Thursday, December 21, 2023

Grinch pistachio thumbprint cookies

 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 can't remember where (maybe on TikTok) I saw someone add food coloring to their thumbprint cookie recipe to make grinch cookies. I loved the idea! But then I thought, what about instead of using food coloring, I used pistachio pudding mix. And thus this cookie recipe idea was born!

I love pistachio-flavored treats, and there are actually a lot of benefits to using pudding mix in cookies. Many people add cornstarch to their cookies for extra softness and an added lift because cornstarch retains moisture. But if you add to much cornstarch, your cookies may taste funky. Fun fact: A package of instant pudding mix contains cornstarch. So when you add the mix to your recipe, you’re guaranteed the perfect amount.

I will say, once the dough bakes, it loses some of its green coloring, so if you want the cookies to be a more vibrant green color, I recommend adding a few drops of green food coloring after mixing in the extracts.

I always use Challenge unsalted butter in my cookie recipes. Using high-quality butter, like Challenge, has a big impact on the richness, flavor, and structure of the cookies.

Grinch pistachio thumbprint cookies

Yield: Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Time: About 30 minutes


  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Challenge unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Optional: Several drops green food coloring, if desired
  • 1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam


  1. Measure flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine and set aside.
  2. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add instant vanilla pudding package and beat until well blended.
  4. Beat in egg yolks and extracts. 
  5. If you want a more vibrant green color, add just a few drops green food coloring.
  6. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  7. Cover dough and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Roll dough into balls (the size of 2 tablespoons) and place on baking sheet.
  11. Create heart shape in center of each ball using two thumbprints joined at bottom. Fill heart indent with jam.
  12. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for several minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. Store cookies in airtight container for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Gingerbread sheet pan pancakes


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 love eating pancakes, especially on special occasions. But what I don't love is standing over the stove making pancakes. The pancake maker is stuck standing over the skillet watching everyone else eat fresh, hot pancakes. And do you know who the pancake maker in my house is? ME! And I do NOT like eating last. 

My solution: sheet pan pancakes! Instead of cooking pancakes one at a time on a skillet, I pour all the batter into a well-greased sheet pan and bake it. Due to the size of the sheet pan, the pancake comes out at about the same thickness as pancakes made on the stove. Bonus: You can use a cookie cutter to make different shapes out of the sheet pan pancake, like what I did here with the gingerbread men.

The key ingredients that make these pancakes taste like gingerbread are ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and molasses. But my "secret" ingredient is Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt provides a lot of benefits. The yogurt reacts with the leavening agents to make the pancake extremely thick and fluffy. It also adds moisture and protein.

When mixing the liquid ingredients, I recommend starting with the Greek yogurt, since it's the thickest ingredient, and then slowly adding and mixing the other liquid ingredients into the yogurt.

One final note: You'll notice the ingredient list shows "butter, melted and cooled." All that means is to not mix boiling butter with the rest of your ingredients because it may cause them to curdle. It's also important to use a good quality butter. That's why I recommend using Challenge unsalted butter for the best results. Challenge butter is made with 100% real pasteurized sweet cream and no artificial ingredients.

Gingerbread sheet pan pancakes

Yield: Makes about 8 servings

Time: About 25 minutes


  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger 
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) whole fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cup (300 milliliters) milk
  • 3/4 cup (180 grams) molasses
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) Challenge unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 13x18-inch baking sheet with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in separate large bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. A few lumps are okay.
  4. Pour batter onto sheet pan and spread evenly. 
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until center springs back when touched.
  6. Remove from oven and serve. 

Friday, December 8, 2023

Black cocoa brownies

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! 

Have you ever thought about why Oreos have an intense chocolate flavor but they're black, not brown. The answer is black cocoa powder. And that's what I use in my favorite brownie recipe.

A lot of people have very strong opinions as to what makes the perfect brownie. I can't cater to everyone, and since I'm the one making these brownies, I'm catering to myself. My preference: fudgy brownies with an intensely deep chocolate flavor. And this may be controversial, but. I actually don't like a crinkly top. It's too messy!  

First, I want to point out this recipe only uses cocoa powder, not melted chocolate. I prefer cocoa powder brownies for several reasons. 

1) They're softer. The fat in cocoa powder brownies comes from butter. The fat in brownies with melted chocolate comes from a combination of butter and the cocoa butter in the chocolate. Butter is soft at room temperature, whereas cocoa butter is not. Think of a chocolate bar left out on the counter versus a stick of butter left out. Thus, you get softer brownies. I recommend using Challenge unsalted butter for the best results. Since butter is such a big part of this recipe, it's very important to use the best quality butter. Challenge butter is made with 100% real pasteurized sweet cream and no artificial ingredients.

2) More control. Different chocolates have varying levels of sugar, cocoa butter, etc. that could greatly impact the final product. Cocoa powder is pretty standard across the board, which is great because we do not want variability.

So let's talk cocoa powders. There are 3 main types of cocoa powder: Natural cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa powder, and black cocoa powder. All cocoa powder is made from bits of hulled and roasted cacao beans called nibs, and they're all unsweetened in powder form. 

Natural cocoa powder retains the natural acidity of the cacao beans. It is lighter in color and milder in taste. It's the classic chocolate flavor you think of and the type of cocoa powder used in your grandma's favorite recipes.

Dutch-process cocoa is natural cocoa treated with an alkalizing solution, usually potassium carbonate. The solution neutralizes the acidity, resulting in deeper, smoother chocolate flavor.

Black cocoa powder is even more intensely treated with an alkaline solution resulting in the deepest black color. The best way to describe it's flavor-profile is Oreo cookies.

Technically, yes, they are interchangeable, but because natural cocoa powder is acidic and the other two aren't, it will affect the chemical leaver if one is present in the recipe. ALSO, it's important to think about what flavor-profile you're trying to achieve before you choose your cocoa powder.

A few more tips when it comes to making these brownies: 

1) Use a metal or aluminum pan. They cook more evenly. Glass and ceramic pans take longer to heat, and it will significantly affect the baking time. And line your pan with parchment paper so the brownies will easily lift out.

2) The method for mixing these brownies is to whip the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt for several minutes until the mixture is thick, pale batter. When you lift up the head of the mixer, the batter should fall down like ribbons and briefly stay on the surface before sinking down. This is called the ribbon stage. It incorporates a lot of air into the batter, and this is the only leavening agent in this recipe.

Black cocoa brownies

Yield: Makes 9 brownies

Time: About 1 hour


  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar (250 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) Challenge unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) black cocoa powder
  • Sea salt for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper with 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Set aside.
  2. Using stand mixer, whip eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt on medium speed for about 2 - 3 minutes or until mixture is fluffy and pale and when you lift up the mixer head, the batter falls back in thick trails like a ribbon.
  3. Slowly mix in butter.
  4. Sift together flour and both cocoa powders and fold into batter until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean with some wet crumbs. Thermometer inserted into center should read 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Allow brownies to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before removing by lifting out using overhanging parchment paper.
  7. Cut into 9 squares and serve.

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