Tag Archives: sugar

Whoopie Pies – Maine

Whoopie pies are the state treat of Maine (not be confused with the state dessert which is blueberry pie). Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, Maine, takes credit for inventing this confection way back in 1925.

Whoopie Pies - Maine

Whoopie pies come in various flavors combinations (both the cake and the filling), but in our humble opinion, the classic recipe is really the epitome of a perfect dessert. The outside is two soft chocolate cakes, that surround a fluffy, vanilla marshmallow-y filling. YUM! We have been making this recipe for years and years to much acclaim. No one can resist a whoopie pie. Why would you even want to?

Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor is the second most visited national park east of the Mississippi. Visitors who make the trek up Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard, can claim to be the first people to see the sun rise, at least for part of the year.

Whoopie Pies

  • Servings: 12-15 pies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For cakes:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar

For filling:

  • 2 cups marshmallow spread
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar

Instructions

For cakes:

In a medium bowl, add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg and oil. Mix well until well combined. Add sugar and continue mixing, until well combined. With the mixer running, alternate adding the flour-cocoa mixture, with the milk mixture. Mix until just combined and no flour pockets appear in the batter.

Drop tablespoons of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This will yield between 24 and 30 cakes depending on the size. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until the tops spring up when touched. Let cool on wire rack.

For filling:

Combine marshmallow spread, confectioners sugar, butter and vanilla in a clean bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Filling should be light and fluffy. When cakes are completely cool, spread filling on half of the cakes. Put cakes together to form a sandwich.

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Huckleberry Handpies – Montana

We’ve just returned from a glorious week in Glacier National Park. This jewel in the national park system is one of the most beautiful places on earth. At every turn, you are met with a stunning vista  . . .

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park
Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

a gorgeous waterfall . . .

St. Mary’s Falls, Glacier National Park

. . . or a majestic mountain.

Mt. Oberlin (with Bird Woman Falls), Glacier National Park

And huckleberries. Mid-July to August is prime huck season. Stores and shops promote huckleberry flavored everything including ice cream, coffee, lemonade, chocolate and popcorn. They are a favorite of the black bear who roams these quarters and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a bear by the side of the road, munching away on this delectable treat (we were safe in our car, thank goodness).

This handpie recipe is a real winner. It combines the taste of a full-on

Huckleberry Handpies- Montana

pie, with the ease of a handheld pastry. Don’t fret if you can’t find huckleberries — and you probably can’t unless you live in northwest Montana, they haven’t been successfully grown commercially — just use blueberries.

Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50-mile road (in fact, one of the only roads) that takes you from one end of Glacier to the other. Open only in the summer and often maddingly jammed with traffic, this route offers breathtaking views and passes the highest point in the park, Logan Pass.

Huckleberry Handpies

  • Servings: 8 pies
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For Pastry:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup cold water

For Filling:

  • 2 cups fresh huckleberries or blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Salt, pinch

For Topping:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Turbinado sugar 

Instructions

To make pastry: In the bowl of a food processor, add flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter. Pulse until mixture is a coarse meal. Add water and pulse until dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and place in refrigerator until chilled.

To make filling: In the meantime, make the filling. Place berries in a medium saucepan. Add cornstarch, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Heat on medium until mixture begins to simmer. Allow mixture to thicken, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Set aside to cool (mixture can be made a day ahead of time).

To assemble handpies: Roll the chilled dough into a 12” X 12” square. Cut out 16 squares. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on 8 of the squares. Place pastry on top and crimp edges with fork tines. Brush tops of handpies with beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place each handpie on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut two small slits in each pie to allow steam to vent. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Maple Glazed Apple Strudel – Vermont

Sniff around outside in the Green Mountain state from early late March to late April, and you’ll suddenly be struck with a craving for pancakes. That delicious smell is from sugarmakers who are

Maple Glazed Apple Strudel - Vermont

processing and boiling the sap of sugar maples to make Vermont’s most famous product, maple syrup. We’ve talked before here and here about how maple is the official state flavor (pretty cool to have one of those, right?).

This apple strudel recipe calls for maple syrup both in the filling and also in the glaze on top. Using puff pastry for the dough makes it super easy, too. If you don’t like pecans leave them out or add a ¼ cup of raisins to the filling if you are so inclined.

Check out the Maple Open House Weekend, March 25-26, 2017, when sugarhouses across the state of Vermont give tours, demos and samples.

