Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Fresh peaches are ‘muffin’ short of delicious for breakfast

Fresh Peach Muffins
These peach muffins feature fresh peaches (although frozen would work, too), along with a brown sugar crumble on top, making them perfect for breakfast or dessert.

I caught Joey eyeballing the bowl of peaches sitting in our fridge this week.

“I’m going to use them this time,” I promised him. “They won’t end up in the freezer until next summer.”

His facial expression betrayed a lack of confidence in my promises, so of course, I had to do some baking this weekend to prove him wrong.

I jumped into my list of recipes to try and landed on some fresh peach muffins that looked delicious, quick and easy to make, and they did not disappoint.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch.” I used brown sugar for granulated in the crumb topping and doubled the vanilla and almond extracts, as well as increased the amount of peach in my version below.

Fresh Peach Muffins
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Fresh Peach Muffins

These peach muffins feature fresh peaches (although frozen would work, too), along with a brown sugar crumble on top, making them perfect for breakfast or dessert.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword almond extract, brown sugar, fresh peaches, muffin, peaches, vanilla

Ingredients

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter cubed

Muffins Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed peaches diced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin or tins with paper liners. (I ended up having enough batter for about 18 muffins.)
  • For the topping, add all the dry ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and stir until they’re well combined. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter until it’s completely incorporated and the mixture is all crumbly. Set it aside.
  • For the muffins, beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, vanilla and almond extract, and then beat in the baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour and sour cream until everything is well combined.
  • Fold in the peaches, and then scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Fill the liners to about one-fourth- to one-half-inch below the tops.
  • Press the topping into large crumbs and evenly distribute it over top of the filled liners.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins comes out clean.
  • Let the muffins cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin. Store cooled muffins in an airtight container.

These were lightly sweet and perfect for breakfast, although I actually ended up taking them as a dessert for a get-together we had over the weekend, and they were great for that, too.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get rid of all of my leftover peaches, so Joey is still winning the argument I made up in my head. Never to be beaten, though, I have already been making sure to use peaches as my favorite snack, side dish and condiment this week.

The good news is I still love fresh peaches. The bad news is I still have about half a dozen to go.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 8, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Make their tummies ‘rum’ble with tropical cake

Cuban rum cake is a light, flavorful dessert with fresh whipped cream, toasted coconut, pineapple, and of course, a homemade rum sauce that is brushed over the entire cake.

We were able to spend a fantastic evening with some great folks this past week for a celebration of Christmas in July.

We hosted the meal last year, so it was our friends’, Adam and Samantha’s, turn to do it this year. They decided to celebrate the theme of the night by creating an entire menu of Cuban food.

As will be no surprise, I volunteered to make dessert, and after lots of online research, I decided to try a light, fruity cake—with a bit of rum included for good measure.

This recipe comes from the company site for Imperial Sugar and was written by Chef Eddy Van Damme, who has the nickname of the “Prince of Pastry.” You can find the original post at https://www.imperialsugar.com/recipes/cuban-rum-cake. I adjusted some of the ingredients a bit in my version.

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Cuban Rum Cake

Cuban rum cake is a light, flavorful dessert with fresh whipped cream, toasted coconut, pineapple, and of course, a homemade rum sauce that is brushed over the entire cake.
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, coconut, Cuban dessert, Cuban food, dark rum, orange juice, pineapple, vanilla, whipped cream

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or milk with a touch of vinegar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut

Rum Sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light or dark rum I used dark
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 ounces pineapple sliced or in chunks in juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare two eight- or nine-inch round cake pans by buttering and flouring them. Set them aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, for about 30 seconds each.
  • Beat in the salt, baking powder and vanilla. Beat in the buttermilk and cake flour, alternating between them.
  • Split the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pans by inverting them onto plates and setting them aside to cool completely.
  • Turn the oven off, but spread the coconut on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place it in the oven for about five minutes or until the coconut is lightly browned. Set it aside.
  • For the rum sauce, combine the butter, orange juice, sugar, rum and vanilla in a sauce pan, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Let it boil for two minutes, then remove from heat. Set the mixture aside to cool.
  • When the cakes are cooled, prepare the filling. Beat the cream, vanilla and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. If necessary, prepare the pineapple by cutting it into bite-sized chunks.
  • To assemble the cake, place the first cake on your serving plate and prick the entire surface with a toothpick.
  • Brush half of the rum sauce onto the cake, letting it soak in. (This might take a moment.) Spread about one-fourth of the whipped cream onto the cake and top with the pineapple. Place the second cake on top and repeat the process with the rum sauce before coating the entire cake with the rest of the whipped cream. Finish the cake off by sprinkling it with the toasted coconut.
  • Keep the cake refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

