The Only New Year's Food Resolutions You Need

Here ya go, sweeties! A few foodie resolutions that should be FUN to keep. 


1. Challenge your food beliefs.

"I don't like coconut." "I hate raisins." "I don't eat chocolate on Saturdays." How many of you make broad statements like this? I do, for sure. But if you've been saying one of these things for it really true, or are you just used to saying it? How about this year, you and I both resolve to challenge these food beliefs? After all, sometimes these things can change and you can actually find yourself enjoying something. 

I'll give you an example. I used to think I hated coconut cream pie and I just didn't eat it. Then one day I tried the version that Dahlia Bakery in Seattle made. It was so well made that it transcended my sweeping dismissal of this dessert. The fact is, when something is done well, it can make you a believer. It might not always be the case, but don't shut yourself out of experiences because of something you decided long ago! 


2. Make something new (even if you fail). 

Are you enchanted by Baked Alaska but too scared to make it? Or, does something like making your own pie crust make you break out in cold sweat? Fact is, buddies, your first attempt is unlikely to be perfect or pin-worthy (at least mine rarely is). But you know what? the fact that you tried something new and delicious is celebration-worthy on its own. I did a post a while back about how even a pie crust made with melted butter (which is like, a cardinal sin) tasted pretty ok. The fact that you've made something and it's homemade already makes it pretty good; you need time to learn how to really do it. Progress, not perfection! 


3. Be creative.

The first time I saw a lattice crust, I was intimidated by it. But when I tried it, I learned it was a lot easier than it looked. From there, I was able to add it to my repertoire and make other creative things using the technique. For instance, I was really proud of these basket weave cookies for Craftsy, wherein the lattice crust technique was applied to cookie dough. Don't just be bound by the constraints of recipes that already exist! Forge your own path.

4. Make food your destination! 

While of course delicious food will taste good anywhere, some foods just taste better in their natural habitat. Case in point: a lobster roll enjoyed on the Maine coast; a black and white cookie in New York City; Key Lime pie in Florida. When you travel, be sure to try the local specialties in their home setting and see for yourself if it makes a difference. As for me, I am going to the Gulf coast soon and I can't wait to try shrimp and who knows what else there! 


5. Discover foods from different cultures. 

I suppose this is related to the resolution above, but it's something that doesn't necessarily require traveling. You can discover the foods of different cultures by cooking at home; or, it's likely that there's a foreign food you've never tried which is accessible in your hometown. For instance, last year I discovered, and made, and fell in love with, khachapuri, a Georgian eggy flatbread. Not only does discovering a new food expand your horizons, but it makes you more interested in the world and makes your palate more broad! 

6. Focus on pleasure.

Many people resolve to eat "healthier" around the new year. Whole 30 and paleo diets and whatever abound. Personally, I think it's kind of BS. I don't think that focusing on healthier eating is a bad thing at all, don't get me wrong. But I think it's important to focus on your mental health, as well. And sometimes, a great cookie or brownie or cupcake can do as much for your soul as a superfood salad does for your body. If you focus on truly enjoying and appreciating the treats you give yourself, I promise you won't need to overdo it. So rather than focusing on denying yourself these items, focus on truly enjoying it when you do treat yourself. 

7. Be tolerant of others. 

It's never a bad thing to be tolerant, but I am specifically talking about food. If someone follows a different diet than you, or eats more or less sugar than you, etc, etc, let them be that way. Don't try to dictate your diet mentality to others, and let it wash off of you if others try to tell you how to eat. Live and let live, ok? 

8. Discover new techniques.

When I went to Los Angeles a few years ago for a baking adventure with King Arthur flour, I learned a nifty technique of making pie crust with your hands. For some reason, this made pie crust "click" for me--clearly, I had found the technique that worked for me and that made me enthusiastic about making pie crust. Sometimes, a new technique can enliven your cooking like that! Keep on discovering new techniques for things you do frequently and you may discover something that works perfectly for you. 

9. Treat yourself every day.

This relates back to the "focus on pleasure" resolution. Remember to treat yourself every day! As Dale Cooper said in Twin Peaks, "Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee." Your treat might be a manicure or it might be a cake truffle. OK, so technically it doesn't have to be food, but it does have to be sweet and geared toward yourself. Whatever it is, be sure to be kind to yourself in some way every day! 