Maple Glazed Apple Strudel

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

 For Strudel:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 large tart apples
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

For Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry and roll out with a rolling pin until it is 12 by 12 inches. Peel the apples, core them, then slice thinly. Sprinkle with lemon juice so they do not brown. In a medium mixing bowl, add sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadcrumbs and ½ cup of pecans. Mix well. Add apples and stir until they are well coated. Place apple mixture on one half of the puff pastry. Fold over the other half and pinch the edges closed. Gently lift onto a parchment lined baking sheet and turn seam side down. Cut 3 vents in top of puff pastry to allow steam to escape. Brush top and sides with melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl, combine confectioners sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract (if glaze is too stiff, add a teaspoon of milk at a time to reach desired consistency). When strudel is cooled, add maple glaze, then sprinkle with ¼ cup chopped pecans.

Hawaiian Donuts: Leonard’s Bakery Malasadas

Malasadas are the Hawaiian donut you never met but will instantly love. Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu has been making these sugary orbs of goodness since the 1950s. Originally a Portuguese

Malasadas - Hawaii

confection, these treats jumped two oceans as well as the vast expanse of North America when sugar cane and pineapple workers from Portugal immigrated to Hawaii. Created to celebrate Fat Tuesday, now you can find malasadas throughout the year and all over the Hawaiian Islands. If you are driving in Hawaii and see a food truck with a long line of people, pull a U-turn and check it out, they could be selling malasadas.

What makes malasadas different than donuts is the rich batter, fortified with eggs and half and half. The basic recipe we have used here from Leonard’s is plain sugar but on Hawaii you can find malasadas filled with all sorts of custards, including vanilla, chocolate and coconut. Super ono! Malasadas are a bit time consuming as they have to rise twice but if you make them, you will be the rock star of your household and neighborhood — if you dare give some away.

While in Hawaii, don’t miss the USS Arizona Memorial, including the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. This is one of the most heavily visited sites in Hawaii and is a very moving memorial to the sailors and service people who died there.

Leonard’s Bakery Malasadas

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups bread flour, sifted
  • Canola oil (for frying)

Instructions

Combine yeast,  one teaspoon sugar and two tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixture with the paddle attachment, beat eggs. Add yeast mixture, ½ cup sugar, butter, milk, half and half, and salt. Beat until combined. Add sifted flour gradually and mix until dough is smooth and elastic (it will be quite sticky). Transfer to a clean bowl coated with vegetable oil. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch square, so the dough is about ½ inch thick. Cut the dough into 12 3-inch squares (alternatively, you can make smaller, round malasadas by cutting the dough into 24 pieces). Place each dough piece on an individual square of parchment paper on two baking sheets at least 3 inches apart. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place again, for approximately one hour.

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Place remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl. Working in batches, remove dough from parchment paper and drop gently into hot oil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Toss in sugar when cool enough to handle. Serve while warm.

Fit for Royalty: King Cake – Louisiana

The parades! The parties! The food and drinks! Mardi Gras is in full swing down in New Orleans and will culminate on February 28, which is when Fat Tuesday falls this year. King Cake actually refers to the three kings who visited baby Jesus in his manger as the

King Cake - Louisiana

season extends from Epiphany until the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. The French likely brought the King Cake tradition to New Orleans and it always includes inserting a plastic baby

Plastic babies for King Cake
Do you think we have eaten too many King Cakes through the years?

or dried bean in the cake after it is baked. The person who receives the piece with the trinket is said to be blessed with good luck and must host the next Mardi Gras party or buy the King Cake for the next party.

There are literally dozens of variations of fillings for this cake including cinnamon, praline and strawberry. We opted for a cream cheese and apricot filling which is a family favorite.  The cake is

Apricot and cream cheese filled King Cake

usually decorated with icing or sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors which signify justice (purple), power (yellow) and faith (green). We can’t lie, this cake is time consuming to make. To break up the steps, feel free to make the dough the day before. Let rise and then put into the refrigerator. So worth the effort and waaaaay cheaper than a plane ticket to NOLA.

If you are lucky enough to live near New Orleans or plan to visit in the next week, check out the Mardi Gras parade schedule so you don’t miss a moment of the action.

Apricot and Cream Cheese Filled King Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For Dough:

  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour (approx.)