This was absolutely delicious and received rave reviews from the group. There wasn’t much left of the cake, despite all of us overindulging beforehand on an amazing meal. It had great tropical flavor, and even if the rum part scares you a bit, I’d say go for it. It definitely did not feature a “boozy” taste. Instead, the rum amplified the orange and pineapple flavors.

There are few things better than sharing a good meal with a good group, and this weekend was no exception. As summer is starting to wind down, it was a wonderful way to wrap up a busy July.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 4, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

‘Galette’ yourself enjoy some tasty, fruit-filled pastry

Strawberry rhubarb galettes are a great summer dessert. The combination of tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries, bright lemon and warm cinnamon creates the perfect sweet to share with guests.

I had a great dinner night with my family over the weekend.

After going out for some greasy food, topped off with ice cream and helping my niece extract every last quarter from my purse so she could eventually win a tiny stuffed turtle from a claw machine, I headed back to my parents’ house, where I spied their ever overflowing garden of rhubarb.

This led, of course, to me climbing over the short fence with a paring knife, ready to extract a dozen nearly two-foot-long stalks to take home to my kitchen. It didn’t even look like I made a dent when I was done, and Mom implored me to come back for more later if I decided I needed some.

In the past, I made my grandma’s rhubarb cake with my garden haul. (It’s on my website if you haven’t tried it. It’s delicious.) This time, I figured I should try something new with at least some of my harvest and stumbled on a great recipe for galettes—basically roughly shaped pies.

This comes from the website for the Mill City Farmers Market out of Minneapolis. It was created by Shahreen Ahmed. You can find the original post at https://millcityfarmersmarket.org/recipes/mini-strawberry-rhubarb-galettes/. I added cinnamon in my version.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes

Strawberry rhubarb galettes are a great summer dessert. The combination of tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries, bright lemon and warm cinnamon creates the perfect sweet to share with guests.
Course Dessert
Keyword cinnamon, galette, lemon zest, pie, rhubarb, strawberry, tart

Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup very cold butter cubed
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup very cold water

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries quartered
  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Other ingredients

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • additional flour as needed

Instructions

  • For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse a few times to start combining the ingredients and then pour in the water and vinegar. Turn the processor on high and process until the dough pulls away from the sides into a ball. (If it stays wet and sticky, keep adding flour, a little at a time, until the dough comes together.)
  • Split the dough into four even pieces, form them into small discs, and wrap each with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator over night or for at least an hour until the dough is completely cold.
  • When you’re ready to make the galettes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.
  • Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until the dry ingredients are well distributed through all the fruit.
  • On a well-floured surface, roll out the first dough disc into a rough circle shape to about 1/8-inch thickness. (Keep picking it up and adding more flour underneath as you roll. It will make picking up the filled galette way easier.)
  • Once it’s rolled out, spoon one-fourth of the fruit mixture into the middle of the circle. Roughly fold the sides in about about an inch all the way around.
  • Carefully transfer the galette to the baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg with one tablespoon of water, and brush all of the pastry on the galettes.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  • Let cool before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

I waited until the galettes were just cool enough to extract from my baking sheet, and we ate them warm. They would have been fabulous with vanilla ice cream.

There was just enough sweetness from the rest of the ingredients in the filling to cut the tartness of the rhubarb, but its flavor still shone through. It was a great dessert.

I still have a glut of rhubarb in my fridge and a lack of quarters in my purse, but it made for the perfect weekend.

This piece first appeared in print on July 28, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Make ’em go ‘coco’nuts for fudgy, layered brownies

Coconut brownies feature a top and bottom layer of fudgy, flavorful brownies sandwiching a sweet, light coconut layer in between.

This weekend, I stumbled on an article by Gabrielle Drolet called, “In Defence of Garlic in a Jar: How Food Snobs Almost Ruined My Love of Cooking.”

