Categories
Dessert

Come out of your shell with pistachio cake

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.

Pistachio Cake
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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 and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

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.

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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 and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

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.

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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 and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

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/.

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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 and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

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.

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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 and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Dessert Snack

Love Reese’s eggs? Copy that.

Copycat Reese’s eggs are a delicious facsimile, making it almost impossible to stop at eating just one.

If you do some looking online about the best version of Reese’s candy, you’ll find quite a few articles that discuss the superiority of Reese’s eggs to the normal peanut butter cups.

Yes, I know. I need to spend my time more wisely, but I ended up down a strange rabbit hole, and I figured I’d share the gist so you don’t have to follow suit.

Apparently, the prevailing thought process is that Reese’s eggs are better than Reese’s cups, because they have a better chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio.

A 2019 piece by Chloe Bryan explains that the ridges on the cup are the problem.

“The trouble with the ridges: The thick edge they create disrupts the cup’s delicate peanut butter-chocolate balance,” she writes. “A bite including ridges will not contain as much peanut butter as a bite containing exclusively innards—and the latter is superior.”

She goes on to say that the Reese’s eggs (or the trees at Christmas time) are just like biting into those “innards” only, making them the better choice.

If I’m being honest, I’ll eat any Reese’s option without hesitation—eggs, trees, cups, pieces, mini, jumbo, etc. I love them. But I do agree that there’s something special about the seasonal varieties, which is why I was drawn to this week’s recipe to make a copycat version of the classic Reese’s eggs, and I have to say, it’s a pretty good copy.

The recipe I used comes from a post on Facebook from Tabatha Swartz on a group called “Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes.” I added a little extra peanut butter, since it helped me use the whole container, but I also included the original measurement in case you’d rather measure it out.

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Copycat Reese’s Eggs

Copycat Reese's eggs are a delicious facsimile, making it almost impossible to stop at eating just one.
Course Dessert
Keyword copycat, cream cheese, milk chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, Reese’s

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 28 ounces creamy peanut butter or three cups
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 bags milk chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Beat all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips until well combined. When it comes together, you can turn it out onto your kitchen counter and knead it a bit to finish it out.
  • Form the peanut butter mixture into egg shapes (or whatever shape you like), and place them on a plate or cookie sheet that can fit in your freezer.
  • Freeze for about 30 minutes or until the eggs are completely frozen.
  • Before removing the eggs from the freezer, melt your chocolate by using a double boiler or a by microwaving, 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chips are melted.
  • Lay out sheets of waxed paper on your work surface and then, in batches, dip each egg into the melted chocolate, and then place the coated candy on the waxed paper to harden.
  • Store the finished eggs in the refrigerator or freezer in an air-tight container.

These were amazing. They wouldn’t pass a blindfold taste test, but they were so, so good. And if you’re like the dozens of people who have taken to the Internet to talk about how great Reese’s eggs are in comparison to the cups, this might be just the treat for you now that you have to wait all the way until October for Reese’s pumpkin shapes to be on shelves again.

I would caution that these get melty pretty quickly, so I’d highly recommend keeping them refrigerated or frozen in between enjoying them. Also, the great thing about this recipe is you can make any shape you want. You could easily use cookie cutters to get creative and make all kinds of seasonal peanut butter creations.

And, of course, you could put it into some cupcake liners and get the classic ridges, too. Just don’t post online about messing up the chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio. You may not like the response.

This piece first appeared in print on May 6, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Cookies Dessert

‘Tassie’ together some mini pies this week

Pecan tassies are a bit quicker to accomplish than a full pecan pie, and they’re a great crowd pleaser for a dessert table.

I have said before that I actually really enjoy making pie.

I think now that I feel confident with pie crust, the idea of creating a shell and a filling that (at least in theory) comes out in whole, beautiful slices is one of my favorite things.

Joey has been a wonderful and willing participant in my pie experiments over the years, with pecan being his absolute favorite, so when I announced I was making pecan tassies, he was on board to be my taste tester.

If you’re not familiar, a “tassie” is a mini pie. An old article by Betty Rosbottom in the Los Angeles Times points out that the word really just means “cup,” but in the U.S., at least, we tend to use the term for the dessert.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Baking a Moment.” You can find the original at https://bakingamoment.com/brown-sugar-pecan-tassies/. I doubled the vanilla in my version. Also, feel free to skip the whiskey in these. You can’t taste it in the final version outside of it amplifying other flavors, but if you’re not feeling it, it won’t hurt anything to leave it out.

