Be my guest

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 10, 2019 9:20 am Updated: Apr. 11, 2019 5:08 am

PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- Three generations came together in a Pittsfield High School classroom last week with one sweet goal in mind.

"I'm going to cook a coffee cake," said Nancy Taylor, whose granddaughter Nancy Olson is a sophomore at PHS in Debbie Stendback's Intro to Family and Consumer Science class.

Taylor, her daughter Jenny Graham and Nancy worked together with two of Nancy's classmates on the recipe, which originally came from Bonnie Petty, the grandmother of another student in the class.

The simple recipe could be made in the amount of time available, and it's a favorite of Nancy.

"I like the icing," she said. "The whole entire cake is just amazing."

Students invited guests to come to class and prepare a favorite recipe, an idea Stendback brought back from a conference in February and plans to repeat again next year.

"I think it's a great idea to learn new ways to cook and interact with people," freshman Dylan Leavell said.

Dylan prefers cooking over baking -- and cooks nearly every day -- but welcomed learning from Taylor how to make the coffee cake with its layers of cake batter and cinnamon filling. "We've had sisters and brothers come in, parents, grandparents, friends, friends' parents and friends' grandparents," Stendback said, and her students "have loved it. I think the eating part maybe helps."

Sophomore Bethany Gratton and her mom Angie Gratton admittedly don't do much cooking because they're too busy, but both do enjoy making Monkey Bread.

"This is one of our Christmas things that we make," Gratton said.

Knowing that the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie 'N Oreo Fudge Brownie Bars take time to bake and set up after baking, freshman Zoey Myers made a pan ahead of time to share with classmates, then enjoyed preparing the recipe again in class with her guest, her grandma Sherry Cook.

It's more fun than an average day in class "because we get to pick the recipe, and we get to have an experienced person," Zoey said.

The students honed cooking skills along with other skills important not just for school but for their future.

"They had to write out interview questions for their quests and do an interview. We talk about how to greet people, how to shake hands, make introductions. They write a thank you note to their guests," Stendback said. "They've done a lot of thinking, a lot of problem-solving, a lot of writing, a lot of discussion."

Jacqueline Davis helped her sister Reese, a freshman, bake the same Snicker Cupcakes the 21-year-old made when she was in Stendback's class.

"They're super simple. It's just a lot of ingredients," Jacqueline said. "There's going to be caramel and peanuts in the middle, and the icing is going to be kind of a marshmallow fluff."

The grandmas even pitched in with the dishes.

"She just stepped in," Zoey said.

"I didn't really do them all," Cook said. "They were starting, and I was trying to help them hurry up since we're so limited on time."

SClBCoffee Cake (Nancy Taylor)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 box instant vanilla pudding

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

2/3 cup oil

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

2/3 cup pecans

Beat together cake mix, pudding, eggs, water and oil for seven minutes. Combine sugar, cinnamon and pecans; set aside.

In a Bundt pan coated with butter, alternately pour cake batter and cinnamon-sugar mixture, ending with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool about 20 to 25 minutes before removing cake from pan.

NOTE: Cake also may be baked in two eight-inch square pans for 25 minutes. Taylor also tops the cake with canned vanilla frosting, and serves it with whipped cream.

Monkey Bread (Angie Grammer)

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cans biscuits

Melt together butter, cinnamon and sugar.

Cut each biscuit into four pieces. Dip each biscuit piece into butter mixture, then put pieces into a Bundt pan or a loaf pan. If desired, nuts may be added to the pan before adding biscuits. Drizzle remaining butter mixture over top before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.

Snickers Cupcakes (Jacqueline Davis)

13/4 cups flour

1 cup cocoa powder

11/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup full-fat buttermilk (at room temperature)

1/2 cup full-fat sour cream (at room temperature)

2 tablespoons water or brewed coffee

6 ounces butter (at room temperature)

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

In a bowl, beat together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, and in a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine buttermilk, sour cream and water. Alternate adding dry ingredients and liquids to butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scoop batter into paper-lined cupcake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Caramel-Peanut Filling

14 ounces soft caramels

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

When ready to fill cupcakes, microwave caramels, cream and butter, stirring well after every 30 seconds until mixture is smooth and fluid. Stir in chopped peanuts.

Peanut-Marshmallow Frosting

8 ounces butter, room temperature

11/4 cups creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup cream

1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar

1 (seven-ounce) jar marshmallow creme

Beat together butter and peanut butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then add cream and powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated, then increase speed to medium and beat until mixture lightens and becomes fluffy and smooth. Stir in marshmallow crème by hand. Spoon frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

Using a frosting tip, small spoon or paring knife, cut a hole in the top of each cupcake. Fill the hole with Caramel-Peanut Filling. Top with Peanut-Marshmallow Frosting, then top each cupcake with a drizzle of chocolate fudge sauce, chopped salted peanuts and coarsely chopped Snickers bars.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie and Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar (Sherry Cook)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

21/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips

1 package Double Stuf Oreos

1 family size (9x13-inch) brownie mix

1/4 cup hot fudge topping

Cream butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; and mix well to thoroughly combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, then slowly incorporate into butter mixture until flour is just combined. Stir in chocolate chips

Spread cookie dough in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish that has been lined with waxed paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Top with a layer of Oreos.

Prepare brownie mix, following package directions, adding the 1/4 cup hot fudge topping to the mix if desired. Pour brownie batter over the cookie dough and Oreos.

Cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking for an additional 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. Brownies still may be gooey in the middle when warm, but will set up perfectly once cooled.