Butterscotch finger cakes: Lunchbox time travel

I love regional food. There are specialties to be ferreted out all over the country, and no matter where you live, other exiles from your home region all have the same visceral reaction to a particular food that they grew up with.

Being a Jersey girl, I can’t live without Taylor Ham, bagels, sticky and crumb buns (the bakeries Down the Shore in Ocean City still make me swoon). As a child, we went down to Ocean City for family reunions. My grandfather was one of seven children, thus my mother had a healthy number of cousins. One of them, bless him, worked for the Tastykake company in Philadelphia. This family cousin arrived with cases of KandyKakes and Butterscotch Krimpets, which considerably brightened our lunchboxes for weeks afterward. Needless to say, as far as we were concerned this was a one of our coolest relatives.

Krimpets are a classic, small rectangular cakes with distinctly wavy sides that came in butterscotch and jelly flavors. The jelly I could take or leave, and I’m not sure they’re still making them anymore, but the thought of the Butterscotch Krimpets evokes powerful happy memories and more than a little bit of longing.

More than 5 years ago now PJ tossed the idea over to me that I should invent baking recipes for all kinds of lunchbox snack cakes, and I went to town on the idea. Thus it was than in the Autumn 2003 Baking Sheet several home baked versions for things like Drakes’ Yodels and Funnybones and TastyKake classics like the Krimpet were born. That issue created a lot of buzz among Baking Sheet subscribers, who promptly bought up every back issue to be had. This being back-to-school time, it seems right to share this classic once again.

For our Butterscotch Finger Cakes, a 9 x 13-inch pan does yeoman service. Grease and flour it, or for absolute insurance, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease that.
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Put the dry ingredients together.

Cream the butter and sugar, scrape.

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Add one egg, and scrape again. I finally got a picture that explains why this is such a big deal.

See the difference in the texture between the mixture higher up and the mixture sticking to the bottom of the bowl? This is where streaks in your batter come from, making potholes or sugary molten bits in the finished baked good. Of course, if you have butter and sugar making islands of their own in what you’re baking, that means the rest of the dough or batter isn’t getting the proportions of butter and sugar it should have, and that means it’s going to be more dry and less tender.

After three of the five eggs are mixed in, you can see that the mixture is in the mood to start curdling. You can keep this from happening by sneaking in a couple spoonfuls of the flour mixture.

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Once they’re mixed in, the batter’s emulsion is more stable, and the remaining two eggs and flavorings can join the party.

Now for some of the flour

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Alternating with the milk.

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Scrape, mix a bit more, then pour the batter into the pan. Spread it out with an offset spatula, and bake.
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Take them out of the oven when they begin to pull from the edge of the pan, and cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
To take them out of the pan, free up the edges

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Then put a piece of parchent or waxed paper on top.
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Top that with a baking sheet, right side up, then flip everything over to invert the cake onto the parchment paper.

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Let the cake cool the rest of the way while you make the frosting. Melt some of the butter and the butterscotch chips together.

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It won’t look pretty, but that’s ok. Set this aside to cool to room temperature.

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Mix the other half of the butter with half of the confectioners’ sugar until combined.

Add the melted chips and butter,

Mix till smooth.
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Add the rest of the sugar and beat until you have a nice spreadable frosting.

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Plop it all on top of the cooled cake,

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and spread it evenly over the top.

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Since there’s no practical way to cut wavy sides into each snack cake, I decided to use a cake comb to evoke the Krimpet silhouette. Just draw it back and forth in a nice, relaxed arc

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To make a wavy-looking top.

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Cut the cake in thirds lengthwise,

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Then crosswise in inch and a half sections (9ths).
You’ll want to wrap and freeze these for two reasons: if you don’t they’ll disappear in a flash, and once you have the freezer stash, it’s a simple matter to pop one into a lunchbox. They’ll travel better, and be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime.

Buy or bake:
6 pack of Tastykake Krimpets, 3.79/.63 each
1 Butterscotch finger cake: .21 each

In these uncertain economic times, it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to provide 27 snack cakes for the lunchbox at a fraction of the cost, packaging, and food miles. The only thing that’s missing is the cellophane wrapper!

