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Thursday
Jan062011

Cake Byte: Cake Pops by Stick & Pop, NYC

Cake Pop Wants to know where its face went.Dear Stick&Pop,

I don't want to be to forward, because I just met you, but I think I love you. But no, I don't want to break up my marriage. Because you see, Mr. CakeSpy loves you too.

What we propose is that you leave NYC and move to Seattle, live in our spare bedroom, and instead of paying rent, give us an endless supply of your delicious cake pops.

Please, consider it.

Love, 

CakeSpy&Co.

- - - - - - - -

OK, so the preceding is a slight dramatization of actual events. We haven't invited the owners of Stick & Pop to live with us--yet.

But after each bite of their delicious pops, we're coming closer and closer. Not convinced? Well, read their bio and you might come a few steps closer:

French Culinary Institute graduate, Jacki Caponigro, and design professional, Christy Nyberg, launched Stick&Pop in New York in the Fall of this year. The pair has crafted a menu of 12 delightfully creative flavors that are as fun to look at as they are enjoyable to eat.

The eye-catching flavor, Darling (marble cake dipped in white chocolate and covered in sugar sprinkles), made a splash as The Savoy Hotel re-opened in New York—the treats were covered in gold and silver sprinkles to announce the occasion.

The diversity of flavors on the menu though, show that Stick&Pop is not relying on the novelty of a new “food-on-a-stick” but instead putting flavor and creativity at the helm. Johnny Cakes, for example, is peanut butter cake dipped in dark chocolate covered in pretzel and sea-salt and Griswald is essentially a S’more on a stick.

These cake pops are hands down some of the best I've ever tasted. The interior cake is decadently moist and buttery, and the candy coating is firm but not to the point of cracking and hurting the roof of your mouth--and each is so adorably decorated that you can't help but fall in love a little bit, just looking at the packaging.

Favorites so far? The "Darling" (marble cake, rolled in white chocolate and coated in sprinkles); the "Birthday Cake" (buttery cake coated in dark chocolate, with sprinkles); and of course, the "Johnnycake" (peanut butter cake coated in dark chocolate, with pretzel coating).

Seriously, I don't know what else to say other than these pops are a good investment. Lucky you if you live in NYC and can access them easily; even if you're not, they're worth the splurge for a special event.

Find out more at stickandpop.com.

Thursday
Jan062011

Sweetie Pie: CakeSpy Loves High 5 Pie and a Butter Love T Shirt Giveaway

Guess what, sweeties?

At long last, High 5 Pie has opened its retail operation in Seattle, on 12th and Madison. Which, not that you asked, but is right along my usual route from home to the store each day. You know what that means: CakeSpy's gonna be high on pie forever!

Now, I was pretty primed to love this bakery. After all, I've been a big fan of their pies (previously primarily found at owner Dani Cone's Fuel Coffee locations) for a long time.

Aaaand (full disclosure) I was a consultant for some recipes on their menu, which has expanded with the new retail operation (fun game: to to the bakery, and guess which flavors I helped develop). High 5!

But upon visiting on New Year's Day with Mr. Spy--our first official bakery visit of the year!--we were even more impressed than we expected.

Here are just a few reasons you should love the new High 5 Pie retail location:

 

  • The pies are delicious. They come by the slice, in mini pie form, in hand pie ("Flipside") form, or as pie fries! And since they sneak crack into the pie crust, you bet your bottom dollar it's good.
  • They serve them a la mode, if you'd like, with Bluebird Ice Cream.
  • The space itself is beautiful, with a slightly more minty green version of Tiffany blue used all over the place--on the custom espresso machine, on the signage, you name it.
  • But of course, they still maintain some secrets.
  • And they have delicious cookies (and biscuits, and a few other items in addition to pies...including a nice variety of gluten-free and vegan items)
  • ...and they have this t-shirt. BUTTER! LOVE!

 

Now, here's the thing. I bought this t-shirt, in Unisex Small, but as it turns out, your dear Spy is smaller than small, and it doesn't quite fit.

This is good news for you though, because I'm doing a giveaway! Even if unisex small isn't your size, I'm sure you can find a willing recipient for this BUTTER LOVE tee.

Want to enter? Simply leave a comment below, telling me what flavor of pie you favor best. The giveaway will close on Thursday, January 13, at noon PST; one winner will be chosen at random. US and Canadian entrants only, please.

For immediate pie gratification, visit high5pie.com.

