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Ask A Chef: Best Spooky Halloween Treats

(credit: Lisa Keating)

Owner/Chef Tanya Holland
Brown Sugar Kitchen
2534 Mandela Parkway
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 839-7685

With influences rooted in the South and French formal training, Chef Holland's cuisine is very much a product of the Bay Area. Organic produce and free-range poultry are locally sourced for classic soul food dishes with a modern spin. Signature buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffles with brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup and BBQ shrimp and grits are among the dishes responsible for the line at the front door of Brown Sugar Kitchen. And somehow, Chef Holland manages to squeeze in appearances on national broadcasts such as "The Talk" and the "Today" show.

This month, the busy executive chef and owner of both Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ in West Oakland is releasing "Brown Sugar Kitchen," Holland's latest cookbook featuring 86 recipes for re-creating restaurant favorites at home.

Referring to "my sweet potato obsession," Chef Holland provides a bit of background on this wonderful treat of sweet potato scones with brown sugar icing. "A scone has a sweeter profile and a slightly cakier texture than a biscuit. And who wouldn't love anything topped with brown sugar icing?"

Here are Chef Holland's recommendations for Halloween treats to share with all.

"Brown Sugar Kitchen" cookbook by Chef Tanya Holland (credit: Jody Horton)

Sweet Potato Scones With Brown Sugar Icing

Scones (makes 8)

  • 3/4 cup/170 grams unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup/70 grams dried currants
  • 3/4 cup/180 ml heavy cream, chilled


  1. In a wide sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat.

    Add sweet potato and stir often until softened, about 10 minutes.

  2. Add 1 Tbsp of brown sugar and cook, stirring sweet potato often, until caramelized, for 12-15 minutes.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and then refrigerate for 1 hour to cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 425º F/20º C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. In a food processor, pulse together flour, baking powder, remaining brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
  6. Scatter butter cubes over the mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not over process.
  7. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl, add currants and chilled sweet potato and toss to coat.
  8. Add the cream gently, stirring with a fork, until the dough barely comes together. Do not overmix.
  9. Dump dough onto lightly floured surface, gently knead into a ball, taking care not to mash the sweet potato cubes.
  10. The dough will feel slightly dry. Form into an 8"/20-cm disk, cut into 8 triangles and transfer to baking sheet.
  11. Bake scones until golden brown, 18-22 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

From Chef Tanya Holland's "Brown Sugar Kitchen" (credit: Jody Horton)

Brown Sugar Icing

  • 1/4 cup/20 grams powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup/50 grams of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream


  1. Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and cream over medium-low heat, stirring often, until butter is melted and the mixture is well combined.
  3. Pour the butter mixture over the powdered sugar, whisk until smooth and let it cool completely.
  4. When the scones are cool, set the wire rack with the scones over the baking sheet.
  5. With a small offset spatula or table knife, spread about 1 Tbsp of icing on each scone.
  6. Let set for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she's writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on


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