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Monday
Nov152010

Thanksgiving Sweetmeats: Turkey Cake With Mashed Potato Frosting and More for Serious Eats

This Thanksgiving, there's a new delivery method for stuffing turkey in your pie-hole: bake it as a cake.

That's right: inspired by this recipe on Chow.com, I decided to serve up layers of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, all in one beasty feast of a trompe l'oeil cake.

While some may have trouble coming to terms with the savory nature of such a sweet-looking treat, ultimately brave eaters will be rewarded: it's like the best of Thanksgiving leftovers all stacked into one tasty bundle.

Note: This recipe is actually quite open-ended in terms of how you stuff your turkey cake. I added a layer of green beans and fried onions to mine, but if you prefer to add or omit any of the classic Thanksgiving side dish flavors, it's totally up to you.

Monday
Nov152010

Gluten-Free as a Bird: GF Turkey Meatloaf Cupcakes for the Gluten-Free Girl Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

I eat gluten. There, I said it. And I kind of it.

But here's the thing. Some people can't eat gluten. Like, because it will make them sick and/or die and stuff. And that is the opposite of cool.

But then again, there are people like Shauna--you may know her as Gluten Free Girl--who can't eat gluten, but not only refuse to let it ruin their lives, but actually learn to "love the food that loves them back".

And she just came out with a great new book (to follow up her previous great book), entitled Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Her husband is named Danny, my husband is named Danny. Adorable!

So when someone like the incredibly awesome Shauna asks me to take part in a gluten-free Thanksgiving recipe challenge, I'm gonna give it a try.

Of course, because it's in my nature to be slightly bratty, I went gluten-free...as a bird. Literally. I baked it, but it's not a cake: these cupcakes are a gluten-free variation of the turkey trompe l'oeil cake I made for Serious Eats. They may not be sweet, but the sentiment is...and in an awful-meets-awesome sort of way, these sweetmeats are kind of tasty in spite of themselves.

Turkey Meatloaf "Cupcakes"

Lightly adapted from the recipe found here

Note: When it comes to gluten-free ingredients, be sure to read everything. Even things that you wouldn't think of as having gluten--say, ketchup or oats--often do. So do your homework!

  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats (be careful to find a truly GF brand)
  • 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup ketchup (be sure to check the ingredients and use a GF brand)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce substitute such as tamari
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • For the filling and topping:
  • 5 cups mashed potatoes (recipe of your choice)
  • 1 cup sauteed green beans
  • 1/2 cup sauteed onions 
  • 2 cups stuffing (use this recipe!)
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, drained of excess liquid

For the procedure, click over to Serious Eats--basically you will follow the same steps for the "cupcakes", but reduce the baking time by about 10 minutes because they are served in smaller vessels. Serve with any combination of GF Thanksgiving sides you'd like, and garnish with gravy (white flour free, please) if desired. 

Of course, if all this is too much for you to...ah, digest, check out the other GF entries which are linked to from Shauna's blog, and here's a direct link to a few of my favorites: a gluten-free pumpkin pie, a gluten-free sweet potato and crabapple clafoutis (!), and a rather delectable-looking gingerbread cake.

Monday
Nov152010

Sweet Tart: A Bakery Crush on Three Tarts, NYC

Right now we really, really need to talk about how much I adore Three Tarts, a little gift and confectionery shop in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood.

Now, you know it's got to be special to stand out, especially in such a star-studded neighborhood which is also home to the Chelsea Market, Billy's Bakery, and La Bergamote.

What sets Three Tarts apart is that it's not completely a bakery--it's more a gift/treasure store that happens to have a lovely little bakery case. And the tiny sweets are indeed big-time treats. Why don't I tell you about some of the treats I've enjoyed there?

How about...a homemade marshmallow? SpyMom and I have sampled the raspberry ones, and let me tell you that I'm not even a big marshmallow fan, but these are evidence that when something is executed well enough, it can make you a believer.

Of course, if you like your marshmallows a little more tricked-out, you might enjoy something like the reverse s'more, a chocolate-covered marshmallow and graham cracker confection (pictured top). Le yum!

If marshmallows aren't your thing though, you might like what they call a "yumball". You probably already like it based on the name, but it gets even better when you bite into it: these are basically fancy cake truffles, small but intensely flavorful and decadent. My favorite? The Vanilla-Lemon, "Vanilla and lemon cake mixed with cream of coconut and Malibu rum, rolled in white chocolate and shredded coconut". Oh, yes.

