Guess what? An improved, updated version of this recipe can be found in my new cookbook Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats. Preorder it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie bookstore!
For my feature story in the latest issue of Gourmet Live, I turn my eagle eye and omnivorous palate to the quickly disappearing world of cult snack foods. Company mergers make it more likely than ever that customers can find formerly hyperlocal snack brands popping up on mega-mart shelves across the nation, and those living far away from their hometowns but willing to pay a few bucks for shipping don’t even need to leave the house to get their childhood snack fix.
Yet even with the cash influx of bigger corporate umbrellas, a few brands still stick to their regional roots and the same family recipes, among them Zapp’s potato chips from Louisiana and It’s-It ice cream sandwiches of San Francisco. And as a proud Pennsylvanian, I would be remiss not to feature Tastykakes, the Philadelphia-based bakery that’s been churning out Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes, Koffee Kakes, Kreamies, and other krazily-spelled cakes since 1914.
As a companion piece to the story, I’ve developed a DIY version of Tastykake’s Butterscotch Krimpets, the spongy little snack cakes with golden caramel frosting that were some of the bakery’s earliest creations. And like Cheez-Its, Pudding Pops, and other homemade junk foods already featured on Good. Food. Stories., these not only taste almost exactly like the real thing, but they’re exceedingly simple to make.
If you’re opening up a package of store-bought Krimpets, according to GFS contributor and Tastykake superfan Christine Galanti, “there’s a secret to preventing the layer of frosting from sticking to the wrapper: gently wipe the unopened package, frosting side down, on a smooth surface.” That won’t be a problem with this homemade version, but the buttery cakes may offer up leverage to barter for some pretty valuable things.
And those who are petrified by the prospect of molten hot sugar need not avoid this recipe for fear of death by frosting. Making butterscotch is much easier than dry caramel; with a higher moisture and fat content, there’s less danger of scorching. Shuna Lydon’s perfect butterscotch tutorial from Simply Recipes has step-by-step photos of the process. Don’t omit the salt; it’s crucial for that true butterscotch flavor.
(Krimpet fans around the world, take note: you can buy three different Krimpet Lovers Collection packages via Tastykake online. Is there anyone out there who loves the jelly Krimpets more than the butterscotch version?)
Homemade Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet
Prep time:30 minutes
Total time:1 hour 45 minutes
Makes 9 cakes
- 4 1/2 oz. (about 1 cup) cake flour
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 oz. (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
Make the cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees and either grease a standard loaf pan or line the bottom and sides with overlapping strips of parchment paper.
Whisk the flour and kosher salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
With an electric hand mixer or the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and frothy, 2-3 minutes.
While the eggs and sugar combine, melt the butter over low heat until just liquefied, then slowly drizzle into the thickened eggs. Add the vanilla extract.
By hand, gently fold the flour and kosher salt into the batter until just combined, taking care not to overwork the ingredients.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, but with a bit of moisture residue. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before inverting, then cool completely before slicing into nine sticks approximately 3 inches by 1 1/4 inches each.
Make the frosting: melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the brown sugar and stir occasionally as the sugar cooks for 3 minutes.
When the liquid becomes more cohesive and begins to bubble up, becoming shinier and lighter in color, slowly whisk in the cream.
Bring to a low boil and cook, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. In about 20 minutes, when the liquid has cooled, whisk in the salt and vanilla.
With an electric hand mixer or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat 3 ounces butterscotch sauce with the remaining 1/2 stick unsalted butter, vanilla and powdered sugar for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
If the frosting is too soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up before spreading a thin layer atop each of the cake sticks.