Wednesday
Jan052011

Sweet Giveaway: Enough Salt to Turn You into a Seafarer from Morton Salt

As Dorie Greenspan wisely said, "salt is pastry's unsung hero...a pinch is enough to balance the sugar in a tart crust, underscore the flavor in any chocolate dessert, give caramel that certain je ne sais quoi."

And oh, the sweet (and salty) places you'll go with this gift pack that Morton Salt (still my favorite salt package design!) has offered up for giveaway!

When it rains, it pours, and one lucky reader will win a big ol' parcel full of the following:

  • Season-All Brand Seasoned Salts
  • Nature's Seasoning Product
  • Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
  • Morton Sea Salt Grinder

but wait, there's more! The package also comes with salt accessories, including

  • Sea Salt Container
  • Morton Salt Stadium Blanket
  • Morton Salt Coffee Mug
  • Morton Salt Dog Treats
  • Coupons for additional Morton Salt products!

So what are you waiting for? Enter yourself to win this parcel of salty awesome. Simply leave a comment below saying what your favorite sweet-and-salty treat is. Chocolate-covered potato chips? Maple bacon bars? Or simply salted caramel?

One lucky winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, January 12 at noon PST. US entrants only, please. In the meantime, remember to check out Morton Salt on Facebook! Good luck!

Wednesday
Jan052011

Cake Byte: Elvis Doughnuts for the King's Birthday

January 6 kicks of the season of the King. The King Cake, that is.

But on the very next day, something equally important happens in Seattle: Top Pot Doughnuts debuts a sweet 48-hour only special, "King Rings"! Per a tip from CS reader Marlow:

Top Pot Doughnuts King's Rings

To commemorate the king's birthday (and only once a year!), Top Pot Doughnuts -downtown concocts a decadent yeast raised, fried doughnut ring draped in maple cream icing and topped with caramelized bacon, christened "The King's Rings"!

We will feature a very limited number of these at our Downtown 5th Avenue Location only on both Friday January 7th and Saturday January 8th.

Due to high demand, we will be limiting sales of the doughnuts to 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM on both days.  Limit one per customer.

These luscious doughnuts are offered to commemorate the King's Birthday and also the 14th Annual Seattle "Elvis" Invitationals!

At this point, I've given you the knowledge: use it wisely. Find directions to the 5th Avenue Top Pot on their website.

Tuesday
Jan042011

Slice of Life: Bob Andy Pie Recipe from Dangerously Delicious Pies

Recently, when leafing through the amazing book Killer Pies: Delicious Recipes from North America's Favorite Restaurants, a conflict presented itself: which recipe to try first?

Happily, the answer presented itself quickly enough, when I found the entry for Dangerously Delicious Pies in Baltimore, Maryland. 

The pie in question? The "Bob Andy". 

What's a Bob Andy Pie, you ask? Well, according to proprietor (part time baker, part time rock musician) Rodney Henry, this pie is "really awesome...I call it 'White Trash Creme Brulee.'" I didn't need any more backstory beyond that: I was already headed to the kitchen.

Happily, the Bob Andy is what is considered a "staple" pie, meaning it contains the basic ingredients most people have in their pantry at any given time. 

Unhappily, it just so happened that just returning from a trip, my pantry was somewhat empty, and I found myself with roughly half of the milk and butter called for in the original recipe. But it occurred to me: is it possible to half a pie recipe? After all, I had split a pie in three parts before, why not just create a foil barrier and bake it as a half-pie?

So I gave it a try, and amazingly, it worked. I had a little extra filling, which I simply baked up as custards in cupcake-cups. I can't say it would work for every type of pie, but I was happy with the result.

Bob Andy Pie, Halved

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 unbaked round of pie dough (enough for a 9-inch pie), cut into 60/40 portions, of which you'll use the 60 part (use the rest for pie fries!)

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Prepare your pie dough. Roll it out, and place it in your pie plate. Using a piece of foil, form a barrier in half of the tin, and shape your dough up the side of it, so that you have a sort of makeshift pie semicircle in which to pour your filling.
  3. Mix all of the filling ingredients except for the egg whites together to make a custard.
  4. With a hand mixer, beat the whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold the whites into the custard and pour into the pie shell. Bake for 1 hour. 
  5. Remove when it's browned on top, and when (owner's words) "everything moves together. It shouldn't be jiggly like milk."

 

Tuesday
Jan042011

Sweet Fusion: Cookie Bread from Fuji Bakery, Seattle

I'd like to talk about a beautiful bit of fusion that is going on at a Seattle-area bakery called Fuji Bakery.

Now, if you've ever visited this bakery, you probably think I'm going to talk about how their offerings are a mix of Japanese-meets-French baked goods. And that would be a very natural thing to assume.

