Alaska Flour Company has the best dessert recipes for their Barley Flour, so we borrowed one and made it, 2 WAYS.

Because Halloween fell in the middle of the week, we decided to make these seasonal delights two ways to show how versatile a treat the bars can be. And now that pumpkin carving is over, pumpkin eating is in full swing!! We wanted to use fresh pumpkin puree in our bars, and the BRK Pressure Cooker was just the tool to help us make our own in a hurry. It's so easy, and fast, and depending upon the size of your pumpkin, makes enough puree to freeze for future entertaining opportunities!

Just cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the 'guts'

place the steaming basket in the bottom of the pressure cooker, add water and seal the top. Bring the cooker up to pressure as directed and cook for 5 minutes. Release the steam, and tahdah! The flesh of the pumpkin should just fall out of the shell! 2 cups is all you need for each recipe, so we sealed up the rest in 2 cup portioned ziplocs.

Depending upon how you wish to top your bars, plan ahead enough to be able to make either your chocolate spiders of pinecones prior to serving.

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
3/4 cup melted butter
2 cups Alaska Flour Company barley flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. milk
Preheat oven to 325. Cream  eggs and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients in the order given. Beat until well mixed. Pour into greased & floured 9x13 pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
Courtesy of Alaska Flour Company

For spiders: Melt chocolate & fill piping bag fit with a small round tip. Pipe four sets of legs onto a silpat or parchment, pipe large circle for body and small circle for head. Optional: use white chocolate to pipe eyes onto front of head, or designs into abdomen. Chill in freezer until ready to use.

Alternate topping: Melt 1 C butterscotch chips & 1 C milk chocolate callets, smooth over top. Melt white chocolate callets and fill piping bag fitted with a small round tip.

Pipe concentric circles on still melted top layer forming several ‘webs’. Using a toothpick or tip of a sharp knife, drag tip from center to last ring, radiating out, repeat 5-6 times around circles, spacing evenly to create web. Place spiders randomely amongs webs. Allow top to cool, use a sharp knife to cut and serve.

For Chocolate Pinecones: Use left over cake, brownies or ganache truffle center, formed into a ball about the size of a marble. Press sliced almonds into the ball, starting with small pieces at the center top and fan out to bottom. Place in fridge to firm.

Melt dark chocolate, using a dipping tool, dip ‘cones’- submerging completely. Gently tap excess chocolate from the cone and lay to cool on a silpat mat. The dipping tools proved to be essential here, as circular one craddles the cones and allows excess chocolate to drip off, and the two and three prong dipping forks are perfect for scooting the cone onto the parchment and positioning it upright so that it can cool with out smashing one side.

To garnish: lay thin mini pretzel sticks on top of frosted bars, or curl chocolate into ‘bark’. Pipe green pine needles onto stems, top with a pine cone.

Tools needed:
Decorating tips and bags            Pressure Cooker
Rose Double Boiler                       Silpat Mat or Parchment
Dipping Tool Set                           Electric Mixer

The purpose of the first few weeks of the Dessert Shop Demos is to present ideas, methods and recipes for treats and desserts that could be shared at a holiday party or served at home for entertaining- so, this week's theme in particular is CAKE!!

And since it's fall, we chose a blend of delicious flavors- and cooked them up in a seasonally relevant shape- hence the Cocoa Apple Jack-o-lantern Mini Bundts! This can also be done full size if you prefer to make just one- but be sure to chill your cakes enough to have a sturdy base before you frost.

The recipe is a family favorite from our own staff, and legend has it- even earned it's share of blue ribbons at the Alaska State Fair!

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 cup water

2 1/2 cups flour

2 Tbs cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 cup nuts (optional)

1/2 cup Callebaut Chocolate Callets

1 tsp vanilla

2 or 3 peeled grated apples

large pretzel rods

Core apples and slice into quarters. Process in a food processor, using the grater blade, set aside. In a large glass bowl, beat eggs, sugar, butter, and water until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly add dry mix to creamed mixture, stirring with wooden spoon until well blended. Add apple, nuts, chocolate callets and vanilla. Stir until all is combined.
Scoop batter into Nordic Ware mini bundt pan, prepared with a coat of Vegalene spray in each cavity. Fill only 3/4 full, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Bake 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes- use a bundt cake tester to assure middle is cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking rack, 5 minutes. Place rack on top of pan, grasp handles against rack firmly, flip and gently shake until cakes release from pan. Allow to cool completely, trim bottom edge with a serrated knife for flat, stackable surface. Store in fridge up to 24 hours before assembly.

8 ounce cream cheese
4 Tbs butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cream softened cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar one cup at a time, beat on high to combine. Flip one cake on its top, coat with frosting and top with a second cake.

Frost outside of cake, smoothing from bottom to top to create 'ridges' with an offset spatula.

Press a pretzel rod through the center, and pipe green vines and leaves at the base.

If desired, pipe chocolate faces on to parchment and allow to cool and press onto frosting, or pipe directly onto pumpkin surface.


