Categories
Cookies Dessert

Nothing is ‘butter’ than simple-to-make cookies

Three-Ingredient Butter Cookies
The recipe for these butter cookies uses only three ingredients but still yields crispy, delicious cookies, perfect for a snack with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

One of my favorite Internet memes is a photo of a blue Royal Dansk butter cookies tin.

The caption reads, “Why are there cookies in Grandma’s sewing kit?” It always makes me smile, mostly because I’m glad I wasn’t the only child who was fooled by the reuse of a cookie tin for storage.

What can be more disappointing than discovering thread and buttons in a place where you thought you might find a snack?

There is something great about a butter cookie. They have that hint of sugar, are a little crunchy and they are highlighted with that deep, satisfying flavor of real butter.

Whenever they’re around at Christmastime, I find them irresistible, and I’m clearly not alone, since this week’s recipe is actually originally from a viral video. The video features butter cookies made quickly and easily with only three ingredients: butter, sugar and flour.

Of course, I had to give it a try.

I found this recipe on a website called “I Love My Recipes.” You can find the original at https://ilovemyrecipes.com/these-brilliant-cookies-are-taking-the-internet-by-storm-3-ingredients-and-ready-in-no-time/. This was such a simple recipe, I didn’t add anything to my version.

Three-Ingredient Butter Cookies
Print

Three-ingredient Butter Cookies

The recipe for these butter cookies uses only three ingredients but still yields crispy, delicious cookies, perfect for a snack with a cup of hot coffee or tea.
Course Dessert
Keyword butter, cookies, simple

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 1/4 cups flour

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, beat all three ingredients together to form a crumbly dough.
  • Dump the dough out onto a countertop or piece of waxed paper and squish it together into a log about two inches in diameter.
  • Roll the dough in sugar and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 320 degrees, and slice the log into about 3/4-inch slices. Place them an inch apart on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. They will spread out a little but won’t get overly brown—just around the edges.
  • Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets before transferring them to an airtight container.

Don’t be discouraged if your dough doesn’t come together immediately. It takes a little effort to get it to finally stop flaking apart and stick together—just keep messing with it.

These cookies aren’t overly sweet and are absolutely delicious dunked into a cup of coffee. If you wanted them to be a bit sweeter, you could coat the sliced cookies in sugar before baking them, too.

The recipe only made about one and one-half dozen cookies, the perfect amount if you’re just looking to satisfy your sweet tooth without too much temptation.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a blue tin on hand to put my cookies in, but I think I’ll still enjoy them just as much, even if I don’t have a new storage place for my needles and bobbins when my cookies are all gone.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 23, 2021.

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
Cookies Dessert

There’s no ‘matcha’ for tea-flavored cookies

White chocolate chip and cashew matcha cookies have the subtle taste of tea, along with the sweetness of chocolate and the crunch of nuts.

It seems like everyone has an extravagant friend. 

The person in your life who likes the finer things, the fancier stuff, the flashy side of life.

I have a few, but one who truly fits this description recently looked at me and said, “You know what’s delicious? White chocolate chip matcha cookies.”

Challenge accepted.

If you’re not familiar with matcha, it’s a green powder made from tea leaves. It’s purported to be a healthier tea option, since it uses the whole leaf instead of just steeping them, and while it’s popular in places like Japan, it’s also become more and more available in the States, especially at coffee shops and smoothie bars.

It has a very earthy flavor, one the author of this recipe described as kind of like grass, but I’d say it really just smells and tastes like green tea. It does, however, make a great addition to some white chocolate chip cookies.

This recipe comes from Zainab Moughal, who writes the blog “Bake with Zainab.” You can find the original post at https://bakewithzainab.wixsite.com/bakewithzainab/post/matcha-cashew-white-chocolate-nyc-cookies. I added extra vanilla, chocolate chips and matcha in my version.

