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Thursday
Apr222010

Cream of the Crumb: Crumb Cake Cupcakes at Sugar Mommy Cupcakes, Denville NJ

Friends, I want to share with you what may be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen: the Crumb Cake Cupcake.

This beauty comes from what I consider the Crumb Cake Capitol of the world, New Jersey (Garden State, pshaw!). The crumb cupcake is on the menu at the newly-opened Sugar Mommy Cupcakes in Denville, and is described as "Yellow cake with cinnamon and sugar baked inside. Cream cheese frosting with crumbs on top." Of course, just to avoid any awkwardness later, I am admitting up front that I added the "i love you" motif to the back of the image. 

I learned of Sugar Mommy Cupcakes via trusted NJ Cake Gumshoe Steph (who also sells sweet stuff under the name SassyBelleWares), who unfortunately wasn't able to sample this particular variety, but did have good things to say about the cupcakes in general after her husband surprised her with a few: 

My husband said "this girl makes GOOD cupcakes" and he is not a cupcake lover like me. I tried the red velvet which was moist and I loved the frosting...usually I am not a huge cream cheese frostng fan but this one was more like a buttercream cream cheese. The other one I ate was a chocolate chocolate. I love chocolate bars but for some reason when it comes to cake & frosting I prefer vanilla vanilla. However, this chocolate cake was moist and the chocolate icing was light and fluffy and delicious. I will be going there to try everything else soon!

In the Denville area? Hit them up: Sugar Mommy Cupcakes, 60 Diamond Spring Road, Denville, NJ (Inside Cafe Metro); even if you're not in the area, you can get a virtual sugar rush online at sugarmommycupcakes.com.

Wednesday
Apr212010

Crammed with Graham: Golden Grahams Cookies

Oh, I'm sorry. Are you still eating your cereal with a spoon, in a bowl, like a jerk?

Well, it's time to turn it around--instead of pouring milk on your cereal, you should be dunking it in milk--in cookie form, obvi.

When I came across the recipe for Trix Cookies in Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, I was curious to see how it might work out with other cereals --starting with what I happened to have on hand, Golden Grahams (a cereal which, as I recently learned, is associated with a grant). Turns out, it works just fine, yielding a lightly crisp, spicy cookie which gets a chewiness from the oats. A cookie that combines some of the finest breakfast carbo-loading in one compact cookie form? Count me in.

Here's the recipe.

Golden Grahams Cookies

Makes many cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 4 cups Golden Grahams

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350 (original recipe called for 375, but I found 350 with a slower bake made for softer cookies).
  2. Mix butter, sugar, egg, almond extract, and water well.
  3. Blend flour, soda and salt; mix in to the butter-sugar mixture gradually.
  4. Mix in rolled oats and cereal.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure to leave about an inch and a half around each cookie. Bake 12-14 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges.
Wednesday
Apr212010

Attacking the Mac: Cupcakes Take Over Paris

People keep saying that macarons are the new cupcake, but could it be that roles are reversed in the city of lights? In this New York Times T Magazine article, writer Alexandra Marshall explores the growing cupcake trend in Paris. 

What do you think? Could cupcakes be the next big thing in Paris?

Wednesday
Apr212010

Cake Byte: Mother's Day Treats at Essential Baking Company, Seattle

Seeking something sweet for mom in Seattle? Here's the newest batch of sweet treats available at Essential Baking. Per an email from their PR company:

The Essential Baking Company says hats off to all our wonderful mothers this Mothers Day with delicious desserts and breads!

Delight Mom on her special day with orange Bavarian cream and chocolate mousse enrobed in dark chocolate ganache on a buttery pecan shortbread cookie. Mom’s Hat gets its finishing flourish from a white chocolate flower and ribbon of marzipan. Available now through June 15.

Also available, Pane Fiore, Italian for bread flower, is two gifts in one just in time for Mother’s Day. It’s edible, as well as decorative, so you can skip the flowers and give Mom a tastier bouquet. This mildly sweet bread has a soft, moist crumb with a hint of vanilla. The dough is hand-formed in a braided design that blossoms into a flower shape, with a sprinkling of rock sugar on top to mimic the flower’s seeds. Available April 21 – May 11

Mom’s Hat and Pane Fiore will be available at select grocery stores in the greater Seattle area and The Essential Bakery Cafés in Wallingford, Madison and the new Georgetown bakery. The Mom’s Hat retails at The Essential Bakery cafes for $5.95 and Pane Fiore at $6.00

For more information, visit essentialbaking.com.

