In The Beginning...

... there was no World Wide Web. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok... There wasn't even MySpace, let alone the concept of streaming movies or TV on demand.

Back in those Dark Ages, there was Compuserve, Prodigy, and America Online. You paid a monthly fee for an extremely slow dial-up connection to your service of choice. That fee entitled the user to 'X'-amount of minutes per month - and when you went over your allotment, you were charged by the minute for your overages. A lot. I know.

Victor and I were introduced online - he was on Prodigy, I was on America Online, and our Yenta, Nancy, was on both. She decided we should meet.

We did, and it will be 30 years in November...

During those years on Prodigy and America Online, we met a lot of really great people - people we were able to connect with in real life, and who remain cherished friends to this day.

One person we only knew from the Prodigy online world - who we lost contact with when Prodigy went away in 2001 - was a woman named Lisa Deaton. Lisa will always be remembered because she gave us her recipe for Double Fudge Brownie Decadence. And, as the recipe implies - it is decadent!

The secret to this particular recipe is the corn syrup. And, yes, boys and girls, there is a difference between Karo Corn Syrup and high fructose corn syrup.

Double Fudge Brownie Decadence

Lisa Deaton


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate


  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9" cake pan.

In saucepan, heat butter and corn syrup until butter is melted. Stir in chocolate until melted. Cool, slightly.

Add sugar and then eggs, mixing well. Add vanilla, flour, and nuts, mixing well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove and fully cool on rack.

For glaze:

Melt together chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Stir in vanilla. Frost with glaze and then chill about 15 minutes to set glaze.

The online world really was so much different back in those days. To quote Simon and Garfunkel... A time it was, and what a time it was, it was... A time of innocence...

Not that we were actually innocent, mind you... we could definitely be hell-raisers walking the fine line of being TOS'd... I spent an inordinate amount of time on the Christianity Boards. It was fun being the Gay Atheist who knew more about the Bible than those who professed to follow it...

I also came close to working for the GLCF - Gay Lesbian Community Forum - on AOL circa 1992-93. Alas, the actual money wasn't there. With 20/20 hindsight, I probably would have made a fortune in stock. Oh, well...

It is difficult to imagine a time when you didn't carry access to the entire world in your pocket. A time when you called someone on the phone and it would be busy for hours because they were online with their dial-up. It's also hard to imagine a time when 14.6kbs was fast! You actually had to go to a bank - online banking didn't exist. Bills came in the mail - and were paid by check. It was downright archaic!

But I digress - as usual...

Thanks, Lisa, for the recipe - and the stroll down Memory Lane...

And speaking of Memory Lane... the plate is from the 1992 James Beard Award Dinner - a set of 4 from our friend, Susan, who has been a friend for more than 45 years - waaaaay before the online world existed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares


For the Crust:

  • 22 Nabisco FAMOUS Chocolate Wafers, finely crushed (about 1⅔ cups crumbs)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the Filling

  • 6 firmly packed tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⅓ cups creamy peanut butter (I like Skippy Natural "No Need To Stir")
  • Pinch of salt

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache Topping

  • 1-11.5 ounce bag Ghirardelli (or similar best quality) milk chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Make crust: Combine chocolate wafers, sugar and butter in bowl of food processor fitted with blade attachment and pulse until cookies are finely crushed. Press mixture firmly into prepared baking pan (I spread it with my hands first, then use the bottom of a measuring cup to even it out). Bake for 8 minutes. Set on rack to cool completely.

3. In the meantime, make peanut butter filling: Combine all ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix at low speed until just combined (do not whip). Set bowl in refrigerator while you prepare the rest.

4. Make chocolate ganache topping: Combine milk chocolate chips and heavy cream in microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave at medium power (50%) for 1-1½ minutes. Stir until bowl no longer feels warm. Continue heating at 15-30 second intervals, stirring until smooth and melted. Do not overheat.

5. Put it all together: Use an offset icing spatula to spread about ¼ cup of chocolate mixture evenly over cooled crust; place pan in freezer until chocolate is set, about 5-10 minutes. Spread peanut butter mixture into even layer over chocolate (if it's firm, you can use your hands; if it's soft, use a butter knife or spatula). Give chocolate ganache a quick stir to smooth any lumps, then spread evenly over top of peanut butter layer. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 1 hour to set (or, if you're not in a hurry, you can just leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours). When firm, use a sharp knife to cut into squares (make them small as they are very rich!). Keep refrigerated and serve cool.



  • 1 cup chopped 70% single origin chocolate
  • 12 Tbs. cubed butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup 70% chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a medium-sized bowl over a pan of simmering water.

3. In a second bowl, whisk the vanilla, eggs, and sugar. Once combined, add to the chocolate mixture.

4. Fold in the flour and salt.

5. Fold in chocolate chips.

6. Pour onto parchment or silicon-lined sheet tray (11 x 8 inches).

7. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, turning the sheet tray halfway through baking.

