50 Women Game Changers in Food: #16, Maida Heatter

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll already be aware I'm a Maida Heatter fan from way back. I have every cookbook she's ever published......my mother gave me most of them, hot of the presses. So this post is a particular pleasure for me.

Briefly, here's the skinny on Maida:
Does the name Heatter ring a bell? That’s because she's the daughter of radio commentator Gabriel Heatter who became famous during World War II broadcasts with his: “There is good news tonight.” catch phrase. 

Maida never started out to be a chef – she didn’t even attend a culinary school - but she credits her great baking talent to her mother, trial and error and her love of good cookbooks. Maida actually has a degree in fashion illustration and was designing and making jewelry as a hobby- which soon turned into a business. She married pilot Ralph Daniels in the late 40’s and in the 60’s when her father became ill, she and her husband came up with the idea of opening a coffee shop in a chic Miami Beach neighborhood. 

The coffee shop was named Inside and Maida made all the pastries served there. It was quickly a hit and soon grew into a full scale restaurant. Ms. Heatter also taught baking classes; I remember my mother always regretted she had not driven the 45 minutes to Burdine's in Miami to take them. One day Craig Claiborne (who was then food editor of the New York Times) tasted Maida’s desserts and talked her into writing a cookbook. Her first was titled Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts and was published in 1974- the same year she and her husband sold the restaurant. She has since been the recipient of the following James Beard awards:

1998 Cookbook Hall of Fame "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts"

1988 Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America

Now in her 80’s, she is still baking away in her Miami Beach kitchen, as energetic as ever. Oh...and did I mention she is a famous chocoholic? She's also been inducted into the Chocolatier Magazine Hall of Fame. :) She has one cookbook with nothing  but chocolate recipes!

Aside from the fabulous recipes, what you'll love best about Ms. Heatter's books are her instructions. They leave nothing to the imagination and the veriest novice can create a spectacular dessert. At the end of this post, I've listed links to some of Ms. Heatter's recipes I've posted.

My daughter was still home when I mentioned I was doing the 50 Women Game Changers and that Maida was on the list. What should I make? There was no question in her mind...Chocolate Cracks. I had forgotten how much my kids loved this cookie. They are crisp on the outside and brownie-like on the inside. I am not a chocoholic so don't make the recipe very often now they're gone. But Tracy wanted to take some back to New York with her and they travel well, so that's what I baked. After all, what better way to introduce you to Ms. Heatter than something made with chocolate?

Chocolate Cracks
From Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
6 ounces (3/4 cup) butter
2 tablespoons water
12 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate morsels or 12 ounces (squares) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 eggs

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large, heavy saucepan over moderate heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring over heat until they are partially melted. Remove from heat and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Transfer to large bowl of electric mixer and let stand for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.

On high speed, beat in the eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping bowl with a rubber spatula and beating only  until dry ingredients are absorbed. Let dough stand for about 10 minutes or longer until it can be handled easily.

Adjust oven rack high in the oven. Preheat oven to 350. Cut aluminum foil to fit the cookie sheets. ( I use parchment paper)

Using a heaping teaspoonful of dough for each cookie, roll between your hands into shiny and moist looking balls. Place two inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 13 minutes, reversing position of the pan during baking if necessary to insure even baking. Tops will feel dry but not firm. Do not overbake. Cookies will crisp as they cool. With a wide metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool.

Maida Heatter recipes I've posted:

Palm Beach Orange Ice Cream
Indian River Sweet Orange Bread
Frozen Grand Marnier Mousse
Cranberry Ice Cream
Moosehead Gingerbread
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Southern Nut Cake
Blueberry Ice Cream
Date Espresso Loaf

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast 

Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green

 - Ciao Chow Linda

Nancy - Picadillo


  1. I would love to work in a bakery. Esp. one with pie.

  2. Given when I first got into cooking and baking, I'm surprised I'd never heard of Maida, but so glad you shared her story. The chocolate cracks look crackling good!

  3. Gosh Barbara, you're the Maida Heatter expert! Great info about her, and the cookies are one of my favorites. After reading about all her wonderful desserts I think I'm going to have to break down and buy one of her books.