Monday
Apr192010

Sweet Combination: Whoopie Pie Cupcakes, Inspired by Audrey

Whoopie pies are not the next cupcake...or are they?

At the recent CupcakeCamp Seattle event, one cupcake submission (by talented amateur baker Audrey M. of Seattle's Babeland) made my eyes go wider than any other: the whoopie pie cupcake. Here it was: cold, hard proof that both are improved when combined. Yes!

Needless to say it was love at first bite, and I rushed home to try and recreate the magic in my own kitchen. I whipped up a batch of whoopie pie batter (using butter instead of the traditional shortening) and baked about two-thirds of it in cupcake cups, and the rest as regular whoopie pie cookies, and then sandwiched it all together with a generous dab of fluffy frosting.

The conclusion? Whoopie pies and cupcakes are definitely better together.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Monday
Apr192010

Lucky Charms: Lollipops by This Charming Candy

Photos c/o This Charming CandyLollipops are an inherently happy food. They're the reward at the end of childhood doctor visits or trips to the bank--a small and innocent nugget of sweetness on a stick. 

But even happier is when they actually taste good. So it was very delightful to receive a tip about This Charming Candy by Melanie of Starry Nights Catering (featured on CakeSpy a while back), who has this to say about them: "They do amazing handmade lollipops featuring crazy-good flavor combinations like coconut-caramel and coffee-hazelnut. They have flavors to appeal to both kids and adults, and man do I love them!"

Certainly above and beyond the average lollipop, these handcrafted hard candies are made in small batches in the Seattle area. Not only are they visually stunning, almost like little confectionery stained glass objets d'art, but they come in a dazzling array of creative flavors such as Vanilla cardamom, Salted caramel, Pistachio-marshmallow, Nutmeg creme, and Honey Jasmine.

Special flavor collections--paired by seasonal flavors or themes, like the "Twilight"-inspired collection of "bloodsuckers" (above) are also available, as are Lollipop of the month subscriptions.

And--just saying--they have Birthday Cake flavored lollipops. Birthday! Cake! Flavored! Lollipops!

But really, I've said enough. At this point, I'm surprised you're still even reading this--don't be a sucker, go order some!

Find out more about This Charming Candy on their website; buy enough lollipops to make your mouth happy for a long time at their online store!

Sunday
Apr182010

Beyond a Baker's Dozen: A Roundup of Cake Truffle Companies

Cake bites made by Bakerella for CakeSpy!Whether they're on a stick or just rolled as truffles, one thing is for certain: Cake Balls are taking over the world (for which I credit, and thank, Bakerella!). Here's a collection of companies selling them online and in their stores:

(note: got one to add? leave a comment!)

Audrey Kate Rae cake truffles come in flavors like red velvet coated in Tiffany blue--yes! Read more here. (Thanks Suzette for the tip!)

Butterfly Cake Bites come in pina colada, banana split, and creamsicle-inspired flavors. Oh yes.

Cacao Sweets and Treats in the Chicago area makes sweet cake truffles in a variety of flavors, and will also provide custom packaging options. Oh, and their shop also features white chocolate bacon peanut butter cups, just FYI.

Cake Balls is probably my favorite company name ever. Of course, the fact that they sell a delectable-sounding Birthday Cake truffle makes me even more delighted!

Cake Bug provides custom truffles with build-your-own flavors--I think I could go for the lime-coconut combination!

Cake Pop Company in Springfield, MO features pops of all sorts, but their most exciting new item is the Askinosie Chocolate Cake Pop, which is described by the owner as "are a combination of my own Mother’s recipe for chocolate cake and Single Origin Natural Cocoa Powder-San Jose DeTambo, Ecuador from Askinosie Chocolate, covered in Askinosie 77% Davao, Philippines Dark Chocolate. It is a dense and rich cake."

Cocoa Bakery and Cafe in Jersey City, NJ makes cake truffles--including banana cake truffles.

Confection Concoctions in Spanaway features cake pops and cake truffles; read the CakeSpy interview with owner Laura here!

Crunchy Jewels is a cake truffle company in NYC, and they make something called a Vietnamese Coffee Cake Ball. Yum.

David Burke Cake Pops makes pops both sweet and savory of all types, but their Cheesecake pops have me intrigued.

