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Want Food Just Like Mom Used to Make? Find Williams Confectionery Crafts


The roast beef sandwich and tortilla soup at Williams Confectionery Crafts.

Bonnie Walker and I stopped by Williams Confectionery Crafts for lunch on a recent Tuesday, when the special is always chicken and dumplings. Thick, doughy strips were covered in a chicken gravy that produced an appreciative smile on Bonnie’s face as spooned up each succulent morsel.

“These are just like my mom makes,”  she told Joyce Williams, a retired school teacher who has run the unassuming northeast side restaurant on Toepperwein Road for the past six years.

“That’s the nicest compliment anyone can give me,” was her response.

And it’s the same feeling you’ll have if you wander in for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner, for savory treats like chicken-fried steak or King Ranch chicken casserole or for any of the delectable desserts, which range from hummingbird cake to raspberry-white chocolate bars.

That day, I had breakfast on my mind, so I went with an omelet stuffed with a little bit of everything, including some diced orange pepper, almost raw spinach leaves, ham, bacon and sausage. The sheet of egg wrapped around the lively jumble of ingredients was beautifully cooked and just about all I could want.

The red velvet cake has pecans on top.

On a more recent visit, a friend and I decided to try the soups and sandwiches. She ordered the roast beef, while I settled for baked ham. The meat on both is cut from the bone, not from some deli. So, the roast beef was more akin to pot roast, with a colorful blend of bell peppers and red onion on top and some provolone cheese melted into the wheat bun. Days later, memories of the meat, so flavorful and tender, keep calling me back. The pan-fried bits of ham with lettuce and slices of a perfectly ripe tomato.

A tomato bisque with a touch of cheese on top was tangy and comforting — and a bit more welcome than the gelatinous tortilla soup, the lone misfire on several visits.

As good as the savory treats were, the sweets were the real reason people have flocked to Williams. The display case that runs the width of the dining room and the counter behind it were laden with old-fashioned treats highly reminiscent of the kind that my mom, now a retired baker, used to make. On one visit, several types of chocolate cakes, filled with whipped cream or topped with bits of chopped candy bar, sat next to 7-Up cake, hummingbird cake, lemon cake and pink or strawberry cake. Then there were cupcakes, cookies, bar cookies, and the puddings, including bread and banana, the latter of which drew sighs of delirious contentment from Bonnie. I opted that day for a slab of cherry strudel with a sticky glaze and airy dough wrapped around the fruit filling.

A baked ham sandwich with a golden tomato bisque.

And I haven’t even gotten to the pies, including coconut chess, buttermilk chess, sweet potato, sweet potato-cream cheese, apple and more.

On the second visit, the cake lineup had changed to include a caramel drizzled coconut cream cake and a towering red velvet cake, both of which were airy yet substantial, with the cake complemented by the luscious frostings.

Williams Confectionery Crafts has even more, including coffee drinks, ice cream treats, oversized cinnamon rolls and to-go orders, whether you want a few dozen cupcakes or a specialty cake decorated for a birthday, anniversary or even wedding. I’m ready for my next visit.

Banana pudding

Williams Confectionery Crafts
12107 Toepperwein Road
(210) 967-5200
Breakfast-lunch: Monday-Saturday
Dinner until 7 p.m.: Monday-Friday

 

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Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream


In the days before cupcakes upstaged cakes, red velvet cake was different from what it is now. It used to be a cake with a great layer of cocoa powder adding depth of flavor beneath all that red dye, and the frosting was meant to complement the cake, not upstage it. Back then, my mom even frosted hers with a seven-minute icing, coated in coconut, instead of cream cheese frosting.

Nowadays, the cocoa has disappeared, and, thanks to cupcakes, it’s more about the inches of cream cheese frosting on top than anything else.

So, when I first saw that Ben & Jerry’s introduced Red Velvet Cake ice cream, I never questioned whether I would buy it. The pint just jumped into my shopping basket.

But the question was, which style of red velvet cake would it be? Unfortunately, the answer was the latter. In fact, the supersweet ice cream was more about the cream cheese frosting, which was presented with a cheesecake flavor. It also featured bits of a cocoa-free cake batter, but the cake wasn’t the focus.

Yet, even if this ice cream didn’t match my preferred style of red velvet cake, I was won over to it after just a couple of spoonfuls. And that means whenever I want red velvet cake, I’ll make Mom’s old-fashioned recipe. But if I want a quick hit, I’ll take Ben & Jerry’s ice cream version over a modern cupcake version any time.

The price was $3.50 a pint at H-E-B.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes With Mascarpone Cream Cheese Icing


RedVelvetCupcakes“Although legend has it that red velvet cake originated in the early 1900s at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, it’s been a Southern favorite for as long as I can remember,” Rebecca Rather writes in her “Pastry Queen Christmas.” “The mint extract and crushed mint candied add a bit of holiday flair, but easily can be left out at other times of the year.”

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Mascarpone Cream Cheese Icing

1/4 cup (2 ounces) red food coloring
3 1/2 tablespoons high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Icing:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
1 teaspoon vanilla or mint extract

Crushed peppermint candies for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease jumbo muffin cups (3 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep) with butter or cooking spray, and lightly flour them, knocking out the excess flour, or line them with baking papers.

In a small bowl, stir the food coloring and cocoa powder together to make a smooth paste. Set aside. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, then the cocoa paste while continuing to beat. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for about 4 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, salt and baking soda. Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk (this can be done in the measuring cup). Add the flour mixture in 3 increments alternately with the buttermilk in two increments, starting and ending with the flour. Beat on medium speed just until the ingredients are combined. Add the sour cream and vinegar and beat on low speed until combined.

Fill the muffin cups three-fourths full with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, just until the cupcakes feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake or the cupcakes will dry out. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

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For icing: In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone on very low speed, until just combined. (Be careful, once you’ve added the mascarpone, excessive beating can make the frosting curdle.) Stir in the vanilla or mint extract.

Frost the tip of each cupcake with the icing. Sprinkle the crushed peppermint candy, if using, evenly on the cupcakes.

Makes 12 Texas-sized cupcakes.

From “The Pastry Queen Christmas” by Rebecca Rather

(photo: Nicholas N. Mistry)

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