What's your New Year's resolution?


Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt

Your New Year's health resolution is boring to me. Let's eat cake instead.


But not just any cake, friends: a Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt Cake! This beauty is from the brand new book Beautiful Bundts: 100 Recipes for Delicious Cakes & More by Julie Anne Hession

OK, so this book is awesome. It delivers on the promise of the title, with plenty of beautiful bundt cakes in all shapes and sizes. However, it also has some unexpected recipes. From savory bundts to pull-apart options, there are creative options in addition to the classics. It's truly a book that will challenge the view of the bundt pan as one trick pony in the kitchen!

I'm delighted to have received permission to share this recipe for a Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt cake on the blog. This happy cake is perfect for parties, Cinco De Mayo, or really, let's be honest, any day of the year that you crave chocolate and joy (which is most days for me!). 


Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt

Photo credit (above) and headnote (below): Julie Anne Hession

A piñata Bundt? That sounds fun! Indeed. This Bundt is full of surprises and guaranteed to turn any occasion into an instant fiesta. Cut into the whole cake, pull out the first slice and you’re met with a cascade of colored chocolate candies spilling out onto your plate. Take your first bite, and what you thought was a standard chocolate cake hits you with notes of cinnamon and spicy cayenne. Whether or not you hit the dance floor, your taste buds will definitely be doing the salsa!

Makes 12 to 14 servings


After filling cake, it’s best to invert it onto a serving plate instead of a wire rack. Because sections of the cake have been removed and replaced, the cake should be moved as little as possible.

The ganache thickens quickly once poured over the cake. To coax it down the sides, firmly tap the cake-topped plate or wire rack on the counter a few times.

Before you bake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C); dark pan, 325°F (160°C)
  • Get yourself a minimum 12-cup Bundt pan, and spray it with nonstick spray


  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour (625 mL)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted  (250 mL)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (5 mL)
  • 1 tsp salt (5 mL)
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (15 mL)
  • 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper (1 to 2 mL)
  • 2 1⁄4 cups  granulated sugar (560 mL)
  • 3⁄4 cup vegetable oil (175 mL)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 1 tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur (such as Kahlúa) (15 mL)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (10 mL)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups  buttermilk (375 mL)
  • 1 3⁄4 cups mini candy-coated chocolate pieces (such as M&Ms), about 11 oz (330 g) 
  • 1 recipe Mexican Chocolate Ganache (see recipe below)    


1.    In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne.

2.    In the stand mixer bowl, beat sugar and oil on medium speed until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in liqueur and vanilla.

3.    With the mixer on low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour and two of buttermilk, and beating until incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top.

4.    Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5.    Prepare cake for filling as directed on page 88. Pour candies into the “moat,” filling it to about 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) from the top. Trim cut-out cake sections so that they fit snugly back together on top of the candies, pressing to adhere and completely covering up candies. Carefully invert cake onto a serving plate.

6.    Pour ganache over the cake, letting it drip down the sides (see tip). Let ganache set for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Mexican Chocolate Ganache

Makes enough for a cake baked in a 10- to 12-cup pan

  • 6 oz dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped  (175 g)   
  • 1⁄3 cup heavy or whipping (35%) cream (150 mL)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (15 mL)
  • 1⁄2 tsp    ground cinnamon (2 mL)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur (such as Kahlúa) (30 to 45 mL)

1. In a small saucepan, stir together chocolate, cream and butter over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and liqueur to taste.

Have you ever made a creative bundt cake?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies for Christmas

I'm bringing back this recipe because it's truly THE BEST! This is the only cookie recipe that I *always* make; others come and go.


One of the most wonderful things about a recipe is all the places it can go.

Take, for instance, a recipe for two-tiered Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies that appeared in a women's magazine in the early 1980s. How could the recipe developer have known what a role this recipe would end up playing in the Spy family's lives?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

After all, it was this recipe that struck the fancy of my mother (you know her as SpyMom) and intrigued her enough to bake a batch. And the whole family loved them. They were buttery and lightly crumbly but so soft and just ever so slightly chewy in the center, and the walnuts and pistachio and chocolate just worked so perfectly together. We all loved them so much, in fact, that the next year, she made them again. And the year after that. A tradition was born.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

But somewhere along the line--was it when her children went to college, moved away, began having their own lives?--the cookies stopped being made. Every year someone (usually me) would lament the fact that they were missing from the festivities, but year after year, they did not make an appearance.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

But this year, we brought the recipe out from hiberation. SpyMom found the handwritten recipe and told me that this was during her "penmanship phase", when she would stay up at night practicing perfect penmanship, trying to will her handwriting into something more perfect than it was. 

