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Wednesday
May122010

Bananarama: The Banana Jumbo Cookie

It's no secret that Betty Crocker's Cooky Book is like, my favorite cookbook ever.But one of the most interesting sections? The one called "Heritage Cookies", which is introduced thusly:

Recipes we know and use today came from 'round the wrold to the thirteen isolated colonies of America. Plain and hearty cookies were the gustatory pleasure of our pioneers...though our tastes may now be trained...to select a fancy frosted cooky...these cookies of our forefathers have won an enduring place in our hearts.

The recipe for the Banana Jumbo comes from this section of the book. And though these humble cookies are flavorful on their own, I had happened to receive a sample of Sassy Sauces in the mail around the same time I made these, and I learned that they are even better with a thick dollop of milk chocolate caramel sauce. And I totally don't consider this disrespecting the original recipe, 'cos you know what? Bet our forefathers would have used the chocolate sauce too, had it been at their disposal.

Banana Jumbos

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Ingredients

 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large, or 3 small, mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 Procedure 

  1. Make the cookies. Mix butter, sugar, and eggs thoroughly. 
  2. Stir in the bananas, milk, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, and salt; stir in, bit by bit, until the mixture is fully combined.  
  4. Let the dough chill for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 F. 
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, drop rounds of dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies as they will spread a bit. 
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges. Let cool completely on a wire sheet. Now, they are delicious as-is, but as I found out, they're even better when drizzled with some sort of glaze or frosting. 
Wednesday
May122010

Being Green: Vegan Green Granny Smith Cupcakes Recipe

Just take a look at this Vegan Green Granny Smith Cupcake. Doesn't it look just heavenly?

Unfortunately, an evil cupcake-poacher ate this before I could sample it, but I was assured it was an intensely delicious experience, and happily, the recipe was shared.

If you'd like to taste the magic for yourself, here's the recipe:

Vegan Green Granny Smith Cupcakes

Adapted from Sinfully Sweet Confections

Makes about 30 cupcakes

Ingredients for cakes

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 ounces plain soy yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients for Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, softened
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Ingredients for Brown Sugar Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice (sugar)
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, softened

Procedure

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Peel and chop apples coarsely.
  3. In a electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment mix together the canola oil, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, soy yogurt, vanilla extract, baking soda.
  4. Add flour and sugar; and mix on slow.
  5. In a slow steady stream add apple juice and continue to mix on slow.
  6. Fold in apples, oats, and pecan pieces. Pour into cupcake cups and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Make the frosting. In an electric mixing bowl fitted with a paddle cream together cream cheese and margarine until smooth and creamy. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar 2 cups at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides. Add vanilla, and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Gently fold in chopped pecans.
  8. Make the streusel topping. Preheat oven to 450ºF. In a medium size bowl add flour, sugar, and margarine. Mix together with a fork to create crumbs. Add pecans and toss. Spread out evenly onto cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil. Bake until golden brown. Once cooled toss and break up crumbs, use as topping for cream cheese frosting.

 

Wednesday
May122010

Cake Byte: Seriously Sweet Trophy Cupcakes at the CakeSpy Shop Grand Opening!

Well friends, as many of you know, CakeSpy Shop had its grand opening this past Saturday. Hooray!

And one of the sweetest (literally!) parts of the opening was the gorgeous cupcakes donated by Seattle's famous cupcake shop Trophy Cupcakes.

People. They had my artwork printed on them!

Now, I used to think that having my artwork printed on cupcakes was the "I've made it moment" as a cupcake artist.

However, now I see that is false--the real peak of cupcake artist achievement is having artwork of yourself and your husband, as cupcakes, printed on a cupcake. Surrounded by pugs.

And as if all this weren't enough awesome...they tasted just as good as they looked.

P.S. In case you were wondering--yes, there was a moment of wondering "Can I eat this? Can I possibly?". Rest assured that it subsided quickly, and I can attest that in Trophy Cupcake form, my cupcake-self is delicious.

Trophy Cupcakes does custom photo or image cupcakes by request; to find out more, visit trophycupcakes.com.

Tuesday
May112010

Spice Up Your Life: The Wasabi Kit-Kat Bar

Now, I can't say it was an all-out taste test like the recent NPR feature on the unusual Kit-Kat flavors of Japan (thanks Julie!), but we did recently get to sample the unusual Wasabi Kit-Kat Bar.