Print

White Chocolate Chip and Cashew Matcha Cookies

White chocolate chip and cashew matcha cookies have the subtle taste of tea, along with the sweetness of chocolate and the crunch of nuts.
Course Dessert
Keyword cashews, cookies, matcha, vanilla, white chocolate chips

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 heaping teaspoons matcha powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 11 ounces white chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Cream together the brown sugar, sugar and butter for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  • Beat in the flour, matcha powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until the mixture is smooth, and then fold in the cashews and white chocolate chips.
  • Scoop the batter with a 1-1/2-inch cookie scoop (or about the size of a ping pong ball) and place onto a baking sheet—no need to space them very far.
  • Freeze the cookies on the baking sheet for one hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 395 and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the frozen dough at least two inches apart and bake for nine minutes or until the tops are starting to brown.
  • Let the cookies cool, and then store them in an airtight container.

These didn’t have a really strong matcha flavor, but it was there in the background. If you wanted it to stick out more, you could decrease the chocolate chips or leave them out altogether. I thought they were really good, though. They’d be great with a hot cup of tea.

And I made sure to bag some up for my friend, figuring he would be able to tell me if I managed to accomplish his vision for a good matcha cookie.

I’m sure the fact that I see green powdered tea as a fancy addition to my baking is a sign that I need to get out more. Either that, or I need to live a little and ask for that additional charge at the coffee shop every once in awhile. I think my friend would probably agree with both.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 16, 2021.

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

Baking cobbler outdoors can be ‘berry’ satisfying

This cobbler, made from fresh peaches and blueberries, is a perfect summer dessert that can be made in the oven or out on the grill or smoker.

Thanks to the Newton Rotary Club’s annual peach fundraiser and my three-year-old niece insisting that I buy blueberries for our recent fun day, I had quite a bit of fruit in my refrigerator this week.

That, combined with Joey itching to use a cast iron Dutch oven he recently got for his smoker, meant we were going on a new adventure of baking outdoors.

After a fruitless (pun intended) search for a recipe that I liked using both peaches and blueberries, I finally decided to combine two in my search for the perfect smoked cobbler, and the final product definitely did not disappoint.

One recipe I used is from “The Grateful Girl Cooks” (https://www.thegratefulgirlcooks.com/berry-cobbler-traeger-grill-style/), and the other is Steven Raichlen’s “Barbecue Bible” site (https://barbecuebible.com/recipe/smoky-bourbon-peach-cobbler/). I added extra vanilla and cinnamon to my version.

Print

Smoked Blueberry Peach Cobbler

This cobbler, made from fresh peaches and blueberries, is a perfect summer dessert that can be made in the oven or out on the grill or smoker.
Course Dessert
Keyword blueberry, bourbon, brown sugar, cinnamon, cobbler, grilled, peaches, smoker, vanilla

Ingredients

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter cold
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk I used skim with a dash of vinegar
  • cinnamon for sprinkling

Peach Filling Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 cups peaches cut into one-inch pieces

Blueberry Filling Ingredients

  • 18 ounces blueberries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Preheat your grill, smoker or oven to 350 degrees. If you’re using a grill, you’ll want to bake over indirect heat.
  • For the grill or smoker, prepare a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven and for the oven, a 9×13-inch baking dish, by coating the inside with butter and set it aside.
  • For the topping, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a bowl and then cut in the butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the buttermilk and set the topping aside.
  • In another bowl, combine all the ingredients for the peach filling, except the peaches. Once they are all incorporated, fold in the peaches.
  • Finally, for the blueberry filling, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir gently until the blueberries are well coated in the mixture.
  • To assemble the cobbler, start with about half of the peach filling, layer in the blueberries and then finish off with the rest of the peaches. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, drop the topping by the spoonful evenly over the top of the fruit. Don’t worry if there’s still some fruit visible. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of the cobbler.
  • Bake on your smoker/grill/oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean. Ours ended up going quite a bit longer on our smoker, so be ready for the time to vary.

This was absolutely delicious. The topping took on a subtle smoky flavor that was majorly complimented by the cinnamon, syrup and brown sugar, not to mention the bourbon, which added a nice, subtle flavor to the background.

Actually, speaking of the bourbon, if that’s not your cup of tea, you might try adding a combination of water and more vanilla extract instead.

