You Be Sweet: Sharing Your Heart One Down-Home Dessert at a Time

You Be Sweet: Sharing Your Heart One Down-Home Dessert at a Time

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by Patsy Caldwell, Amy Lyles Wilson

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You know how those Southern dessert recipes go—a cup of sugar here, a stick of butter there, eight squares of bak­ing chocolate, or a pint of the season’s juiciest fruit. That recipe for blueberry cream pie—it’s been passed around the church for so long nobody can quite remember who made it first. Or how about the one for red velvet

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You know how those Southern dessert recipes go—a cup of sugar here, a stick of butter there, eight squares of bak­ing chocolate, or a pint of the season’s juiciest fruit. That recipe for blueberry cream pie—it’s been passed around the church for so long nobody can quite remember who made it first. Or how about the one for red velvet cheesecake you’ve been trying to coax out of your sister-in-law for years? She serves it every Christmas Eve, but so far her lips are sealed.

These are the types of food traditions that inspire You Be Sweet—a celebration of Southern dessert recipes and the people who cherish them. In this compilation of stories and sweet treats, Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson peek in on those occasions special enough to demand something decadent, and memorable enough to be repeated time and again. You’ll find the strawberry jam bars that always make an appearance at the neighborhood picnic. The German chocolate cake roll that pulls in the big bucks at the charity bake sale? That’s here too. The blackberry jelly recipe that has graced Mason jars all over the South for decades? It’s here, and it’s just about the best hostess gift you can offer up. Be sweet? You won’t be able to help it!

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Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
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7.28(w) x 9.14(h) x 0.90(d)

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You Be Sweet

Sharing Your Heart One Down-Home Dessert at a Time

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Amy Lyles Wilson, Patsy Caldwell, and Bryan Curtis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-0174-4

Chapter One

Sip and See the Baby

Back in Ida's day, women had babies without making a fuss or calling attention to themselves. They simply got married, got pregnant—in that order—and ran an announcement in the local paper heralding the child's arrival. Maybe some friends at church hosted a tasteful shower in the fellowship hall, with punch and an ice ring of frozen fruit. Quite possibly, there were pastel-colored mints in glass bowls and a sheet cake with roses. The gifts were practical, like cloth diapers and handmade bibs. But there were no printed invitations, no party favors, and certainly no games requiring you to drink punch out of a sippy cup. The more experienced mothers wished you well and offered you sound advice. Then you went home, wrote your thank-you notes, and got down to the business of raising your young one as best you could.

Of course, baby showers aren't the only societal norm that has changed since Ida was young. Take television, for instance. For the life of her, Ida can't figure out why people seem to be fascinated by something called "reality TV." Surely their own lives should be interesting enough without needing to spend countless hours watching strangers try to outwit one another on an island or housewives fight over one another's husbands. And Ida has yet to comprehend exactly what the Internet is or why everyone under fifty needs to check something called "e-mail" constantly. Her own grandchildren are glued to their cell phones every time they visit her. Sometimes Ida wonders why they bother to come at all, but she knows the answer to that in her heart of hearts: Ida raised her daughter, Claire, right. So Claire knows that it's proper to bring the grandchildren to visit their grandmother. And she does, every two weeks like clockwork.

All Ida can do is shake her head when she thinks back to Claire's first pregnancy. Even before she was showing, Claire hired a childbearing coach and signed up for seminars about raising confident children. It wasn't long before she circulated petitions calling for the town council to provide a breastfeeding station in the library and organized community workshops on how to prepare organic baby food. Eventually Claire parlayed her maternal knowledge and enthusiasm into a top-rated mommy blog. Ida has no idea what a blog is, she's sorry to say, but she knows it provides Claire with a sense of accomplishment and purpose. For that, Ida is grateful.

Ida tries to be a hip grandmother, really she does, but sometimes today's world threatens to get the best of her. She'd never heard of a "gender reveal party," for example, until her granddaughter Mallory, Claire's middle child, became pregnant. Ida was actually somewhat scandalized to think that people would know the baby's gender before it arrived. Whatever happened to being surprised? Bless their hearts; these young people today want to have everything figured out before they even get started. Where's the fun in that, wonders Ida.

Now there is to be something called a "sip 'n' see" for Mallory and her infant son. Despite Ida's best efforts to appear "with it," she hasn't a clue as to the purpose of the event. She just knows Claire and Mallory expect her to attend, and she doesn't like to disappoint her family.

"Basically it's just friends and family gathering to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over how cute the baby is," says Claire when Ida calls to inquire.

"There's always lots of good food," Claire continues. "Maybe you could bring your strawberry bread pudding? It's Mallory's favorite."

Food is something Ida can relate to, and to her mind it's one of the few things that can stand the test of time and unite young people with old across the generations. Everyone likes to eat, regardless of how newfangled the world has become. Now that Claire has inspired Ida with the thought of taking a dessert to the "sip 'n' see," Ida goes to the pantry and takes out the tin box that contains her most cherished recipes, those scribblings from another era that offer more than mere instruction to Ida; they provide connection, and allow Ida an excuse to revisit some of her fondest memories.

