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Thursday
Dec162010

Pie in the Sky: High 5 Pie Retail Bakery to Open in Seattle on December 31

2010, you're totally a lame duck. You are on your way d-o-w-n.

But before you go, let's go out in style, with a new bakery opening! Let's make it a good one: how 'bout High 5 Pie in Capitol Hill?

Now, naturally I am happy simply to see a new bakery open.

But I'm like, 5 times more happy to see this one open, because you see, I've been part of the story. That's right: some of the recipes for the new pie location have been aided and abetted by none other than Head Spy Jessie! Go ahead and add "pie consultant" to my resume--but don't call me Pie Spy.

Rigorous testing (and tasting) have been applied to several new recipes for the new retail location, and I hope you'll agree that they're extremely delicious. But don't take my word for it: see for yourself, when they open on December 31st! Does that seem too far away? Happily, they will also have a pre-opening event on December 30. Be there or be square! 

Pie squared, that is!

Find out more on the Capitol Hill Seattle entry on this breaking news!

Thursday
Dec162010

You Mochi My Day: Mochi Cake Recipe from CS Buddy Cindy

Dinner parties rule for many reasons:

  1. You get to hang out with cool people, and sometimes meet new people.
  2. You get to eat a bunch of delicious things.
  3. IMPORTANTLY: Dessert is pretty much inevitable.

And after a recent dinner party at CS buddy Cindy's house, after being very impressed with her delightfully dense, lightly but not excessively sweet, almond-y Mochi Cake, she was a kind and generous hostess indeed and even sent the recipe:

As promised here is the recipe for the "Mochi Cake" (for lack of a more appropriate name). I checked the rice cup I was using and it is roughly the equivalent of 3/4 (wet) cup. Let me know if you have any questions and I hope it's rather straightforward.

Mochi Cake

*1 cup = 1 rice cup or 3/4 standard (wet) cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (16 oz) Mochiko (sweet rice flour - I use the Koda Farms one, which can be purchased at most Asian grocery stores)
  • 2 cup Milk (or Milk substitute, I used Almond Milk for the one you guys had)
  • 1 scant cup vegetable oil (I tend to use slightly less to avoid excess oil)
  • 1 to 1.5 cup sugar
  • 1 generous tbsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs (if you only 3 eggs or want to use up to 5 eggs that works okay too but 4 seems to be the best ratio)

Optional ingredients:

  • dried fruits (eg. longan, raisins, etc.)
  • rice wine (enough to cover and rehydrate fruits)
  • can of cooked red beans (again can be purchased at the Asian grocery store, be sure to get one that has the beans in it and not completely mashed - Shirakiku Anko Red Bean Ogura)

Procedure

  1. If using dried fruits, add enough rice wine to cover and rehydrate dried fruits
  2. While fruits are rehydrating, mix together mochiko, milk, oil, sugar, baking powder and eggs thoroughly
  3. Line a baking pan (I use a rectangular baking pan, approx. 9" X 13") with aluminum foil & brush lightly with oil
  4. Fill baking pan with batter
  5. If including dried fruits or cooked red beans, use spoon to drop dollops on top of batter, then use finger or butter knife to stir/distribute throughout batter (you can make swirls with the pattern if desired)
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes @ 390 - 400F (until when pierced with toothpick comes out clean)
Thursday
Dec162010

Sweetly Intoxicating: Christmas Cookie Cocktail Recipes

Everyone knows that the winter holidays are the most intoxicating time of the year.

Wait--that wasn't quite right. What I meant was, the holidays are the best time of the year to get intoxicated. (I mean, let's be honest) And what better way to get toasted--and stay toasty--than with Christmas cookie-inspired cocktails?

Well, Partida tequila was kind enough to send on the SpyStaff some tasty tequila samples (also officially marking the first time we've ever received a fedex parcel fulla tequila) and recipes--and here are our two favorites for you to (*hic!*) enjoy.

Seven Layer Cookie (pictured top)

Spy notes: This delectable cocktail confection tastes sweet and goes down almost too easily--but be warned, it's a stiff drink and moderation is key!

  • 3/4oz Godiva Liqueur
  • 3/4oz Coconut Rum
  • 1/2oz Butterscotch Schnapps
  • 1/2oz Partida Anejo Tequila
  • 1/4oz Frangelico
  • 1/2oz Baileys
  • 1/2oz Amaretto

Garnish rim of a martini glass with crushed cookie crumbs.  Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into martini glass. 

