Grandma’s Secret Ingredient Comes in Handy

By: Michelle Hochstein, Communications Intern

Brenda WattsGrandma knows best. And just like in most cases, she was right this time. Her passion for utilizing sorghum syrup in her recipes led one South Carolina foodie to create a decadent dish designed for success.

Brenda Watts, who placed second in the first ever Sorghum Recipe Showdown with her Sorghum Pecan Praline Cheesecake, has been cooking and baking with sorghum since her grandmother introduced it to her at a young age.

“My sweet grandma was right when she showed me and inspired me with all the wonderful recipes you can create using and incorporating the rich, flavorful and natural sweetness of sorghum,” Watts said. “I could not wait to get in the kitchen and work with her.”

Because of the unique flavor of sorghum syrup, Watts prefers it to other sweeteners. She said she has been pouring it over her biscuits and pancakes since before she can remember.

“I love it better than pancake syrup,” she said. “I love the flavors a lot better. It just has a rich, but light flavor.”

She loved it so much, she decided to start incorporating it into her recipes, ranging from barbeque sauce to baked beans to a variety of desserts, including the award-winning cheesecake recipe.

“I absolutely love cooking and baking,” she said. “Outside of my faith, family and friends, it is my passion and love.”

The incorporation of sorghum syrup in a classic dessert like cheesecake as well as the sorghum infused topping was an immediate hit amongst the contest judges.

Aside from her grandmother, Watts credits the inspiration for the award-winning recipe to her husband and daughter. The dessert combined her husband’s love of pecan pie with her daughter’s favorite candy, pralines. As for the cheesecake, Watts said it has always been a favorite of hers.

Her success in the contest has motivated her to create more sorghum-inspired recipes, she said. Though most of her current recipes only utilize sorghum syrup, she is excited to experiment with whole grain sorghum in recipes for side dishes and baked goods. In fact, she has already begun working on recipes for a triple layer sorghum cake and a sorghum pecan pie.

“I am just so appreciative and grateful, especially to my grandma,” she said. “I could not have done this if it had not been for her guiding me with sorghum and baking. I am just still smiling from ear to ear.”

As the second-place winner of this year’s Sorghum Recipe Showdown, Watts will receive a Dutch oven. Find her winning recipe and other recipes on the Sorghum Checkoff website. Follow us on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to keep up with the latest sorghum recipes and information.