Susan Reid
About

Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently enjoying her fourth career after stints in advertising, running restaurants, and teaching at the New England Culinary Institute. She joined King Arthur in 2002 to ...

comments

  1. Andrea

    I always thought that TastyKakes, Butterscotch Krimpets, etc., were merely inventions of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum character. It wasn’t until I mentioned this to my hubby (who, incidentally, went to Gettysburg College). He stared at me like I’d grown two heads, “You mean, you’ve NEVER had a Butterscotch Krimpet?”

    Nope. Never have had the pleasure, I guess. I had to remind him I’ve pretty much stayed put my entire life here in Wisconsin, and it is Little Debbie or nothin’. I personally prefer homebaked goods anyway, but I know I’ll have a surprise waiting for him tonight when he gets home! We were just talking about “out East” and what we both miss from past vacations there (me: the sweet bread made at the Dobbin House. Him: Butterscotch Krimpets and Yuengling. I miss the Yuengling too, a bit…)

    This will definitely put a smile on his face for the weekend. My only problem is that freezing them isn’t a deterrent for him – he LOVES frozen snack cake! ;)

    Reply
  2. melissa

    Oh, you’re so cruel! I hadn’t thought about butterscotch krimpets in years and now I’m craving them something fierce! I grew up in PA and we’d always eat them straight from the freezer, but I moved to the UK 6 years ago and haven’t tasted them since. And butterscotch chips don’t exist here so I can’t even make your version… :( Unless you can think of a good substitute?
    Hi, Melissa. I think if you put together a frosting with 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, a tablespoon of golden syrup, pinch of salt, and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and enough confectioners’ sugar to have a spreadable frosting, you’d come pretty close. Good luck; I hate to think of you pining away over there across the pond! ;-) Susan

    Reply
  3. erin

    YUM YUM YUM – I know what I am baking this weekend!! As a lifetime central PA resident, I never realized that the rest of the country doesn’t have these delicious treats – my dad and I both love them! My sister and mom love the Tandy Kakes.THANKS!!

    As for Melissa, what about a brown sugar frosting to substitute for butterscotch chips? I am not sure how to execute it, though

    Reply
  4. JJ

    One thing we always looked forward to when visiting my grandparents (one set lived in Baltimore, MD and one lived near Harrisburg,PA) was that we were able to get TastyKakes. We always loved to peel off the icing on ours and save it for last. When I was dating hubby, one of the things I did was introduce him to them (among other things I’ve introduced him to – he’s slowly becoming a foodie) and I still remember buying a 3 pack at the convenience store near his college and splitting them – and showing him how the icing peels off. He still married me. ;)

    Reply
  5. Bridget

    My first, ok…only, boyfriend in high school introduced me to these. We lived in Texas, but his relatives were from TastyKake country. I never really believed that they were as good as he said…until I tasted them. Wow! I cannot wait to make these! Brings back a lot of memories! :)
    It’s great that so many people are having the same response! Once I get back from my honeymoon I’ll share my version of KandyKakes. Just hang in there for a few weeks, ok? Susan

    Reply
  6. Carolyn T

    Hi Susan – My husband grew up in Ocean City, New Jersey. In fact, his family owned the only gourmet grocery market right on the main street – Thurston’s Market (from about 1932 to 1955). Maybe that’s before your time . . . My husband grew up in/around the store (until he went away to Bucknell to college in 1957) and tells stories about delivering food (you could order by phone and someone would deliver it to you) to all the wealthy folks who summered at the shore. His favorite thing that he misses (since we live in California) is scrapple. I think it’s yukky, but he adores it, whenever he can get it.