But you're wrong. I'm going to talk about how they've combined bread and cake into a form that they call "Cookie Bread".

That's right. Cookie Bread. Please, can we make this an official baked good category? It sounds so much better than "scone" or "quick bread" or "sweet roll".

It looks like a scone, but in fact, it's very light--almost like the texture of Challah bread. The raspberry white chocolate variety (the "Frambo") was lightly tart but totally sweet, what with its swirled  little bits of white chocolate and lightly crunchy sugar topping.

Of course, as previously mentioned, it was rather light in texture, so I found that adding a thick slather of butter kept it from floating away. And, of course, made it even more delicious.

Seek out some sweet Cookie Bread of your own--Fuji Bakery has two locations, in Seattle and Bellevue. Find them online at fujibakeryinc.com.

Fuji Bakery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday
Jan042011

Cake Byte: Australian Cake Baking Competition in Seattle

Delicious Lamingtons and more!If you're an Aussiephile (what do they call people who are really into Australia?) and live in Seattle, this one is for you.

Australia Day is coming up, and there will be a big celebration at Seattle Center. But the best part? There will be an Australian Cake Baking Competition. Yes, you heard me correctly. Here are the deets:

Australian Cake-Making Competition

The cake can be made at home and brought in on the day of Seattle's Australia Day Celebration – any time before 2pm on January 22, 2011.

Each cake goes to a table of 6 judges where it is evaluated on presentation (25%) texture (25%) and taste (50%)

The application form is attached. As it is tied into the BBQ competition ignore all that aspect and just tick the cake box and send to the PNWBA or you can pay on-line at www.pnwba.com

You do not need to enter the meats or be a member of the PNWBA.

Australian Cake

What is an Australian Cake? It can be something typically associated with Australia such as a pavlova or lamington. Or a cake associated to an Australian ingredient such as Queensland pineapple or Darwin mangos. Or an international cake of any type such as chocolate cake or cheese cake that is decorated in an Australian fashion with things such as the Australian flag, kangaroos or Koalas.

Entry fee of $10 – Anyone can enter

First Prize $100!

Make at home and bring in on the day.

Still need some ideas?

 Find out more about the Australia Day Festival in Seattle on the official website.

Monday
Jan032011

The Long and Winding Nesselrode: Pecan Nesselrode Pie for Serious Eats

What makes a dessert "lost"?

Well, in the case of Nesselrode Pie, a chestnut cream pie, it could simply be that the ingredients are too hard to find.

But wait: this pie is worth seeking out. Like its namesake pudding, it is inspired by Count Karl Nesselrode, a Russian diplomat and noted gourmand of the 19th century. According to The Food Maven, this pie enjoyed a bit of a heyday in the 1950s as an indulgent after-dinner treat—there was even a product called Nesselro which made preparing the filling a snap.

However, as I found recently, it's just as delicious when substituted with much easier-to-obtain pecan puree and pieces used in the place of chestnut. While the pie itself is served chilled, don't worry about catching cold: this pie is so rich and decadent that it is bound to keep you warm during the dull days of January.

Read the full entry and find a recipe on Serious Eats!

Sunday
Jan022011

Live and Let Pie: But Please Don't Let the Cupcake Die

Poor cupcakes. They've been the subject of so much foodie scorn lately: from NPR's battle cry of "Cupcakes are Dead, Long Live the Pie" to the New York Times' headline "Pie To Cupcake: Time's Up" to the derision on the Serious Eats forum about best and worst food trends of 2010. The message is clear: if you're a cupcake, you've gone the way of Von Dutch Caps, Ugg boots, and gaucho pants. You're out. The truly fashion-forward would never indulge (at least publicly).

And I can see the point. It does seem like new cupcake shops are cropping up at a rate not unlike re-animated brooms in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. And with cupcakes being offered at mass-market eateries such as Red Robin, Cinnabon, and Au Bon Pain, it's hard not to look at the cupcake without having "jumped the shark" type thoughts. 

And undoubtedly, the ubiquity of cupcakes will falter. Like the cookie shop fad that started with Mrs. Fields in the 1970s but began to fizzle with the recession of the 80's, this cupcake shop phenomenon is bound to have an arc. The weak will not survive, but maybe we don't want them to (because there's no bigger bummer than a bad cupcake).

But here's the thing. Cupcakes are cake, and that will never go out of style.

Let me tell you a brief story to illustrate my point.