It’s a long read, but Drolet makes the point that cooking shortcuts are a great way to make the kitchen more accessible to people who have disabilities.

She mentions—but doesn’t elaborate on—the fact that some people use them for the sake of time, too. The opinion piece addresses the idea that so many food shows and blogs and posts push the concept that there are “right” and “wrong” ways to prepare food, and some of those opinions end up discouraging less experienced cooks from even attempting to try something new.

Personally, I’ve moved beyond my need to always follow every recipe to the letter, and as I have continued to experiment, I’ve learned which rules need to be followed and which ones can be ignored.

This week, for example, I decided not to both line my cake pan with parchment and spray it with cooking spray. I decided not to mix my wet and dry ingredients separately and then carefully mix them together with a wooden spoon. I decided to ignore the directive to coat my chocolate chips with flour before incorporating them into the batter.

And I still ended up with some delicious brownies—rules be darned—and I’m sharing the result with you so you can end up with a great pan of dessert, too, in spite of any rule-breaking behavior.

This comes from the blog “Spaceships and Laser Beams.” You can find the original post at https://spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com/coconut-brownies/. I added extra vanilla and chocolate chips in my version, along with simplifying the instructions.

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Coconut Brownies

Coconut brownies feature a top and bottom layer of fudgy, flavorful brownies sandwiching a sweet, light coconut layer in between.
Course Dessert
Keyword brownies, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla

Ingredients

Brownie Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 rounded cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Coconut Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare an eight-by-eight-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • For the brownie layer, in a mixing bowl, beat the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until everything is combined, and then stir in the chocolate chips.
  • For the coconut layer, combine the coconut flakes, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Stir until all of the components are well combined.
  • To assemble, spread half of the brownie batter evenly in the bottom of your prepared pan. Next, gently spread all of the coconut layer evenly over the brownie layer. Finish off with an even layer of the rest of the brownie batter.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top of the brownies looks set up and is just starting to pull away from the edges of the pan.
  • Let the brownies cool completely before slicing so they fully set up. Store them in an airtight container.

These are super rich and really fudgy. The pan I made ended up being demolished at the office to rave reviews.

Based on the lovely photos on the blog that provided me with this recipe, I’d assume the author loves to follow rules—using her flour sifter, wooden spoons and multitude of mixing bowls for each recipe she makes—and that’s OK.

We all have our own style in the kitchen. Some people get joy from the extra steps. Some, like me, get joy from eliminating as many hand-wash-only dishes as possible from the process.

In the end, we all like to create, share and eat, and that’s really all that matters—jarred garlic or not.

This piece first appeared in print on July 21, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

This summer, let’s come together and give ‘pies’ a chance

Handheld apple pies are a little more labor intensive than making a whole pie, but they’re perfect for a summer get together when utensils are optional. They feature warm spices and a buttery, flaky crust.

When I was growing up, my mom’s specialty, which was required at every family get together, was her deviled eggs.

I remember my uncle jokingly blocking the door, looking for her tell-tale Tupperware box before we were allowed to come inside. I also remember one fateful day when I accidentally dropped the box, creating havoc as everyone had to scoop the filling, which was splattered all over inside the plastic container, back into the eggs. (Sorry, Mom.)

It’s funny how people can sort of become known for their potluck specialties. Over the past couple of years, we have been blessed to be included in some friends’ family get togethers—such as their most recent on July 4—and I’m pretty sure I’ve become the dessert person.

Their family creates an enviable spread of amazing dishes. You literally can’t fit a taste of everything on your plate in the first pass. And there are also always all kinds of cakes and cookies and other great desserts on the table. After introducing them to pineapple tarts last year and handheld apple pies this year, though, I’m pretty sure my spot is cemented in that dessert section.

This recipe is by Katie Ferrier and is featured on the Taste of Home website. You can find the original post at https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/hand-held-apple-pies/. I went completely rogue on the filling in my version.

