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Sunday
Oct102010

Sweet Art: Another Andy Warhol Quote, Illustrated With Cupcakes

As Andy Warhol's biggest fan, it appears I can't stop myself from illustrating his quotes in cupcake form. The latest gem? "Everything is more glamorous when you do it in bed, anyway. Even peeling potatoes." Awesome!

Buy it here, check out the other Warhol quotes I've done here.

Sunday
Oct102010

Better Together: Beer Cupcakes With Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Recipe from Bredenbeck's Bakery, Philadelphia

Sweet or salty? Why decide, when you can have both--and beer, too--in one deliciously decadent cupcake parcel? Yup, that's right: Beer Cupcakes. Topped with Chocolate Covered Potato Chips. It's a recipe kindly donated by Bredenbeck's of Philadelphia. Awful or awesome? Maybe a little of both, in the best way possible. Make it happen at home thusly:

Beer Cupcakes Topped With Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 1 cup of Guinness® Draught
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda Pinch of cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/3 cup Guinness® Draught

Chips:

  • 1⁄2 pound high quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 4 cups ridged potato chips

Procedure

  1. Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauce pan over low heat, combine Guinness® and butter, stirring until butter melts. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cocoa powder and brown sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Combine with beer mixture. Sift together flour and baking soda, then fold into batter. Pour into greased muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.
  2. Make the glaze. With a mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth. Sift confectioner’s sugar into cream cheese, and beat. Add Guinness®, and beat until smooth. Apply to cupcakes using a flat spatula.
  3. Prepare your garnish. Place 3/4 of the chocolate into a heat safe bowl, and place over the top of a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate has melted, then continue to heat the chocolate to 110F degrees, stirring occasionally. As soon as the chocolate reaches this temperature, remove from heat. Stir in remaining chocolate until melted. Using tongs, dip potato chips one at a time into the chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool. Once cooled, place atop cupcakes. Enjoy!

Of course, if you have no time—or desire—to bake your own Beer Cupcakes, you can stop into Bredenbeck’s Bakery and try their version! They're also busy baking all your favorite fall confections: pumpkin bread, caramel apple cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake with cinnamon whipped cream, carrot cake, s’mores pie and much, much more.

Saturday
Oct092010

Well-Bread: Hot Raisin Bread Recipe from Big Girls, Small Kitchen

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest entry from Cara, a co-author of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a blog devoted to "quarter-life" cooking (and the home of the Watermelon Ice Cream Cake). Per the writer, "this article is about the fantastic, nostalgic Hot Raisin Bread that my mom always made me for breakfast when I was growing up. And is it sweet? you may ask. Not only is it sweet, but it's topped with the most delicious crust of butter, sugar, and cinnamon."

My Breakfast of Champions

My mom made us breakfast every single day while we were growing up, before we piled into the car and she dropped us off at school on her way to work. When I say I don't understand people who don't eat breakfast, I say this with the perspective of someone who ate scrambled eggs, pancakes, French toast, corn muffins, and hot raisin bread every morning, not just someone who ate, you know, a bowl of cereal. Later, in middle and high school, we did sometimes eat just cereal or yogurt and fruit, but even then there were occasions when we'd get the full breakfast treatment.

On one of these days late in high school, my mom made hot raisin bread. She took it out of the oven, I cut myself a wedge, and when I drove my fork down through the cinnamon-sugar crust on top into the biscuit-like interior, I remembered why this was always one of my favorites. It's decadent in the way that Frosted Mini Wheats are decadent--a layer of sugar, in this case cinnamon-sugar and butter, bursts in your mouth, distinguishing the relative plainness of the inside. I was a junior or senior, and we had a field hockey game that afternoon against one of our rivals. The tradition was to dress up in funny outfits on game days, and I can only imagine what Phoebe and I and the rest of our teammates were wearing. Whether it was my breakfast or my outfit, I played one of my best games ever as forward, scoring a hat trick. Three goals. These days, that kind of athleticism feels like it belonged to another person completely.

Anyway, some other parent came up to my mom and was like, "What do you feed her for breakfast?!"

And my mom, I think, answered truthfully, "Well, it's this dish called Hot Raisin Bread..."

I wasn't eating my Wheaties. I was eating my mom's home-cooked food and apparently it did me better than any cereal.

When I baked this recently, I ate it as an afternoon snack. The cinnamon-y scent filled my apartment. I cut a wedge, poured some some tea, and waited for something to happen. Sure I wasn't playing hockey, but wouldn't mom's magic breakfast work in my Brooklyn apartment too? I did some work on the book, researched my summer vacation, and kept on waiting. And waiting. I haven't found out yet if the Hat Trick Raisin Bread does anything for no-longer athletic adults, but it definitely still tastes really good.

