Category Archives: Desserts

A Sweet, Comfortingly Tasty Local Holiday Tradition

It’s been a whirlwind of activity in the past week, and I apologize for neglecting my blog readers. I’ve mostly been eating down all that turkey from Thanksgiving weekend (I even made up a new recipe) and starting some holiday preparations.

Harvey\'s Butter Rum BatterThis weekend we celebrated finding our new Christmas tree with good friends and good, hot cups of holiday goodness. On Saturday, we got pretty toasty with cups of a local favorite, Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter in a steaming cup of water and (maybe a little too much) rum.

For folks not familiar with the batter, it’s a sugary, buttery comfort drink base (you have to add the rum yourself) made in a small factory on National Avenue in Bremerton. Harvey Hudson moved to Bremerton in 1942, and 10 years later made the batter during a stint as a bartender, produced it more widely and the rest is history.

Harvey is now 92 years old, and still goes in to work at the factory in the mornings. And “work” is not just some kind of ambling around supervising kind of thing.

“He get involved, packages and everything,” said Mike Hudson, who’s one of his sons working a the business.

The Sun has written a few stories about him over the years.

The recipe is still mostly the same as it was when created a half-century ago, the only real change to their previously all-natural recipe that they’ve had to make was to replace the real eggs with a substitute to prevent food-borne illness, Mike said.

I asked for the secret to butter rum batter, and here’s how Mike answered:

“It’s worldwide known what the secret is,” he said, then paused.

“It’s Dad,” he said. “His sweetness is what keeps us going.”

So, if you want it, you just have to do and get it. Most grocery stores in Bremerton sell it, and outside of Bremerton, Albertsons, Safeway and Red Apple stores (and I think I’ve seen it at Central Market).

Though Mike didn’t hand out the secret recipe, he did give me permission to share some of the dozens of recipe suggestions that they’ve posted on their web site. The batter itself is non-alcoholic and can be added to a variety of things. Mike could talk for seven minutes straight with ideas on how to use the batter, from cooking pumpkin pie until the top cracks and drizzling the batter on top to a milkshake like they serve at the Crazy Eric’s next door to a grandkid favorite: warm milk with a teaspoon of batter and a candy cane for a stir stick.

There are also plenty of food uses as well. Here’s one I’ve tried with success during a cookie-baking extravaganza:


1/2 carton HARVEY’S Rum Batter
1 cup nuts
2-1/2 oz. rum
1 cup coconut
1 cup oatmeal, or crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers

Mix all of the above ingredients together and make into small balls. Roll in powdered sugar or dip in melted chocolate or butterscotch. Keep refrigerated.

You can find more recipes on their web site

Budget Food Can Make a Gourmet Meal

cooking foodWhen talking about well-prepared food, it’s easy to get caught up in the notion that you have to use some sort of blend of exotic spices and ingredients you’d be hard-pressed to find at your average grocery store. But that’s not always feasible for most people’s budgets, especially in these hard times.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I was reminded of this last week when I went to shoot a video with Chef Chris Plemmons, an Olympic College culinary instructor and former of the Washington Chef’s Association. I was working on a story with another reporter about a new cookbook the association created for people who shop at food banks.

The whole concept was to make user-friendly recipes and help give food bank clients more options.

“You’re not just going to have to take something in a pouch, pour it into boiling water and call it good,” he said.

It’s a lesson for the rest of us too. Inexpensive ingredients combined with creativity can be used to make meals with a little flair. And, I should mention, the shelves were a little bare at the food bank, and I bet that’s not just at the Bremerton Food Line (hint, hint).

He showed us the process of looking through items at the food bank and then making it into a good-looking meal …

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Not Your Baby’s Applesauce

I used to hate applesauce. The thought of that cloyingly sweet mushy stuff in plastic containers just didn’t give me any kinds of warm fuzzy childhood memories. To me, it was the stuff of baby food, and certainly not a go-to snack, even when I was pretending to be on a diet.

