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Monday
Sep272010

Bonbon Jovi Truffles: A Sweet Treat for Serious Eats

Bonbon Jovi Truffles: they may be slippery when wet, but they don't give love a bad name.

Starting with a can't-go-wrong combination of smooth peanut butter and chocolate, these truffles get a snappy "pop" from Rice Krispies. Simple and delicious, these truffles are as addictive of a guilty pleasure as a hit single. They'll make your mouth as happy as singing Living on a Prayer at the top of your lungs with the windows down.

Note: I made my toppers using a 1-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter to mimic a Bon Jovi band logo, which is an ornate bleeding heart. If you break some hearts while removing them, don't sweat it—just use some confectioners' sugar and water like "glue" to put them back together. Decorate with writing markers or gel icing with the titles of your favorite Bon Jovi hits.

For the full tutorial and post, visit Serious Eats!

Friday
Sep242010

Life's a Witch: Fat Witch Brownies Cookbook, and a Recipe

Fat Witch Brownies is, with capital letters, a Happy Place. My first experience with them was at my first post-college job in NYC, where we purchased these sweet little morsels from their Chelsea Market retail location as client holiday gifts. Well, and a few extras for ourselves, which is how I got hooked on these fudgy, dense little treats. While my true affinity was always for their blondies, when I recently received their cookbook, Fat Witch Brownies: Brownies, Blondies, and Bars from New York's Legendary Fat Witch Bakery in the mail, I knew it was the classic brownie that I had to try first. While my brownies came out slightly chewier than the ones I had remembered, they were still plenty dense and delightfully the opposite of virtuous, and when I put them out at my store, they disappeared in record time.

Of course, I can't wait to try some of the other recipes in the book, including the one for my beloved blondies, as well as some new classics--the butterscotch flip (a fancier version of the blondie-brownie), Lemon cheesecake brownies, and cranberry blondes.

Fat Witch Brownies

Ingredients

  • 14 Tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ubleached flour
  • pinch of salt

Procedure

  1. Grease a 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool while you prepare the next step.
  3. Cream the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well blended.
  4. Measure the flour and salt and then sift together directly into the chocolate mixture. Mix the batter gently until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
  5. If you wanna, stir in nuts or any extras at this point.
  6. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake 33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with crumbs but not batter.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool on rack for 1 hour. Cut just before serving. Makes 12-16 brownies.
Friday
Sep242010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Friday, Friday, Friday! Here's a baker's dozen of delicious ways to while away the time til happy hour.

Just one reason I wish I could be in Japan right now: Melon Cake from Harbs (photo c/o CS buddy Nicholas!).

Get figgy: a fig and almond galette that looks good enough to make me eat fruit. (via Bake Your Heart Out)

Cupcakes and serial killers, united at last: Dexter Season Premiere Cupcakes! (via The Avid Appetite)

Oh, the places CakeSpy gear has gone: how 'bout a coffee break in London?

By the way, college students love me. Check out this article in the SU Spectator!

Espresso way to your heart: espresso shortbread cookies (via Pixie-Baker)

Acceptable health food: homemade granola bars from that lovable bear, Mark Bittman.

Waiting with bated breath for The Pastry Department to open for business!

Betty Crocker + Bakerella = Awesome overload.

Fall into delicious: White Chocolate Pumpkin Topped Blondies (via Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

Best use of blackberries: Apple-blackberry cake. (thanks, Culinary Types!)

Bon Appetit says High 5 Pie is some of the best in the country. I say "duh".

Like Pavlova's cousin: Schaum Torte.

Thursday
Sep232010

Sweet Giveaway: Silhouette Digital Cutting Tool - Worth $300

Are you a crafty little cupcake?

Well then, you're gonna be pretty excited about this totally sweet giveaway: it's for a little something called The Silhouette.

What exactly is this thing, you ask? Well, according to the site,

The Silhouette is a digital cutting tool for personal use. It connects to your computer just like a printer, but instead of printing designs it cuts them with a small blade. With the machine connected to your computer, you'll get access to all of the fonts on your PC plus the thousands of cuttable designs found on the Silhouette Online Store.

For lovers of cake and craft, this is beyond awesome--oh the possibilities for creating cards, scrapbook pages, or even fashionable cupcake toppers, wrappers, or labels! There are so many great ideas on their blog.

One lucky winner will receive the following: 

A Silhouette Machine (a $299.99 value), in a package which includes Silhouette machine Software for Windows XP/Vista, Mac Power cable, USB cable 2 Cutting mats (one for thick media, one for thin media) One cutting blade $10 gift card to the Silhouette Online Store.

