We will leave no stone unturned as we pursue finally conquering a Norma Shearer recipe!
Norma Shearer was known as the First Lady of M-G-M and her film career spanned 1919 - 1942. Notable films include "Romeo & Juliette" and "The Women". She earned her fifth and final Oscar nomination for the 1938 epic "Marie Antoinette".
In the early days of Hollywood Kitchen, I teamed up with Norma Shearer expert Darin Barnes to make her recipe for "Canadian Oatmeal Sticks". The result was a bland tasteless lump of dough that required a TON of cinnamon and sugar to make it edible. Then Darin tried Norma's "Pineapple Sweet Salad", which was basically an unholy mix of jello, pickles, cucumbers, pineapple, olives and mayonnaise. Darin and I refused to eat it, but his husband Eric gamely agreed to try some! You can read all about these misfires HERE.
We decided that maybe the third time would be a charm. We figured that it couldn't possibly be worse than our previous efforts! This time I was able to join Darin in his downtown Los Angeles loft and Norma Shearer collector Krista Lawler joined us via zoom.
This recipe is from the cookbook "What Actors Eat When They Eat" by Kenneth Harlan and Rex Lease published in 1939. This recipe was meant to tie in with the heavy promotional push for Norma Shearer's 1938 film "Marie Antoinette".
2 egg yolks
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons tapioca
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites (use 3 egg whites if possible)
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup shredded cocoanut
Mix egg yolks with small amount of milk in top of double broiler. Add the remaining milk, tapioca, sugar, salt and chocolate. Place over rapidly boiling water and cook ten to twelve minutes after water boils again, stirring frequently. Add flavoring and turn into greased baking dish. (Darin recommends using a deep casserole dish.) Beat egg whites until foamy throughout; add sugar, two tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition until sugar is blended. Then continue beating until mixture will stand in peaks. Pile lightly on pudding; sprinkle with cocoanut and bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) fifteen minutes, or until delicately browned. Serves eight.
Darin Barnes has worked in the entertainment industry for almost thirty years.
Beginning in production, he moved into talent representation, eventually working with hair and makeup artists. Finding his love for classic films at an early age, Darin is a collector of vintage memorabilia focusing mainly on actress Norma Shearer. Darin is proud of his volunteer work with the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills and currently lives in Downtown Los Angeles.
Krista Lawler is from Logansport, Indiana. She has been a Norma fan since about the age of 13 when she started collecting her cigarette cards. Krista is the creator of Norma Shearer Devotees group on Facebook that keeps her memory alive and also serves as a close knit community.
The Final Result
SUCCESS! We discovered that this dish is much better served cold and is a perfect dessert for the summer season. We ate plenty of it on camera and off with our 1920s Norma Shearer spoons that were produced by Oneida for Photoplay Magazine. These spoons are fairly easy to find on ebay if you want to get one.
Behold the final version of "Chocolate Antoinette" that we whipped up in Darin's kitchen.
The photo below is Krista's final version of the recipe. She decided to skip the cocoanut. It still looks delicious!
Take a look at the short "Hollywood Goes to Town". You can see the M-G-M workers preparing for the lavish premiere of "Marie Antoinette" (1938) at the historic Carthay Circle Theatre, which was demolished in 1969. This segment starts at the 1:48 point.
You can easily view "Marie Antoinette" on DVD, Amazon Prime Video and it occasionally airs on Turner Classic Movies.