We ate our cobbler with scoops of vanilla ice cream and enjoyed our dessert outdoors until the mosquitos drove us back inside. There are few flavors like peaches and blueberries to really help you enjoy a summer evening, and being able to cook it right on the grill makes it even more special.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 26, 2021.

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

Family pie recipe is ‘choc’ full of flavor

This chocolate pie is a family recipe, passed to Adam Strunk by his mom, Ruth. It features lots of dark chocolate flavor, along with a light, fluffy meringue topping.

Several years ago, Danielle Oteri wrote a column for the website “Good Food Stories,” where she explored the differences in personality between her friends and family who preferred to cook, versus those who preferred to bake.

It’s a fun read, if you get the chance (goodfoodstories.com/the-psychology-of-baking), but one quote from her friend Melissa resonated with me from a baking experience I had this past week: “Baking [also] has seemed to me to be chemistry, while cooking is like art,” she said. “Art you can taste as you go—and for me, that’s a big part of it. I like to stick my fingers, er, spoon, into whatever I am cooking and taste at every step.”

Adam Strunk, who is the managing editor of Harvey County Now, was asked to be a celebrity baker for a charity pie auction last week, but Adam is most definitely a cook.

He’s an improviser and follows his instincts in the kitchen. If you ask Adam for a recipe, he’ll give you vague lists of ingredients, not amounts. And he makes darn good food.

So he found himself a bit intimidated by pie, which is why he asked me, the baker, to come make sure the recipe he chose turned out.

That was not only because he’s super competitive and wanted to create a great pie for the auction but also because he chose a family recipe, one his grandmother and mother made only for special occasions. I was only too happy to give the fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants cook a lesson in pie dough and patience.

So, the only source I can give you for this week’s recipe is Ruth Strunk, Adam’s mom. I can’t tell you if she would have considered herself a cook or a baker, but I can tell you after this experience that she could make one mean pie.

Print

Ruthie’s Chocolate Pie

This chocolate pie is a family recipe, passed to Adam Strunk by his mom, Ruth. It features lots of dark chocolate flavor, along with a light, fluffy meringue topping.
Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate, meringue, pie

Ingredients

Pie Ingredients

  • 9- inch pie shell baked
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 2/3 cups milk we used whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 egg yolks beaten
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate we used Ghirardelli

Meringue Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Pre-bake your pie shell and place it to the side for when the filling is complete.
  • In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, milk, salt, butter and vanilla. It doesn’t have to be perfectly combined, just mostly mixed together and set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat your egg yolks and set aside.
  • Heat a double boiler and melt the chocolate in the top, being careful to stir it constantly so it doesn’t burn.
  • Once the chocolate is melted, add the sugar mixture and continue stirring with a whisk for 10 minutes in the double boiler.
  • After 10 minutes, add about one cup of the chocolate to the egg yolks, beating them together, then add the egg mixture to the double boiler, continuing to whisk constantly for another five minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for about five to 10 minutes, then pour it into your prepared pie shell, smoothing it out evenly, and set it aside.
  • For the meringue, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add the egg whites to a mixing bowl and beat until they are very stiff. Add in the sugar, baking powder and salt and beat again. Spread the meringue over the top of the filling. Using a knife, create some peaks in the meringue to create a nice pattern when it browns.
  • Bake until the meringue is light brown. (I think ours took about 10 minutes. Just keep watching it.)
  • Refrigerate the pie until you’re ready to serve it.

According to Adam, we managed an excellent recreation of his mom’s classic, and it was delicious—perfectly chocolatey without being too sweet.

We didn’t earn the highest bid at the auction, but Adam’s pie still managed a very nice sum and got great reviews.

I don’t think Adam is quite ready to turn in his reporter’s notebook for a rolling pin, but I do think he’s less nervous about pie crust. Now, if I can just get him to pay attention to what he throws in the pan while cooking, I might have a few more great Stunk recipes to share.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 19, 2021.

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

Peaches and fresh ginger will help you snap into August

Ginger peach crisp combines the fresh flavor of summer peaches with spicy, fresh ginger to create the ultimate dessert.