    Reply
  7. Kevin

    Living in Philadelphia all of my life, I have taken for granted some of the local delicacies…Tastykakes being one of them. This recipe looks like an interesting take on the classic butterscotch krimpet & I can’t wait to try it! FYI – for those who have never experienced a Tastykake, they do mail-order their products. http://www.tastykake.com. Again, thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  8. Angela

    Ok, I can’t use butterscotch chips for allergy reasons. So thank you very much for a way to mimic the flavor in the frosting, but what is golden syrup? Thank you!
    AngelaGolden syrup is an English product. It has the consistency of corn syrup and is a clear golden color. It is made from evaporated sugar cane juice. Lyle’s is the best known brand. It can be found in some supermarkets or gourmet markets. Dark corn syrup might also work, but wouldn’t have quite the flavor of the golden syrup.Mary @ King Arthur Flour

    Reply
  9. Maureen

    Butterscotch Krimpets are my absolute favorite cake ever, but I haven’t had one in a while because the artificial ingredients scare me. I can’t wait to try this all-natural version! Thank you!

    By the way, Tastykake is still making the jelly kind, and even special flavors like lemon, peanut butter and jelly, and strawberry. I still like the classics the best :-)

    Reply
  10. Andrea

    This is such a wonderful recipe! As predicted, DH ate almost every single cake from Friday through Sunday. Sure, we had guests the entire weekend, but I know he ate most of them. He kept grabbing one from the Tupperware in the freezer, saying “I just can’t stop eating these. They’re like Krimpets, only better!”

    But now I need to beg…could you all please let us know what other recipes were in the Autumn 2003 Baking Sheet? I tried to order one today, only to find out they’re out of print. :( I’d like to surprise my DH with more treats from his childhood.

    Thanks! Hi, That issue contained our versions of Devil Dogs, Funny Bones, Ho Hos, Ring Dings, Snowballs, Krimpets, KandyKakes, Twinkies, and Moon Pies, on the snack cake issue, and many other recipes as well. Mary @ King Arthur Flour

    Reply
  11. Bridget C

    Susan, My dad (Al Floyd…yes, THAT Al Floyd) LOVES these too. He’s a Jersey boy and never shuts up about Taylor Hams and Butterscotch Krimpets. I am going to try and make a gluten free version of this so he and my son can have one more thing to share a love of! Thanks for the recipe

    Reply
  12. Nancy E

    I’ve been an Ocean City, NJ and vicinity girl practically my whole life.
    While KandyKakes were always my favorite, about the only other ones I would eat are the Butterscotch Krimpets. I don’t like most packaged snack cakes, but I will eat those 2 kinds on occasion, so I will definitely try this recipe.
    Thanks Susan…we’ve probably been to many of the same places…Wards, Mallons….I’m gaining weight just thinking about it. In fact I had a Wards donut for breakfast!

    Reply
  13. Jackie

    I’ve been trying to find a copy of that Baking Sheet myself. I looked on the computer and no luck as of yet. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get back copies ? I was so excited with this recipe I had to go and order a 2-year subscription so I wouldn’t miss anymore great recipes.
    This site is so informative. I love the step by step pictures.
    Thank you !!

    Jackie, that particular Baking Sheet is sold out. But Susan and I were talking today about doing a Snack Cake Smackdown – like, the Iron Chefs of Ho-Ho’s and Ring-Dings and Twinkies. Stay tuned… PJH

    Reply
  14. Tina

    Please don’t say anything bad about the jelly krimpets, they were my favorites! Them and the cream filled chocolate cupcakes and what was the vanilla cake with the chocolate icing called, oh I miss my tastycakes here in Connecticut

    Reply
  15. Audrey Binder

    Yes, twinkies would be good. I have a twinkie pan but the recipe that comes w/it does NOT taste like a twinkie.

    I made this recipe and it is goooood. Almost gone and I made it yesterday!!!

    Reply
  16. Juli in VA

    Ah, food memories of childhood!
    I was visiting an elderly friend a few years ago, and another of her friends happened to be visiting as well. We were talking about baking and childhood food memories. Her sister had been visiting from ‘up north’ and had brought Tastykake butterscotch krimpettes with her. One sister remarked to the other how much it tasted like Grandma’s recipe.
    Turns out Great-Grampa was one of the founders of Tastykake- and used the family cake recipe to create butterscotch krimpettes.

    So the reason we may like them… they came from an old family ‘home made’ recipe.
    All the best things start at home- right?!

    Reply
  17. Carol

    I will try baking this for this weekend’s farmers market. Wish me luck! I’ve never tasted the Tastykake version.