One ill-fated year, before cupcakes or pie were trends, before Magnolia Bakery was an institution, I unwittingly made what turned out to be a major life decision: I decided to have banana cream pie instead of cake or cupcakes for my birthday party. What can I say? I was going through a phase.

The reaction from the party-goers was swift, and fierce.

"What the hell is this?" said one wide-eyed child (really).

"Where's the cake?" asked a confused parent.

"Is this to go with the cake?" said another child, hopeful, but with a slight tinge of panic in his voice.

Unfortunately, no, there was not a cake to go with that pie. And although the pie was perfectly serviceable--even better than good, as I recall--somehow, the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. And it wasn't forgotten by my so-called friends, who were quick to inquire the next year: "will there be cake this time?". Every now and again it would come up in conversation, too: "remember that year you had pie instead of cake for your birthday? What was up with that?". It was the biggest birthday shame I ever suffered. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I love pie. I love it enough to have had it for my birthday one year, and enough that I was even hired as pie recipe consultant for a newly opened Seattle bakery. I love it on a plate, in a cake, in a shake, on a stick. I, like, totally embrace pie.

But I'm not convinced it takes the cake.

Here's an idea: why don't we just let pie and cake get along? Pie on some days, cake on others? Or embrace diversity by combining them, as in the case of the Pumpple Cake or the Pake?

Or maybe we should just skip right to the good part and combine all of the "next big thing" desserts, mixing up a slurry of macaron-cupcake-artisan-ice-cream-whoopie-pie-salted-caramel-bacon-chocolate...and baking it up in a pie shell?

Come to think of it, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

But before I busy myself in the kitchen on that task, let me conclude: Cupcakes=good. Pie=also good. But all the same, please don't call me PieSpy.

Friday
Dec312010

Sweet Memories: 50 of CakeSpy's Most Delicious Experiences from 2010

It's that very special time of year when we pause and reflect on the year past, and for me, that means taking a few moments to think about the most delicious (usually buttery and sugary) things I've put in my mouth.

And in 2010, these were some of the standouts--50 things--some homemade, some made by others, and listed in no particular order--which I wish I was eating again, right this instant. And no, I don't have any regrets, and no, I am not going to be dieting in 2011. 

Here goes:

Custom CakeSpy artwork cupcakes for CakeSpy Shop Opening (pictured top): You might think it was hard to eat cupcakes with an anthropomorphic cupcake version of myself on them, but it wasn't.

Chocolate Brownie Pie: this decadent treat was my offering for Seattle's Pie day celebration, and I am so proud to say that it was one of the first items to disappear!


Velveeta Fudge: The most controversial sweet of the year, but I loved it. So rich and creamy. So awful and awesome, all at once!

Avocado Cake: So dense, so rich, so decadent. I wish I was eating it again right now.


Deathcake Royale: A yearly favorite, from Seattle's Cupcake Royale.
Berthillon Ice Cream, even if the cone kind of does look slightly unfortunate. In Paris, this is the place for ice cream, and now I know why: it is delicious.


Doughnut Upside Down Cake, which I made for Serious Eats; because yes, a classic (Pineapple Upside Down Cake) can be improved by substituting doughnuts for fruit.


Linzer Cookie, Mount Bakery, Bellingham, WA. This was the perfect specimen of what a linzer cookie should be: crumbly, nutty, and with a nice, tart contrast from the preserves. Simple but perfect.


Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict: Yes, I'm serious. As serious as a heart attack.


Opera Cake from Dalloyau, Paris. The place that made Opera Cake legendary, and still the maker of some of the best.


Bouchon Ho-Ho, NYC. I'm sometimes wary of fanci-fied fast food, but this was very good.


Homemade Oreos from Abigail's Bake Shop--construction-wise, they were like Oreos, but taste-wise, something else on a whole different level.

King Cake from Sucre, New Orleans: What a sweet treat in the beginning of 2010--a rich, creamy cake to kick off the new year.

Salted Peanut Crisps: there's a reason why they were the official cookie of 1950-55, according to Betty Crocker.
Cornmeal Blueberry Cookie Bars: Almost healthy, to boot!

Cupcakes by Cake Eater Bakery, Minneapolis: Muraling was hard work, and I needed some delicious cupcakes to keep me energized. Happily, the cupcakes made by the place I was doing a mural were delicious!

Nanaimo Bar by French Meadow Bakery, Minneapolis: who would have thought I'd discover my favorite Canadian treat in Minneapolis? Not only did I, but a fine specimen indeed.

Macarons by Pierre Herme, Paris: like little cookie clouds. They made me understand why people love macarons.

