Georgia Peach Upside-down Skillet Corn Cake

By Libbie Summers
Floral Apron Shown with Cake:Hostess Apron in Floral Linen available at Libbie Summers label

Yet another variation on a recipe from my cookbook, Sweet and Vicious: Baking With Attitude. A never fail cake recipe that will work with any fruit…like any fruit! Change up the spices to make it your own. In this recipe, I swapped out the cinnamon for ground cardamom and a heavy pinch of black pepper. Serving with vanilla ice cream is not optional.
Peach Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake by Libbie Summers

Georgia Peach Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake
serves 8-10

What you need:
For the fruit layer:
4 tablespoons butter
3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (optional)
4-5 ripe Georgia peaches, pitted and sliced into 1/4” slices

For the cake batter:
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon (swap out for ground cardamom and a heavy pinch of black pepper if you like)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla paste or really good vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup milk, at room temperature
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (not optional)

What to do:
1. Make the fruit layer:
In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter until just bubbling.  Add the brown sugar and rum. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  Arrange two layers of the sliced peaches in a decorative pattern to cover the brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the skillet. Set aside while you make the cake batter.

2. Make the cake batter: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and spice(s). Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla paste and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture, then add the milk and mix to combine, then add the last of the flour mixture. Mix only until the flour mixture is just incorporated (the batter will be thick). Spread the batter over the fruit, being careful not to move the fruit around too much.  You may smooth the top, but don’t worry too much because everything will settle as it bakes.

3. Finish the Cake: Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the skillet or an instant read thermometer registers 190-195ºF. The center should feel set to the touch. Remove the skillet from the oven and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the skillet, then very carefully place a plate (larger than the diameter of the skillet) over the top of the skillet and flip the skillet over to turn the cake out onto the plate.

To Serve: Serve the cake warm or room temperature sat in the middle of your dinner table with a bowl of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Georgia Peach Upside Down Skillet Corn Cake from Libbie Summers

Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

My Aunt Darlene used to make a version of this midwestern holiday treat when I was a kid. She called it her “Special Toffee”. It wasn’t until last year that I knew there was a cracker inside. Some call them cookies. I prefer to think of this as Aunt Darlene’s Special Toffee 2.0. I’ve taken her recipe and raised it a toffee. 

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Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee
makes one quarter baking tray/24 crackers

What you need:
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
24 salted saltine crackers (or you can make these using  a 1/2 sheet tray and use a full sleeve of saltines. The rest of the recipe will work with either amount)
3/4 cup Chocolate Heath Toffee Bits
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a 1/4 baking sheet tray with foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Get a timer ready!!
2. Arrange Crackers: Line the baking tray with the crackers in a single layer.
3. Start Toffee: In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat add the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture has started to boil DO NOT STIR. Allow to boil for 3 minutes only. Pour the hot mixture over the tray of crackers and spread to cover crackers if you need to (I never need to). Bake for 5 minutes.
4. Add Second Toffee: Remove tray from oven and spread toffee bits over the bubbling mixture. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
5. Add Chocolate: Remove tray from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate chips are almost completely melted. Be patient! Once melted, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the top.
6. Rest and Cool: Let the tray sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (this will help the crackers soak up all the goodness) then refrigerate until hard.

To Serve: Remove from foil and cut into uniform pieces or break apart into irregular pieces (I prefer to break apart). Package in a cute vintage tin for a lovely gift from the kitchen.

Check out these other Easy Candy Making Recipes! 
Chocolate Nut Clusters: Recipe or VIDEO
Homemade Tootsie Rolls: Recipe or VIDEO
•Beautiful Bark: Recipe and Video 

 

Chocolate Nut Clusters

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

If you interested in giving candy making a try, I’d like to introduce you to this Chocolate Nut Cluster recipe. It’s a very forgiving recipe that is as delicious as it is beautiful. Bonus, it’s my father’s favorite holiday candy! The recipe makes two dozen and let me tell you 6 of these make a perfect gift, so give away 3 gifts and keep one for yourself! Happy candy making! 