Quick Coffee Cake

Colleen Dineen Wellwood

  • 2 C flour
  • 1-1/2 C sugar
  • 3/4 C butter
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C milk
  • Cinnamon to flavor

Mix flour, sugar, butter, baking powder until crumbled. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture for topping. Add vanilla, eggs, and milk to remaining mixture and beat. Place in an 8″ square pan and cover with reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Rita Dineen Roberts

  • 1/2 lb. butter
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/4to 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4-5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 C chopped pecans

Grease and flour large bundt pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Mix sour cream and vanilla together. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together. Add flour mixture to butter alternately with sour cream. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 of batter into prepared pan.

Combine cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts. Lightly sprinkle over cake batter. Spoon remaining batter into cake pan. Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes. Cake will rise, then fall slightly. Cool until pan can be held comfortably. Sift powdered sugar over to of cake, if desired.

Zucchini Brownies

Mary Dineen Jankowski

  • 1-1/2 C plus 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 C margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 C grated zucchini
  • 1 C chocolate chips

Cream together 1-1/2 cups sugar, margarine, and eggs. Mix in dry ingredients and zucchini until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and spoon into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle remaining 2 tsp sugar over top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done.

Toffee Cake

Margaret Dineen Prendergrast


  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon


  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 package instant butterscotch pudding
  • 1 C water
  • 3/4 C oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Cream eggs and sugar. Add pudding mixes, water, and oil. Sift in dry ingredients. Pour 1/3 of batter into greased 9 x 13 cake pan. Spread with 1/3 of topping. Repeat twice, ending with topping. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Zucchini Cake

Beth Dineen Engel

  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1-1/4 C brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/2 C shredded zucchini, shredded
  • Whipped cream topping

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside. Beat together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add zucchini. Stir dry ingredients into egg/sugar mixture Pour batter into a greased 10 inch fluted pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool. Serve with whipped cream.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Nita Bates Dineen

  • 1-20 oz. can pineapple (crushed or sliced)
  • 1/2 C butter or margarine
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Cream together butter or margarine and sugar. Add eggs. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients alternately to sugar/butter mixture with milk and vanilla.

Melt 2 tbsp butter or margarine in a large frying pan. Spread 1 cup brown sugar over melted butter. Add well drained pineapple.

Pour cake batter over fruit. Bake at 350 about 40-45 minutes. Turn upside down on serving dish.

The "Best" Cheesecake

Judy Dineen Erwin


  • 2 packages graham crackers
  • 1/4 C butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Crush graham crackers to crumbs. Add butter and sugar. Press mixture into springform pan (that’s a stupid name for a pan, but it works), bringing the mixture up on the sides of the pan. Let crust chill while making the filling.


  • 3 packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 C unwhipped whipping cream

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well and gently stir in unwhipped cream (this is the key ingredient). It’s OK if the batter is a little lumpy. Pour into prepared crust, but do not overflow to cover crust. Bake at 325 for 55 minutes. You know it is done if there is no movement in the middle of the pan. The edges may get a little brown, but tha’ts OK. You’re going to cover it with the topping. Remove cooked cheesecake from oven and let stand about five minutes.


  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine topping ingredients and spread over cooked cheese�cake. Return to oven for five minutes. Cool cooked cake for at least 20 minutes before refrigerating. Chill for 3 hours before removing from pan.

Note: This makes a deep cheesecake. If you don’t have a deep springform pan, you can revise this and make it in a pie pan.

Use two packages of cream cheese and two eggs and bake at 325 for 30-40 minutes instead.

Dr. Bird's Cake

Margie Scanlon Dineen

  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can Comstock apple slices
  • 1 pkg. white or yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cube margarine, sliced into small pieces

In a 13x9x2 dish, layer ingredients in the above order. Do not mix. On the very top, slice the margarine and “dot” the top of the cake. Bake at 325 for one hour. Serve while still warm with vanilla ice-cream or cool whip.

Apricot Macadamia Nut Fruitcake

Tim Dineen

We make a score of these every year – in October – for Christmas gifts. It is by far, the best “fruitcake” I have ever eaten… and the best I have ever made!!

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons apricot brandy
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted twice
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, lightly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 275F. Grease and flour a 6 cup Bundt pan and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat yolks in small bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well.

Combine milk, brandy and vanilla and add alternately with flour in 4 batches, mixing well after each addition. Stir in apricots, raisins and macadamia nuts.

Whip egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff but not dry. Gently fold into batter. Spoon into prepared pan and bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean (about 2 1/4 hours). Cool completely in pan.

Sprinkle a bit of apricot brandy on top and serve. Cakes can also be made in advance, wrapped in apricot brandy-soaked cheesecloth, wrapped in plastic and aged. YUM!!