Coffee Eclair from Stohrer, Paris: Stohrer has been making pastries since the 1700s, and obviously they've honed the art: these eclairs are very, very good.

Hot chocolate from Angelina, Paris: like melted candy bars, this drinking chocolate was a truly decadent treat, and the fact that it was served on a fancy tray in the shadow of the Louvre didn't hurt the experience!

7-Up Cake: This cake had a lot of butter, but a lot of delicious flavor too: the lemon-lime of the soda added a certain je ne sais quoi that made it almost too easy to keep eating.

Lollipops by This Charming Candy: these lollipops are nothing like the ones you used to get at the Doctor's office: in refined flavors like salted caramel, pistachio-marshmallow, and tangerine-clove, these are meant to be eaten with pinkies out!

Pain au Chocolat from Bakery Nouveau, Seattle: who doesn't love crispy butter and chocolate, all served up for breakfast? This was a particularly fine variety.

Blackout Crumb Bars: Le yum. A decadent pairing of chocolate with crumb topping and shortbread crust.

Biscuits with Sugar Butter: This was the true breakfast of champions. So delicious and rich, I could have eaten my weight in it.

Lime Coconut bar, Street Treats, WA: Street Treats was one of my favorite new retail operations to start up in Seattle in 2010, and this bar was certainly a standout: a dense, creamy lime filling between crumb topping and a sturdy crust.

An early morning donut from Donut Pub, NYC: because no matter if 3am is early or late, it's the perfect time for a doughnut, and this place had me covered on a dark and stormy night.

Cupcakes from Frills, OR: these rich, delicious cupcakes saved my life during a long day vending at Crafty Wonderland.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies inspired by David Lebovitz: worth stalking.

Blondie-topped brownies: Blondies? Brownies? Why decide? Indulge in both, at once. I did, and I loved it.

Pine State Biscuits, Portland, OR: Carbohydrate Heaven.

Banana Jumbos. OMFG.

Apple pie by High 5 Pie: perfectly crisp, not-mushy apple slices, paired with a most decadent, buttery crumb and crust. Perfection.

Chocolate Mudslide Cookies. Perfect for chocolate lovers: somewhere between truffle and cookie, reside these fat, flavorful little nuggets, which I loved every bite of.

The "Pixie" from Pix Patisserie, Portland, OR: a petite, but very sweet, little bite from the cutest bakery in Portland.

Behemoth Crumb Cake: nothin' but crumb, this was sort of last-meal territory for me, so good I couldn't stop eating it.

Red Velvet Cake Shake: Because yes, there is a way to make Red Velvet Cake better: mix it with ice cream and serve it with a straw.

Cinnamon rolls stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough. Do I really have to explain why this one made the list? They were made of awesome, duh!

Kaleidoscope cookies: not only pretty to look at, these little treats pack a buttery, crumbly punch that makes you want to eat a full rainbow-full.

Pineapple butter cakes from Taiwan. Thank you, thank you, Kairu, for introducing me to this addictive treat.

Cookies by My Dough Girl, Utah: cookies with macadamias, chocolate, and zucchini? Unlikely as it may sound, it works, and it works well.

Trailer Park Special from Angel Food Bakery: a highlight from my September trip to Chicago, this featured a delicious homemade Twinkie, zinger, and more.

Vegan Oat Bar, Caffe Ladro, Seattle: A constant favorite, and it continued to be so this year.

Cowboy Pie from Hill Country Fried Chicken (oh, and many other things along Broadway)
Yumball, Three Tarts, NYC: if the name doesn't tell you why I loved this thing, the picture (above) should fill in the blanks.

Salt n pepper cookies by BAKED: like fancy oreos, with a kick: so compulsively eatable.

Nanaimo Bar Hybrid from Savary Island Pie: Nanaimo bar? Rice Krispie Treat? Scotcheroo? Why decide? Have them all at once. Le nom.
Buttermilk biscuits by Macrina: Fact, I have one of these almost every morning for breakfast. And I plan to continue this trend, until the day comes that I cannot even look one of these beauties in the eye anymore.

Baked Brownies: Still the best.

Hot chocolate from 7-11. What can I say, you can take the girl out of NJ, but you can't take the NJ out of the girl.

...and how about one bonus sweet to take us into the new year? How 'bout one I haven't written about yet, but will soon: the absolute singular sensation that is the Pumpple Cake (entire apple and pumpkin pies baked into vanilla and chocolate cakes, all held together with a ridiculous amount of frosting!), from Flying Monkey Patisserie? That's a pound or more of pleasure per slice, and we loved every inch of it.

Happy 2011!

 

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