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Chocolate Nut Clusters
(makes 24)

What you need: 
1 pound white candy coating, chopped
6 ounces milk chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate)
2 1/2 cups dry roasted and salted nuts (I used 1 1/2 cups cashews and 1/2 cup peanuts)
Maldon Salt (optional)
Chipotle chili powder (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

What to do:
1. Prepare Trays: Line four 1/4 baking sheet trays or two 1/2 baking sheet trays (whatever will fit into your refrigerator) with waxed paper and set aside. *note: if you don’t have enough baking sheet trays, use any flat surface that you have that will fit into your refrigerator. Plates, platters or whatever.
2. Melt Coating and Chocolate: In a pyrex bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water (a double boiler), add the candy coating and chocolate. Heat until melted and smooth.
3. Cool Chocolate Mixture: Remove the bowl from the double boiler and allow the chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes. This step can not be skipped. Allowing the chocolate cool for a few minutes help keep your clusters together when you scoop them out.
4. Add Nuts: Stir nuts into the slightly cooled chocolate. 5. Scoop and Set: Using a small portion scoop (about a heaping 1 tablespoon size), scoop the chocolate nut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet trays. Sprinkle the tops of each cluster with a wee bit of salt, chipotle chili powder or sprinkles if you like. Refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Try out these other Easy Candy and Sweet Snack Recipes!
They make great gifts from the kitchen! 

Homemade Tootsie Rolls
Beautiful Bark
Homemade Caramel Corn

Animal Cookie Party Favors

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong (as seen in Country Living Magazine, May 2020)

I like to send off guests at the end of a party with something whimsical, delicious and homemade. Usually the delicousness is found inside a tin and it’s always worthy of a smile. These cheeky and nostalgic animal cookies were packed inside decorated Altoids tins. Perfect for holding 4 small cookies and a note. PRO TIP: Make sure to soak the tins in a cleaning solution first or your cookies will taste and smell like Peppermint…or wintergreen.

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The Only Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need
(makes 3-9 dozen cookies depending on the cutter size)

What you need: 
3 cups all-purpose flour (more for bench flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (can substitute 1/4 teaspoon bubblegum extract)
Sprinkles (optional for dough)
Royal Icing (recipe to follow)
Nonpareil sprinkle mix for decorating (I used a mix of pastel colored nonpareils, you only need about 3 tablespoons total)

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and extracts.
4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The dough may be stiff…this is okay! PRO TIP: at this point you can stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sprinkles to your dough.
5. Do not chill the dough, just get right into it! Lightly flour a work surface and cut off enough dough to be workable. Roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut shapes with your cookie cutters. Place on the prepared baking trays and bake for 6-8 minutes.
6. Allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Royal Frosting
(makes 3 cups)

What you need: 
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoons powdered egg whites (or meringue powder)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)

What to do:
In a large bowl, stir together sugar, water and meringue powder until completely mixed. Adjust as needed for consistency. Add a bit more water if too thick and a bit more powdered sugar if too thin. Tint with food coloring if desired. Cover until read to use.
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Gift Tins
1. Thoroughly wash and soak tins (if you are upcycling an old Altoid’s tin) to get the minty smell out.
2. Cut 2 pieces of scrap paper or paper napkins the size of the lid.
3. Using Rubber Cement or Modge Podge, glue the pieces of paper to the outside and inside lid.
4. Trim edge with any fun trim. I used a wee pom pom trim.
5. Cut a piece of parchment or tissue paper for the inside and fill with your treats!

Chocolate Covered Date Nut Squares

By Libbie Summers

A 3-ingredient delicious dessert that doesn’t involve eggs, flour or sugar? I’m ALL IN! 
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Chocolate Covered Date Nut Squares
(makes 16…depending on how big you cut them)

What you need: 
1/2 cup packed fresh dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups nuts (you can mix any nuts here, use the bits and pieces of whatever you have on hand)
6 ounces dark chocolate, melted (a heaping cup)

What to do: 
Prepare an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so as the ends come over the sides of the pan.

1. Soak Dates If Needed: If your dates are on the drier side (mine were), soak them in warm water for 5 minutes and drain before using.

2. Make Nut Mixture: Add nuts and dates to a food processor and process until mixture is sticky and small pieces of nuts can still be seen.

3. Start Bars: Press date nut mixture into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to press down flat.

4. Finish Bars: Pour melted chocolate over date nut mixture and spread evenly. Place in freezer or refrigerator until chocolate has hardened completely (about 10-20 minutes).

5. Cut Bars: Remove bars from pan onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife and cut into squares.
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