But this weekend as I took another look at the brown paper bag full of apples just aging away on my kitchen counter, I realized I had to do something, and I didn’t want to spend a long time doing anything.

And all of a sudden, applesauce sounded pretty good. You can freeze it, use it to make cakes, put it on some pork chops, whatever. It’s easy, and its really hard to mess up.

And a couple months back, my views on cooked fruit took a positive turn after I was treated to a pear poached in wine with a little side of fluffy, sweet cream sauce.  And there lies the inspiration for making an applesauce that turned out to be a little less sweet, a little more fancy and a lot more adult.

The basics of applesauce are this: sugar, a little water and some apples. Thousands of recipes exist out there, from adding spices like cinnamon or vanilla to roasting the apples in a pan and replacing the water with a variety of liquids including apple cider and citrus juices.

I figured if you can poach a pear in white wine, you can surely simmer apples in it. And heck, why stop at wine? Let’s go for liquor! And why stick with a standard cinnamon to give it umph? Let’s get fancy with the spices and throw in another warm dessert spice like cardamom.

Here’s the resulting recipe:

Apple-Cardamom Applesauce in Wine

Applesauce2 pounds tart apples (I used about 8 Jonathans, but a mix of Granny Smiths and others would probably turn out just as well or better.)
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as p
inot grigio
2 Tbs apple brandy
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cardamom

Peel and core apples and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Dissolve sugar in wine and brandy over medium heat. Stir in lemon juice and cardamom, then add apples. Stir well and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes until apples have reached your desired mushiness.
Using a ricer or potato masher, smash down remaining apples to desired consistency.

I ended up just eating the applesauce plain and warm with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Who knew? Turns out I can like applesauce after all.

A Lesson and a Recipe: Black Bottom Cupcakes

I got a chance to meet and watch Jane Gibson, executive pastry chef at Salty’s on Alki seafood and dessert restaurant.

She charmed students at Ridgetop Junior High School in Silverdale with humor served up with a light drawl, a gift from her upbringing on a Tennessee farm. She also gave some great advice to aspiring chefs, such as

You can read more about her visit here .

I took some video while I was there, and better yet, got a recipe (see below) for black-bottom cupcakes, which are the ones shown in the video.

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Heirloom Pumpkin Pie

I couldn’t cook with a pumpkin and not try a pumpkin pie.

If I really wanted to be scientific, I would have used the recipe on the back of the Libby’s Pumpkin I found an old recipe in the Kitsap Sun archives for a pumpkin pie made with ice cream (recipe written out below):

One snag I hit with the pumpkin was that it was pretty hard raw, and I missed some of the stringy pulp. I scooped it out a little after it was baked, but I still found strings when I mashed it. To try and fix it (and maybe this shows what a novice I am), I smooshed it through a sieve.

The recipe called for solid-pack pumpkin, so do reduce the moisture of pure mashed pumpkin, I lined the sieve with cheesecloth and let the mashed pulp sit for about an hour so extra water drained out.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

3 large eggs

1 3/4 cups (15-ounce can) solid pack pumpkin

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 pints (3 cups) vanilla ice cream

2 unbaked 9-inch frozen pie shells (not deep dish)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove ice cream from freezer and place near warm oven to soften.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly.

Stir in pumpkin. Stir in sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice. If ice cream is still hard, place ice cream in microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high setting.

Add ice cream to pumpkin mixture and stir until ice cream is fully melted and batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pie shells.

Bake pies at 425 F for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Cool on wire racks for 2 hours and chill before serving.

Pumpkin Pie

I had to cook the pie an 20 additional minutes so it wasn’t too mushy. The resulting pie was silky and creamy, and the Galeaux D’Eysine lended a subtle pumkin flavor, not at all squashy-tasting.

It gave me confidence to go try out some new recipes before Thanksgiving. Please send me any recipe suggestions you have, and I’ll compile them for another pumpkin pie-flavored post before the holiday.