Jessica Makes Sweet Potato Pie Bars and Spicy Sorghum Syrup Cookies With Food Writer Julie Tanous

California Cooking
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Julie Tanous is a recipe developer and food writer who teamed up with her friend, actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson to create a food blog.

Julie found her passion for cooking only after taking recreational classes in New York. Then, when her husband broke his ankle, she began cooking more often and hosting guests at home.

She met Jesse at a dinner party in 2015 and she said it was "love at first sight." That night, they vowed to one day write a cookbook together.

They started a blog called Julie and Jesse and now the book is in the works!

Julie is from Alabama and loves using ingredients that remind her of home.

Jessica visited Julie at home and the two made sweet potato pie bars and spicy sorghum syrup cookies, both of which are perfect for the holiday season.

This segment aired on California Cooking With Jessica Holmes Episode 51.

Julie Tanous' Sweet Potato Pie Bars With Marshmallow Frosting 

Ingredients, for the crust

  • 18 whole graham crackers
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 11 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

For the pie filling

  • 1 can (15 ounces) of sweet potato puree
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground clove
  • ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ½ of a vanilla bean, scraped (or ½ tablespoon of vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 can (14 ounces ) of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs

For the marshmallow frosting

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar

Instructions to make the crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until very fine.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Transfer mix to a 9-inch cake pan and spread the crumbs evenly on bottom. Press down firmly on the crumbs to form a crust.
  5. Bake until just golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sweet potato puree with the remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour into the prepared piecrust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is set.
  3. Allow the pie to cool completely before topping with marshmallow meringue.

To make the Meringue:

  1. In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.
  2. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of heavily simmer water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes, then add the vanilla and cream of tartar.
  3. Either using an electric handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Pile the meringue on top of the cooled sweet potato pie and spread evenly with an offset spatula. You can use a torch to brown the marshmallow meringue, or you can place the pie directly under your oven’s broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, rotating halfway through and taking care not to burn the meringue.
  5. Slice into squares and dig in!

Julie Tanous' Spicy Sorghum Syrup Cookies

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon of cayenne
  • ¾ cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup of packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of sorghum syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • Flaky sea salt for topping
  • Pinch more cayenne for topping (optional)
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar for rolling


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, fine sea salt, pepper and cayenne; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar, sorghum syrup, fresh ginger and vanilla extract until well combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the egg and beat another 1 minute, until fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  6. Spoon out about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into 1 ½ inch balls.
  7. Roll the dough balls in the turbinado sugar and place on prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie round with flaky sea salt and a tiny pinch of cayenne if desired.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  9. Enjoy!
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