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Handheld Apple Pies

Handheld apple pies are a little more labor intensive than making a whole pie, but they're perfect for a summer get together when utensils are optional. They feature warm spices and a buttery, flaky crust.
Course Dessert
Keyword allspice, apple pie, apples, cinnamon, cream cheese, Granny Smith apples, hand pie, summer dessert, vanilla

Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 cups tart apples peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter cold

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • about 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with a teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the flour and salt until everything is well combined. Form the dough into a rough ball (It might be sticky. Floured hands is a good idea.), and divide it into two pieces. Form each half into a disk, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  • When you’re ready to start assembling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients except the butter and stir well to evenly coat the apples.
  • Remove the dough disks from the fridge and cut each into 12 pieces. Keep any pieces you’re not currently working with in the fridge to keep them from getting sticky.
  • To assemble the pies, roll out each ball of dough on a floured surface into about a four-inch circle.
  • Add about one tablespoon of apples on one side of the circle and add just a bit of butter. (I cut mine into roughly tablespoon-sized squares and then diced it. Each pie got two to three tiny dots of butter.)
  • Fold the dough over into a half-circle shape, and either fold the edges up to seal them or crimp them firmly with a fork.
  • Place the prepared pies one to two inches apart on a baking sheet.
  • Once your baking sheet is full, whisk the egg yolk and water in a small bowl. Brush the tops and edges of each pie with a thin layer of the egg mixture, and then sprinkle them liberally with the cinnamon/sugar mix. Finish the pies off by cutting two or three small slits in the top to let the steam vent while they cook.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the tops of your pies are golden brown. Remove the pies from the oven and let cool before storing in an air-tight container or serving.

These were buttery and full of great spices and were so, so good. They were a huge hit at the Fourth of July party, and I was glad I doubled the recipe for the whole crew to enjoy.

They are also fantastic for breakfast, if you’re into sweets in the morning.

It’s fun to bake for a whole different crowd—especially one that is so sure to tell you when they really enjoy something you make. And I think, as long as I keep my oven going for these get-togethers, we’ll continue to have a standing invitation. (As long as I don’t drop my creations before they get to the table.)

This piece first appeared in print on July 7, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Stone fruit and brown sugar are truly made for ‘peach’ other

Brown sugar peach cake levels up a boxed cake mix with lots of fresh peaches and a yummy, from-scratch brown sugar frosting. This one is a real crowd pleaser.

Last summer, we ended up with a large box of peaches, and when they started to get soft before we could finish them, I sliced them up, tossed them in a bag, and stored them away in the freezer.

Well, rather than using them up sometime last fall…or winter…or spring…they’ve just been hanging out in my freezer drawer.

I mostly forgot about them, except for Joey asking me once or twice a month, “So, what are you going to do with those peaches?”

After he asked me that again in May, I purchased some ingredients to make a fresh peach cake. And then those sat in the pantry, too.

I mentioned this week that I needed to decide what to make for my column, and he instantly said, “You know, you have those peaches.”

So, if there’s any mystery still left at all, I did go ahead and use up my freezer peaches this week, and the cake I made was a huge hit at the office.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “The View from Great Island.” You can find the original post at https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/brown-sugar-peach-cake-recipe/. I doubled the peaches and vanilla in my version.

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Brown Sugar Peach Cake

Brown sugar peach cake levels up a boxed cake mix with lots of fresh peaches and a yummy, from-scratch brown sugar frosting. This one is a real crowd pleaser.
Course Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, butter, cake, cake mix, fresh peaches, heavy cream, peach juice, peach nectar, powdered sugar, vanilla

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 15 ounce yellow cake mix
  • Number of eggs on the cake mix box
  • Amount of oil on the cake mix box
  • 1/2 cup peach nectar or peach juice
  • 2 pounds peeled peaches cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a nine-by-13-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray, and set it aside
  • Beat the cake mix, eggs, oil and nectar until smooth. Fold in the peaches, and spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took about 45 minutes.)
  • Let the cake cool completely.
  • For the frosting, cut the butter into chunks and add it, the heavy cream and brown sugar to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and powdered sugar until it’s well combined and there are no lumps. (If it starts to harden up on you before you’re ready, slide it back over on your still-hot burner to loosen it up a bit.)
  • Pour the frosting evenly over the top of the cake, spreading it out where necessary, and place the cake in the refrigerator until the frosting sets up (about 30 minutes).
  • Cut and serve, and store any leftovers in an airtight container.

If you’re not sure where to find peach nectar, the brand I found was Jumex, and it was located in the cold drinks area of my local grocery store rather than in the juice aisle.

