'Cookies & Sweets': New Lion House cookbook focuses on treats to make and share

Published: Tuesday, April 17 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Sweet treats have been part of the Lion House since Brigham Young's family lived there.

Hooks were found on the walls for pulling taffy, said Brenda Hopkin, Lion House head baker. The Lion House guests still pull taffy at children's birthday parties there.

The recipe for Lion House Taffy is included in the recently released cookbook "Lion House Cookies and Sweets" (Deseret Book, $19.99), which Hopkin compiled.

The more than 100 recipes include taffy, fudge, popcorn, truffles and turtles, bars and brownies and several dozen types of cookies, including the varieties the Lion House bakers make for the Temple Square restaurants, Deseret Book stores, the bakery and special orders.

The bakers' repertoire includes their "Famous Cookies": the Ifs, Ands and Nuts; Hu La La Surprise Cookies; and Chocolate Pretzel Passion Cookies, which were originally developed for Mormon Handicraft about 15 years ago, Hopkin said. All three are in "Cookies and Sweets" and scaled down for the home baker.

The regular cookies include chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodles, oatmeal and white chocolate macadamia cookies, and those recipes are in the cookbook, too.

"Cookies and Sweets" is third in a series of Lion House cookbooks. "Pies" was released in 2010 and "Cakes and Cupcakes" was published last fall.

Many of the recipes are from out-of-print Lion House cookbooks, including the Christmas cookbook. Also, several are from a baking contest the Lion House Bakery put on to celebrate the building's anniversary. All have been updated and tested for home bakers, Hopkin said.

"These are fun things that aren't hard," Hopkin said of many of the treats, like Rocky Road Fudge, which has four ingredients. "There's no way to fail."

However, there are several things to keep in mind while baking.

• "Follow the recipe precisely," Hopkin said. "You have to think of baking as scientific formulas that have to be done exactly if you want your product to turn out."

• Know your oven. Some ovens are hotter or cooler, so adjust accordingly.

• "Always underbake your cookie," Hopkin said. They finish baking while cooling on the pan and will be softer. Unless, of course, you're aiming for a crispier cookie to dunk in milk.

• The weather will affect treats like divinity — if it's raining out, it's not a good day to make it. Taffy isn't affected as much.

"Humidity does affect a lot of things like that," Hopkin said, adding that humidity isn't always an issue in the dry Utah weather.

• Don't be afraid to use a little imagination when decorating cookies. "Lots of little decorations, like outlines and sprinkles, bring them to the next level."

"Cookies and Sweets" includes a DVD with Hopkin demonstrating some decorating ideas, along with tips such as how to measure ingredients (pack brown sugar but not flour) and cut out rolled cookies and recipe demonstrations.

"Any time you want to do something nice for someone …," Hopkin said, "cookies are a pretty easy thing to whip out."

LION HOUSE TAFFY

Makes: 30 bite-sized pieces

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup white corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons glycerine (available at drugstores)

2 tablespoons butter

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