Ida doesn't really need to read the index card telling her how to make strawberry bread pudding, but just holding it in her hands takes her straight to the summers of her childhood when she would spend two weeks with her own grandmother in South Carolina. Their days would start early, maybe with a walk around the farm, before gathering in the kitchen to make sour cream blueberry pancakes with cinnamon honey syrup. It was there that Ida learned to cook.

During those simpler times, back when all Ida had to worry about was eating her vegetables and minding her manners, she also learned what it meant to be family. More than once Ida saw her grandmother preparing food for Aunt Rae, who was always coming down with one ailment or another. As Ida grew, she realized that Aunt Rae was a raging hypochondriac and, if the truth be told, a tad lazy. But that didn't stop Ida's grandmother from helping a loved one. And when it was time for the annual family reunion, Ida's grandmother would bake for days in anticipation: pies, pound cakes, you name it. This was back before there were microwaves and artificial sweetener and global warming. My, how Ida longs for the old days.

But she is not one to stop progress either, so Ida snaps herself back to the present and collects the ingredients for Mallory's favorite dessert. As she gets out her mixing bowl and measuring cup, she reminisces about her own experience as a new mother, savoring both the joy and the challenges of that tender time.

The next day, Ida is heartened to learn that hers is not the only homemade offering at the "sip 'n' see." Sure, there are a few store-bought items on the table, but not an alarming number. (Ida has a nose for such things.) Maybe there's hope for this generation, after all, she thinks as she helps herself to a pink lemonade cupcake. By the time Ida starts on her second glass of mint tea and savors another bite of nectarine crumble, she is reassured that Mallory and her friends will do just fine as they make their way in the world.


2 cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 4 large eggs 1 cup sugar 1 cup vegetable oil 2 cups carrots, finely grated 1 cup apple, finely grated 2 /3 cup chopped walnuts ½ cup raisins (optional)

Orange Cream Cheese Icing ½ cup butter, softened 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 pound powdered sugar 2 tablespoons orange juice 2 teaspoons orange zest

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in two 12-cup cupcake pans.

Mix the flour, salt, and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and oil until well blended. Fold in the grated carrots, grated apples, chopped walnuts, and raisins. Fill each cup 2/3 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and ice.

To make the icing: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until fully mixed. Beat in the orange juice and orange zest. Ice the tops of each cupcake.

Makes 24 cupcakes


These sure are fun for coffee lovers, and they also make wonderful gifts.

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 16 heavy plastic spoons ½ cup white chocolate chips

Place the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high and stir at 10-second intervals until melted. Prepare a baking sheet with wax paper. Dip the spoons in the chocolate. Place on the waxed paper and refrigerate for 1 hour, until firm.

Place the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high and stir at 10-second intervals until melted. Dip the lower half of the chocolate spoons into the white chocolate. Place on the waxed paper and refrigerate until set. Serve with coffee.

Makes 16 spoons


This is a fun drink mix to take as a hostess gift. Place in a nice jar, along with a few of the chocolate spoons, and you will have given a gift that someone will enjoy many times over.

2 ½ cups instant coffee granules, regular or decaffeinated 2 ½ cups powdered nondairy coffee creamer 1 ½ cups hot cocoa mix 1 ½ cups sugar or sugar substitute 1 teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cloves

Mix the instant coffee, creamer, and cocoa mix in a blender. Blend until the mixture becomes a powdery consistency. Pour into a large container, and mix with the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves, stirring to combine. Store in an airtight container. When ready to serve, pour 1 cup boiling water into a cup, and add 1 ½ tablespoons (2 if you like your coffee strong) of the dry mix. Stir to dissolve.

Makes 64-80 cups when mixed with water


This is a very pretty punch. It will be perfect to serve when you are showing off your new baby or grandbaby.

Ice Ring

2 cups fresh strawberries, stems attached 1 liter ginger ale

Punch 1 (12-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed 1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed 1 (46-ounce) can pineapple juice 1 (2-liter) bottle ginger ale ½ teaspoon almond extract 1 (1.5-quart) container pineapple sherbet

To make the ice ring: Arrange the strawberries in a ring mold stem side down. Add 1 cup ginger ale and freeze. Add the remaining 3 cups ginger ale and freeze overnight.

To make the punch: Combine the orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, pineapple juice, ginger ale, and almond extract in a large punch bowl, stirring slightly. Scoop the sherbet in. Remove the ice ring from the mold and float it in the punch.

Makes 30 servings


1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs 1/3 cup powdered sugar ½ cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and melted butter together. Press firmly into a 9-inch pie tin. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.


This crust is great for cream pies.

2 tablespoons butter, softened 1 ½ cups flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the butter evenly on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie tin. Sprinkle the coconut on top and press it evenly into the butter. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.


When my children found out I was doing a dessert cookbook, both asked if this recipe was going in the book. It was a favorite for them both growing up, and they still enjoy them today.

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 large egg, separated 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup chopped pecans 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 x 1-inch baking pan.