This cake was amazing. I used up every last peach from the freezer, and the cake was just bursting with them, which made it delicious. Also, the frosting makes for a great compliment to the peach flavor, even if it is on the sweeter side. The cake is moist enough on its own that you could get away with skipping the frosting altogether, if that’s not your thing.

And Joey is happy that our freezer is now absent one, big bag of peaches after nearly a year. He was right, it did free up a lot of space. Unfortunately, I’m now worried he’s going to notice my collection of baking chips that were hidden underneath it.

This piece first appeared in print on June 16, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

This crisp lets fresh berries’ true colors shine ‘blue’

Blueberry crisp is a simple dessert with warm spices and lots of delicious, rich blueberry flavor.

The past two weeks, every time I walked through the produce department at our local grocery store, pints of blueberries have been calling my name.

I tried to avoid eye contact with them, knowing that I didn’t have a good way to get rid of a lot of dessert. But when we were invited to have dinner with some friends this week, I knew I finally had my chance.

Blueberries are way up there on my list of favorite fruits, especially when they’re baked. They just look so pretty that even if you’re not the most skilled chef, blueberries make your creations seem more impressive.

That was certainly the case with the very simple blueberry crisp I decided to make this week. Of course, the fact that it was delicious didn’t hurt, either.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Chelsea’s Messy Apron.” You can find the original post at https://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/blueberry-crisp/. I added extra vanilla and spices in my version.

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Blueberry Crisp

Blueberry crisp is a simple dessert with warm spices and lots of delicious, rich blueberry flavor.
Course Dessert
Keyword blueberry, brown sugar, cinnamon, crisp, easy dessert, fresh blueberries, lemon juice, nutmeg, oatmeal, summer dessert

Ingredients

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats old fashioned or quick
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter cubed

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an eight-by-eight-inch or nine-by-nine-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray, and set it aside.
  • Rinse the blueberries and then dry them well (I spread mine on paper towels to let them really drain).
  • In a large mixing bowl, add all of the filling ingredients. Stir well to coat the blueberries evenly, and place the blueberry mixture in the refrigerator while you make the topping.
  • In another mixing bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients, except the butter, and stir well to combine. Cut in the butter with two knives, a fork or a pastry cutter until it’s well distributed and the mixture is in small crumbs.
  • Pour the blueberry mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it evenly. (Be sure to scrape the mixing bowl to get all the juice, too.) Evenly distribute the topping over the filling, and bake the crisp for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned.
  • Serve warm and refrigerate any leftovers in a sealed container.

I loved this blueberry crisp. It had just the right amount of spices to make it taste warm and homemade while also letting the blueberries shine.

It was also good as leftovers later on. If you wanted to keep the topping nice and crispy, I’d recommend reheating it in the oven, but we did ours in the microwave, and it was still phenomenal. Of course, pairing this with some ice cream wouldn’t hurt, either.

I was glad to finally give in to my blueberry craving, although I can’t imagine I won’t keep eyeballing them when I go shopping. Of course, as summer goes on and peaches greet us again, I’m sure my cravings will switch right along with the season.

This piece first appeared in print on June 2, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

From-scratch salted caramel pretzel brownies ‘knot’ an easy task

Salted caramel pretzel brownies are extremely decadent, with each layer made from scratch and supplemented with just a bit of salt to offset the sweetness of chocolate and caramel.

Sometimes, I ironically bite off more than I can chew when it comes to trying new recipes.

This week was one of those times.

I was invited to donate something to a dessert auction, and I decided it was the perfect time to try a recipe for some decadent brownies I’ve been eyeballing for quite a long time.

I naively thought that making brownies would take up far less of my afternoon than if I made a pie or cake. I was so, so wrong—but only about the timeframe. The flavor was absolutely amazing. I highly recommend making these, as long as you have a few hours to burn.

This comes from the blog “Butter Baking.” You can find the original post at https://www.butterbaking.com/2015/04/21/salted-caramel-pretzel-brownies/. I doubled the vanilla in my version and made sure to convert everything to U.S. standard measurements.

