and we think of her every time we make this pie. The flavor combination of coconut and molasses is a family favorite. —Susan Bickta, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania Dutch Funny Cake

I can still remember my grandma serving this delicious cake on the big wooden table in her farm kitchen. Every time I bake this unusual cake, it takes me back to those special days at Grandma's. —Diane Ganssle, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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Steamed Carrot Pudding

This recipe, passed down from my Canadian grandmother, has been in my family for at least three generations. It's been a favorite wintertime dessert for us and is always served for Easter and other holiday meals. —Ann Searcey, Kettering, Ohio
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Coconut Washboards

This simple yet satisfying coconut cookie recipe has been around for generations. Pressing a fork into the top gives the look of an old-fashioned washboard. —Tommie Sue Shaw, McAlester, Oklahoma
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Shoofly Pie

My grandmother made the best shoofly pie in the tradition of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Shoofly pie is to the Pennsylvania Dutch as pecan pie is to a Southerner. —Mark Morgan, Waterford, Wisconsin
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Grandma's Rice Pudding

My sisters and I always loved the recipe for rice pudding our grandma made. After she passed away, I took it upon myself to try and find the secret to her rice pudding. It took quite a bit of experimentation, but I finally got it right! And I'm glad to share this easy recipe here. —Margaret DeChant, Newberry, Michigan
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Sweet Potato Mini Cakes

Whenever I make these cute desserts, I think of my grandmother. She always used extra sweet potatoes from her garden in pies, breads and cakes and added black walnuts from her trees for good measure. —Joyce Larson, New Market, Iowa

Grace Mannon
Grace is a full-time mom with a Master's degree in Food Science. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and writes about her hits (and misses) on her blog, A Southern Grace.
Annamarie Higley
Annamarie Higley is an Associate Print Editor for Taste of Home magazine, as well as the brand's special issue publications. A midwestern transplant originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, trivia-ing, and—you guessed it!—all things cooking and baking.

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