Dessert.Net offers what they call "addictive cake balls"--in collections of complementary flavors.

Fab Favors offers traditional flavors and specialty flavors such as peanut butter banana and Key Lime.

Frosting Bake Shop in Mill Valley offers extremely delicious cake bites.

Honey and Bee in San Diego works by special order to create cake truffles in flavors like toffee, green tea, and an intriguing Imperial Chocolate Porter.

Just a Bite Cake Pops in Orange County, CA specializes in sweets on a stick, with the usual suspects (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet) and also a line of more gourmet flavors, including toasted coconut, carrot cake, and more.

Krissy's Cake Balls features a German Chocolate cake ball. They're in Kentucky, but they do mail order (whew).

Little Miss Sweet Tooth Dollies in Coral Gables, FL features cake truffles in flavors like the delicious-sounding "Drag Queen", comprised of pistachio cake, buttercream frosting, covered in vanilla coating.

Lollicake Bake Shop makes cute cake pops and truffles, sometimes in the shapes of characters like Elmo. Awww.

Lux Bakery and Cafe in Austin makes cake balls in flavors like chocolate chip and green tea. It's also worth noting that they have something on their menu called the "Nanaimo Cup" which sounds like the best kind of cup there is.

Mad Cravings from Oregon may not have the most user-friendly site, but they do have cake balls in flavors like peach champagne and key lime pie, and they also offer gluten-free versions.

Sarandipity Sweets in Georgia makes cute cake pops shaped like cupcakes, apples, and more.

Skipping Stones makes adorable cupcake-shaped cake truffles, and their online shop boasts a variety of other goodies like pie lollipops, homemade graham crackers, and more!

Stacy's Cakes of Irvine specializes in cake truffles in creative custom flavors.

Sweet E's in Los Angeles makes sweet pops covered in rainbow sprinkles--because everything tastes better with sprinkles.

Sweet Tooth Fairy in Provo, UT features something they call "CakeBites" which are a CakeSpy (and Rachael Ray!) favorite. 

Tart Bakery in Dallas has cake balls for sale in a variety of flavors.

Very Vera truffles are available at Saks Fifth Avenue, and are described as "Sweet two-bite decadences are rolled up into balls, then dipped in chocolate and various toppings including pecans, almonds, walnuts, coconut flakes and graham cracker crumbs; a festive dessert presentation."

With Love Bakery in Plano offers cake balls in a delectable array of flavors like s'mores, candy bar, and coconut cake. This makes me love them.

Sunday
Apr182010

Sweet Sneak Peek: Good Chemistry Baking, Coming Soon in Oakland, CA

You know what I love? Seeing people make it happen. And right now, one of my biggest inspirations is Jane O'Hara, proprietress of the soon-to-be-opened gluten-free bakery, Good Chemistry Baking (don't you just love the name?), in Oakland. I met Jane last year when showing at the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco, back when the bakery concept was still preheating in her mind. After talking extensively about eating sweet on a gluten-free diet, we kept in contact through the year, and now I'm delighted to say that her bakery is going to be open soon in the Bay Area!

Direct from the source, here's a sneak peek at the awesomeness that will soon be open in Oakland (with some seriously tempting photos from Michael Behen): 

Good Chemistry Baking: Opening Memorial Day weekend in Oakland, CA! 
 
Good Chemistry Baking is a new, dedicated gluten-free bakery featuring treats made with many local and organic ingredients. Owner and baker Jane O'Hara makes a variety of baked goods from scratch each day; menu items will include muffins, scones, lemon bars, cupcakes, cookies, breads, pizza by-the-slice and more.  The bakery will serve organic and fair-trade coffee from Minneapolis-based Peace Coffee and certified gluten-free teas from The Republic of Tea. Oh, and they may or may not be featuring artwork by that cupcake artist called CakeSpy (I'm kidding. They really will be.)
 

More details:

Good Chemistry Baking
'celebrating the gluten-free good life'
3249 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
510.350.7190
www.goodchemistrybaking.com (website coming soon!) 
Hours: Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

Saturday
Apr172010

Flash in the Pain: Pain au Chocolat from Bakery Nouveau, West Seattle

You just try and tell me that isn't the loveliest and most hypnotic thing you've ever seen.

Oh, ok, we can look at it from another angle. If you insist.

OK. One more.

