By Lydia Bolen

The Crown Restaurant in Indianola, Mississippi, has a beautiful new cookbook out this year. It is called The Best of the Best Presents, The Crown of Southern Cooking.

The Crown Restaurant opened in 1976. Forty years later it is as popular as ever. They serve only lunch, however, pie and coffee are served all day.

They are famous for their desserts—served on a table for guests to help themselves. My favorites are Mississippi Mud Cake, Magnolia Macaroon Pie and The Crown’s Pavlova. They are irresistible!



  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 /4 cup cocoa
  • 1 /4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon coffee or water

Place melted butter in large bowl. Add both sugars and mix well. Add cocoa, salt, flour, eggs, and coffee, stirring vigorously to mix well.

Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line with parchment paper, then lightly butter paper. Pour batter into pan, and smooth onto sides evenly. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake. Look for sides of cake to begin to pull away from pan. Cake should be set and seem dry to touch, but without a crust around edge.

Cool completely in pan, then turn cake onto serving plate, and cut into wedges, just like the ones at great bakeries. Garnish with whipped cream, ice cream, or fresh strawberries. Cut into thin slices.



  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1 /2 cups sugar
  • 1 /4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 /4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 /2 cup water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1 /3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 unbaked piecrust
  • 1 /4 cup pecan or almonds, chopped (optional)

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, or microwave in a bowl.

Stir in sugar, flour, salt, and water, and combine well.

Add eggs and coconut, mixing thoroughly.

Scatter nuts in pie shell, if desired. Pour coconut mixture into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 325-degree oven 45 minutes.



  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 8 ounces heavy cream, whipped, (or Cool Whip)
  • 1 cup sliced fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, peaches, or apricots)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almonds or pecans to garnish.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heavily butter a metal or glass pie pan.

Mix cornstarch and sugar in a small bowl, and set aside.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly sprinkle sugar/cornstarch mixture into egg whites while continuing to beat. When stiff peaks form, sprinkle vinegar directly over meringue, and beat slowly to mix in well.

Place meringue in pie pan and spread evenly to edge. Bake 35 minutes, and then reduce heat to 200 degrees for another 30 minutes. The Pavlova shell will be very lightly browned, and will probably sink in and crack when removed from oven. Shell will store, lightly covered, for 2 days. Fill Pavlova just before you are ready to serve.

For filling, mix whipped cream with fresh fruit, and spoon onto shell. Spread evenly almost to the edge of shell, like filling in a piecrust. Garnish with toasted almonds.

(Pavlova is gluten free and can be made with Cool Whip—a plus for many people.)