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Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

Salted caramel pretzel brownies are extremely decadent, with each layer made from scratch and supplemented with just a bit of salt to offset the sweetness of chocolate and caramel.
Course Dessert
Keyword brownies, dark chocolate, decadent dessert, pretzels, salted caramel

Ingredients

Base Layer Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups pretzels roughly chopped

Brownie Layer Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 16 ounces dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

Salted Caramel Layer Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 heavy cream
  • coarse or flaked salt for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start by greasing and lining a nine-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and set it aside.
  • In a bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar and maple syrup. Stir until it’s well combined, and then stir in the pretzels, making sure to coat them evenly.
  • Spread the pretzel mixture in an even, single layer in your prepared pan. (It won’t completely cover the bottom. Just spread it as evenly as you can.) Bake the pretzel mixture for six to eight minutes or until the layer is set. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside while you prepare the next layer.
  • Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  • Place water in the bottom of a double boiler or in a medium-sized saucepan with a glass bowl that will fit on top (be careful not to let the bowl touch the water); heat the water over medium heat to bring it to a low simmer. Add the butter and dark chocolate to the top, stirring constantly until everything is melted and well combined. Remove it from heat and set it aside to cool slightly.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla on high speed until it is thick and a pale yellow—about three minutes. Fold in the chocolate until well combined, and then fold in the flour.
  • Pour the batter into the pan over top of the pretzel layer, smoothing it out evenly.
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the top begins to crack slightly and the brownie layer is mostly firm. (Try wiggling the pan a little. If it’s really wobbly still, bake it a bit longer. These won’t feel completely set when they’re done. Just pay attention to the edges and the top.) Set the brownies aside to cool.
  • For the caramel, add the water and sugar into a medium-sized saucepan, place a candy thermometer in the mixture, and heat over high heat, stirring occasionally. In a second medium-sized saucepan, heat the butter and cream over low, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.
  • When the caramel turns a deep brown color and the thermometer reads 350 degrees, immediately remove it from the heat. Whisk the butter mixture into the caramel (be careful; it will fizz up a bit).
  • Return the pan to high heat and cook for another five minutes, stirring continuously, until it thickens a little.
  • Pour the caramel over top of the brownie layer and spread it out evenly.
  • Refrigerate the brownies for about five hours or until the caramel layer is set. Sprinkle the entire top with your desired amount of coarse salt, and then cut into squares.
  • Keep the brownies refrigerated in an air-tight container until you’re ready to serve them.

Holy moly, guys. These were awesome. They were very rich, but the salt from the tops and the pretzels balanced everything out really well.

In the end, all my effort to make these was worth it, and they fetched a good amount on the auction. Plus, I got to try the ugly end pieces while I was cutting them up, so it was a win-win. Next time, I’ll need to remember that just because a dessert is smaller doesn’t mean it’s easier. Lesson learned.

This piece first appeared in print on May 12, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Reese’s cake nearly got the ‘butter’ of me this time

With a boxed cake mix and only a few frosting ingredients, this cake boasts the flavors of a Reese’s candy bar.

There are so many neat videos online that give an insider’s view of all kinds of professions.

For some reason, I can get absolutely lost watching someone power wash a driveway, paint fingernails or frost cakes and cookies.

And then I have it in my head that I could also easily accomplish any of these seemingly mundane tasks—especially if it deals with the kitchen.

I think that’s why I got especially frustrated this past weekend when I could not, for the life of me, properly frost the chocolate cake I was planning on taking for a family lunch. The thick peanut butter frosting only wanted to stick to my knife, my hands or itself, but it was completely immune to sticking to my soft cake.

It was one of those moments where Joey came in the kitchen, asked how things were going, and then slowly backed away and out of the room after seeing the frustration on my face.

So, the bad news is that I didn’t make a beautiful, video-worthy cake this week. It was definitely not winning any beauty contests. The good news, though, is it tasted pretty darn good, and despite being tough to frost, it actually came together really quickly.

The recipe I used came from the blog “Oh, Bite It!” You can find the original post at https://www.ohbiteit.com/2014/03/inside-out-reeses-peanut-butter-cake.html. I didn’t adjust any of the ingredients, because this was incredibly easy, but I will give you some ideas on how to better frost this cake in my version below.