If anyone can tell me the trick to pitting a firm peach, I’m all ears.

So far, my strategy includes cutting numerous slits down the sides, grunting and murmuring regrets under my breath while trying to pull the first slice off, and I can tell you that it doesn’t work all that well.

Luckily, the recipe I tried this week included cutting the peaches into bite-sized pieces, so when some of mine ended up looking a bit rough, they still looked gorgeous in the finished dessert.

Joey and I decided to have a Christmas in July get together last weekend. The meal was loosely based around Christmas meals, with pulled pork on Hawaiian rolls, German potato salad, lots of other delicious dishes, and a yuletide-inspired dessert of a fresh ginger peach crisp.

I figured ginger was a good nod to the holidays, and with peaches coming into season, they were an homage to summer.

And, of course, we had to pair it with some great vanilla ice cream. I was able to pick up a couple pints from our local ice cream expert, Salted Creamery. You can find them online at saltedcreamery.com if you want to place an order or find a store where you can buy it. (That’s not a sponsored endorsement; I just really think they do excellent work.)

The recipe I tried this week comes from the blog “Nutmeg Nanny.” You can find the original post at https://www.nutmegnanny.com/ginger-peach-crisp/. I added extra spices and vanilla in my version.

Print

Ginger Peach Crisp

Ginger peach crisp combines the fresh flavor of summer peaches with spicy, fresh ginger to create the ultimate dessert.
Course Dessert
Keyword cinnamon, crisp, ginger, peaches, vanilla

Ingredients

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/3 brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh peaches cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray an eight-by-eight-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the topping ingredients until everything is well incorporated. Set it aside.
  • In another bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients, stirring to coat the peaches. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and then sprinkle the topping evenly over the peach mixture.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Serve warm for best results, along with your favorite vanilla ice cream, and refrigerate any leftovers.

The fresh ginger added great flavor to this crisp. It has a nice spiciness that is especially delicious with ice cream. I doubled the recipe for our group, and I didn’t end up with a lot of leftovers.

It also came together quickly. Or, I guess it would have if I knew how to pit a peach properly.

As they really come into season, I’ll have to pick out riper peaches, and if I can’t, I might also need somebody to recommend a good place for me to take up weightlifting.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 5, 2021.

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

Come out of your shell with pistachio cake

Pistachio cake uses a cake mix and pudding mix, along with chopped pistachios to create a nutty, light dessert.

I normally like to start this column with a story about the week’s recipe, but I have to tell you about my most recent kitchen fail. It’s a doozy.

My parents-in-law gifted us with several packages of frozen tamales that are made by simply boiling the bag for 20 minutes and then serving. They’re great for quick meals. A few don’t have labels on them, so they’ve been a fun surprise when we open up the bag.

I made one of the surprise bags this week, added some Mexican rice and tomatillo salsa to the plate and served it up.

Joey took his first bite, and his face screwed up in an awful grimace.

“These are sweet,” he said, through a mouthful.

Guys. They were apple cinnamon tamales!

I felt awful for ruining our lunch, but Joey, being the trooper he is, scraped the salsa into the rice, ate that first and declared that his slightly spicy apple tamales would be for dessert.

I guess even “easy” meals can take a turn for the worse.

This week’s recipe is one of those easy recipes, but hopefully, you’ll have labels to read, and everything will turn out great.

The recipe I used doctors up a cake mix to make a delicious cake. It comes from the blog “Cake Whiz.” You can find the original post at https://cakewhiz.com/pistachio-cake-recipe/. I added chopped nuts, vanilla and salt to my recipe, as well as simplified the topping.

Print

Pistachio Cake

Pistachio cake uses a cake mix and pudding mix, along with chopped pistachios to create a nutty, light dessert.
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, cake mix, pistachios, pudding mix

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup oil I used canola
  • 1 cup milk I used skim
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 3.4 ounces instant pistachio pudding mix
  • pinch of salt
  • green food coloring optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios divided
  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping thawed

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a nine-by-13-inch baking pan by greasing and flouring it, and set it aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla until it’s smooth. Beat in the cake mix, pudding mix and salt. If you want to make your cake a bit greener, add some green food coloring, too.
  • Add 1/4 cup of the chopped pistachios to the mixture, and pour it into your prepared cake pan, spreading it out evenly.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool, and then top it with the whipped topping and the rest of the chopped pistachios.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers.

