It’s 2020, why not have a dessert — or two or three — over the upcoming holidays?
Alyce Roller’s got it covered, sharing recipes for two sweet treats: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Cherry Cordials.
At her Bowling Green home, Roller’s usually baking — almost daily.
“Sometimes I might do three or four different kinds of cookies in a day,” she said. “For Thanksgiving, I made four pies (including pumpkin, pecan and date nut) and a cheesecake dessert.”
“I have the most requests for carrot cake. When people call and ask me to make something, they almost always ask for carrot cake — carrot cake, pies and candy and cookies, I guess a little bit of everything.”
Her Amish Sugar Cookies also are popular. But Roller decided against making that recipe because it involves a lot of prep work. The carrot cake and candy featured here are easy to pull together in time for Christmas desserts later this week, she said.
“They are a lot of work,” Roller said of the sugar cookies. “I don’t think the average person wants to spend that much time. You have to stir them up the day before, then they have to be in the refrigerator over night. Then you make them the next day.
“They have to have buttermilk, which not everybody has around all the time,” she said. “The recipe’s huge — it makes about 6 dozen cookies.”
So, on to simpler things: the cordials and cake.
Roller recommended baking the cake ahead of time.
“If you wanted it, say for Friday, you should maybe make it on Wednesday. It seems that it gets better as it ages.”
One shortcut for the carrot cake is to buy the carrots already shredded, but Roller prefers to grate them herself.
“I think they have more flavor.”
Don’t cheat on the quality of ingredients, she said.
“Anytime I’m making anything, I always choose the best ingredients,” Roller said. “I always use unsalted butter in my recipes that I bake. And I always use pure vanilla. I think that makes a difference in baked goods — if you use the best ingredients you can possibly get.”
Some more baking advice: Be prepared.
“I would recommend that you get all your ingredients lined up before you start.”
The cake recipe came from the same friend who gave Roller the Amish cookie one. The cordial recipe is from a 1926 Hershey’s cookbook.
“For Christmas, I usually make five or six different kinds of candy,” Roller said. “When I was young, we always made taffy at Christmas and pulled it.
“We would butter our hands and pull this taffy back and forth between us. My mom seemed to know when it got to a certain spot, that it was done. And then you would cut it into little pieces and wrap it in wax paper.”
Her mom taught her the kitchen basics, but Roller really embraced cooking after she got married.
“Once you get children, you just have to cook,” she said. “You learn by trial and error.”
Her husband of 17 years, Tom, was her number one fan.
“No matter what I made for him, he would say ‘this is my favorite meal,’” Roller said. “They were all his favorite meals, except for spaghetti.”
When the couple downsized, they moved from the Westgate area to the Villas of Summerfield. They liked to go to art shows and Tom was a well-known artist who has a piece in the Simpson Garden Park.
Tom, who was retired from Libbey-Owens-Ford, where he had been safety service director, died in February.
Alyce, who turned 82 earlier this month, has yet to retire. She works a few hours a week for Hanna & Hanna, helping with probate in the law office. She’s been working since her daughter, Susan, started kindergarten in 1968;Roller also has three sons.
“I still go to work,” she said. “I just go in when I feel like going in and I stay as long as I want to stay, just as long as I get the work done.”
For 18 years, Roller was a poll worker for the Wood County Board of Elections. She’s volunteered for Wood County Hospital and was secretary for many years for Christ United Methodist Church in Portage, which she’s belonged to for 50 years.
She also sews.
“I don’t have many idle hours,” she said.
For Christmas, her children will be with Roller in Bowling Green. She’ll be making some favorite requests, including yeast rolls.
“They pretty much like everything I make.”