An important part of the book was the Jackson Junior League Annual Ball and Benefit for the Poor Starving Children of Africa.
The Benefit, as they call it, included a silent auction, so I made the table look like the silent auction at the Benefit. There were things like silver candle sticks, embroidered hankies, a Tiffany collectible plate, an antique lace runner, and some embroidered pillow cases - just the kinds of things those ladies of Jackson would have bid on. I made bid sheets for each item, and even signed them in different handwriting by different characters in the book.
At the Benefit, some of the hottest items up for bid were the baked goods handmade by the help - especially this; Minny's Chocolate Custard Pie! If you read the book, you might be gasping right now. The ladies in my book club were actually brave enough to taste this one, though a few of them looked a bit hesitant. Don't worry. I didn't use Minny's secret ingredient this time.
And I also HAD to make Minny's famous Caramel Cake. The recipe for the frosting came from the author herself and it is INCREDIBLE!!! Basically, it is candy spread on top of a cake. Yum! No wonder it got top bids at the Benefit!
Never Fail Creamy Caramel Icing - from The Help
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 slightly beaten egg
1 stick of butter
3/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
Melt 1/2 cup of sugar in iron skillet slowly, until brown and runny. Mix egg, butter, remaining sugar, and milk in a saucepan and cook over a low flame until butter melts. Turn the heat up to medium and add the browned sugar. Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage or until mixture leaves sides of pan. This takes about 10 minutes. Remove from fire, let cool slightly, and add vanilla. Beat until right consistency to spread. If it gets too thick add a little cream. This will ice a 2 layer cake.
Reprinted by permission from The Junior League of Memphis, Inc. from “The Memphis Cookbook” © 1952; recipe submitted by Mrs. Phil Thornton, Jr.