This was fantastic. It was a great summer dessert, and it was really pretty, too. The cake was light and nutty, and we really enjoyed it.

And the good news is Joey knew exactly what he was getting into when he took the first bite, and I didn’t try to serve it to him with salsa on top.

I’m not sure if he’s going to trust a plate of tamales from me in the future, but at least my cake turned out fine.

This piece first appeared in print on July 22, 2021.

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

Try a spiced cake that’s perfect for your next par’tea’

The use of earl grey tea adds lots of complex spice flavor to this moist cake.

As a general rule, I have no concept of how long it takes me to complete recipes.

Poor Joey has had to wait until 8 or 9 p.m. on several occasions for me to complete a meal, because I was just sure I could finish it for a normal eating time.

And he’s thrown up his hands at me staying up into the wee hours of the morning, baking pies for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

You’d think I would learn. But I haven’t.

So, when I decided to take a birthday cake for our friend when we were going over to play games at her house that evening, it would come as no surprise that I was hurriedly trying to finish it before rushing over for game night.

Unfortunately, that meant my cake’s glaze looked atrocious. Fortunately, it still tasted amazing.

The cake I made features the flavors of earl grey tea, and I found it on the “Tastemade” website. You can find the original post at https://www.tastemade.com/videos/earl-grey-tea-cakes/. I doubled the vanilla and changed some of the directions in my version.

Print

Earl Grey Tea Cakes

The use of earl grey tea adds lots of complex spice flavor to this moist cake.
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, earl grey, glaze, spice, tea

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk I used skim
  • 5 earl grey tea bags
  • 14 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • zest of one small lemon
  • 1 1/3 teaspoon baking powder

Glaze Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons strong earl grey tea
  • purple food coloring optional

Instructions

  • Microwave the milk in a glass mug or bowl for 90 seconds. Place the five teabags into the milk, and cover it with aluminum foil.
  • Let the milk sit, with the teabags, for at least 15 minutes, letting it cool to room temperature.
  • Squeeze out the teabags into the milk and discard them. If some of your milk evaporated, top it off so you have one cup.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare an eight-by-eight inch cake pan by spraying it with cooking spray and lining it with parchment paper. (If you want to remove it from the pan before serving. If not, just spray the pan.
  • Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, and then add in the flour, lemon zest, baking powder and milk until everything is combined well.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and tap it on the counter a few times to flatten the batter out before placing in the oven for one hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • If removing the cake from the pan, let it cool for five minutes before inverting it and placing it on a wire rack. Either way, though, let the cake cool completely before glazing it.
  • For the glaze, melt the butter and add it to the sugar and tea. Stir until the mixture is smooth. If there are lumps of butter that refuse to combine with the rest of the ingredients, microwave the mixture no more than 30 seconds at a time until it is smooth.
  • Either cut the cake into even squares or leave it whole, and position it on a wire rack over a rimmed backing sheet. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. Let the glaze set, and serve.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

his cake was super delicious and very moist. I really wish I would have saved myself enough time to really make it as pretty as it should have been, but the flavor did not disappoint, and I’m lucky to have very gracious friends who were more than happy to eat the whole thing.

I do think I’ll make this cake again in the future. The flavors were deep and complex and felt just a little fancy. Plus, I always love a good spiced cake, and this one didn’t disappoint.

I’d like to say that this was the recipe that finally taught me my lesson, but I’m sure I’ll be hurrying through another one soon. It turns out you can’t rush perfection—or even something sort of near to it.

This piece first appeared in print on July 8, 2021.

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

Feel like you’re on ‘toffee’ the world with three ingredients

With just three ingredients and a little patience, you can easily make homemade toffee that has a great flavor and can be eaten alone or incorporated into baked goods.

As a complete sweets addict, it figures I would marry somebody who would rather have an extra portion of a savory main dish than eat dessert.