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Brown Sugar Pecan Tassies

Pecan tassies are a bit quicker to accomplish than a full pecan pie, and they're a great crowd pleaser for a dessert table.
Course Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, cream cheese, mini pie, pecans, tassies, vanilla, whiskey

Ingredients

Pastry Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans plus more for tops

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • For the pastry, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, and then beat in the flour and salt. If you’re using a mini-cupcake pan, divide the pastry into 24 equal balls; if using a regular cupcake pan, divide it into 12.
  • Press the pastry into the bottoms and up the sides of each well.
  • For the filling, beat the egg, brown sugar, melted butter, whiskey, vanilla and salt until it’s smooth. Fold in the pecans and evenly distribute the filling into the prepared pan.
  • Top each well with some more pecans, and bake 25 minutes for the mini-cupcake pan or 30 minutes for the regular cupcake pan.
  • Let the tassies cool, and then remove them from the pan. Store them in an airtight container.

These were awesome. I opted for the mini-cupcake pan version, and it produced cute little pies that were easy to just pop into your mouth. Especially if you wanted to create a dessert buffet table or had a gathering where people will be snacking, this is the recipe for you.

If you’re not with me on enjoying pie baking, this is a good one to try in order to dip your toe in the pool or to just avoid trying to roll out pie dough altogether. Plus, if you need him, I know a guy who makes an excellent taste tester.

This piece first appeared in print on April 15, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Dessert

Baking brownies can be a sticky situation

A gooey layer of caramel is nestled in between from-scratch chocolate brownies in this decadent dessert.

At some point in my baking adventures, I plan on trying to make homemade caramels, but I haven’t been brave over the years when it comes to candy making. 

I think that’s mostly because I didn’t grow up making candies regularly and only very recently invested in my own candy thermometer. But I am incredibly intrigued by the idea of making my own caramel and have earmarked several recipes that I want to try out at some point.

Part of the reason I want to try it out is because I love caramel so much. As a kid, I loved getting a Sugar Daddy or a box of Sugar Babies during Halloween or Easter.

The other reason is because every time I make a recipe that features caramels I buy from the store, I end up with a huge pile of little plastic wrappers on my kitchen counter. Not only does it make me feel wasteful to create all of that trash for one dish, but I also find it incredibly difficult not to pop those little squares into my mouth as I unwrap each one individually.

So you can say that I’m either environmentalist or I lack self control, but either way I should probably learn how to make this stuff myself. Unfortunately for this week’s recipe, I still have a conquered candy making, so we’ll stick with the stuff from the shelf.

This recipe comes from Sabrina Snyder’s “Dinner Then Dessert” blog. You can find her original post at https://dinnerthendessert.com/fat-witch-bakerys-legendary-chocolate-caramel-brownies/. I added extra vanilla in my version.

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Chocolate Caramel Brownies

A gooey layer of caramel is nestled in between from-scratch chocolate brownies in this decadent dessert.
Course Dessert
Keyword brownies, caramel, chocolate

Ingredients

  • 14 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 heaping cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 11 ounces caramel squares unwrapped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare an eight-by-eight-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray and lining it with parchment paper.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter and chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring in between each. Remove it from the microwave once the butter is fully melted, and continue stirring until the chocolate melts, too.
  • Set the bowl aside to cool a bit.
  • Place the caramels in another microwave-safe bowl along with two tablespoons water, and microwave for one minute. Remove it from the microwave and let it sit for about two minutes, and then stir until the mixture is smooth.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla for a couple minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the melted chocolate/butter mixture.
  • Beat in the flour and salt until the mixture is smooth.
  • Spread half of the batter evenly into the baking pan. Pour the caramel into the pan next, keeping it about one inch away from the edges.
  • Place the pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until the caramel is set up.
  • Spread the rest of the batter evenly over the top of the caramel layer and bake for 35 minutes. Let the brownies cool before removing them from the pan using the parchment paper and slicing them into squares. Store them in an airtight container.

These brownies were incredibly decadent. Despite my sweet tooth, I was very satisfied with eating just one. They also were a little on the messy side, since the caramel was nice and gooey in the center. I would highly recommend these with a side of ice cream.

And at some point, I am sure I will learn to make caramel myself. Of course, that really only solves the problem of all the extra wrappers, since there’s no way I will be able to resist eating it, too. I mean, somebody’s got to test out the new recipes; it may as well be me.