Courtesy of Midge Blake & Vicky Barbachano

Tools needed:                                

Food Processor                    Electric Beaters
Large Glass Bowl                 Vegalene Spray
Mini Bundt Pan                   Offset Spatula
Wooden Spoon                    Bundt Cake Tester

Other great seasonal cake and treat ideas:

Buche De Thanksgiving: AKA the delicious Cream Cheese Pumpkin Roll

Spice Cake Pops with White Chocolate and Graham Cracker, Pistachio, Toffee, Granola, and or Sprinkle toppings.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Centered Frogs

Left Over Trick-or-Treat Candy Bars ( Have you tried a handful of candy corn mixed with a handful of salty peanuts? It's devine!!)

So what are your plans for "Sweetest Day" this year? What- you didn't know it existed? Well, neither did I until recently, but now that I know that the third Saturday of October is a day meant to 'celebrate all the people who make your life special, an occasion to make someone happy, a chance to celebrate and give [sweet] gifts to relatives, friends, and associates'- it shall be not only recognized, but celebrated annually as the brilliant holiday it is. So, this year, we're ringing in the holidays by kicking off our official Dessert Shop Demos on October 20th! Nothing could be sweeter- it's a series of demonstrations that highlight delicious treats to make and share both at the season's gatherings and as gifts- made by you- in your own kitchen! Don't worry, we have all the tools, tips and resources you'll need to pull off the most delightful desserts that any of your friends and acquaintances have ever seen! From fondue to chocolates- and all kinds of yumminess in between, we've gathered the best recipes, tried and tested them, and then licked our plate in delight. So stay tuned, and if you happen to live in Alaska- be sure to stop by for the big show- every Saturday from here until Christmas! At 3 PM at our Anchorage Store and 2 PM at our Wasilla location.

Smooth and creamy, warm and melty, sweet and sloppy- what could be better? Working off the traditional Caramel Apple of Halloween fame, we're making Caramel Apple Fondue Bites. We do grow lovely mini apples on our Alaskan apple tree,

but for these mini treats, we use a melon baller to cut apple balls from crisp large apples which can be chomped in one bite, avoiding the core and seeds. There are many options for caramel recipes out there- some involve melting and mixing prepared caramels, but I never could get those clear cube wrappers off, so we adapted a recipe from the Comfort of Cooking blog that cooks up in no time. You will need a candy thermometer to make sure you reach the right temperature- and watch close so you don't go over and burn the batch. You can start as early as one day ahead, prepping the apple balls and toppings.

Caramel Fondue:

¾ C corn syrup

1 C sugar

½ C butter

1 ¼ C heavy whipping cream

2 large apples

about 20 sticks of your choice

Choose toppings to compliment your caramel apple bites including nuts, candies and cookies & pulse in a food processor until bits are at your preferred size. Other options include shaved chocolate, toasted coconut & sprinkles or dusting sugars.

Using a melon baller, cut apples into balls. We also tried a portion scoop for larger bites, but the extra parts on the scoop caused friction and resulted in jagged ball. FYI- if using a larger scoop, choose larger apples so that you can maximize the number of scoops per apple. Start the next ball about half an inch further over than you think you can, so there is no overlapping in your scoop and you get a full ball shape.

Drop apple balls into a bowl of soda (lemon lime or gingerale) to keep from browning until ready to use. Soak 3-4 minutes, remove from liquid and lay out to dry on a paper towel. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 24 hours.

Heat corn syrup, sugar, butter and ¾ C plus 2 tbsp cream in a 3 qt sauce pan over medium high heat until mixture reaches 275〬 on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon once it starts to brown.

While caramel boils, place prepared toppings in the cups of a muffin tin or small glass bowls.

Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat and set aside.  Push stick into each apple ball through skin side to center. We tried several different stick options from literal sticks- gathered, trimmed and washed- to knotted bamboo skewers, but you can also use tall toothpicks, or for soft food items- like cake or brownie balls- you can cut paper straws in half, or just use the reusable fondue forks provided with your fondue set.

Set skewered apple balls on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture to minimize caramel runoff.

Remove caramel from heat and pour in remaining ¼ C cream, stirring until smooth.

Pour into fondue pot.

Dip apple balls into caramel, making sure caramel covers the edges of the skin and allowing excess to drip off. We found it works best to submerse the apple ball so that the caramel adheres to the stick and covers the apple completely- as in the second picture.
Dip bottom of each coated ball into topping of choice then set on the baking sheet to cool, or into mini candy cup.

It's best to consume right away since the moisture from the apple ball starts to juice up the caramel- that's why we chose to serve these bites as fondue- in which case the cup is more of a courtesy to catch drips as you step away from the fondue pot. Remember that melted caramel can be hot, so adjust your fondue pot temperature accordingly and allow dipped bites to cool a moment before popping them in your mouth.

Just a little taste of fall!


There are loads of great ideas out there for fun fondue for the holidays- try giant marshmallows with chocolate fondue and crunched up peppermints as topping- and for the stick? A mini candy cane!! How clever. Also melted starlite mints make great little 'plates' for cake ball fondue. Check out our pinterest boards for more great ideas! http://pinterest.com/allenpetersen/fondue/