That being said, Joey does still have a sweet tooth—it’s just fairly particular.

So, while most sugary concoctions I share with you are decidedly something I made because I wanted to try it or share it outside our household, this one was 100% made with Joey in mind: homemade toffee.

He loves toffee, and when I found a recipe that promised to be an easy way to make it with only three ingredients, I decided to give it a try.

This comes from the blog “Cook With 5 Kids,” but this recipe appears to only exist on Pinterest. You can find the original post at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/564427765807969699/ or visit her website at http://cookwith5kids.com, if you’re interested in her other stuff. I didn’t change anything, because it was so simple that there wasn’t anything to change.

Print

Homemade Toffee

With just three ingredients and a little patience, you can easily make homemade toffee that has a great flavor and can be eaten alone or incorporated into baked goods.
Course Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, butter, salt, toffee

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter 8 tablespoons
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Prepare an 8-by-8-inch pan or dish by lining it with waxed or parchment paper.
  • Combine the butter, brown sugar and salt in a medium-sized skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir regularly, making sure everything is smooth and well-combined.
  • Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Once the mixture reaches 300 degrees, remove it from the heat and pour evenly into the lined pan.
  • Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to let the toffee set up and harden.
  • Once the toffee is set up, remove it from the paper and then smash it into bite-sized pieces. (I used my meat mallet.) Store in an airtight container.

If you wanted to turn this up a notch, I’d recommend melting some chocolate and spreading it on the top of the toffee before breaking it into pieces. Let the chocolate harden, and then break it. You could include a sprinkling of nuts on top, too.

This is great to eat on its own. It’s super crunchy (like peanut brittle), but it also dissolves in your mouth like hard candy if you don’t want to chomp on it.

The recipe’s author also suggest smashing it into much smaller pieces and incorporating it into chocolate chip cookies. I think it would also be great in brownies or sprinkled on top of a frosted cake.

For us, it’s just hanging out on our counter in a little sealed bowl, and every day, each of us savor at least one piece and try not to go back in for more.

I have to admit, I haven’t done a great job of eating only one at a time. Maybe, if I’m being honest, I did make this for myself more than for Joey. Just don’t tell him. He doesn’t need to know.

This piece first appeared in print on June 17, 2021.

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

Mini pineapple desserts are a true work of ‘tart’

Pineapple tartlets can be made with a cupcake tin and feature a delicious, light pineapple flavor that is perfect for summer.

No matter how many kitchen gadgets I get, I always seem to need one more.

We were invited to a barbecue recently, and I decided to bring something summer-y, settling on making pineapple tartlets.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tart pan, let alone any tartlet pans, but I do have cupcake tins, and it turns out that if you have that and a large cookie cutter, you can make tartlets, too.

I actually combined recipes from two different blogs for this recipe. I use the tartlet shell recipe from “A Baking Journey.” You can find it at https://www.abakingjourney.com/tartlet-shells/. I used the filling recipe from “Hawaii Travel with Kids.” You can find that original post at https://hawaiitravelwithkids.com/hawaiian-recipes-pineapple-tarts/.

Print

Pineapple Tartlets

Pineapple tartlets can be made with a cupcake tin and feature a delicious, light pineapple flavor that is perfect for summer.
Course Dessert
Keyword coconut, pastry, pineapple, tartlet, whipped cream

Ingredients

Shell Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter cold
  • 2 eggs

Filling Ingredients

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 15.25 ounces pineapple tidbits in juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 can whipped cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons shredded coconut

