Categories
Dessert

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

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.

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.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies
Print

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

Stop ‘pudding’ off sweets with a dessert for two

Bread pudding for two features chocolate and pecans surrounded by warm bread and a hint of vanilla.

When I first moved out on my own, I discovered that I had no idea how to cook for only one person. I was great at making portions for four, but cooking for one was a challenge.

So I generally still made my four-person meals and brought lots of leftovers to work for lunch throughout the week. It actually worked out great.

The problem, I found, was when I wanted to satisfy my sweet tooth. Making a nine-by-13-inch cake for one is a bit more over the top than a nine-by-13-inch casserole, I discovered.

Even today, since I mostly cook only for Joey and I, I find myself giving away tons of the desserts I make so that they don’t stay around the house, tempting us to keep nibbling on them. But every once in awhile, I also just seek out recipes that will make just enough for that one serving each and then be gone.

Needing a chocolate fix, I decided to try one of those recipes this week.

I found this one on the aptly named blog “Dessert for Two.” You can find the original post at https://www.dessertfortwo.com/bread-pudding-mugs/. I doubled the vanilla in my version and added pecans.

Print

Bread Pudding for Two

Bread pudding for two features chocolate and pecans surrounded by warm bread and a hint of vanilla.
Course Dessert
Keyword bread pudding, chocolate, pecans, quick dessert, vanilla

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk I used skim
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 slices bread cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 ounces chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1 ounce pecans chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two coffee mugs or other oven-safe vessels by spraying them with cooking spray, and set them aside.
  • In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla and whip with a fork until everything is well combined. Mix in the bread, making sure it is all evenly coated. Stir in the chocolate and pecans, and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and carefully serve while still warm—using a potholder or towel, since the handle and vessel will be hot.

This turned into almost a pantry clean up recipe for me. I just had a few pieces of wheat bread in the fridge that I used in this (including the heels), I had a partial bag of chocolate chips in the freezer, and I still had a few pecans leftover from holiday pies that I hadn’t managed to use up.

This might be a great recipe to keep on hand for after Easter if you have some chocolate eggs or bunnies floating around that you want to try to get rid of, too.

It turned out really yummy, and each serving was about the size of a large piece of cake. You could easily make both servings for yourself, too, and have one now and one for later.

As I learned way back when I made a gigantic cake that only I would end up eating, sometimes you have to get a little creative with dessert leftovers, but I always told myself: if you can eat a donut for breakfast, then why not a slice of cake instead?

This piece first appeared in print on April 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
Cookies Dessert

These cookies are sugar, spice and everything ‘mice’

Chocolate mouse cookies take a bit of effort to put together, but they are delicious and turn out super cute.

When my sister and I were kids, my mom would take us to the Rainbow Bread Outlet in Hutchinson on weekly grocery trips.

If we were especially good, we sometimes got a chance to pick out a bag of Sathers candy, which were two for $1 at the time. One of my favorites was black licorice laces. They were so fun to tie into knots and play with while you ate your treat.

I was reminded of that this week when I set out to make little mouse cookies, which called for licorice laces for the tails. I was disappointed when I couldn’t find them in my local grocery store, settling instead for some Pull ‘N’ Peel Twizzlers. I had no idea kids weren’t readily greeted with licorice laces in the candy aisle anymore.

Well, despite my licorice-based disappointment, it didn’t last long, as my cookies not only turned out adorably but really delicious, too. In fact, if you’re not in the mood to do all the work to form mice out of your cookie dough, I still recommend making this recipe just as plain cookies.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Pampered Chicken Mama.” You can find the original at https://thefrugalchicken.com/childrens-book-read-and-bake-series-chocolate-cookie-mice-for-frederick-by-leo-lionni/. I added extra vanilla in my version.

Print

Chocolate Mouse Cookies

Chocolate mouse cookies take a bit of effort to put together, but they are delicious and turn out super cute.
Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate, cocoa powder, cookies, licorice, M&Ms, peanuts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • mini M&Ms for noses
  • shelled peanuts for ears
  • lace licorice for tails

Instructions

  • Cream the butter, shortening and sugar together, beating for about two minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg.
  • Beat in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt until everything is well combined.
  • Form the dough into a disc shape and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least three hours or overnight.
  • For baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
  • To form the mice, scoop out about one tablespoon of dough. Roll it into a ball and then shape it into a teardrop shape.
  • Add an M&M to the pointed end to create a nose for your mouse, and then stick two halves of a peanut into the top of the dough to form ears. (Make sure they’re stuck in about halfway so they’ll stay better.)
  • Place the cookies about one inch apart on the prepared sheets.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about five minutes before carefully poking a piece of lace licorice into each cookie to create tails. (I used my meat thermometer to make a small hole to make it a little easier to get my licorice to stick into the cookie.) Let the cookies cool completely, and then store them in an airtight container.

These were adorable and a perfect, bite-sized treat. Plus, the recipe made almost 40 little mice, so if you’re looking for some cookies to share, this is a great recipe.

The only drawback was that the peanuts shifted a bit, and some of them popped out. I ended up either sticking them back into the warm cookies or deciding that they were good samples for me to try. You also really need to put these in a single layer in your container if you want to keep them intact.

Also, if you’re like me and can’t find black licorice laces, you’ll have to settle for red tails, too. In the end, it’s not so bad, though. Making a mouse-shaped cookie look too realistically might make them decidedly less appetizing.

This piece first appeared in print on March 17, 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

Pre’pear’ something different for dessert this week

A pear walnut cake with honey and cinnamon buttercream frosting is a tasty dessert that looks beautiful on any table.

The problem with writing this column every week is that sometimes I get a little too overzealous.