This piece first appeared in print on March 25, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Cookies Dessert

You’re fine ‘pudding’ whatever you want in these cookies

A package of pudding gives these cookies a bit of a cake-y texture and flavor, and doubling down on the chocolate makes them even better.

I am and always have been a rule follower.

I rarely if ever got in trouble in school, and I still read instructions before completing a form or assembling a piece of furniture.

For years, I was that way with recipes, too. I followed the directions to the letter. But I have had the good fortune to write this column every week for over eight years now, and one thing I’ve learned about recipes is that the rules are meant to be broken.

That was definitely the case for this week’s recipe. I didn’t sift the flour and baking soda before adding it to the batter. I didn’t use vanilla pudding. I added extra vanilla extract. I grabbed margarine instead of butter, since that was what I had on hand.

And you know what? My cookies still turned out great, so I’m sharing this recipe with you this week so you can be a rule breaker, too.

This comes from the blog “I am a Honey Bee.” You can find the original post at https://iamahoneybee.com/2014/01/09/chocolate-chip-pudding-cookies/. I changed this up by substituting in different flavors from the original and doubling the vanilla.

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Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

A package of pudding gives these cookies a bit of a cake-y texture and flavor, and doubling down on the chocolate makes them even better.
Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate chips, cookies, instant pudding

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3.4 ounces instant pudding I used chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 16 ounces chocolate chips I used semi-sweet

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until they’re light and fluffy—about two minutes. Beat in the pudding mixture. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add in the flour and baking soda and beat until everything is mixed well.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Roll the dough into one-inch balls or scoop it out with a one-inch baking scoop and place them about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until the cookies are set in the middle. Once the cookies have cooled for about five minutes, transfer them to an airtight container.

Despite using the chocolate pudding, these weren’t overly sweet or decadent. They were just really good, soft cookies. We shared some with some friends of ours, and they gave them two thumbs up, too.

And these are infinitely customizable. Go look at the instant pudding in your local grocery store and get creative with your flavor combos. Maybe lemon and white chocolate chips? Coconut with almonds? Butterscotch and dark chocolate?

There are many, many times that being a rule follower is a wonderful trait to have, and believe me, it keeps you out of trouble a lot in life. But in this case, I’d say go ahead and live on the wild side a little. I’m not quite ready to be a rebel without a cause, but cookies are a cause I can get behind.

This piece first appeared in print on March 18, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Cookies Dessert

Fresh berry cookies are almost too good to be ‘blue’

Blueberry white chocolate cookies are big and soft with lots of blueberry flavor, a hint of lemon, and pops of white chocolate.

When I was a kid, our Sunday morning breakfast tradition was having some sort of pastry before church. 

Most often, it was some mini donuts, but every so often, my parents would pick up a variety pack of jumbo muffins. I loved all the flavors, but I often opted for a big, cake-y blueberry muffin as my first choice.

I recently picked up a big container of blueberries and decided to make some cookies I’d been eyeing for awhile. Let me tell you: these were so, so delicious, and while they weren’t quite the same fluffy cake texture of a muffin top, that’s definitely what they reminded me of.

This comes from the blog “In Fine Taste.” You can find the original post at https://infinetaste.com/blueberry-lemon-white-chocolate-chip-cookies/. I added extra vanilla in my version and removed some extra lemon flavors.

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Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blueberry white chocolate cookies are big and soft with lots of blueberry flavor, a hint of lemon, and pops of white chocolate.
Course Dessert
Keyword blueberry, cookies, cream cheese, lemon, vanilla, white chocolate

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar plus more for rolling dough in
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Instructions

  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
  • Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar together. Beat for about two minutes until it’s light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the egg, vanilla and lemon juice for another minute until the batter is smooth.
  • Beat in the salt, baking soda and flour. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and blueberries.
  • Add a few tablespoons of sugar to a small bowl. Scoop dough out in about 1/4-cup scoops, and roll the dough ball in the sugar. Place the cookies about two inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets, and place the sheets in the refrigerator for one hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies for 13 to 16 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are just browned. Let the cookies rest for 10 minutes before enjoying or transferring to an airtight container.

You could probably get away with using frozen blueberries for this, too, if you thaw them and drain them very well first.

We shared these with some friends, and I almost immediately got a request for the recipe. This makes huge, soft cookies that were so, so good.

And while they aren’t actually muffin tops, I think you could get away with eating these for breakfast, too. If anyone judges you, just don’t share your cookies with them.

This piece first appeared in print on March 4, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.