Toasted Macaroon

  • 1 oz Coconut Milk
  • 1-1/2oz Coconut Rum
  • 1/4oz Licor 43
  • 1/2oz Partida Blanco Tequila
  • 1/2oz Frangelico

Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice.  Strain into a glass filled with ice and garnish with toasted coconut shavings on top. 

Tuesday
Dec142010

Apple of My Eye: Applescotch Cookies Made With Jiffy Baking Mix

I've always had a soft spot for "Jiffy" brand baking mixes. Not necessarily because of their superior taste (though I think they're perfectly serviceable) but because of their packaging. These petite packages have a distinctly retro look, but not in an ironic way--more like they've never changed the initial 1930 design (why mess with a good thing?). 

Unable to resist the packaging, I recently found myself in possession of a box of Jiffy Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix. Two questions occurred to me:

  1. Where did these mixes come from?
  2. What can I make with this mix that is not muffins?

Where the magic happens! Photo: Chelsea MillingHappily, the Chelsea Milling website (their parent company) was able to shed light on both of these pressing questions. As for the history? Here it is, from their site:

Chelsea Milling Company is operated by a family whose roots in the flour milling business date back to the early 1800’s. We have been milling flour here in Chelsea for over 120 years.

Mabel White Holmes, grandmother of our President, Howdy S. Holmes, developed and introduced to the homemaker the first prepared baking mix product, “JIFFY” Baking Mix, in the spring of 1930. Currently we offer 22 “JIFFY” Mixes. Our mixes provide you, our consumer, with the best value available.

Chelsea Milling Company is a complete manufacturer. We store wheat. We mill wheat in to flour. We use that flour for our own mixes. We make our own “little blue” boxes. We do it all-that’s why our mixes provide you with the best possible value. Value is using the highest quality ingredients and the best price!

Our entire operation is located in Chelsea, Michigan and our product is shipped out to all 50 states, as well as some foreign countries through the United States Military.

Finding this pretty fascinating, I'd like to state for the record that if they invited me to come and tour their factory, it would be like the awesomest thing ever.

As for a recipe? Happily, they have a handy recipe finder by mix--and I quickly settled on the delectable-sounding "Applescotch Cookies". Incredibly easy to make, these cookies fall somewhere between cakey and chewy, and the mellow, buttery butterscotch flavor works extremely well with the apple-spice flavor from the mix. Here's the recipe.

Applescotch Cookies

  • 1 pkg. "JIFFY" Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix
  • 1 Tbsp. instant butterscotch pudding
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. quick oats
  • 1 Tbsp. margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch pieces

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 375°, grease baking sheet. 
  2. Mix together muffin mix, pudding and nutmeg.
  3. Cut in softened margarine or butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add oats.
  4. Mix in egg until well blended. Add butterscotch pieces.
  5. Roll into 3/4 to 1" balls and place on cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges.
Tuesday
Dec142010

Sweet Holiday: Cake Gumshoe Stephanie Shares Sweet Finds from Central Highland, Mexico

CakeSpy Note: If we took a holiday, it would be--it would be so nice! And recently, Cake Gumshoe Stephanie escaped chilly Seattle for sunny Mexico--and had some super sweet eating experiences! So what could you expect if you were to visit yourself? Read on, and dream just a little bit:

A couple of cold Seattle residents escaped the Seattle November snow storm by heading to the Central Highlands of Mexico. Warm days, cool nights, colonial architecture, and great food.

The bakeries in town open onto the narrow sidewalks and present racks of goods of sweet doughs, sugared twists, laminated pastries, shortbread cookies, and sweet and savory empanadas.

Ice cream abounds in flavors from tequila to guanabana, pinon, and sweet corn. Paletes (popsicles) range from fresh strawberry to vanilla with dried fruits and nuts to mango chili.

Fried dough, candied yams and sugared squash are sold from street carts and hand carried baskets.

And then there are the traditional sweets of Morelia (pictured left) - crystalized fruits, fruit leathers, cajeta - goat cheese caramel, tamarind with chili (or not), coconut haystacks, coconut stuffed candied limes, candied flower blooms - rose and jamaica (hibiscus), and sweet bars of amaranth with fruits and nuts.