Instructions

  • For the shells, add the dry ingredients to a food processor (or just use a bowl and a pastry cutter or two forks) and pulse to mix. Cut the butter into small cubes and incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles small crumbles. Try to handle the butter as little as possible—colder is better.
  • Now incorporate the eggs until the mixture is a smooth dough. Dump it onto your countertop and knead the dough just enough to make sure it’s smooth. Spilt the dough into two, even pieces, and place each ball of dough between two large pieces of parchment paper and roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick. Leave the dough between the pieces of parchment and place them on trays in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut large circles out of the dough with a cookie cutter. (Mine was about four inches in diameter, and if you have one with pretty edges, use that.) Place each circle into the wells of a cupcake tin, pressing down so the dough goes evenly up the sides of each and there are no air bubbles underneath.
  • Poke the bottom of each pastry with a fork and then place the cupcake tins in the refrigerator for another hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 10 minutes or until the shells are starting to turn golden brown.
  • While the shells bake, mix the filling. In a mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream and seven tablespoons of the pineapple juice from the can.
  • Dice about two dozen of the tidbits and set aside.
  • Carefully pour the filling into the prepared shells, being careful not to fill them to the top or overflow them (they will stick in the cupcake tin if they overflow). Add a few pieces of pineapple to each tart.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 375, and bake the tarts for seven minutes.
  • Remove the tarts from the oven and let them cool completely.
  • While they cool, place the shredded coconut in a small pan over medium heat, stirring often, for about three minutes or until much of the coconut is golden brown. Remove it from the heat.
  • When the tarts are cooled, remove them from the cupcake tin and top them with whipped cream, toasted coconut and a few more pieces of pineapple. Serve.

These were literally gone before the meat was done cooking and got rave reviews. If you’re traveling with these, I do recommend waiting until you reach your destination to add the whipped cream and coconut. Mine fell a bit in transit.

And it was nice to be able to create something that looked fancy even though I lack the fancy equipment. I’ll probably invest in a full-size tart pan at some point, but for now, I have it all under control.

This piece first appeared in print on June 10, 2021.

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
Cookies Dessert

Combo cookies will be your next crowning achievement

Crownie pinwheels combine store-bought cookie dough with a boxed brownie mix to create pretty, chocolatey cookies.

I have become completely susceptible to online cooking demos.

If I am scrolling through Pinterest or Facebook, I will inevitably find myself watching someone chopping up veggies or mixing up some kind of batter. Even if the recipe doesn’t particularly appeal to me, I find the process of watching someone cook completely fascinating.

It’s either that or videos of pets doing ridiculous things.

This past week, one of those recipe videos spoke to me, because it looked both delicious and easy, taking pre-made cookie dough and a box mix to create something new.

These “crownies”—half cookie, half brownie—were just as good as they looked, so I’m sharing the extremely simple recipe with you this week.

This comes from the website “So Yummy.” You can find the original post at https://soyummy.com/recipe/crownie-pinwheels/. I didn’t change any of the ingredients, but I did clarify some directions a bit.

Print

Crownie Pinwheels

Crownie pinwheels combine store-bought cookie dough with a boxed brownie mix to create pretty, chocolatey cookies.
Course Dessert
Keyword brownies, chocolate, cookies, crownies, swirl

Ingredients

  • 16- ounce package chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 10- ounce package fudgey brownie mix prepared

Instructions

  • Place the cookie dough between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper and roll it out until it is the same thickness as the chocolate chips. Try to keep it in as much of a rectangle or square as you can.
  • Spread a thick layer of the brownie dough evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges except on the top one inch. You probably won’t use the entire batch of brownies for this step.
  • Carefully roll the dough, starting from the bottom. You’ll likely have some of the brownie batter squish out a little.
  • Once you complete the roll, gently press to seal the roll, wrap it in the waxed/parchment paper, and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes so it sets up.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Unwrap the roll and slice it into about 1/4-inch slices. Place them two inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.
  • Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before transferring to an airtight container.

I bought an 18-ounce brownie mix for my cookies, and I ended up having a ton of batter left over. I just sprayed a mini-cupcake tin with cooking spray and made mini brownie bites while my cookies were in the freezer. Win-win.

In hindsight, I wish I would have just bought a second package of cookie dough and made a second roll. I got about two dozen cookies out of the single package.

These were really good. They spread out into thin, pretty cookies that looked a lot more impressive than they should have, considering I really didn’t have to put in much effort to make them.

In the long run, my love of cooking videos is probably a good thing—it makes my suggested posts on social media a lot more positive, and every once in awhile, we end up with something delicious in the house.

This piece first appeared in print on May 20, 2021.

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.