In a 2-quart mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar, and egg yolk. Stir to mix well. Add the flour and cinnamon, stirring to incorporate the dry ingredients. Spread into the prepared pan. Brush with the egg white (not whipped). Sprinkle the pecans over the top, pressing into the dough. Bake 1 hour. Remove and drizzle with the melted chocolate chips. Cut while still hot.

Makes 24 bars


Granny Era Sullivan was known far and wide for these cookies. Her lovely daughter, my friend Bessie Larkins, was kind enough to share the recipe with me.

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 cup brown sugar 1 large egg 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 cup vegetable oil 1 cup quick-cooking oats 1 cup pecans, chopped 1 cup flaked coconut 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together using an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and mix well. Stir in the oil, oats, pecans, and coconut.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix to combine. Pinch a piece of dough. Roll into a 2-inch ball, and flatten with a fork that has been dipped in cold water. Bake 12 minutes on a large ungreased cookie sheet.

Makes 70 cookies


A great alternative to cookies, these bars are also a good use for your homemade strawberry preserves.

1 cup butter, softened, plus enough to butter the pan 1 cup sugar 2 large egg yolks 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 cup pecans, chopped 1 cup strawberry preserves 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg yolks, beating until well mixed. Gradually add the flour and salt. Stir in the pecans. Spread half of the batter into the buttered dish. Spread the preserves on top. Then spread the remaining batter over a 9-inch piece of waxed paper. Turn upside down over the preserves, and peel off the waxed paper.

Bake 55 minutes or until done. Let cool, cut into bars, and sprinkle them with the powdered sugar.

Makes 8 to 10 servings


Other than fresh from the garden, this is my favorite way to enjoy cantaloupe.

½ cup water 1 /4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons honey 4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped cantaloupe 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine the water, sugar, and honey in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely.

Pour the syrup into a food processor. Add the cantaloupe, lemon juice, and salt, blending until smooth. Divide the mixture into eight popsicle molds or 3-ounce paper cups. If using paper cups, freeze 2 hours, then insert the sticks. If you have a popsicle freezer, freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Freeze solid about 6 hours or overnight.

Makes 8 to 10 servings


This is great on a Southern party table or at any bridal shower or tea.

1 foot-long loaf baguette, cut into 24 ½-inch-thick slices ½ cup butter, softened 2/3 cup brown sugar, divided 1 teaspoon cinnamon ½ cup peaches, finely chopped ½ cup strawberries, finely chopped ½ cup pineapple, finely chopped 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 4 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to broil. Lay the baguette slices on a large baking sheet.

In a small bowl, mix the butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Spread on one side of each baguette slice. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly. In a small bowl, mix the remaining brown sugar, peaches, strawberries, pineapple, lime juice, and walnuts together. Spoon 1 tablespoon over each baguette slice.

Makes 12 servings


This is perfect for any baby shower. But don't forget it when your grandchildren get old enough to have tea parties. They will love this too.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1/3 cup strawberry-flavored drink powder ¼ cup strawberry preserves ¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped 16 slices of wheat or white bread 2 cups strawberries, thinly sliced Mint leaves to garnish

In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, strawberry drink powder, strawberry preserves, and walnuts. Cut the bread slices with a 2-inch cookie cutter so that each slice provides 3 rounds. Spread each 2-inch round with 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture. Top each with a strawberry slice, and garnish with a mint leaf.

Makes 48 servings


This recipe makes a lot of muffins. So when I make these, I keep some at home for us to enjoy and then take some for others to enjoy. There is nothing more satisfying for a Southern cook than sharing what she makes. Thanks, Mary England, for sharing your recipe.

1 ½ cups vegetable oil 2 cups sugar 4 large eggs 2 cups canned pumpkin 3 cups self-rising flour 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or use paper baking cups in three (12-cup) muffin tins.

In a large bowl, mix the oil, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin together. In a medium bowl, mix the flour and cinnamon together. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Makes 36 servings

Note: The fat in this recipe can be altered by substituting applesauce for half of the oil (¾ cup oil and ¾ cup applesauce).


My sister Louise is such a great hostess. She always has a tray of these made for family and friends.

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs ½ cup sugar ½ cup butter, melted 1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk 2 cups flaked coconut 1 cup milk chocolate chips, melted 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch square pan.

In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Pat the mixture into the pan. Bake 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the condensed milk and coconut. Spread over the warm crust. Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.


Excerpted from You Be Sweet by PATSY CALDWELL AMY LYLES WILSON Copyright © 2012 by Amy Lyles Wilson, Patsy Caldwell, and Bryan Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Patsy Caldwell has been a culinary professional for more than fifty years in a career that has included teaching, catering, cooking, and writing. She is a mother of two and grandmother of two. She lives in Charlotte, Tennessee next to the water tower with her husband Bill where they enjoy entertaining anywhere from two to twenty two people depending on the occasion.

Amy Lyles Wilson is a writer with more thantwenty-five years of editorial experience, including coauthoring Cooking with Friends and appearing on National Public Radio’s This I Believe.

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