Dessert menus feature variations on flan and cheesecake (limon cheesecake, pictured below), and in new kitchens, they riff on traditional favorites, like chongos zamoranos, a sweet milk/honey/cinnamon dessert (pictured below cheesecake).


Find out more about the Central Highlands of Mexico here!

Monday
Dec132010

Total Sweetness: CakeSpy and a Lucky Reader Win the Chronicle Books Happy Haul-idays Giveaway!

Like, OMG. No, not like OMG. Like, 

O!M!G!

Remember that Happy Haul-Idays Giveaway I posted a while back, in hopes that myself and a lucky reader would win $500 worth of totally sweet Chronicle Books?

Well, we won. Me, and a lucky reader, Cari, that is. We each won a heaping parcel full of all of the books on this list, totaling $500 worth of totally sweet books. Here's the list I made up:

Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

Cake Pops! By Bakerella!

I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

Flour by Joanne Chang

Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott

Luscious Coconut Desserts by Lori Long

Chocolate Cakes by Elinor Klivans

All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

Gingerbread by Jennifer McGlinn

Field Guide to Candy by Anita Chu

Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu

Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker

Pops! By Krystina Castella

Luscious Creamy Desserts by Lori Longbotham

Killer Pies by Stephanie Anderson

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor

Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

Sky High by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne

Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson

See's Famous Old Time Candies by Margaret Moos Pick

Cupcakes! By Elinor Klivans

Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans

Luscious Chocolate Desserts by Lori Longbotham

Happier still? Looks like I'm in good company with reader Cari, whose name was chosen at random from a list of many entrants--when asked which book she'd go to first, Cari's response was: 

Do I have to pick one? For real? Can I just copy and paste the whole list? I want to make something different from each book every day for a year. Watch my mad skills and waistline grow!

Spoken like a true believer in the powers of sweetness. 

Of course, if you didn't win (sorry), you can still take advantage of some sweet deals from Chronicle

  • 35% off + free shipping through December 16, 2011
  • Use this promo code at checkout: HAULIDAYS

And you know, it wouldn't be such a bad idea to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, either. Sweet holiday wishes to everyone!

Monday
Dec132010

Season's Sweetings: A 12-Layer Christmas Cake for Serious Eats

Whoever said that size doesn't matter clearly stuck with cakes that were, like, seven layers or fewer.

But here's a treat to power you through the holiday season: a towering 12-layer red and green Christmas cake. Why twelve layers? Why, one for each day of Christmas, of course!

A riff on Maryland's official state cake, the Smith Island Cake, this red-and-green confection is brimming with holiday cheer, and butter. Serve in slender slivers, because a little goes a long way with this sugary splendor.

Note: To avoid confusion, I should say that though it takes cues from both, this cake is neither a Red Velvet cake (it does not contain cocoa) nor truly a traditional Smith Island cake (the cake part is, but the icing is traditionally chocolate). Consider it a holiday mash-up, with liberties taken on both cakes to make for a festive holiday look.

For the full recipe and writeup, visit Serious Eats!

Friday
Dec102010

Cookies, Cakes, Oh My: Sweetness from JustJenn Recipes and Designs

Photo: JustJenn DesignsSo, two things.

First, this recipe comes from the same person who designed the pins to the left. They say "I Like Big Bundts". Now that is hilarious!

But wait, there's more!

When Jenn sent me a parcel of said pins, she also sent a four-pack of some of the most amazing things I've put in my mouth recently: Cookie Cupcakes.

What are they, exactly? Cookie? Cupcake? The answer is YES. And deliciously so, on both counts. Served in cupcake liners, these are cakey, decadent cookies that are so full of butter and chocolate chips that you'll totally be ok with the lack of frosting. For reals.

Want a recipe? OK. You can also find it on JustJenn Recipes (that and so many more!).

Cookie Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Procedure

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prep a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Once combined, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
  4. Alternate the flour mixture with the milk until combined. This will look like cookie batter!
  5. JustJenn Note: Cinnamon Chips are hard to find, but so worth the hunt. They are made by Hershey’s and as far as I can tell in the Los Angeles area they are only sold at Alberton’s. So weird! If you can find them – get them, you won’t be disappointed.
  6. Now fold in the chocolate chips and cinnamon chips.
  7. Fill your liners about 3/4 of the way full.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick test says they’re done! Let cool on a wire rack.
Friday
Dec102010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Oh, happy day! It's Friday, and you know what that means: a batch of totally sweet links before I head down to Crafty Wonderland this weekend!

