I first met Maida Heatter in 1982, at a party at the home of Craig Claiborne, a former New York Times food editor. She had baked batches of her pecan squares Americana, a recipe included in her first cookbook. We hit it off, and I visited her at her home in Miami Beach on a number of occasions. She is now 102 years old and has very few visitors. There’s a new collection of her top recipes assembled from her many cookbooks, with her blessing. Not just the pecan squares, but also some of my favorites like the East 62nd Street lemon cake, Countess Toulouse-Lautrec’s French chocolate cake and rugelach. In her meticulous instructions, she often refers to using the large bowl of an electric mixer. That’s because she owned a Sunbeam, the pre-KitchenAid appliance of choice, which came with bowls in two sizes. Paintings illustrate many of the recipes.

“Happiness Is Baking: Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies: Favorite Desserts From the Queen of Cake” by Maida Heatter (Little, Brown, $27).

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