Another treat worth noting? The cookies. I picked up an "Annie" cookie last time I visited, and this meltaway-type cookie was redolent of butter, beautifully crumbly, and made me regret not having bought a second one.

Happiest of all, even if you're not in NYC, Three Tarts does ship their goodies--you can shop online here. But seriously--next time you're in the city, you must visit, because it really is such a happy and sweet shop!

Three Tarts on Urbanspoon

Sunday
Nov142010

Guest Post: Bakery Suggestions for Springfield, MO from Emma Chapman of Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe

CakeSpy Note: I have to admit, I am always curious to hear what bakeries are beloved by bakery owners. Happily, I recently received a great list of bakery suggestions from Emma Chapman, co-owner of Springfield, Mo-based Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe. Here's the lowdown on Red Velvet, an obvious must-visit if you're in the area...as well as other suggestions for delicious sweets in the area! Images all provided courtesy Float Away Studios.

Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe is new in town. The entire store is actually owned by two sisters, one who bakes cupcakes and makes bubble tea, and one who loves handmade and vintage. Daily cupcake flavors include (but
are not limited to): Salted Caramel, Red Velvet, Snickerdoodle Cookie, Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Monster and Cookies and Cream. The sweet shoppe also offers bubble tea in variety of flavors on a rotating basis. 211 East Commercial Street in Springfield, MO 65803; online at redvelvetcatering.com

But the sweetness doesn't stop there. Where else do the owners of Red Velvet suggest stopping in for a sweet? Why not try one of these places suggested by co-owner Emma:

  • The Cup (cravethecup.com) tons of yummy cupcakes and coffee drinks. My favorite is the tuxedo flavor:)
  • The Pie Box (mypiebox.com) charming place to get sweet or savory pies to go. My personal favorite is the fancy peach, although I really NEED to try the old fashion buttermilk pie soon.
  • Amy Cakes (sweetsbyamycakes.com) located downtown and is probably Springfield's longest running cupcake and confections bakery. My favorite is the mini red velvet cupcakes. 

You can learn more about Emma and her bakery Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe here, and keep up on her adventures via her blog here.

Saturday
Nov132010

Cookie Capers: Fixing Botched-Up Butter in Batter

Uh-oh. You accidentally added too much butter to your cookies.

On the one hand: Awesome! Butter is delicious!

On the other hand: Oh crap. Flat-as-a-pancake cookies. Serious bummer.

Well, suffice it to say that this comes from experience. I seem to be chronically incapable of adding 1.5 sticks of butter to anything--it's always the full 2 sticks for me. But when I recently came across this problem when pulling out my first batch of the delicious-sounding chocolate chip cookies from the gorgeous Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook (after an "oh sh*t" sort of moment, since we're being honest), I was buoyed with courage from having recently received another brilliant book, entitled How to Repair Food , and decided that I would try to improvise.

Now, this wasn't highly technical, but I thought to myself: "OK, so I added too much butter. What if I added some extra flour?".

And so I added half a cup of flour, mixing only until incorporated.

And while I can't say that it is a definitive fix, you know what? In this case...it kind of worked. The cookies were not only perfectly palatable, but delightfully delectable--perhaps not as pretty as the original recipe, but I even felt comfortable sharing them.

...of course, that having been said, the recipe I'm sharing is for the "official" version, not my extra-buttery one.

...and also, of course, if you do add too much butter and have pancake-cookies, just sandwich them with frosting. You'd be amazed how much it fixes things.

Delicious (non-messed-with) Chocolate Chip Cookies

As originally published in Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, room temperature (don't add 2 sticks like I did)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and cinnamon on medium speed, making sure to stop and scrape the bowl down. This will take 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium-low speed until combined.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl; add all at once to the batter. Mix the dough together on low speed until combined, making sure to stop and scrape the bowl down so that the flour is all incorporated.
  5. Fold the chocolate chips or chunks into the dough with a spoon or spatula.
  6. Flatten the dough in a shallow pan and freeze for 20 minutes.
  7. Coat 2 cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment. With an ice cream scoop (for BIG cookies) or a teaspoon for baby-sized cookies, scoop cookies onto sheet. Be sure to leave about 2 inches around each cookie. You'll get either 12-14 big, or 24-30 small, cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes for smaller cookies, 15-17 minutes for larger cookies, until golden and set on top.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
Saturday
Nov132010

Sweet November: Candied Yam Cupcakes at Trophy Cupcakes, Seattle

It's the most wonderful time of year.

No, I'm not talking about gathering with your family for Thanksgiving. I'm talking about hovering over the bakery case at Trophy Cupcakes, where they've made their yearly debut of the highly coveted November special, the Candied Yam Cupcake. Featuring moist yam cake with pecans and fall spices, this magical confection is topped with a gooey marshmallow meringue which is browned with a kitchen torch (!). It may be a relatively low-fat treat (well, as cupcakes go) but it doesn't taste a bit virtuous, I promise.

But don't hesitate: like the holidays, treats like this are too good to last, and this one is available for a limited time only: Available Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays in November, and all week prior to Thanksgiving! 
(11/19 - 11/24).

This will be a great lead-up to December, when there will be CakeSpy artwork hanging at Trophy all month long!

Available at Trophy Cupcakes and Party, various locations--find 'em online at trophycupcakes.com.

Friday
Nov122010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

 

Oh, hi. Happy Friday. Let's get to the weekend quicker by linking the workday away, shall we?


Awesome overload: Cinnamon Bun Recipe from Momofuku's Christina Tosi, via DailyCandy.

Sweet video: music by OK OK, animated with cupcakes!

Sweet Movember: support a good cause (Emmett is!) and celebrate with Moustache Cookies and Cream Cake.

Me, Me, ME! Design the sweet cereal of your dreams--sharing not necessary.

Have Your Cake and Drink it Too: Alcohol-laced sweets from Baking Lab (via DailyCandy)

Silver and Gold: CakeSpy got 2nd place in the Best of Western Washington! Congrats to the very worthy and adorable winner, Seattle Food Geek.

Post-it: Check out the totally sweet poster I designed for Will Bake For Food, a very good cause run by very sweet foodie people.

Brussels, but not for sprouts: enter the Callebaut chocolate recipe contest and you could win a trip to Brussels! (you just have to take me with you)

Sweet and salty delight: chocolate salted caramel tarts that look divine.

Chip off the old block: a highly coveted recipe for chocolate chip cookies, from Flour Bakery!

Think you're a dedicated baker? Here's a story about a lady who's been baking for 60+ years.

Fact: I pretty much love everything on the Baked Ideas website.

Bacon Pistachio Cookies? I'd try that.

Maybe I'm a-maize-d: Corn cookies from La Buono Tavola Truffle Cafe.

Taking the cake! I'll be at the Cupcakes Take The Cake Birthday Bash presented by Java Cupcake on December 7--after all, I did the art for the invites!

Thursday
Nov112010

Sweet Giveaway: Win an Original Framed CakeSpy Watercolor!

Today, for no particular reason other than the fact that it might sweeten your day, CakeSpy is offering a giveaway.

Totally sweet: you could win a framed and matted original watercolor by CakeSpy! It pictures a sweet scene of treats flying a kite on what looks like a carefree and sugar-filled day (of course, if you can't wait to see if you won, feel free to shop online here).

Want a piece of that sweetness? To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post to satisfy the spy's curiosity:

What is the last dessert, sweet, or baked good that really knocked your socks off?

A buttery croissant? A decadent chocolate torte? Or perhaps a homespun apple pie? I want to hear all about it. Of course recipes are welcome too! 

This giveaway is open to entrants everywhere (US and abroad). The giveaway will close for entries on Thursday, November 18, at 12pm PST, and a winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Tuesday
Nov092010

Table Fare: Salt-N-Pepper Sandwich Cookies Recipe from Baked Explorations

I'm here today to tell you that you really, really, really need to buy Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, the new book by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Of course, to offer full disclosure, I should probably tell you first that I am hopelessly and madly in love with these two adorable NYC-based bakers.

There are a few reasons why:

1. Their two bakeries, Baked, in Brooklyn and South Carolina, respectively, are to die for.

2. Their first book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking is not only an essential baking tool full of some of the best recipes I've ever tried, but it's beautiful and fun to look at too.

3. They're both adorable, talented, and have a great sense of humor--and can wax philosophical about the joys of crumb cake and peanut butter-chocolate combos like nobody I've ever met.