Pistachio Cookies

Since then, her handwriting has reverted back to its old, slighly messier, but in my opinion, more charming form.

But how wonderful to encounter this little slice of the past, complete with doodlings (mine? My little sister's?) and speckled with baking debris from years past. 

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

I baked the cookies while my parents were out, and when they returned, my mother shrieked. "What?" I cried out, thinking that perhaps she'd seen a mouse. But no. "They're just like I used to make!" she said. And I may be getting a bit flowery here, but I think that she and my dad both had a little moment, thinking sweet memories. And that made me extremely happy, in turn. 

How's that for season's sweetings?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

Makes about 24

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding (NOT sugar-free)
  • 6 ounces (half a bag) semisweet chocolate chips, plus 20-30 chips for garnish
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla; blend until creamy. Add the flour mixture in 3-4 increments, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Remove 1/4 of the dough to a separate bowl; add the walnuts.
  4. To the remaining dough, add the pudding mix and stir until completely combined. Fold in the 6 ounces of chocolate chips.
  5. By rounded teaspoonfuls, form the green dough into balls, and place 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Using the back of a teaspoon or a floured drinking glass bottom, gently flatten the tops of these dough rounds. 
  6. Grab the small bowl of walnutty dough. Form the dough into marble-sized pieces, and place a ball of this dough on the top of each pistachio dough mound. Sort of like a two-part snowman. 
  7. Place a single chocolate chip on top of each of the cookies, pressing gently to make sure it will stay in place.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 8-15 minutes (listen, that long range is because I never calibrate my oven because I am lazy and I've baked these in a variety of ovens which have ranged though different bake times), or until set. It's going to be hard to see if they have become golden on the bottom, so mainly just look for a matte finish and an ever so slight golden color around the bottom edge. Remove from the oven and let cool on the rack for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar.

Oh Em Gee Best Unicorn Giveaway Ever

Update: The winner has been announced! See if it was you on my latest Instagram post! 

Erin Bakes Cake Handy-corn.jpg

Oh em gee (that's OMG to those who don't feel like typing). Have I got some fantastic news for you: it's a giveaway kind of day, and unicorns are the name of the game! 

I have paired up with the lovely and amazing Erin of Erin Bakes (and author of the recently released Erin Bakes Cake.) for an incredible giveaway.

EBC over head.jpg

Here's what you could win:

  • A copy each of both of our unicorn-filled books: Stuff Unicorns Love and Erin Bakes Cake.
  • A 6-piece Fat Daddio's cake pan set
  • a 10" bench scraper (as seen in the pic above) from Fat Girl Cakes
  • One magical Handicorn (also pictured above)
  • a bunch of Unicone (yes, that's a unicorn with an ice cream cone horn) pins! 
  • A few other magical things might be in the box, too!

Like, whoa! Now, to enter, here's what I want you to do:

1. "Like" both CakeSpy and Erin Bakes on Facebook. 

2. Leave a comment here detailing why you love unicorns.

3. Enter again! This is a multi-platform giveaway and you could enter up to 6 whopping times:

  • Enter on each of our Facebook pages: CakeSpy and Erin Bakes  

  • Enter on each of our Instagram pages: Erin Bakes and CakeSpy

  • Enter on each of our blogs by leaving a comment detailing why you love unicorns: Erin Bakes and here

The winner will be chosen at random on Monday, December 18th at 3pm EST. This giveaway is not sponsored by or affiliated with Instagram. USA entrants only, please; we love you international peeps but it's gosh-darned expensive to ship to you.

Happy Day!

Cyber Week Special: Free Shipping and Free Stickers!

News flash: I'm offering a totally sweet special for all orders of my new book, Stuff Unicorns Love, as well as my coloring books for this week only! 

If you should order any of these books from my Etsy shop, I'll upgrade you to free domestic shipping, AND throw in a free sheet of unicorn and narwhal stickers! Now that's something magical to get excited about. Here's the facebook post where I explain it: