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Tuesday
Nov302010

Bang a Gong: Harvey Wallbanger Cake from Booze Cakes by Krystina Castella

The holiday season has begun its assault on our senses. But I know how to dull the sensory overload: indulge in a big slice of boozy cake. Don't judge me.

(Note: curious about that patent? I was too. Learn more here.)

This one comes from Krystina Castella's Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked With Spirits, Wine, and Beer, a fine release from Quirk Books this year. This book is full of fun boozy cake recipes, plenty of which are great for a holiday crowd; I won't lie, I chose the Harvey Wallbanger because of its funny name and interesting recipe lead-up:

All the rage in the 1970s, the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail is a groovy twist on the classic Screwdriver: it adds a splash of the smooth vanilla Italian liqueur Galliano to the vodka and orange juice. In the 70s spirit, this is one drunk Bundt cake that is dead easy to make. It's a light, moist, absolutely booze-drenched crowd pleaser.

And happily, I wasn't let down. Citrusy, festive, and very boozy, this one is party-perfect.

Harvey Wallbanger Cake

From Booze Cakes by Krystina Castella

For the cake

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.3 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup Galliano liqueur
  • 3/4 cup orange juice

Boozy Orange Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur

Finishing: original recipe  suggests orange slices and confectioners' sugar; I garnished with toasted almonds.

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cake mix, pudding powder, vetetable oil, eggs, vodka, Galliano, and OJ for 4 minutes, or until smooth. Pour batter into pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Make the glaze. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over cake. Give it a few minutes to sink into the cake for extra boozy goodness and moisture. Finish with whatever garnish you'd like.

Warning: Do not share Harvey Wallbanger cake batter with pugs.

Monday
Nov292010

On a Roll: Cinnamon Rolls Stuffed with Thanksgiving Pie Leftovers for Serious Eats

You've had a few days to digest your Thanksgiving feast, but might still have some pie leftovers lingering in the fridge. And what better time to start carb-o-loading for the holiday season ahead than now.

My suggestion? Get double duty out of your leftovers while also building up some endurance for the epic eating season ahead by preparing cinnamon rolls stuffed with Thanksgiving pie leftovers.

Dice up the pie filling and stuff it in your cinnamon rolls before baking; reserve the crust and cut or crumble it on top for a satisfying crunch. A most delicious post-Thanksgiving breakfast indeed.

Note: I used jumbo pop-and-bake style cinnamon rolls (don't judge me), but you could use the homemade version of your choice. As for the pie, I filled my cinnamon rolls with leftover apple-cranberry pie; just about any baked pie would work, but I would not suggest using no-bake pies.

For the full entry, as well as how to concoct these carb-monsters, visit Serious Eats! And if you love stuffing your cinnamon rolls, you might also enjoy this chocolate chip cookie dough-stuffed variety.

Saturday
Nov272010

Baker's Dozen: CakeSpy's Favorite Cookbooks of 2010

New York Times Bestseller list? Pshaw. Here's the real deal, a baker's dozen of CakeSpy's favorite pieces of sweet publishing of the year. Fact: most, but not all of these books were released in 2010, but they are the ones that I turned to most throughout the year, and the ones that I would suggest most highly to anyone who cares and / or asks. Listed alphabetically. True: I received some of them as review samples (thanks, various publishers!). But were I to misplace or damage any of these beauties, I'd totally buy 'em again.

  1. Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. What and why: this a collection of classic desserts from all around the nation, but refined with the signature twist that I've come to expect from their wonderful Brooklyn bakery, Baked. From salt-and-pepper sandwich cookies to two versions of Mississippi Mud pie, this book is a keeper. It does not hurt that the bakers are two extremely adorable gentleman, to boot.
  2. Betty Crocker's Cooky Book 1963 (1st Edition). What and why: If you are a regular visitor to this site, you know that I have what verges on a mild obsession with this book. It's classic, it's campy, and it's a pleasure to read, look at, and bake from. If possible seek out the first edition version--if it comes with smudges or stained pages from years of use, all the better.
  3. Betty Crocker's Pie & Pastry Cookbook. What and why: A natural progression from the Cooky Book, this Pie and Pastry cookbook is filled with retro recipes as well as classics, and comes with some great recipes for baking up "old is new again" types of recipes.
  4. Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful, edited by Barbara Fairchild. What and why: Bon Appetit is consistently a favorite source of mine for delicious dessert recipes and what amounts to pastry porn in terms of pictures, and so naturally I was attracted to this book. It's huge, it's beautiful, and it's full of great recipes. What's not to love?
  5. Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats by Bakerella. What and why: Easily the cutest new release in 2010, this book is extremely thorough in teaching you how to craft cake pops that look so adorable that you might take pause before taking a big bite. But trust me, you'll power through it, because the decadent treats are delicious, too. I know, because I've gotten to eat ones made by Bakerella herself!
  6. The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009. What and why: A comprehensive year-by-year review of the best cookies from the magazine's archives, this book reads like a piece of cookie anthropology, and has really stunning, almost textile-inspired photos of the cookies which make turning pages a pleasure.
  7. Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. What and why: After I received this book to bake from for an upcoming event, I became an instant devotee. It includes a great variety of cookie styles, written by a lady who is obviously a chocolate and baking expert, but at no point do the recipes or writing seem too intricate or fussy to follow along. This book makes me feel like a baking expert by proxy.
  8. The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook (Commemorative Edition). What and why: Like, whoa. When I received this cookbook, I knew it meant business. It's a binder-style cookbook, and it's incredibly comprehensive (as one would hope the official cookbook from a flour company would be). Some cookbooks are for looking at; this is not one of them, but it is one that will definitely be used. Get a preview of their recipes here.
  9. The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century edited by Amanda Hesser. What and why: Here's another comprehensive cookbook, which includes fascinating stories along with each recipe. It's a big one too, so when people see it in your kitchen they'll know you're like, really serious. Interesting recipe from it: Semolina Shortbread.
  10. Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City's Best Pastry Shops by Dorie Greenspan. What and why: No, it's not Dorie's most recent release, but it was the one I looked to most this year. I took it to Paris as a more valuable guide than any travel book, and have baked from it extensively. It comes with stories just as charming as the treats.
  11. Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes by David Lebovitz. What and why: a stunning collection of dessert recipes from pastry rock star David Lebovitz. This collection includes cookies, cakes, pies, and various confections/sauces/etc, and every single thing I've tried has been incredibly delicious. And as a bonus, Lebovitz's writing is incredibly witty--his cleverness puts him on par as an Oscar Wilde of pastry writing. Most recent recipe enjoyed: peanut butter cookies.
  12. United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State by Warren Brown. What and why: For one thing, it's a great concept, and it's fun to read about regional recipes in this book by CakeLove owner Warren Brown. It includes a healthy dose of history, and plenty of interesting recipes to discover. As a bonus, it's beautifully designed and very fun to flip through. Recent recipe enjoyed: Hartford Election Day Cake. Note: if you like this book, you may also enjoy another favorite of mine, All American Desserts: 400 Star-Spangled, Razzle-Dazzle Recipes for America's Best Loved Desserts .
  13. A World of Cake by Krystina Castella. What and why: This book deserves a gold star for hitting all of the points of things I love in a cookbook: beautiful pictures, interesting backstories, plenty of baking lore, and straightforward, unfussy recipes. I strongly suggest this one for any cake enthusiast!
Friday
Nov262010

Kicking off Cookie Season: Mint Candy Butter Cookies Recipe from Crazy About Cookies by Krystina Castella

Thanksgiving's over. But don't cry into your empty pie plate (or empty Pumpkin Pie Shake), because that means it's officially Cookie Season.

And let's kick things off with one that is simple but classic and completely delicious: Mint Candy Butter Cookies from Krystina Castella's Crazy About Cookies (also check out the other posts from all week dedicated to Krystina's work: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops, Zen Stone Cookies, and a giveaway featuring her super awesome book A World of Cake!). To get in a Christmas-y mood, I used candy canes. When served at the store, they disappeared in record time. Black friday was red and white and buttery all over, baby!

Mint Candy Butter Cookies

Adapted from Crazy About Cookies by Krystina Castella

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • Royal icing
  • 1 1/2 cups mint hard candies or candy canes, crushed

Procedure

  1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk. Add the whole egg, salt, and vanilla, and stir to combine.
  2. Gradually stir in the flour. Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Get 2 cookie sheets ready to go, no need to grease 'em.
  4. Roll the dough out on a floured surface, to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch squares. Place the squares on the baking sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. (Note: While still warm I cut the cookies into fourths, because I was sharing them at my store and wanted bite-sized cookies)
  5. Cover with icing. While icing is still wet, top with the crushed candies.
Friday
Nov262010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Feeling fuzzy after all that food yesterday? Come back to life with some totally sweet links.

First off: Sweet savings! All orders from today through Cyber Monday are 10% off at CakeSpyShop.com! Just use code CSHOL10 online!

An adorable project made with CakeSpy stamps from Taylored Expressions!

Sweet leftovers: delicous cranberry nut squares made from Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Are you still eating gingerbread men, like a jerk? Far awesomer: Ninjabread Men!

Pumpkin cookies, "without a nutmeggy punch to the face": find them at The  Full English.

You need holiday cards. Pick a sweet selection here!

Oh, who are we kidding: you could go for one more pie. This pecan pie looks like a good one to try. (via Whipped)

Oh, come on. Now that you've had a taste of additional pie, make one more: the Cranberry Pecan pie in a Maple Peanut Butter Crust!

Make your Christmas tree exra-sweet with a Cuppie ornament!

Haute Chocolate: a delightful-sounding hot chocolate recipe from Sweet Paul, as discovered on Food News Journal.

Why shop when you can win? Enter the Happy Haul-idays giveaway from Chronicle Books!

Better than munchkins: Spiced Pumpkin Donut Holes, an ideal post-Thanksgiving breakfast!

Bring on the Christmas Cookies: If you're in Seattle, you must attend this event with Alice Medrich, author of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies, including several of the recipes from the book baked by local foodie celebrities! Buy your tickets here.

Thursday
Nov252010

Sweetness Overseas: Cake Gumshoe Cynthia Discovers Cafe 85 Degrees in Shanghai

CakeSpy Note: Don't you love seeing friends' vacation photos? Well, I do...especially the beauty shots of all the delicious foods they ate while away. Here are some shots from CakeSpy buddy (and budding Gumshoe) Cynthia's recent trip to Asia!

Here are some pictures from Cafe 85 Degrees, the Taiwanese bakery I loved in Shanghai. I started photographing the more bizarre items:

... then started taking pictures of standard, sweet pastries.

Then someone who works there caught me and asked me to stop. I didn't have enough Chinese to explain that my friend runs a famous website about baked goods and all things sweet in the United States. Oh well.

International CakeSpy snub aside, the sesame buns and the mocha bread (pictured top of post) were delicious. Also, Cafe 85 has the cheapest good coffee in Shanghai (8 RMB versus 30 at other places) and amazing hazelnut lattes.

Here's their site: http://www.85cafe.us/

Wednesday
Nov242010

Peace and Sweetness: Zen Stones Cookie Recipe from Crazy About Cookies by Krystina Castella

Fact: you could use a little bit of zen before the tidal wave of holidays that's about to descend upon us. Or at least you could use a little something to get you through this sometimes supremely stressful time of year.

My advice: get stoned. That is to say...make Zen Stone cookies!

These cookies immediately appealed to me when I leafed through the newly-released Crazy About Cookies: 300 Scrumptious Recipes for Every Occasion & Craving by official CakeSpy foodie crush Krystina Castella (check out the giveaway of her book A World of Cake Here, and a recipe and some love for her book Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone here). Why choose these cookies? Because, you know, they kinda looked cool. And appearance definitely matters.

Happily, these groovy-patterned cookies are also super-easy to make, super-delicious, and will keep you occupied just long enough to avoid your awkward Uncle Harry's bad jokes or Great-Aunt Patricia's tales of medical woes... and they'll also keep your family satisfied with sugary goodness so they won't get on your case about all those things families love to get on your case about during the holidays. Not that I'd know.

Zen Stone Cookies

Note: While Castella has suggested this recipe as a use for leftover shortbread butter cookie doughs from the book, I actually used leftover scraps of dough from two different batches of chocolate and butter cookies, using the recipe more for construction; it worked out fine, so I think you could probably use a variety of different buttery cookie doughs to make these; just be sure to adjust the baking time and temperature accordingly.

Ingredients

  • Scraps of chocolate and shortbread butter cookie dough 
  • 1 cup assorted candies, malt balls, chocolates, and chocolate raisins (I used a mix of chocolate candies and walnuts)
  • Royal icing

Procedure

  1. Preaheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper (depending on how many scraps you have, it might be just one sheet)
  2. Gather the scraps to form 1-inch balls, hiding the candy in the center. Place the balls on the cookie sheets 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until firm. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  3. Color the icing and put in a pastry bag with a small tip. Pipe lines where the doughs meet, or in whatever trippy patterns / directions your freak flag wants you to fly in.
Wednesday
Nov242010

Sweet Savings: Holiday Weekend Sales at CakeSpy Shop!

Are you in a holidaze? No need to panic! There are sweet savings and plenty of awesome things waiting for you at CakeSpy Shop.

Here's what's on offer!

BLACK FRIDAY IN-STORE SPECIAL: Mention this post and you'll receive 15% off of your purchase at the CakeSpy retail store location at 415 East Pine Street, Seattle WA! This offer is good for Friday only, and only in-store.

THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY WEEKEND SALE: Shopping online? Well, through Cyber monday, apply code CSHOL10 to your order and you'll get 10% off the whole thing. How totally sweet is that? Do it online at cakespyshop.com.

Wednesday
Nov242010

Stuff It: Stuffing Cupcakes With Mashed Potato Frosting by Ryan's Baking Blog

CakeSpy Note: Were you grossed out by the Turkey Cake I made for Thanksgiving? Well, vegetarians can rejoice with this guest post from Cake Gumshoe Ryan, whose sweet adventures can be followed via his great site, Ryan's Baking Blog! This recipe for trompe l'oeil savory "cupcakes" is far easier to make veggie! Here he goes:

This isn't technically stuffing, it's called "dressing" since it wasn't cooked inside a turkey...but I'm going to call it stuffing because it's easier. It's vegetarian too! And looks like a cupcake!!! I baked it in a cupcake tin and then topped it with some mashed potatoes. It's really perfect for Thanksgiving coming up or any dinner. It's easy to eat, compact, and gets two of your side dishes together. You could garnish it with chives or (vegetarian) bacon or just leave it as is like I did. It's super easy to make and is an easy way to impress your guests.

I prefer using an ice cream scoop to top it off but you could pipe the mashed potatoes.

You can use any kind of stuffing/dressing recipe and mashed potato recipe if you have your own favorite, my family stuffing recipe is really simple, it's vegetarian, and it's delicious. If you aren't vegetarian and would like to use broth, you can replace the water with equal parts of Chicken Broth, which is what the original recipe called for (and how I ate it before I became a vegetarian), but being a vegetarian I just use water and it still comes out tasting great.

Vegetarian Stuffing "Cupcakes" Makes about 10 cupcakes

 Ingredients

  • 1 lb loaf of bread, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, more to taste

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a muffin tin (or an 8" square pan). In a large bowl, mix together the bread cubes, water, and applesauce. Everything should be moist but not soggy, you can add a little more applesauce or water if it isn't moist enough. Mix in the salts and pepper and mix until combined, adding more to taste. Fill up muffin tin holes to the top (since they won't rise) and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the tops are slightly browned. Cover the tops with parchment paper and foil if you want a softer top, leave it uncovered for a more crisp top. Allow to cool slightly in pan, top with mashed potatoes, and serve warm.

Simple Mashed Potatoes

Makes a little more than enough for the cupcakes

  • 3 potatoes, I used russet baking potatoes, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Garlic Salt, to taste Salt, to taste
  • Procedure

Boil potatoes until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water and move the potatoes to another bowl (or stand mixer) and beat with an electric mixer (or stand mixer) with the butter and cream until fluffy. Add salts to taste, or you could add cheese or anything else you like in your mashed potatoes. Use an ice cream scoop to put a heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes on each stuffing cupcake or use a piping bag and tip to make a nice design. Add garnish or gravy and serve warm.

Tuesday
Nov232010

Thanksgiving Pie Chronicles: Cranberry Pecan Pie in a Maple Peanut Butter Cookie Crust for Peanut Butter and Co.

CakeSpy Note: Did you know that I'm an all-star? Well, an all-star blogger, anyway, for the lovely and amazing Peanut Butter and Co.! Here's a peek at my latest recipe entry, for Cranberry Pecan Pie in a Maple Peanut Butter Crust!

Don’t get me wrong–Thanksgiving has a lot going for it food-wise. But sadly, the traditional offerings are extremely lacking in rich, delicious peanut butter.

But what if–just what if–you combined classic Thanksgiving flavors with a peanut butter cookie crust?

I wanted to find out, and so I prepared a thick Mighty Maple peanut butter cookie crust, which I then filled with a mixture of tart, unsweetened cranberries and crunch pecans, all topped with a thick, brown sugary, pecan pie-inspired filling. The result? Total magic: the tartness of the cranberries is perfectly balanced by the richness of the peanut butter and pecans, and the maple and sugar contribute plenty of sweetness. It’s a flavor combination to be thankful for, indeed.

For the full entry and recipe, visit the All-Star Recipe Blog on Peanut Butter and Co.!

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