Hot Raisin Bread
Makes 1 bread, serves 6-8
from Quick Breads by Beatrice Ojakangas

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted or soft
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
Procedure
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine the flour, powder, salt, raisins, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the oil and milk and mix into a soft dough.
  3. Spread with the butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just golden. Cut into squares and serve hot--this doesn't really weather well, so make it when you plan to eat.
  5. Transfer it to the baking sheet and pat the dough into a rough 8-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick.

Keep up with Cara's baking adventures on Big Girls, Small Kitchen!

Friday
Oct082010

CakeSpy Undercover: Toscanini's, Boston

CakeSpy Note: Recently I heard a rumor (well, in the NY Times, so I guess that's not really a rumor) that the best ice cream--like, in the world--was to be found at a place called Toscanini's in Boston. Boston! So far! But happily, Cake Gumshoe Jen lives there, and she was more than happy to case out the joint on a spy mission. Here's a piece from her spy diary (she took the photos, too!):

Having only one year left in law school and uncertain of where I would be post-graduation, I decided to make a “Massachusetts Bucket List” of all the places I needed to go or things to do before I graduate. On the list was Toscanini’s, an ice cream place in Cambridge that has been touted as having the best ice cream in the world by the New York Times. I grabbed a friend on a beautiful Saturday morning and ventured out.

My first impressions of Toscanini’s upon arriving were that it was small but cozy and crowded but friendly and relaxed.  The lines moved quickly and we didn’t have to wait very long before placing our order. Toscanini’s serves brunch on Saturday, so we decided to try that first. I had their Open Faced Sandwich, which was ricotta scrambled eggs, figs and prosciutto on toasted bread, while my friend had their Toasted Bagel, which had mascarpone plum preserves, and sea salt. Both were very delicious, and despite the busyness of the place the food arrived quickly.

After brunch it was time for the most important part of the meal – dessert. Gus Rancatore, one of the co-founders of Toscanini’s, was at hand to help me make the difficult decision of which ice cream flavors I was to ultimately consume. He was very friendly and helpful, asking me what kinds of ice cream I liked and giving me generous samples of several of his recommendations. I ultimately went with the caramel apple and the hazelnut, although I had also sampled the green tea Kit Kat and the burnt caramel (which were also delicious, but alas my stomach can only hold so much ice cream at one time). 

All in all, I definitely had a great time at Toscanini’s – the staff was friendly, the food was delicious, and there was a great atmosphere about the place. I’m looking forward to going back more often and trying all of their flavors.

Check it out yourself--find the location, menus, and more at tosci.com.

Toscanini's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Friday
Oct082010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

What's today again? Oh yeah, FRIDAY! Let's celebrate by wasting--er, spending quality time--on the internet together. Click away at these:

When you really care...give bacon.

Australia: It's not just for Pavlova anymore. Buy my stuff in Australia!

Seeking delicious doughnuts in Naples, FL? Look no further: Bennett's, as reviewed by Leandra!

Totally sweet: new Thanksgiving-themed rubber stamps featuring CakeSpy artwork, by Taylored Expressions!

Decree from a Minnesota-based reader: "Next time you're in MN, you MUST visit CupCake! They have boozy cupcakes!". I hear you, friend.

Much ado about Muffin: the phrase "no need to serve...with butter and jam, since they're already baked into the muffin in lavish proportions" has me thrilled about these upside-down fruit muffins.

Too early for Christmas ornaments? Not a chance, when they're as sweet as these. (thanks Anne for the tip!)

In Seattle, ART Restaurant is serving up dishes inspired by the Picasso exhibit at SAM--including a Picasso-esque "woman's face" dessert plate (pictured left).

Making the world sweeter: reader Jenna was so inspired by my cupcake art installation that she re-created it in DC! See the video here.

Check out my sweet friend Bakerella's roundup of CupcakeCamp Newport, OR, here.

Speaking of Bakerella, please, please tell me you've already bought her book, Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats. If not, do it now, please.

Matryoshka measuring spoons?!? Cute, cute, cuuuuute!

Sweetness overload: hope to see you this Saturday at CakeSpy Shop for the sweetest Halloween party ever!

 
Thursday
Oct072010

Sweet Giveaway: Win a Copy of Mitford Cookbook by Bestselling Author Jan Karon

Who doesn't love having a sweet new recipe book? 

While you mull that one over, let me introduce a totally sweet giveaway: one lucky reader will receive the gorgeously designed Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader: Recipes from Mitford Cooks, Favorite Tales from Mitford Books. In case you're not familiar, Jan Karon is the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mitford Series (35 million copies in print). But even more importantly, this book is filled with over 150 delicious Southern recipes, including Esther Bolick’s delicious Orange Marmalade Cake, The Irish Lady Rhubarb Tart, and more! And, since we all love a good backstory, this four-color cookbook features Jan’s personal reminiscences, dozens of beloved scenes from the Mitford books, jokes, cooking tips, and a story never before published in the novels.