Brussels Sprouts Cupcakes that look better than the ones I made!

So Fresh and So Sweet, Sweet: Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie, by Baking Bites!

Not that you could have possibly missed it, but on the extremely unlikely chance that you did, read the story about me by Rebekah Denn in the Seattle Times. Now, please.

Something from last year that still makes me squeal by virtue of its adorableness: mini gingerbread houses to perch on your mug, by Not Martha.

Push, don't shove: Cupcake push pops by Meringue Bake Shop!

Sweet selections: What do food bloggers look forward to eating around the holidays? Find out here.

Feel free to buy this for me: Laduree: The Sweet Recipes (thanks to Matt Lewis of BAKED for introducing me to it!)

Butterscotch Eggnog? I think I love you, Melissa Clark.

Pop Culture-inspired desserts: Sweet treats inspired by TV characters.

Cin-sational: A Cincinnati food critic's thoughts on the cake ball trend, plus pie on a stick.

Sweet new discovery: Marika's Velvet Bakery, a new custom-order bakery in the Seattle area!

Sweets for the Sweet: Check out the Baker's Gift Guide I did for Serious Eats!

Sweet memories: remember these Red and Green holiday cookies?

Thursday
Dec092010

Gingerbread in the House: Gingerbread Crepes Recipe from Macrina Bakery

Gingerbread cookies are perfect for later on in the day, but what about for breakfast?

Howsabout these delicious Gingerbread Crepes, the recipe of the month from Macrina Bakery?

Here's the intro and recipe from their newsletter:

Jeanine Riss, one of our former chefs created these crêpes for a special Christmas Eve brunch at our café. They were a big hit, selling out earlier than expected. Jeanine found it best to prepare and fill the crêpes one day in advance. That way all she had to do in the morning was prepare the compote and syrup and reheat the crêpes before serving.

For the crêpes:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/3 cups whole milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil

For the citron ricotta filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup candied citron*
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

For the cranberry compote:
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the vanilla syrup:
1 cup pure maple syrup
1vanilla bean

Powdered sugar

Preparing the crêpes:

  • Combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl. Toss together and set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl combine milk, eggs, and molasses mixing together with a whisk. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture into the bowl of flour, whisking as you pour. When ingredients are fully combined, whisk in 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  • Heat a small (7-inch) nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and brush with a little canola oil. Ladle in just enough crêpe batter to eventually cover the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons. Lift and tilt the pan to spread out the batter more quickly. Cook until edges start to turn brown, about 1 minute, then flip the crêpe over with a spatula and cook the other side. Transfer finished crêpe to a large plate and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter, placing paper between each crêpe as you finish. You should have 8 crêpes.

Preparing the citron ricotta filling and assembling the crêpes:

  • Combine ricotta cheese, sugar, candied citron, and orange zest in a medium bowl mixing well with a wooden spoon.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Lay the crêpe out on a work surface and scoop equal portions of citron filling into the center of each crêpe. Roll each of the crépes into a log and place them seam sides down, on the prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with the remaining melted butter.  (It may be necessary to reheat the butter.)
  • At this point the crêpes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator overnight. If you are ready to eat, move on to the next step.

Preparing the cranberry compote:

  • Combine cranberries, water, sugar, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until cranberries begin to burst, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and drop in butter, stirring until butter is melted and evenly distributed. Set aside.

Preparing the vanilla syrup:

  • Pour maple syrup into a medium saucepan. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape the seeds out of each half and add them to the pan.
  • Drop opened bean pods into the syrup for extra flavor and simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove bean pods and set aside.

Finishing the crêpes:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place baking sheet of crêpes on center rack of oven and bake for 10 minutes. Crêpes will be heated through and golden brown on the edges.
  • While crêpes are baking, reheat the cranberry compote and the vanilla syrup.
  • Place 2 crêpes in the center of each plate and top with a generous scoop of compote. Drizzle warm syrup around the edges of the crêpes, and garnish the plate with a little powder sugar. Serve while still warm.
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