Said bar was a treat from Danny's associate (and Exohxo violinist) Hiromi, who recently returned from a trip to Japan.

She brought two specimens for our examination: one soy sauce flavored, and one Wasabi flavored.

Sadly, I'm just gonna have to say it: the soy sauce was simply. Not. Good. 

But moving on, the wasabi presented an unexpected delight.

The first flavor that hits you is the sweetness of the candy coating, which tastes mostly like white chocolate--but then gives way to a surprising, and happily not overpowering, spiciness. Without having had the benefit of knowing the flavor, I'm not sure that we would have been able to detect exactly what it was--it didn't have that nasal passage searing quality usually associated with wasabi--but it did offer an intriguing dimension to the sweet candy.

This is all to say, if you're headed to Japan, the wasabi Kit-Kat gets a thumbs-up.

Read more about the Kit-Kat taste test on NPR here; learn more about the Kit-Kat variations available in Japan on Wikipedia.

Tuesday
May112010

Apple of My Pie: A Heavenly Apple Pie by High 5 Pie

I can happily co-exist with people who prefer a double crust on their apple pie.

But that doesn't mean I understand them.

For me, it's all about the crumb topping, and I've found what might be the perfect specimen: the apple pie by High 5 Pie. Proprietress and Pie Lady extraordinaire Dani Cone (also owner of Fuel Coffee...how cool can one person be?) brought me this baby as a sweet treat in honor of my gallery's grand opening the other day, and all I can say is that this is the sort of apple pie that will convert non-believers.

Let's start from the bottom up.

It all starts with a buttery crust which somehow manages to be buttery but not too flaky, sturdy but not too tough.

Moving up, it has a thick layer of apple chunks which would make Cook's Illustrated proud, because there is no shrinkage, and the apples retain a nice crispness around the edges, so that you can actually tell they are apples and not just apple mush.

And finally--the best part for this crumb devotee--is the topping. A generous smattering of fat, crunchy, brown sugary crumbs that might make you want to die with pleasure.

But as if all this wasn't enough, I also received all these samples of Sassy Sauces this week, and so decided to see how the pie might taste when topped with a drizzle of their rum caramel sauce--and I have to say, if this wasn't heaven, then it was definitely a suitable substitute.

What does all of this awesome add up to? My new favorite combination, that's what.

High 5 Pie can be found at Fuel Coffee locations and various other cafes and coffee shops in Seattle, and by special order; for those in other areas of the nation, I officially offer a vaguely sarcastic "sorry" and a suggestion that you book a ticket to Sea-town directly.

Sassy Sauces are readily available for shipment; visit sassysauces.us.

Tuesday
May112010

Sweet and Tart: White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Fudge by Rose City Sweets, Portland OR

As a card carrying member of the White Chocolate Lovers Club, I'd like to introduce you to my newest obsession: 

White Chocolate Fudge with Cranberries and Pistachios.

This sweet manna from heaven is produced by the brand new Portland, OR-based confectionery company Rose City Sweets--in fact, they're so new that they just made their public debut last week at Crafty Wonderland, and their online store doesn't even have stock yet (I know, it is pretty mean of me to tell you about them, considering this). But when their store is stocked, you can expect to find small batch fudge, caramels, toffee, and other confections.

But what's so great about this white chocolate-cran-pistachio business?

For one thing, the fudge is unbelievably smooth and creamy--it is not plagued by the gritty candy-sand texture that is a characteristic of inferior fudges--not to mention extremely rich and flavorful. The sweet white chocolate flavor is perfectly accented by the slight savory saltiness of the pistachios, and nicely punctuated with tart bits of cranberry.

Let's just say that the brick of fudge I obtained at aforementioned Crafty Wonderland did not last long, and I predict a very sweet future for Rose City Sweets.

There's nothing in the shop now, but for future reference and shopping, bookmark the Rose City Sweets Etsy page.

Monday
May102010

Taste the Magic: Magic Cookie Bar Pie for Serious Eats

Magic Cookie Bars are, as their name might imply, no ordinary treat. Starting with layer upon layer of unrelentingly rich layers of buttery graham cracker crumbs, toasted coconut, chocolate and butterscotch chips, and nuts, they get even better from a rich smothering in sweetened condensed milk.