    I do have a baking question that is unrelated and hope you don’t mind addressing it in this blog. My holiday gifts are cakes, candies and cookies that I ship all over. My question is this: I don’t drink, and the only time I use liquors/liqueurs is in my holiday baking. I hate replacing new bottles every Christmas season after only using a few tablespoons of it, but have no idea how long things like Kalua, Creme de Cacao, etc. last. I believe the brandies and bourbons are ok to use, but could someone help me with this? I’ve searched on the internet but haven’t been able to find an answer. Many thanks!

    Carol, I think those liqueurs will be fine pretty much indefinitely… or till you see mold growing on the top, which may or may not happen. Alternatively, have you investigated getting the “nips” they sell at the liquor store? Tiny little tasting bottles of most every kind of spirit or liqueur… – PJH

    Reply
  18. Carol

    Hey, PJ…thanks a million for answering the question above! I thought anything “creamy” had to be thrown away (someone…neither a baker nor an authority) told me that. I’ve never seen the “nips” that you are *obviously* familiar with :) LOL… joking! Seriously, I will try to find them because that would really do the trick! I need to hold a service for all the bottles and all the dollar bills that have come to their demise at the beginning of holiday baking season each year. Thanks so much, PJ. I’ll have more to spend on your catalog offerings now!!! (Not that I need much of an excuse…). Thanks for bailing me out once again! Made the Apple Pie with a Twist and oh.my.gawd…. scrumptious!

    Glad you liked the pie, Carol – it’s especially good made with really good fresh local apples. I love Ginger Gold… As for the nips, hey, I’m just an observant shopper! You’ll find them close to the cash register at the liquor store; usually a whole rack of ‘em. BUT, being a breast cancer survivor, alcohol is pretty much off my list (it promotes recurrence), so I just admire them from afar… And as for “creamy” liqueur – ever hear of something that’s “pickled” in alcohol? Both sugar and alcohol are preservatives, so those liqueurs can last a lonnnnng time. :) PJH

    Reply
  19. Carol

    Hi PJ! Yes, that makes perfect sense, the pickling part. I will hold onto those bottles! And I’ll look for the nips if there are recipes I need more liquor for. No one would guess I don’t drink with the amount of alcohol in my wine rack! I’d have trouble convincing a judge! I have no moral reason; I just think it tastes bad and Pepsi tastes better! :) I had no idea alcohol promotes recurrence of breast cancer. I’m glad you are only admiring them from afar. We readers of The Baking Sheet and the blogs have come to know and love you and we want you to stick around. So no alcohol for you is RIGHT! I try to use the Ohio apples. We here know that they are the round ones (round like an “O” for Ohio, is how we remember). Ginger Gold ARE nice apples, for sure.

    Reply
  20. Kari

    Hi, Carol, I have something to add about your creme-type alcohols question. They certainly do last a long time, but are not good forever. My younger sister and I were cleaning out our parents old liquor cabinet a few years ago and came across an old kahlua (or something similar) bottle that had gone solid (no kidding)…it was crazy. We were tasting the liquors as we went (sots, I know, but we both rarely drink anyway) along, and thought it tasted a little funny. It was like a whey had been created or something. Very strange. So, taste the stuff or sniff carefully if you’ve had the bottle for very long. The nips idea is awesome. Think I might have to try that instead of getting an entire bottle, no matter how “small”, for my recipes.

    Reply
  21. Sharon Lafferty

    Just read the blog about Lunchbox time travel: Butterscotch finger cakes and all the comments made me want the recipe badly, however, the list of ingredients was missing. Could you send me the recipe, please? Thanks, Sharon

    Here’s the link for the Butterscotch Finger Cakes, Sharon – it was kind of hidden (right before the first instructional photo) – enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  22. Jackie

    Does anyone remember having small banana cakes with icing and nuts ?
    They had paper wrapped around the edges of them ? My sisters and I talk about them all the time. We haven’t had them for over 35 years.
    Can’t find them anywhere. I would love to surprise them with some ?
    JackieDear Jackie: I remember the same cakes you’re remembering. I’ve had some success in several different foodservice mileus with the banana cake recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Bake it as a 9 x 13, like I did the Krimpets, flip the cake out on it’s top and frost the bottom with confectioner’s sugar frosting with a bit of banana flavoring. Top with chopped walnuts, and cut into finger-sized cakes. I don’t remember who made those little banana cakes, but I had the same “flavor flashback” you’re referring to!—Susan