I assume I can conquer any recipe the first time, and there are definitely moments where I crash and burn.

That was the case recently when I tried to make poached pears to go along with the cake I’m sharing with you this week. The original recipe called for poaching fresh pears and using them to decorate the top of the cake. Although I gave it the ol’ college try, that step didn’t make it into my final recipe. I just couldn’t get my poaching liquid to behave the way it was supposed to.

The good news is that the cake I made still ended up being delicious, and there was never a need for poached pears in addition to the honey cinnamon buttercream I slathered on it. I’ll have to save pear poaching for another day, I guess.

This cake recipe came from the blog “Liv for Cake.” You can find the original at https://livforcake.com/pear-walnut-cake-honey-buttercream/. I added extra cinnamon and vanilla in my version. And then I opted to use Amy Johnson’s honey buttercream recipe from her site, “She Wears Many Hats.” You can find her post at https://shewearsmanyhats.com/cinnamon-honey-buttercream-frosting-recipe/. I added extra cinnamon in mine.

Print

Pear Walnut Honey Cake

A pear walnut cake with honey and cinnamon buttercream frosting is a tasty dessert that looks beautiful on any table.
Course Dessert
Keyword buttercream, cake, cinnamon, honey, layered cake, pears, vanilla, walnuts

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup buttermilk or milk with a touch of vinegar
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped
  • 2 cups fresh pears cored and shredded

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two eight-inch round cake pans by greasing and flouring them and lining the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In a stand mixer or mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar for several minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Add in the flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon and buttermilk, beating until the mixture is well combined.
  • Fold in the walnuts and pears and distribute the batter evenly between your prepared pans.
  • Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of your cakes comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool until you can handle the pans, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack and let them cool completely before frosting them.
  • For the frosting, beat the butter in a stand mixer or mixing bowl until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the salt and cinnamon.
  • Beat in the powdered sugar a bit at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Finish out by beating in the honey, and then beat on high for another couple of minutes until the mixture is fluffy.
  • To assemble the cake, spread a healthy amount of frosting on the top of one of the cooled cakes, and stack the next one on top. Use the rest of the frosting to coat the entire outside. Decorate with more walnuts, if desired.

This cake was really tasty, with all the flavors melding nicely. I especially liked the honey addition.

The buttercream was also delicious, and if you’re looking for a good substitute for the cinnamon butter a lot of steakhouses serve, this actually reminded me of that quite a bit.

And no one even questioned whether my cake needed more decorations—especially after we quickly demolished every last slice. After all, the best compliment a baker can get isn’t oohs and ahs at the presentation—it’s the empty plates afterwards.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 3, 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

‘Choc’ this recipe up to a new pan purchase

A bittersweet chocolate pumpkin tart is a great holiday recipe, along with having deep, rich flavor that makes small pieces the default serving size.

After years of saying I was going to do it, I finally took the plunge last week: I bought a tart pan.

If you remember, I made miniature tarts earlier this year, aided by a cookie cutter and a cupcake tin, and that really pushed me towards making my ultimate purchase.

I’ve been staring at the tart pans in our local kitchen store for months, trying to decide if I really needed one as much as I thought I did.

In the end, I bought two different sizes. Go big or go home, I guess.

So, with my new purchase, it will be no surprise that I made a tart for this week, and not only was it the perfect flavor combination for Thanksgiving, but it was delicious, too.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Love & Olive Oil” by Lindsay Landis. You can find the original post at https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2015/11/bittersweet-chocolate-pumpkin-tart.html. I just changed the spices a little bit for my version.

Print

Bittersweet Chocolate Pumpkin Tart

A bittersweet chocolate pumpkin tart is a great holiday recipe, along with having deep, rich flavor that makes small pieces the default serving size.
Course Dessert
Keyword bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, fall, ginger, nutmeg, pecans, pumpkin, tart, Thanksgiving, vanilla wafers

Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

  • 8 ounces vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter melted

Filling Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk I used skim
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or vanilla

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • For the crust, add the cookies and pecans into a food processor and process until the mixture is in small crumbs. Add the sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter, and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed.
  • Pour the crust mixture into a nine-inch tart pan and press with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to evenly coat the bottom and up the sides. Make sure the crust mixture is firmly pressed together.
  • Put the pan onto a baking sheet and bake the crust for about 10 minutes or until it’s set. Remove the pan the oven and set it aside to cool.
  • Turn the oven down to 250 degrees.
  • Heat a saucepan over low heat, and add the milk and cream. Stir regularly to keep it from scorching on the bottom, and once the milk just starts to bubble a little around the edges of the pan, remove it from the heat and stir in the chocolate, continuing to stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, and stir until it’s well combined.
  • Add about one-fourth cup of the chocolate mixture into the pumpkin mixture to temper the eggs. Add the rest of the chocolate mixture, stirring well. Finish it out by adding the bourbon or vanilla extract and stirring again.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake on the baking sheet for 30 to 35 minutes or until the tart is just barely jiggly in the middle. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool completely before serving.
  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

This was intensely rich and not overly sweet. I used a 62 percent cacao chocolate for my version, and I really liked the darker chocolate flavor. The pumpkin is definitely there but not the dominant flavor. I would recommend cutting this in smaller slices. You don’t need a lot of it to feel satisfied.

If you don’t have a tart pan, you could easily substitute in a springform pan or just use a pie pan, too.

I must say, though, I really liked my pretty scalloped edges on my tart. It made me feel like a real baker, despite this being a fairly easy recipe overall.

I’m not sure what kitchen store product will be the next I’ll be pining after, but for now, my friends, family and coworkers better be excited for some new tart experiments.

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 11, 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

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
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.

Print

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. 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

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.

Print

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. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.