How do you put your name in the hat? It's easy. Simply answer in the comments below telling me what your favorite Southern dish is (either sweet OR savory, I am feeling generous!).

Details: The giveaway is open to US entrants only, please--the giveaway will close at Midnight next Friday, October 15.

Thursday
Oct072010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Reasons Why You Should Visit Cupcake Royale in Bellevue

Being firmly planted in the camp of "Bad Things Happen When You Leave The City", I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but...

...you've got to get your sweet self over to Bellevue to check out the new Cupcake Royale.

Don't just pack up based on my simple statement, though, because I've got a baker's dozen of reasons to back up this suggestion of an epic crossing-the-water journey. Here goes:

  1. First off, let's just say it: Cupcake Royale rules. They are cool, they have good cupcakes, and now they're in Bellevue. You owe them a visit.
  2. OK, and on to the specifics. Ye Olde Exterior. I've got to say that (no offense) when I think "Bellevue", I think of malls, chain stores, and confusing underground parking. But somehow Cupcake Royale has managed to find its own unique niche--a place as unique and special as their cupcakes.
  3. Ye Olde Interior. Formerly the home of an IHOP, I suspect that their may be elves lurking in the kitchen (actually, I can confirm that there are. I met one, and her name is Rachel.)
  4. Ye Olde Interior, continued: it has a storybook-worthy back room. I want grandma to read me stories back here, while I stuff myself silly on cupcakes and Stumptown Coffee.
  5. Speaking of Stumptown, this is the first joint on the Eastside to be serving it, I believe. Woot!
  6. They have an expanded variety of morning sweets and cookies, from Macrina and also from another local Bellevue bakery. Yes!
  7. They have the most adorable little dumbwaiter-esque system by which they slide cupcakes through the wall from the kitchen to the retail area. OMG!
  8. New Fall Flavors: OK, so you could get it at the other locations too, but wouldn't a pumpkin cupcake with maple frosting taste just a little more magical in a place where you might see an elf?
  9. They have this super sweet campaign: "Practice Random Acts of Cupcakes". Is this not the most delightful thing you've ever heard?
  10. I swear, owner Jody Hall gets cuter with every new location she opens.
  11. They have an expanded retail space at this store, which means that you can get even more of their totally sweet tongue in cheek tees ("Rock Out With Your Cupcake Out", "Legalize Frostitution"--you know, cute).
  12. The cupcakes are baked on-site, and are already making Bellevue sweeter, based on the crowds!
  13. Hint, hint: You may be seeing some CakeSpy stuff there in the future! 

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Find directions and details at cupcakeroyale.com.

Thursday
Oct072010

Cake Byte: New Thanksgiving Rubber Stamp Designs by CakeSpy for Taylored Expressions

We're entering that totally sweet time of year when delicious sweet foods abound--Halloween Candy! Thanksgiving pie! Christmas cookies!

And this Thanksgiving, I know how you can help digest all that awesome: get crafty with these super cute new rubber stamps featuring my artwork, released by the always amazing Taylored Expressions!

Here's the 411:

Gobble Gobble is a set of 16 images and sentiments made from deeply etched rubber in a *cute* shade of pink! The cling-mounted stamps are packaged on a 5.5" x 8.5" storage panel with a color printed index and come already die cut so they're ready to use as soon as they arrive on your doorstep. Check out all of the inspiration in the Gobble Gobble Gallery!

So what are you waiting for? Go buy them now. And don't forget to check out the super sweet gallery of project ideas!

Thursday
Oct072010

Coffee Cake Break: Brown Sugar and Almond Coffeecake Recipe from Macrina Bakery

Image c/o Macrina BakeryThings to dislike about the beginning of the month: paying rent, receiving phone and credit card bills, and remembering to write a different month when you date everything.

Things to adore about the beginning of the month: Macrina Bakery's monthly newsletter, which always includes a recipe.

This month's? The most delectable Brown Sugar and Almond Coffeecake recipe. Theirs has raspberries, but as a die-hard lover of desserts devoid of altogether too-healthy fruit, I'm curious to try it with cream cheese or maybe cookie dough instead.

Oh, and it is worth noting that we are headed into a very exciting season at Macrina. Coming soon? Brown Sugar Spice Cake, Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake With Gingered Cranberries (all Thanksgiving specials!).

