Thursday, March 24, 2022

Pimento cheese and scallion dip

This is a sponsored post by Challenge, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

I love snacking on chips and dip while watching a big sporting event. And the NCAA tournament is definitely my favorite sporting event each year. That’s why I thought it would be fun to make my chip dip look like a basketball. My first thought was to make a pimento cheese dip because it’s already orange like a basketball, and anything with cheddar cheese and cream cheese will obviously be delicious.

Pimento cheese is a staple in the south. At its simplest form, it consists of cheddar cheese, pimento peppers, and either cream cheese or mayo or a combination of the two. It’s creamy, tangy, a little sweet, and obviously, cheesy. It’s often used as a dip or a sandwich spread.

Many people in the south have very strong opinions on what ingredients should go into “authentic” pimento cheese spread. But the reality is the best pimento cheese dip is what you think is tastiest. That’s why I encourage everyone to continuously taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

This recipe uses a lot of cheese. It is cheese dip, after all. It is very important to only use block cheese that you shred yourself. Shredded cheese is certainly convenient, but most shredded cheese contains additives like potato starch, natamycin, and powdered cellulose. The additives prevent shredded cheese from clumping in bags, but they can also affect the taste and texture. You can easily shred cheese with a box grater or the grater attachment on a food processor.

When choosing the cheese for this dip, make sure to buy extra sharp cheddar cheese because we want the cheddar flavor to shine above everything else.

Not every pimento cheese dip has cream cheese, but I prefer the texture of the dip with cream cheese. Also, I think it enhances the flavor of the cheddar along with providing an additional tangy element. I only use Challenge cream cheese when I’m cooking and baking. Challenge cream cheese is made with real milk, cream, and other natural ingredients. You can definitely taste a difference.

The last thing I want to address is the pimento peppers. They are not the same as red bell peppers. Pimentos are small, heart-shaped peppers with subtle sweetness. You can buy them  diced in jars at your local grocery store. I’ve typically found them near the olives or in the canned vegetable section.

Pimento cheese and scallion dip

Yield: 4 cups

Time: About 20 minutes


  • 16 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve 4 ounces)
  • 8 ounces Challenge cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 7 ounces pimentos, small dice
  • 4 green onions, green and white parts, small dice
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup blue corn tortilla chips, crushed


  1. Combine 12 ounces cheddar, cream cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, green onions, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper in large mixing bowl and use stand mix or electric hand mixer to beat until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
  2. Spread mixture in pie dish or other circular pan.
  3. Spread reserved extra sharp cheddar cheese over surface.
  4. Sprinkle blue corn tortilla chip crumbs over top of dip in basketball design.
  5. Serve with crackers or chips.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Pot of Gold Cookies

This is a sponsored post by Challenge, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

I developed this recipe for matcha cookies with a caramel center in order to be festive for St. Patrick’s Day. Matcha gives baked goods a lovely natural green hue, so I thought it would be the perfect fit!

Matcha originates from Japan. It’s essentially green tea leaves that are ground into a fine powder. It’s used to make drinks, but it can also be used to give baked goods a subtle green tea flavor.

Two of the most important things to know about matcha are it can have a strong flavor and it is very bitter. That is why it’s very important to use matcha in moderation and to balance it out with something sweet. 

It is important to use high-quality matcha powder in order for your baked goods to maintain their lovely green color. I use universal grade or ceremonial grade matcha powder. Even though it’s pricier than culinary grade matcha powder, a little goes a long way, so it should las you a while. You will see in the recipe that I only use two teaspoons of matcha powder. You can test a small sample of the dough before baking to decide if that’s enough matcha flavoring. If you want a stronger flavor, add another half teaspoon and continue to adjust as needed.

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

I balanced the bitterness of the matcha with a sweet caramel center that is the “pot of gold” in these St. Patrick’s Day cookies. I recommend using a firm caramel like Werther's Original Chewy Caramels or Kraft Candy Caramels. Softer caramels will melt into the cookies as they bake.