    Reply
  23. Sue another Jersey Girl

    Oh…my husband is going to love you. His favorite is Butterscotch Krimpets….followed closely by the jelly ones. My favorite is the KandyKake or as they used to call them TandyKakes…And then you had to go and mention those “crumb buns” from down the shore. We used to get ours on Long Beach Island. Since moving to Georgia I miss all that stuff. On a recent visit to Jersey I carried home on the plane 2 large Taylor Hams and a dozen hard seeded rolls……

    Reply
  24. Spencer

    I just returned to Kansas from my 40th high school reunion outside of Philadelphia–with a side trip to Ocean City. In my bag there was only 2 souvenirs of the trip, my precious cartons of Butterscotch Krimpets. My co-workers knew I had returned for on their desk this morning when they arrived there were a couple of Krimpets for each.

    One co-worker said, “You could make these!” and I told her I had used a copycat recipe last year that I thought lacked a little “something”. I am going to try this recipe hoping that it will satisfy me a bit better.

    I miss scrapple as well. There are so many PA/NJ delicacies that only those to whom these were mother’s milk can truly appreciate. Most just turn their noses up!

    Reply
  25. Candace R.

    Hi PJ – My vote for snackcake recipes would be Devil Dogs and Drakes Coffee Cakes. On another subject, when I left for the summer it was to promises of the dough rising jar being in the Fall catalog. I haven’t gotten the catalog but I can’t find it on the online catalog. All I see is a plastic one, not nearly as nicely marked as the glass one in earlier photos. Perhaps it’s called something else? It’s chilly now so time to start the woodstove and bake some artisan breads. The measuring cup PJ used in the pictures is the same as the one you see on the web-item 4375. Joan @ the baker’s hotline

    Joan is right – not exactly the same, but the newer version. The one I’ve always used is plastic, not glass. – PJH

    Reply
  26. ancameni

    I have started making my daughters lunches and i always try to come with a variety. Thanks to KAF that is so much easier. I was looking around for a little treat for them and finally tried these treats. I am not huge fan of butterscotch so i reluctantly made them today. I have just finished the frosting and cutting and all 3 of us had one treat. They are so great. The cake layer is great and one can’t help but wonder how delicious that would be with bananas. I am curios to the freezing part. How do they look and taste when thawed. I don’t think those babies will last that long to freeze some. How long would they last at room temp? What kind of butterscotch chips did you use. I found some at the store and after melting the frosting looked brownish and not like yours.

    Thanks either way

    ancameni Dear Ancameni: I used the butterscotch chips we carry in our catalogue, which are a find from a new supplier and absolutely the best butterscotch chips I’ve ever tried. I have it on my list to make a banana-walnut version as lamented on an earlier post.
    As for freezing these cakes, after you cut them, put them in the refrigerator for half an hour to make sure the frosting is firmed up. Then wrap each one individually in plastic wrap, and put the wrapped cakes in a large zip-top freezer bag. Take them out and pop them in the lunchboxes frozen; they’ll be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime. As you’ve probably seen from the earlier posts, freezing is no guarantee they won’t disappear; apparently they’re good to eat frozen, too! Susan

    Reply
  27. Angela

    I have searched everywhere for a recipe for those little banana cakes you mentioned above. Can you provide me with a link to one please? I love the recipes from KAF, and searched thru here but couldnt find one. I really appreciate any help you can provide! Thank you!!

    Hi, Angela. The closest recipe I’ve found, flavor-wise, is the banana cake from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. If you don’t have it drop me a note at susan.reid@kingarthurflour.com and I’ll dig it out and send to you. Susan

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Angela. The closest thing I’ve found is the banana cake recipe in the Fannie Farmer cookbook, as far as flavor goes. I have it in my files if you can’t put your finger on it yourself. Drop me a note at susan.reid@kingarthurflour.com and I’ll send it your way… Susan

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