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Reese’s Cake

With a boxed cake mix and only a few frosting ingredients, this cake boasts the flavors of a Reese's candy bar.
Course Dessert
Keyword cake mix, chocolate cake, creamy peanut butter, easy dessert, layered cake, peanut butter, powdered sugar, Reese’s

Ingredients

  • 1 chocolate cake mix and ingredients from package
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Prepare your cake mix in two eight-inch, round cake pans, according to the package directions. Set them aside to cool.
  • In a glass mixing bowl, beat the peanut butter, powdered sugar and salt until it is fluffy and well combined.
  • Pop the bowl into the microwave for a few seconds (start with 20) to thin the frosting out a bit before frosting your cake.
  • Place one of your cakes onto a plate and slather a thin layer of frosting on top. Top with the other cake and cover the whole layer cake to your liking with the rest of the frosting. If it’s still difficult to work with, microwave it just a bit more. Just be careful not to make it so runny that you have the opposite problem to thick frosting.
  • Serve your cake immediately or store in an airtight container.

This really was tasty. I used a devil’s food mix, but I also could have easily just used my from-scratch chocolate dump cake recipe that I love, if I wanted to.

At our family dinner, my four-year-old niece informed me that she only wanted to eat the frosting. Considering the amount of candy I watched her eat that afternoon, I don’t think leaving the cake on her plate was a bad decision.

But I must admit I was a little grumpy as I watched her scrape all of my hard-fought icing off of the cake. “If only she knew what I went through to get that on there,” I thought.

But then I remembered she’s four. You don’t get much sympathy from a four year old.

This piece first appeared in print on April 28, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Sorry, everyone: I must ‘confetti’ that I’ve done it again

Confetti blondies take a confetti cake mix, combined with sprinkles and a few other ingredients to make chewy, tasty bars.

Holiday-themed recipes are sometimes hard for me—specifically when it comes to this column.

As I see recipes start to pop up online for fun holiday treats, the responsible thing would be to make them weeks in advance to give everyone reading this the time to get the ingredients and make it for their holiday get-togethers.

But, of course, I rarely think about it in time, and I normally end up publishing a great holiday dish after the fact. For Easter this year, I decided I wasn’t going to make anything themed. My family get-together isn’t until next weekend, and I already have the ingredients for some pies that look fantastic. (Coming soon!)

Then we were graciously invited to spend Easter with some good friends’ family, so I quickly looked for a dessert to take.

The one I landed on ended up looking very Easter-y, with pastel sprinkles shaped like eggs strewn through it, but the good news is you can make these bars for any holiday theme—just customize your sprinkles (and maybe even your cake mix) to match. And if you have nothing in particular to celebrate, you can make these anyway with your favorite colors. Plus, they’re easy and quick, too.

This recipe comes from the blog “Crayons and Cravings” by Jaclyn Anne Shimmel. You can find the original post at https://crayonsandcravings.com/cake-batter-blondies/. I left this recipe alone, since it was so simple.

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Confetti Blondies

Confetti blondies take a confetti cake mix, combined with sprinkles and a few other ingredients to make chewy, tasty bars.
Course Dessert
Keyword blondies, cake mix, confetti cake, cookie bars, sprinkles, sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate chips

Ingredients

  • 2 15.25- ounce boxes confetti style cake mix
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter or margarine softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups sprinkles divided
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a nine-by-13-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper, and set it aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, butter and eggs until the mixture is smooth. Stir in about half of the sprinkles.
  • Spread about two-thirds of the batter into your prepared cake pan. It will be thick, so it may be easiest to spread it out with your hands.
  • Sprinkle in the chocolate chips and the rest of the sprinkles.
  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk over top of the batter in the pan, leaving about an inch uncovered around the edges.
  • Drop the remaining batter evenly over the top by the spoonful, and gently press it down to kind of make a top crust (it doesn’t need to be perfect).
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Let the blondies cool completely, and then use the parchment to remove them from the pan for slicing. Store in an airtight container.

These were chewy and flavorful, and I came home with less than half of a pan, so I guess you could say they were a hit. Also, if you’re looking for a smaller dessert, you’ll notice this is super easy to cut in half.

And, truth be told, these blondies were a cute addition to the Easter dessert table, so I guess I have to admit that I once again gave you a great holiday recipe a bit too late.

Maybe someday I’ll finally get my calendar synced to my kitchen exploits—but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

This piece first appeared in print on April 21, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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