Brown Sugar and Almond Coffeecake

From Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook: Favorite Breads, Pastries, Sweets and Savories

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour 
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 10 ounces (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1-3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
  • Powdered sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Oil a 9" square pan
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with your hands and set aside.
  3. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 5 to 8 minutes to cream the butter. The mixture should be smooth and pale in color.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, and almond and vanilla extracts. Mix with a whisk. Add a small amount of egg mixture to the bowl of creamed butter and mix on medium speed until fully incorporated. Continue adding small amounts until all of the egg mixture is mixed into the butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix for another 30 seconds.
  5. Remove the bowl from your stand mixer. Alternately add small amounts of the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the bowl, mixing with a wooden spoon just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the raspberries, taking care not to smash the fruit. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle chopped almonds over the top.
  6. Bake on the center rack of your oven for about an hour, or until golden brown. Test center of cake with a cake tester or toothpick--it will come out clean when the cake is done. Let cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack, then dust with confectioners' sugar and cut into pieces. The cake will be fragile until fully cooled, so remove slices carefully.
Thursday
Oct072010

Hummingbird Chronicles: Lemon Cupcakes Recipe from Hummingbird Bakery

English cupcakes come stateside!CakeSpy Note: This is an ongoing series of entries about (and recipes from!) London's Hummingbird Bakery by Cake Gumshoe Alexandra Levert, who is an assistant director for a French television network in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking and baking because she finds it comforting and yet challenging at the same time. She tries to combine her love of food and her love of travel as much as life will let her.

 One Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend, who has never been into cupcakes, decided to finally take a look at my Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. He started flipping the pages and landed on the lemon cupcakes page. He suddenly got all excited and said he wanted to make them. And right now. I was surprised, yet I wasn’t: he can never say no to a dessert with lemon. Suddenly, I was the one who wasn’t too excited about the idea of making them. Don’t get me wrong, I love lemon, but I always prefer chocolate to fruit in a dessert. This time though, I let him convince me and we went to the grocery store. 

Hummingbird Bakery Lemon Cupcakes

Recipe by Tarek Malouf, from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook 

For the base:

 

  • 120g of plain flour
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 1½  teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest, plus extra to decorate
  • 40g of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 120 ml of whole milk
  • 1 egg 

 

For the lemon frosting:

 

  • 250g of icing sugar (sifted) 
  • 80g of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring (optional but pretty!)
  • 25 ml of whole milk 

 

For the cooking process:

 

  • A 12-hole cupcake tray lined with paper cases 

 

So here is what I did:

 

  1. First, I preheated the oven to 325°F or 170°C. 
  2. Second, I sifted the flour and put it in a large bowl with the sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and butter. Then I used a handheld electric whisk, although you can also use a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, to beat the first batch of ingredients together. I beat them on slow speed until I was certain all the components were combined. I gradually poured the milk in and continued beating so that everything was mixed in well. I added the egg to the first mixture and beat it in with the rest for a few minutes until it formed a nice, smooth blend. Now the next part tested my cupcake skills for the first time: spooning the mixture into the paper cases. To do so, I took two spoons: one to pick up a bit of the blend and the other to push it out of the first spoon and into the mold. I repeated that same action until all 12 paper cases were about 2/3 full. The tricky part was to try and keep the tray as clean as possible, by not letting any of the mixture fall anywhere but in the cases. It was harder than it looked, but I did it. One cupcake point for me! 
  3. I put the tray in the oven for 22 minutes, since the recipe said to leave it in for 20 to 25 minutes. What I did was I set my timer for 20 minutes, and then when it rang, I took a fork and inserted it gently into one of the cakes. When I took the fork out, there was a slight trace of cake on it, so I knew I had to leave them in for a few more minutes. So I waited a little bit, checked again and they were fine. I took them out of the oven and let them cool down completely. 
  4. After about 30 minutes, it was time for me to make the icing. First I beat the icing sugar, butter, lemon zest and food colouring with the same handheld electric whisk, but this time on medium-slow speed until the ingredients were well combined. Then I turned the whisk down to a slower speed while I poured the milk. After that, I turned it to high speed and beat the mix for about 5 minutes, until the frosting became fluffy enough. As Tarek Malouf said in his book: “The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.” 
  5. Then my now-favourite, yet the riskiest part of the whole process finally arrived: it was time to put the frosting on the cakes. The thing about cupcakes is that they are supposed to look pretty and appetizing, and this was my first time trying to do so. The best advice I can give you is just dig in but do it gently. Take a good amount of the frosting with a spoon, a knife or a small spatula and spread it evenly while rotating the cupcake. This will give you more control over what the end result will be like. And voilà! Your first cupcakes. MY first cupcakes! 

 

So what do they taste like, you ask? Well, the thing about Hummingbird cupcakes is that they are never too sugary, which is good for people who don’t have a sweet tooth. I found the lemon ones very flavorsome, yet quite subtle in taste. Lemon is not something you need a lot of in order to get the full taste experience. And it was the case with these cupcakes. 

Final words: In order to make the recipes with as much precision as possible, I would recommend using a weighing scale in order to measure some of the ingredients. I didn’t have one when I made this recipe, and I found it really affected the texture and consistency of the frosting. It was a bit too liquid, not overly but just enough for it not to stick to the base properly. Remember: You need good tools to make great cupcakes!

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