For Filling:

  • 1 16 ounce can apricot pie filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 whole egg (for egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)

For Icing/Finishing:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or half-n-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Yellow, purple and green colored sugar
  • One plastic baby, or uncooked bean

Instructions

For Dough:

In a small bowl, mix yeast with warm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon flour. Let sit until mixture begins to bubble. Meanwhile, heat milk in a medium saucepan until just boiling. Add butter and remaining sugar. Remove from heat and let stand until lukewarm. Add egg, egg yolk and yeast mixture. Beat with wire whisk until incorporated.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add liquid. Then add 1 cup flour. Beat using dough hook attachment until dough smooth. Add additional flour gradually and continue to beat until dough is elastic and glossy. Turn dough out into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let sit in warm place until dough has doubled in size, approximately 1.5 hours. Punch dough down and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Dough can be made day ahead and left in fridge overnight).

For Filling:

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg yolks and vanilla. If apricot filling is watery, drain in colander.

To Assemble:

Shape cold dough into a log. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until it is a rectangle shape, approximately 30 X 9 inches. Spoon the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough, longways, about 3 inches from the long edges but almost to the ends. Add the fruit filling right next to the strip of cream cheese. Mix the egg with the water to create an egg wash. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold one long edge over the filling, do the same with the other long edge. Turn seam side down onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently form into a circle, joining the ends together. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Brush cake with remaining egg wash. Cut several slits to allow heat to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Mix confectioners’ sugar with milk and vanilla. Spoon over cake. Sprinkle cake with colored sugars. Before serving, insert baby or bean into bottom of cake.

Ohio Shaker Lemon Pie

The Shakers were a Christian sect that began in Great Britain and made their way to the Northeast of the United States in the middle of the eighteen century. By the 1840s, several communities in Ohio

Ohio Lemon Shaker Pie

existed. Shakers were a very thrifty bunch and this pie presumably came about in an effort to use every part of the lemon. Yes, indeedy-doo, this pie uses the lemon pulp, the juice AND the skin. Use Meyer lemons as the flesh is sweeter than a regular lemon and the skin is more aromatic. The bitterness of the skin is tempered by the two cups of sugar that the lemons macerate with overnight. We have seen recipes for this pie with a top crust as well, but we liked the single crust version – all the better to see and taste the sunny yellow filling. Just the thing to brighten these gray winter days.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is a mecca for rock aficionados. With five levels of exhibits including sound booths, interactive opportunities and a U2 3D film, this museum is not to be missed.

Ohio Shaker Lemon Pie

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/4 cup cold water

For filling:

  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

For crust: Place all ingredients except water in food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed. Add water a little at a time until the dough is moist and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use. (Can be made a day ahead).

For filling: Over a medium mixing bowl to catch the juice, slice the lemons very thinly (can use a mandolin), discarding the ends. Reserve 3-5 slices of lemon for center of pie. Chop the remaining lemon slices into small pieces, then add to the mixing bowl, along with any lemon juice. Discard any visible seeds. Add 2 cups sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for at least 3 hours or overnight in fridge.

Roll out crust onto a floured surface. Gently lift onto a 9-inch pie plate. Finish edges by fluting or forking them.

Add beaten eggs and salt to lemon mixture. Add flour and vanilla and mix. Pour lemon mixture into pie crust. Array reserved lemon slices in center of pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for the first 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for approximately 30 minutes more or until crust is golden brown, the pie is set and the filling is bubbly. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. Let pie cool on a wire rack before serving.

Cranberry Mimosa – Massachusetts

Just because Thanksgiving is over does not mean that we are done with the cranberry. The tart little cranberry is the Bay State’s official state berry and cranberry juice is the official state beverage. The

Cranberry Mimosa

name cranberry is thought to be a bungled derivation of “craneberry,” so called by the Pilgrims because the spring blossoms resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane.

Because you can never have too many cocktail options with the holidays approaching, we bring you the cranberry mimosa. This fun little drink whips up with just a few ingredients and is light and refreshing,

Main Street, Nantucket, is the site of the 43rd Annual Christmas Stroll, December 2-4, 2016. Visit historic homes decorated for the holiday, visit the craft show and watch Santa arrive via a Coast Guard Cutter.

Cranberry Mimosa

  • Servings: 1 drink
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Orange slices
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup champagne or sparkling wine
  • 2-3 fresh cranberries (optional)

Instructions

Take orange slice and rub on rim of wine glass. Sprinkle sugar on plate, turn glass upside down and rub the rim of the glass in the sugar. Add orange slice to glass, then cranberry juice, then champagne. Add a few cranberries as a garnish if desired.

