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What's Cooking? - Posted October 28, 2016 9:23 a.m.
Photos by Shannon Richardson

Tiny Treats

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Despite the excesses of the Thanksgiving meal, most family members somehow reserve enough digestive room to sample a full slice of pumpkin or pecan pie for dessert. That’s just tradition. But the rest of the weekend, portion sizes matter. Whether it’s the next morning or while eating leftovers for lunch, few people are ready for much more than a small, bite-size dessert. We asked Nicole Fleetwood and McKinzie Hodges of Scratch Made Bakery & Cafe to suggest small Thanksgiving treats that are simple to prepare.

Their recipes – pumpkin pop-tarts, pear tartlets, and baked sweet potato doughnuts – are as delicious as they are convenient. “These are great alternatives for people hosting a party,” Hodges explains. “You can serve them on a napkin. You don’t need a plate. It’s an easy cleanup and people feel less guilty than having a whole slice of pie.” Besides, she says, “People love cute, tiny things. Tiny meals are adorable.”

Pear Tartlets

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup superfine sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ pound (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times to blend. Distribute butter in bowl and pulse 7 to 8 times. Process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. In small bowl, beat egg, egg yolk, water and vanilla with fork. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture and pulse 5 to 6 times. Process until mixture just begins to form a mass, 8 to 10 seconds. Empty dough onto lightly floured surface and knead six to eight times until dough is smooth and malleable. Shape into an evenly thick 6-inch square. Using pastry scraper or dull side of long knife, score dough at 1-inch intervals so you get 36 1-inch squares. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes. Put pastry squares in mini pastry pan and press into shape with your fingers. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until pastry is golden brown but still semi-soft in center. Carefully remove shells and set aside.

Pear filling:
4 medium-size Bartlett pears, cored and chopped into tiny squares
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup water

Combine ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to low simmer on stove until all liquid is evaporated and pear mixture thickens, up to 25 minutes. Spoon pear filling into each shell, let cool, and top with your favorite cream.

Makes 36 tartlets

Pumpkin Pop-Tarts

Pastry dough:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, frozen and grated
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cloves

To make dough, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Work in butter until mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pea-size lumps of butter still visible. Lightly whisk egg and milk together and add to dough, tossing with your hands just until mixed. Divide dough in half; each half will weigh about 10 ounces. Shape into a rectangle, smoothing edges. Roll out immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to two days. Take a 2-by 2-inch square or round cookie cutter and cut equal amounts from both halves. To make filling, put all ingredients into saucepan and bring to simmer, stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. To fill pastry, take one square and add small dollop of pumpkin mixture to center. Dip your finger in water and run it around edges of each pastry; cover with top pastry and, using a fork, press prongs lightly into edges to bond the two pastries. Using a toothpick, poke three holes in top of each pop-tart (this will prevent filling from leaking out during baking process). Make simple egg wash (1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water) and brush tops of each pastry. Place pop-tarts on middle rack of oven set at 350 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Drizzle with your favorite glaze, or toast and spread with butter.

Makes 18 pop-tarts

Glazed Sweet Potato Doughnuts

1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes, drained
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray doughnut molds with nonstick spray. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. Bring sweet potatoes, cinnamon and cloves to simmer in medium saucepan, until puree thickens and just begins sticking to bottom of pan. Carefully pour hot puree into large mixing bowl. Whisk in brown sugar and oil, and then slowly beat in eggs. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Fill each doughnut mold about three-fourths full. (Tip: To simplify process, pour batter in piping bag or Ziploc to fill molds.) Bake 5 to 8 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched. (These won't take very long, so keep an eye on them.) Let doughnuts cool in pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack while you prepare glaze. In medium bowl, whisk all glaze ingredients together until smooth. Place sheet of foil or wax paper under cooling rack. Dip each doughnut in glaze, allowing excess to drip off. Place back on cooling rack until glaze is firm.

Makes 24 doughnuts

Meet the Cooks: Nicole Fleetwood and McKinzie Hodges of Scratch Made Bakery & Cafe

“You know how sometimes you just find something that you’re good at?” Nicole Fleetwood asks. “Some people are athletically inclined. Some people can run 26 miles. They’re just built for it. This is what I’m good at.”

While living in New Bern, N. C., Fleetwood began baking cupcakes and selling them at the local farmer’s market. By the summer of 2012, she found herself competing in the second episode of season 7 of the Food Network show “Cupcake Wars” (at the time, her name was Nicole Costa). She won the intense competition and was in the process of establishing a storefront in New Bern when her ex-husband’s job transfer brought them to Texas.

Once in Amarillo, Fleetwood opened her always-from-scratch The Wild Cupcake downtown near the Chase Building. In late 2015, she began collaborating with McKinzie Hodges, who had been operating an at-home bakery called A Spoonful of Sugar. Fleetwood had become discouraged at the task of trying to grow a business on her own. “I was ready to never do this again,” she says. “McKinzie had wanted to open a bakery for a long time. We met, hit if off really well, and she said, ‘Don’t close. I’m ready to take the next step.’” They decided to merge their existing bakeries.

In early January of this year, Hodges and Fleetwood rebranded The Wild Cupcake into Scratch Made Bakery & Cafe. “McKinzie is a phenomenal cake decorator,” Fleetwood says. But beyond cakes and cupcakes, the duo has carved out a popular local niche for their weekend brunches: Saturday morning from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and “Brunken,” a late night brunch-type meal the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“It’s really fun for the people going out on Saturday night or for the people who prefer not to wake up early enough to make our daytime brunch,” Hodges says of the unique Brunken. Earlier evening customers often include couples returning from seeing live music in Amarillo. Later customers include the city’s bartenders and servers headed home after bars close at 2 a.m. “Normally they would go to Waffle House or Whataburger, but now they’re stopping here. We wanted to give people a better option of meals late at night. We have return customers who come every other week.”

The Brunken menu is similar to brunch, including their top-selling chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, honey-butter chicken biscuits, pork poutine, and the B.A.C., a six-inch diameter cinnamon roll that can feed two-to-four customers. “We have people just go crazy over those if they want something sweet,” Hodges says.

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit and
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