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Monday
Nov302009

Sweet Seconds: Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry Nut Bars for Serious Eats

Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats

The year's biggest eating weekend is over (sigh). But there's definitely some sweet eating to be had from the little leftovers left, as proven by these cranberry nut squares. This is a revamped version of a pecan bar but composed instead with leftover cranberry sauce and the mixed nuts that played a supporting role in so many Thanksgiving recipes. The result is surprisingly addictive: sweet, salty, tart, and buttery, all at once.

Not only will you enjoy eating them, but you'll also feel a sense of accomplishment at finishing some of the slower-moving Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats
You can find the full recipe at Serious Eats!
Sunday
Nov292009

Cake Byte: Cyber Monday Sale at CakeSpyShop.com!

Le Shopping
Do you need some sweet treats for the holidays? How about some holiday cards, or perhaps a sweet cupcake ornament? It's all available--plus so much more--on CakeSpyShop.com! And through Monday, November 30, you can get some sweet savings! Use code CSHOL when checking out and you'll get 20% off everything!

Now that's a totally sweet deal! Season's Sweetings!
Friday
Nov272009

Winter Wonderland: A Sweet Dispatch from the National Gingerbread House Competition

Gingerbread Houses
Have you ever been curious about the nation's gingerbread elite? Even if you weren't, bet you are now. Here, Cake Gumshoe Shannon reports on the scene at the National Gingerbread Competition:

A peppermint forest, a sprinkle laden path, sugary turrets and beams of brown baked gingerbread. This is the stuff that children’s dreams are made of, as are the incredible and edible works of art entered in this year’s famous National Gingerbread House Competition put on by The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina.
Gingerbread Windmill
After months of baking and building, gingerbread architects and purveyors of icing of all ages from across the country have witnessed the judging of their mouth-watering creations. Winning entries are now on display throughout the historic hotel until January 3.

While the name of the contest may conjure pictures of a child’s dilapidated yet endearing four-sided gingerbread home made from a store-bought kit, you’ll find much more among this spicy and sweet collection of entirely edible concoctions.
A marshmallow-laden igloo. A zoo of tasty lions and tigers with caramel cages. A Dutch windwill with spokes of pretzels and chocolate. A cuckoo clock with almond pinecone weights. A castle with a gingerbread princess. Next to a mandate of gingerbread as a building block, imagination is the most important rule of this contest.

Some of my most favorite entries are the most out-of-box inventions such as a festive Egyptian pyramid draped with frosted boughs and holly atop a sugary sweet desert neighbored by a crystal blue sea with a magical sailboat. The base of the boat is made of ice cream cones and is topped by a mast of ruby red licorice and a sail of yellow fruit roll-up.

Then there is the gingerbread house that models a posh Mediterranean villa with a terracotta roof, manicured gardens, a tiled patio and glistening blue fountains that mimic running water, or the gingerbread woven picnic basket filled with fruit and a parade of ants atop an iced picnic blanket.

The grand prize winner of this year’s contest perhaps bends all notions of gingerbread houses with a stunning copper and gold gilded bird cage with two brilliant snow white turtle doves. The base of the bird cage is encircled with perfectly shaped pears and leaves that seem to glow with reflected light (pictured top).
Gingerbread Picnic Basket
Certainly too beautiful to eat, it’s not hard to see on first glance, why this entry brought home the contest’s ultimate prize, which includes a $3,000 prize check, a two-night club floor stay at The Grove Park Inn, dinner for two, daily breakfast for two and a prize package from Chef Nicholas Lodge including a two-day class at the Nicholas Lodge School in Atlanta, Georgia, not to mention major bragging rights at the next neighborhood cookout or potluck.

While the top winners are interesting to see as a collection, each individual gingerbread creation has a story to tell that’s reflected in the incredible attention to detail and hours of work invested. To hear the stories behind the gingerbread, visit The Grove Park Inn and take part in the “Stories of Gingerbread” guided tours.

The Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Ave., Asheville, NC 1-800-438-5800; Gingerbread Hotline 1-800-413-5778; online at groveparkinn.com.

For more of Shannon Connell’s work, check out her website.
Thursday
Nov262009

Just a Speck: The Birnen Speck Cake

Pear and Bacon Cake
This photo is credited to Einwanger, Klaus-Maria on Kuechengoetter.com.

As a dessert detective agency, it is the official duty of CakeSpy to report on the birnen speck cake.

What's a birnen speck cake? Well, birnen means pear; speck roughly translates as bacon; and cake...well, you know that one.
Birnen Speck Cake
Yup: Pear Bacon Cake. I was tipped off about this cake by Criminal Crafts, and finally hunted down a recipe and tutorial online on the site kuechengoetter.de. Basically this cake is made by laying bacon in a loaf pan, nestling pared pears on top, and then smothering it all in cake batter before baking it. The result? A confection which yields a strangely pretty slice, with pear shards surrounded by buttery cake, all surrounded by pink-red-and-white bacon. Ready to give it a try? While an effort to directly translate may not be easy, the recipe can be found here.
Thursday
Nov262009

Sweet Art: Acupuncture is Totally Sweet!

Acupuncture is totally sweet!
How does Cuppie bliss out? By getting acupuncture, duh. And as a side effect, the holey experience has really given him a lot of empathy for his buddy Doughnut. This piece was inspired by Seattle's best (bar none!) community acupuncture clinic, CommuniChi--it was featured in their latest newsletter!
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