I also added Funfetti chips and Lucky Charms marshmallows to the dough, but that’s optional.

I used the standard creaming method to make these cookies, which means I creamed the butter and sugar together until it increased in volume and looked pale yellow, light, and fluffy. This takes anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes on medium high speed.

In order to properly execute the creaming method, your butter and your eggs must be room temperature. I like to set me ingredients on the counter about an hour before I start baking in order to bring them to room temperature. “Room temperature” is not the same as “warm.” It should still be slightly cool, and when you poke it with your finger, it should leave an indent. But your finger shouldn’t sink in.

I only use Challenge unsalted butter for these cookies. Challenge butter is churned daily from the freshest 100% real pasteurized sweet cream. There are no hormones, additives, or fillers. 

Once you make the dough, use a cookie scoop to portion out the cookies and roll the caramels into balls as best as possible before covering them in dough. Then refrigerate the cookies for at least one hour (up to two days) or freeze the cookies for 15 minutes. If you want to decorate the tops with marshmallows and Funfetti chips, do it before you freeze the dough.

The cookies are best served warm from the oven so the caramel center is melty and gooey. I recommend heating up cooled cookies in the microwave for about 7 seconds before eating in order to warm the caramel.

Pot of Gold Cookies

Yield: 24 cookies

Time: About 45 minutes


  • 270 grams (2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
  • 4 grams (2 teaspoons) matcha powder
  • 3 grams (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 4.8 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 2.4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup) Challenge unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 107 grams (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (50 grams)
  • 1 egg yolk (15 grams)
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla bean paste (substitute vanilla extract if unavailable)
  • 112 grams (1 cup) Funfetti chips (substitute white chocolate chips if unavailable)
  • 20 caramels, unwrapped (I used Werther's Original Chewy Caramels)
  • Optional: Lucky Charms marshmallows


  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  2. Mix flour, matcha powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and both sugars on high speed for about 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and appears light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla bean paste and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix on low until just combined.
  6. Stir in Funfetti chips by hand.
  7. Portion dough into rounded tablespoon (I used a #30 cookie scoop, which is about 2 tablespoons) and press one caramel into the center of the dough.
  8. Cover caramel with dough and roll into ball. If decorating with Lucky Charms marshmallows, this is the time to press the marshmallows in the dough.
  9. Place dough on prepared baking sheets and refrigerate for 2 hours. 15 minutes before dough is ready, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Remove dough from refrigerator and place in oven. Bake until edges turn golden brown, about 9 to 10 minutes.
  11. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.
  12. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature.

TIP: For softer caramel bite, microwave cooled cookies for 7 seconds before eating.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Galette de rois (French king cake)


This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Indianapolis is over 800 miles away from the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the colorful cultural phenomenon!

It’s important to remember that Mardi Gras is the culmination of the Carnival season. Carnival kicks off on January 6 every year (Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day) and ends on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), which is always the day before Ash Wednesday. 

People down south celebrate throughout the entirety of Carnival season with dozens of parades, many gatherings, indulgent foods, and lots of alcohol. 

I’ve never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but my cousin Caitlyn lives in New Orleans with her fiancĂ© Ranh, who was born and raised in the Big Easy. So they filled me in on what it’s like to immerse yourself in Carnival culture.

Many of us conjure up images of king cake when we think of Mardi Gras. Even in Indiana, you can find king cakes at bakeries and grocery stores at this time of year. King cake is traditionally made with brioche dough, filled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, braided, formed into a wreath shape, and decorated with traditional Mardi Gras colors: yellow, green, and purple. And of course, there is a tiny baby baked inside the cake. 

King cake is extremely popular in New Orleans, and almost every bakery comes up with their own version. You can expect to find tables of king cakes at Carnival celebrations, and some people eat dozens of different king cakes each year!

The French brought the king cake tradition to New Orleans in the 1800s. They have been serving up galette des rois, which literally translates to “king cake,” for over 500 years. The most popular galette de rois, which is served in Paris and northern France, is made of frangipane sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry. Frangipane is a sweet almond filling. And the top always has an intricate design. Also, instead of baking a tiny baby in the cake, the French hide a fava bean. Whomever finds the bean is king for the day and gets to wear a gold crown. 

The tradition of eating galette de rois was once reserved for Epiphany, but that’s expanded. Now you can find them in bakeries throughout the entire Carnival season with flavors ranging from chocolate to caramel and even rice pudding!

Today, I’m sharing a recipe for galette des rois with the traditional frangipane filling, but I’m adding a little orange flavor to brighten it up.

The recipe starts with puff pastry. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can certainly make your own, but I’m using store-bought puff pastry. My favorite store-bought puff pastry is from Trader Joe’s, but unfortunately, it’s seasonal. I always stock up when it’s available in November and December. My second favorite store-bought puff pastry is from Wewalka. It’s refrigerated, not frozen, so you can find it in the refrigerated dough section of your grocery store.

Once you’ve made or obtained the puff pastry, it’s time to make the frangipane. You can either start with whole almonds, almond meal, or almond flour. Whole almonds become almond meal when you blend them in a food processor. Almond flour is almost always interchangeable with almond meal. Almond flour is just blanched, peeled almonds ground into a fine powder. I am using almond flour because that’s what I have in my pantry. My frangipane recipe is adapted from the Tartine cookbook. It’s made with equal parts almonds, sugar, and butter, and it produces a slightly “cakey” filling. 

It’s important to use good quality butter in your recipe because it makes a tremendous difference in your final product. I use Challenge European Style Butter. It’s churned slower and longer, in the tradition of fine European butters, to produce a more flavorful butter with less moisture and higher butterfat.

In the tradition of galette de rois, it’s important to hide a fava bean in the filling before encasing it with the top layer of puff pastry. If you don’t have a fava bean, use a whole almond (that’s what I did).

After building the galette, you can create a scalloped edge by making tiny indents around the edge of the pastry with the non-sharp edge of a knife. 

Once you’ve done that, I recommend chilling the galette for at least a half hour before scoring a design on top because the puff pastry will be a little firmer and you’ll be less likely to cut through it. When you’re ready, you can create any design you want. Then you’ll want to brush egg wash over it so it bakes shiny and golden brown. Make sure you don’t brush the edges with egg wash because it will prevent the layers from puffing up. Before placing it in the oven, make a few little cuts in the top layer of puff pastry to allow steam to escape.

After you’ve finished baking your galette de rois, brush it with simple syrup for a shiny finish and adorn it with a golden paper crown before serving. Whomever receives the slice of cake with the whole almond gets to wear the crown!

Galette des rois 

Yield: 12 servings


For the frangipane 

  • 200 grams (3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons) Challenge European Style Butter Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 200 grams (2 1/3 cups) almond flour (or almond meal)
  • 2 Tablespoons orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the galette

  • 2 circles puff pastry dough about 9 inches in diameter
  • 1 whole almond or fava bean
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water)

For the simple syrup

  • 50 grams (3 Tablespoons) water
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar


For the frangipane

  1. Beat butter and sugar with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add almond flour and beat until combined.
  3. Add eggs, Grand Marnier, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Mix until smooth. 

For the galette

  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and place one puff pastry circle on sheet.
  2. Leaving 1-inch border, evenly spread frangipane in center of circle.
  3. Hide whole almond or fava bean in frangipane.
  4. Brush diameter with egg wash
  5. Position second puff pastry circle on top so edges line up with first circle. Press around border with fingertips to seal.
  6. Use back of table knife to create scallop border by pressing into dough every 1/2 inch.
  7. Place galette de rois in refrigerator to firm up for at least a half hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Etch design into top of galette making sure not to pierce through dough.
  10. Brush egg wash over design.
  11. Use sharp knife to make several tiny cuts in top piece of puff pastry for steam vents.
  12. Bake cake for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and it looks golden brown.

For the simple syrup

  1. While galette bakes, make simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Set aside to cool.
  3. After removing galette de rois from oven, brush simple syrup over surface and serve.

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