With all that awesome, some might argue that a small serving is best. But I disagree, and to prove it, I've created it in a deliciously thick pie form.

Inspired by the construction of the delicious BakedBar from Baked in Brooklyn, I made my pie with a coconut-graham cracker crust which then got filled with the sweetened condensed milk slurry--the resulting confection attained a crust that was crispy, but the inside remains pleasingly gooey, making for a dessert that will likely displease your dentist, but will definitely make your mouth happy.

For more, plus a recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Sunday
May092010

What's That? An Introduction to the It's-It Ice Cream Treat

Photo used via Creative Commons License from Flickr user frozenfoodjournalCC BY-NC 2.0File under "How On Earth Did I Not Know About This": The It's-It. I am sad to say that I had no idea it existed before this week.

Have you heard of it? Well, shame on you for never having bought me one. But if you haven't, let me introduce you to my newest friend:

The glorious It's-It is comprised of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, and then the whole delicious mass is enrobed in dark chocolate. I know, awesome, right?

Per the It's-It site, it was invented in 1928, when

George Whitney began what is now a San Francisco tradition. He placed a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two large old-fashioned oatmeal cookies and then dipped the sandwich into dark chocolate. On that very day, the It's It Ice Cream Sandwich was born. George Whitney sold the It's It exclusively in San Francisco's Playland-at-the-Beach for over four decades. 

As for the name? Well, as I learned from this great article on SFGate.com by Matt Villano, apparently upon concocting aforementioned masterpiece, inventor George Whitney knew he had a good thing:

"It's-It!" he exclaimed for all to hear, and a legend was born instantly.

Sadly, the Playland was demolished in the 1970s. While the It's-It disappeared for several years at this point, the public's appetite for the treat certainly did not decline, and in 1974 the treat was reborn in a small storefront. Business boomed, and the company grew into a wholesale operation with distribution first throughout California, and then stretching to 15 other states (apparently Washington is one of them, but I've never seen one in my local grocery store).

It's-It also has a roster of other frozen treats, including the "Big Daddy" (ice cream between two chocolate wafers), the "Super Sundae" (a fat chunk of ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts), and the "Super Cone" (basically, a bigger, badder and far awesomer-looking version of a Drumstick)--but the It's-It bar is their flagship and most beloved product.

My current goal? To get my hands on one of these sweeties ASAP, because in spite of what Rice A Roni might claim, I vote that these bars are a far sweeter San Francisco Treat!

It's-It Bars can be found at various locations, mostly on the west coast; however, they will also express ship their treats. 

Saturday
May082010

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Shop Grand Opening Party Tonight!

What can I say other than you're gonna feel really bad if you miss this awesomeness? It's been given shout-outs by the Stranger, Joey Veltkamp, and Capitol Hill Seattle--just to name a few! There will be many new Capitol Hill-themed paintings, and cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes, too!

Please, do drop by from 5-8 p.m.! 

Shop Location: 415 E Pine Street (near Summit), Capitol Hill, Seattle

More details can be found here!

Friday
May072010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Reasons to Love Megan Seling

Megan Seling is kind of a big deal in the Seattle music scene. She's a calendar editor and all-ages music columnist for The Stranger; she also has her own radio show on 107.7 The End. I know, awesome, right?

But what you may not know about this local superstar is that she's also very savvy on the subject of sweets (and bakes a mean cookie, to boot). And so, in an effort to share her awesomeness with the sweet-loving world, here's a baker's dozen of reasons why this sweet writer ought to be loved and appreciated:

She brought Rocky Ledge Bars to my cookie swap last year.

She also brought Striped Icebox cookies to aforementioned cookie gala.

She doesn't just love cupcakes...she educates us on who makes the best ones, too.

She did this great writeup of me and my fantastic life in The Stranger last week.

She made these Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes.

She's super fun to follow on Twitter.

She covers hard-hitting journalistic issues, such as what should be considered the official candy of Washington.

She invited me, CakeSpy, to be a featured contributor on Questionland!

She loves Poppy like I love Poppy.

She is able to admit that she is a sugar addict.

She keeps us all updated on the Capitol Hill, Seattle, bakery scene.

She's an amazingly skilled writer--it's impossible to not be moved by this piece on her "Cookie Winter".

...and finally, did I mention that her equally cute and sweet boyfriend Robby makes a mean chocolate-dipped cream pie?

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