4. Oh, and Porkchop approves:

Now, if you're not already halfway in love with them already, buy the new book and you will be. It's the perfect follow-up to their bestselling first book, this time featuring classics from all around America. Featuring gorgeous pictures and plenty of baked good lore, this one is full of treasures that you'll be delighted to discover.

Here's my first discovery from the book, the cover recipe for Salt-N-Pepper Sandwich cookies. I first heard about these babies on Good Food, and have been intrigued ever since. Happily, they were worth the wait: though mine were more free-form in terms of the final look, I made mine with fancy Cherry Almond Pistachio sea salt and brought them to the Jill Labieniec artist reception at my store, and they disappeared in record time.

Salt-N-Pepper Sandwich Cookies

Adapted from Baked Explorations

Ingredients for the cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or fancy sea salt (I used Secret Stash Sea Salt)
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/4 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, cool but not cold
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces good quality dark chocolate, melted

Ingredients for filling

  • 5 ounces vegetable shortening, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon light rum (I didn't use this and it came out fine)

Procedure

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, fleur de sel, pepper, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and beat until uniform in color. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again shortly, until incorporated.
  3. Add half of the dry ingredients and beat for 15 seconds. Again, scrape down the bowl and give it a quick second mix to incorporated.
  4. Loosely shape the dough into two balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (note: I did make some right away, and while the texture wasn't as good they tasted fine).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Unwrap one ball of dough and divide into two equal portions. Place the first portion on a lightly flour-dusted surface and return the other half to the fridge.
  7. Use your hands to knead the dough until pliable. The original recipe calls for rolling it into a disc (to use cookie cutters) but I actually rolled it into a log to slice and bake my cookies. If you want to do it their way, use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to create the tops and bottoms, and transfer to your waiting baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space around each cookie. If you want to go my route, roll the dough into a log and slice 1/2 inch thick slices, using your hands to make them pleasingly round if the dough gets too soft, and place on the baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little extra fancy salt, and then bake them for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. The tops of the cookies will look dry and may have small cracks on top--don't worry, it's ok. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes, and then use a spatula to transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.
  9. While they cool, make up your filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and butter until lump-free and smooth. Add the sugar in three parts, mixing each part until just combined. Add the salt, vanilla, and rum and beat again for 10 seconds. The filling should be thick, but spreadable (like Oreo filling). If it is too thick, add a drop or two of water as needed. If the mixture is too thin, add a little extra confectioners' sugar.
  10. Assemble the cookies. Use a pastry bag or small spoon (I used a small knife) to spread a dab of filling onto the flat (bottom) side of a cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Let them sit for about 15 minutes before serving. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.
Tuesday
Nov092010

In the Kutchen: A German Cake Recipe for CakeSpy's Dad's Birthday

Guess what? Yesterday was CakeSpy's dad's birthday. Happy birthday, SpyDad!

And for this occasion, SpyMom made up something very special: Blitz Kutchen. What's that, you ask? Well, it's a recipe from the The Settlement Cook Book, the "first classic collection of American ethnic recipes"--a book which really reflects the American melting pot, with recipes which take inspiration from several of the "old countries" but often involve ingredients discovered or more readily found on US soil.

But that's not the only reason this crumb cake is special: as SpyMom says of why she chose this recipe to make for the Mr.: "It is his favorite German crumb cake I made the first birthday I was married to him."

Isn't that just so adorable you could die? Here's the recipe.

Further notes from SpyMom: "I use a old round pan, the vanilla option and this was the first time I added the almonds to the crumb topping. They are good though. And I added apple slices before the crumbs went on, love it that way."

Crumb Cake (Blitz Kutchen)

For the cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • grated rind of 1 lemon, or 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs, unbeaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Crumb Topping (streusel)

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter
  • 5-6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • almonds

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar, add lemon rind or vanilla, add the eggs one at a time (reserving one egg white). Beat well, then add flour and baking powder (mixed). Stir well, pour into a buttered oblong shallow pan, 8x12 inches. Spread with the reserved egg white, cver with streusel, and bake 1/2 hour or until browned.

To prepare the streusel: Mix first 4 ingredients by rubbing well with the finger tips until small crumbs are formed. Add a few chopped or pounded almonds. Sprinkle over the cake before baking.

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