  4. Extremely tempting and so pretty!



  5. Oh, fantastic post! So much great info about this amazing woman. And my kids adore these chocolate cracks, too..they go quick. I'm ready with my tall, cold glass of milk ;)

  6. Now that's a good looking cookie! I look forward to revisiting Maida. I do love chocolate cookies!

  7. If I were Maida Heatter not only would I be the Quuen of Cakes but I would weigh in over the limit on the scales from trying so many perfect desserts.

  8. I am a chocoholic and these are mighty tempting! I just might have to try my hand at baking!

  9. Glad to know so much more about Maida, I had no idea about her restaurants and classes, but I did know of her books. Those cookies look great, perfect with the milk!

  10. Wow, What a great background on Maida!
    It makes these cookies all the more scrumptious. :)

  11. Great post on Maida Heatter! Great chocolate fix with these cookies, too! Afterschool snack extraordinaire!

    I'm heading over to that post of yours on Maida's Frozen Grand Marnier Mousse!

  12. I can't believe I've never heard of her! I lived in So. Fla for fifteen years for heck's sake!

    Well, I think I'm going to have to get at least a few of her cookbooks now. I just love this series, btw...

  13. What a wonderful post! I just love this series. I can't believe I've never heard of her. The cookies sound like perfection.
    If you get a chance, stop by The Pink Home - I'm having a giveaway.

  14. These look delicious, love chocolate. I love this post, and all the memories. I remember Burdine's, I had a hard time not calling Macy's Burdine's for the longest time.

  15. those look fabulous!

    all chocolate looks that way :)

  16. I don't have any of her cookbooks yet, but I've enjoyed learning more about her through this adventure. All her recipes look delicious! I love the chocolate!

  17. I have several of her cookbooks also! I can't believe all the beautiful baked goods this week! Your cookies are gorgeous! Great choice!

  18. I love her! And those cookies ARE like crack. You gotta have them -- even if your body says you've had too many. Hah.

  19. I will have to get a few of her books too! Those cookies look scrumptious!

  20. These look great! My grandson called and asked me to send him cookies- these will have to be in the box. :)

  21. When I saw her name on the list, I knew you were waiting for this Barbara. Can you imagine taking one of her cooking classes? Craig encouraged a lot of wonderful people to write cookbooks, including Virginia Lee. Bless his soul. I loved Craig and he along with Julia and Morrison Wood taught me to cook through their books when I was newly married.

    I'm so glad your daughter recommended these adorable cookies. Thanks for including a round-up of you favorites.

  22. Absolutely nice post Barbara and lovely cookies!!

  23. I did not know that about her but the recipe looks great!

  24. Just mouthwatering...looks so easy to prepare and delicious.

  25. these cracks would be welcome for my coffee break !!pierre

  26. I'm not a big chocolate eater either, but those look so good!

  27. Just as soon as I take the dogs for a walk - I can hardly stand Sissy's whining and pacing - I'm making these. I LOST a pound at this conference. That's what happens when one only has one free evening and there's no chocolate for dessert at the conference meals or at the restaurant. WHAT?!

    No snacks either. Clearly, AJLI missed the point on the many rants I know about on the evaluation from Philly. The answer to pitiful snacks is NOT to give us tepid water and tea bags, overbrewed coffee or sodas with NOTHING to eat.

  28. I love her as well and baked countless recipes from her books; she is an inspiration to me. Love her smile.

  29. My mom is just like her - except her recipes are not published - but at 82, she is still spritely and lively and makes my head swim!
    Beautiful cookies and even better that they have long been a family favourite! A testament to her influence upon so many.

  30. Maida Heatter sounds like she has a charmed life: famous and living in Miami Beach. It couldn't be better I think.

    I was so pleased to read that you're not a chocoholic, either. I always get the sense from friends that I'm somehow defective to prefer fruit based desserts over chocolate.

  31. On this side of the world, Maida is completely unknown, but I trust your judgement, so I will make one the recipes you mentioned here, to get "to know" her

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  33. i've only ever seen this type of cookie doused in powdered sugar. while that's a nice look, it's way too messy for me--i like this simpler version better! :)

  34. These seem like the perfect basic chocolate cookie!



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