Persimmon Muffins with Sugared Pecan Topping – Indiana

If you’ve never had a persimmon you’ve been missing out. Their flavor is often described as a cross between a guava, an apricot and an avocado. Southeastern Indiana has an abundance of wild

Persimmon Muffins with Sugared Pecan Topping - Indiana

persimmon trees and if you are lucky enough to live nearby, the delicate fruit will be showing up in farmers markets and farm stands in the next few weeks. Nutritionally, persimmons are a great source of dietary fiber, as well as vitamin A and vitamin C. We did a little experimenting and used our family zucchini bread recipe but replaced the zucck with persimmons. It worked beautifully and the pecan topping lends a bit of crunchy sweetness.

Mitchell, Indiana, hosts a Persimmon Festival each year with arts and crafts, a persimmon pudding contest, entertainment and the crowning of Persimmon Festival Queen.

Persimmon Muffins with Sugared Pecan Topping

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For Muffins:

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 -3 very ripe persimmons
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 Instructions

To make topping, in a small mixing bowl combine melted butter, flour, sugar, pecans and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and ground ginger). Whisk a bit until fully mixed. Set aside.

Remove stems from the persimmons then slice into eighths. Remove any seeds. Working in 2 batches, place persimmon sections in the bowl of a Foley food mill. Process until 1 cup of pulp is extracted and only the skin remains.

To the pulp add sugar, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla. Stir until fully incorporated. Add dry ingredients and stir just until batter is mixed, being careful not to overmix.

Add batter into lined muffin tins, filling about three quarters full. Distribute pecan topping equally over all muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Bar Food is for Lovers: Sweet and Savory Peanuts – Virginia (vegan)

We don’t know about you, but when we think of the foods of Virginia, two things come to mind: Smithfield ham (which is a type of country ham protected by state law and only produced in the town

Sweet and Savory Peanuts - Virginiaof Smithfield) and peanuts. There are actually thousands of peanut cultivars but the four main groups grown in the U.S. include Spanish, Runner, Valencia and Virginia. Virginia peanuts are mostly grown in southeastern Virginia but also in the Carolinas. Virginia peanuts are prized because they are bigger than the other types.

For those who love sweet and salty snacks to go with a beer or cocktail, this recipe will deliver. Just try to keep yourself from eating too many at once, we found them totally addictive. You’ve been warned.

Enjoy the wildflowers on the historic Skyline Drive which covers 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park. Be sure to allow enough time for checking out the visitor center, hiking, exploring neighboring towns, and of course, eating.

Sweet and Savory Peanuts

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (up to ¼ teaspoon if you like spicy)
  • 1 ½ cups lightly salted Virginia peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions

In a large bowl, place agave syrup and spices (everything except the sugar). Stir until well blended. Add peanuts and stir to coat. Spread peanut mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees, stirring every five minutes for 20 minutes or until nuts are caramel brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle on sugar, then toss with spatula until nuts are fully coated. Let cool. Break up into smaller pieces and store in an airtight container.

Get Your Two Lips on Some Juleps: Mint Juleps – Kentucky

Hey racing fans, it’s Kentucky Derby season! The quintessential drink to quaff is the Mint Julep. The signature drink of Churchill Downs since 1938 when they first began serving it in souvenir cups

Mint Juleps - Kentucky

for 75 cents, this delicious concoction is easy to make at home with just a few ingredients. Churchill Downs now serves over 80,000 mint juleps during the two-day Derby.

The trick to this drink is making the mint simple syrup a day or two beforehand. The simple syrup gives the drink a minty oomph that simply muddling the mint leaves won’t do.

The key ingredient is of course, Kentucky Bourbon. If you get the chance to visit Louisville you must designate a driver and then hit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which offers tours of nine different bourbon distilleries. Buy the best Kentucky Bourbon you can afford for this drink, it’s worth every sip.

Bust out your fancy hats and make your way to Louisville on May 1 and 2 for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

Mint Juleps

  • Servings: 2 drinks
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For mint simple syrup:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 bunch mint

For cocktails:

  • 4 tablespoons mint simple syrup
  • 4 ounces of Kentucky bourbon
  • 4-6 mint leaves, crushed
  • Crushed ice
  • Confectioners sugar (optional)

Instructions

For mint simple syrup: Place water and sugar in saucepan. Heat on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add mint. When cool, place in a glass container overnight in fridge. Remove mint after 24 hours.

For cocktail: Add mint simple syrup and bourbon to cocktail shaker. Shake well. Add crushed iced into two glasses. Divide cocktail into glasses. Add mint leaves. Top with confectioners sugar if desired.