This buttery stunner is the pain au chocolat from Bakery Nouveau (you know, the one owned by the guy who won the thing), and it tastes every bit as good as it looks.

Now, usually I'm not a fan of croissants that have a crispy, shardlike texture on the outside--my greedy nature is saddened by the thought that I might lose a crumb of the outer croissant while eating. But happily, this one wasn't so much shardlike as it was lightly crispy yet yielding to a soft center--it felt almost like you could taste every ethereal layer of light pastry at once, and they were all very buttery. And then there was the chocolate, lightly bitter and a dark, rich complement to the lightness of the pastry.

Nothing pain-ful about this sweet treat. Well, except for the name, which I suggest they change to pleasure au chocolat, toute suite. 

Oh, and speaking of chocolate, according to Lorna Yee, next on the list to try at Nouveau is the chocolate cake.

Pain au chocolat from Bakery Nouveau, 4737 California Ave. SW, West Seattle; online at bakerynouveau.com.

Saturday
Apr172010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Laura Liscano of Confection Concoctions

Everything tastes better on a stick. And nobody knows this better than Laura Liscano, owner of Spanaway, WA-based Confection Concoctions, a special-order sweets company specializing in cake pops and truffles (which have, by the way, officially been declared a "faddy food"). So why not learn more about the art of making cake on a stick--and how she got from a Bakerella-inspired moment of baking to a business venture:

CakeSpy: Why is it that everything tastes better on a stick?

Laura Liscano: I think it brings us "grown ups" back to a happy place in our childhood where things like lollipops, corn dogs and popsicles would usually be associated with fun times.

CS: Tell me more. How did you get your start as an arbiter of sweet treats, mostly on sticks? 

LL: I discovered Bakerella's super cute Cupcake Pop through Martha Stewart one day and decided I would make a bouquet for my neighbor/friend. They took me FOREVER but I was hooked! She asked me to make some for her to give to someone else which is when I started to get creative and put my own spin on them. I've always had a creative side and this allows me to tap into that.

CS: Currently you offer cake pops, cake truffles, and decorated cookies. Any plans for other products in the future?

LL: I made some yummy cupcakes for my daughter's classroom yesterday and am making some for a bridal shower this weekend. Other than that, I think I would rather be great at a few things than "ok" at a bunch of things. I would love to start playing around with sugar; mostly for my own personal growth though.

CS: What's your personal favorite sweet on a stick that you've made?

LL: I really love the original designs that I have come up with. Like the Cake Slice and the intricate 2-tier Square pops with the Zebra Stripes and the Cherry Blossoms. It makes me feel like I'm somewhat unique and not just copying others' ideas.

CS: You say that Cake Balls and pops are the new cupcake. Could you kindly back this up with cold hard proof?

LL: LOL. It's hard to maintain that after attending Cupcake Camp but what I mean is cupcakes are all the rage right now and Cupcake Boutiques are popping up everywhere. And while cupcakes will always be a classic, I think they will run their course and Cake Pops will be next in line to be the "in" thing.

CS: You currently work by special order only. Do you plan on ever opening a retail shop?

LL: I can picture my Cake Pop Shop in my head right now! A lot of stars would have to align for that to happen though. With the economy the way it is; I think it would be a risky move, especially when there are still so many people that dont even know what a cake pop is yet. I hope to continue to move forward and eventually get to that point.

CS: What's your most popular flavor?

LL: Red Velvet with Cream Cheese icing for sure! Its funny because I grew up in the South and have always known about Red Velvet but up here in the NW, it seems like its a new trend and folks out here are loving it!

CS: For fun: what is your favorite dessert to eat (vs. to make)?

LL: I love a good old-fashioned cobbler with vanilla ice cream. It doesnt have to be pretty and is super easy to make. For the stuff I create, I must admit I thoroughly enjoy the decorating part vs the actual baking when it comes to cakepops, cookies and cupcakes. Although I make sure that they taste great, I am a perfectionist with the appearance. I thrive off of the positive reaction of my customers when I deliver a bouquet to them. Thats what keeps me going!

CS: What's next?

LL: Right now I am taking it day by day and letting the business growth determine my path. I am starting to do wedding favors and corporate events in addition to the bouquets so that is exciting. I'm greatful to have discovered this new passion and I hope that I can continue to grow what started as a thank-you gift into something that can help support my family for many years.

Want more fun that you can shake a stick at? Keep updated with Confection Concoctions via their website and Facebook!

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