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In search of original honest-to-goodness Wellesley Fudge Cake. Here's the cake served in a little tearoom over a Wellesley shoe store

WELLESLEY Fudge Cake may not ring a bell with everybody. But to many it's a nostalgic food emanating from the college town of Wellesley, Mass. The recipe is one of those favorites that's been handed down and swapped among family and friends across the country.

This year it appears in a small, attractive book titled ``Ex Libris,'' recipes collected by the Friends of the Wellesley Free Libraries.

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Among the well-tested selections are those from Margaret Heckler, United States Ambassador to Ireland, Astronaut Byron Lichtenberg, and former Boston Celtics coach K.C. Jones.

When I first saw the book, my first thought was to check the index for the original, authentic, honest-to-goodness recipe for Wellesley Fudge Cake. The recipe is here, of course, and a note says, ``This recipe is included in the Wellesley Centennial Time Capsule located in the library.''

Submitted by Mabel Torri, it is followed by more information: ``This is the original Wellesley Fudge Cake served in the little tearoom over Parker's Shoe Store in Wellesley Square and later at the Blue Dragon [restaurant]. `Peachy! Peachy!' as the college girls used to say.''

Karyl Bannister of West Southport, Maine, in her newsletter called ``Cook & Tell,'' says one of her readers has been seeking the ultimate ``WFC'' for years and is currently at work on No. 10. Ms. Bannister thought her recipe from the originator's daughter was the ultimate, but now she's not so sure.

The Wellesley cookbook, ``Ex Libris,'' has other recipes, to be sure, and they are from some of this community's best-known cooks and eating establishments.

Testers' reactions and comments from the cooks give the book a warm, hometown flavor. Spiral-bound, the book opens flat for easy use and has an excellent index divided into two sections - one of contributors' names and the other of recipes.

Among the specialties:

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Coach Marden's Poached Salmon Fillets With Mayonnaise-Walnut Dressing, Seven Egg Brownies, Lottie Mendelsohn's Mexican Migas, and the Cheese Shop's Tortellini Vinaigrette.

Also included are easy versions of classic ethnic dishes such as Blueberry Sally Lunn, Cajun Red Beans and Rice, Coquilles St. Jacques Beaumani`ere, and Emilie Tavel Livezey's Four Star Stroganoff.

Friends of the Wellesley Free Libraries, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, is a nonprofit organization that provides support and enrichment to the public system.

``Ex Libris'' is sold at the Wellesley Free Libraries and at various shops in town for $12, plus 5 percent tax for Massachusetts residents. Handling charge is $2.

Write Friends of the Wellesley Free Libraries, 530 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02181.

Here's the ``Ex Libris'' version of Wellesley Fudge Cake.

Wellesley Fudge Cake Cake 4 squares baking chocolate 1/2 cup hot water 1 3/4 cups sugar 2 cups cake flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter 3 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2/3 cup milk

Fudge Frosting 4 squares baking chocolate 1 1/2 cups milk 4 cups sugar Pinch of salt 4 teaspoons light corn syrup 1/4 cup butter 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine chocolate and water in double boiler. Cook over hot water until chocolate melts. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar listed. Cook 2 minutes.

Sift flour with soda and salt. Cream butter and remaining 11/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla. Add flour alternately with milk, beating after each addition. Blend in chocolate mixture.

Pour into well greased 9-by-9-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. 25 to 30 minutes, or until done.

To make frosting, combine chocolate and milk in saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until blended. Add sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil over very low heat, stirring until small amount forms a soft ball in cold water.

Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. Beat until creamy. Spread between layers of cake, over top and sides.

Serves 8 to 10.

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