Of course, everyone's a winner because they're also offering a super awesome promo (running from September 23rd through September 30th at midnight): Buy a machine and receive the following (by entering code CAKE on the order page):

  • $50 off the Silhouette Craft Cutter
  • fuzzy white vinyl (Valued at $7.99)
  • light blue smooth heat transfer (Valued at 14.99)
  • yellow flocked heat transfer (Valued at $14.99)
  • Home Décor CD (Valued at $50)
  • $10 Gift Card to the Silhouette Download Store (Comes in the box)
  • Cutting Blade (Comes in the box)
  • 2 Cutting Mats (Comes in the box)
  • All for $249.99 (A Savings of $137.97)

But even if you don't go for that right away, there's still a GOOD PROMO (running from October 1st through 4th at midnight): buy a machine and receive the following (once again, enter CAKE on the order page to receive this discount): 

  • $50 off (receive for $249.99) 
  • 2 rolls of Heat transfer ($29.89 value) 
  • $10 Gift Card to the Silhouette Download Store(Comes in the Box) 
  • Cutting Blade (Comes in the Box) 
  • 2 Cutting Mats(Comes in the Box) 

 All for $249.99 (A savings of $79.98)

So how do you get in on all this awesome? Simply leave a comment saying what kind of craft you'd love to try first with the super sweet Silhouette! US entrants only, and one winner per household, please. This giveaway will run through September 30 at Midnight PST, and the winner will be chosen at random.

Thursday
Sep232010

Sweet Art: Andy Warhol Quotes, Illustrated with Cupcakes

Who inspires a spy? Andy Warhol, for sure. Although food-wise he's probably most closely associated with soup cans, the king of Pop (art, that is) was actually quite a sweet tooth: he's quoted as having said "All I ever really want is sugar", and was in the habit of ordering a big piece of manly meat at restaurants, only to discard it on the street and go home for the dinner he really wanted of toast with sweet jam.

So how better to celebrate Warhol's work than by illustrating several of his quotes with sweet treats? Here are some of my favorites, largely from The Philosophy of Andy Warhol : (From A to B and Back Again)

"I never fall apart because I never fall together""My ideal wife would have a lot of bacon, bring it all home, and have a TV station besides"

"When I got my first TV set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships with other people""Sometimes something can look beautiful just because it's different in some way from the other things around it."

Originals for sale at CakeSpy Shop.

Thursday
Sep232010

Cake Byte: Essential Baking Debuts Tea Cakes for the Northwest Tea Festival

Finish this phrase: Tea and _________.

If you said "sympathy", you're a dope. Because the correct answer is CAKE.

And you'll have plenty of it if you go to this year's Northwest Tea Festival, because this year, there's an official Tea Cake maker for the event: Essential Baking Company! The clever little cookies over at EBC have developed three unique tea cakes which will be debuted at the festival, but will also be part of their retail bakery offerings. Designed to be paired with a wide variety of teas, these buttery cakes are all delicately sweet, each with a fresh, contrasting flavor to refresh the palate: think blueberry-orange, carrot-pineapple, and raspberry-lemon. 

Now, don't get too jealous, but since I got a sneak peek (er, taste?) of these cakes at the lovely Perrenial Tea Room in the Pike Place Market, I can attest that you should start working up your appetite. The Northwest Tea Festival takes place next weekend, October 2 + 3, at the Seattle Center.

For more info on the festival, click here; also, I should tell you that the loaves will also be available at Essential Baking retail locations.

Wednesday
Sep222010

Pound It: Pound Cake Recipe, Circa 1824

So, here's the deal. Anyone who has ever had the slightest bit of curiousity about why Pound Cake is referred to as such is probably aware that it is derived from the French "Quatre Quarts"--meaning, literally, four quarts--which refers to the equal weight of the four ingredients (eggs, butter, sugar, flour) which went into early versions of the cake. Apparently, this easy ratio was necessary because"  In the days when many people couldn't read, this simple convention made it simple to remember recipes." (What's cooking America".

But what this brief historical lesson does not tell you, however, is how these early versions tasted.

And so, dear friends, I bravely stocked up my reusable grocery tote (I am in Seattle, after all) with a whole lot of eggs, butter, sugar, and flour, and tried it out for you.

Of course, my first inclination was to try this recipe, found on The Food Timeline:

[1817] A Pound cake, plain.
Beat a pound of butter in an earthen pan till it is like a thick cream, then beat in nine whole eggs till it is quite light. Put in a glass of brandy, a little lemon-peel shred fine; then pork in a pound and a quarter of flour. Put it into your hoop or pan, and bake it for one hour."
---The Female Instructor or Young Woman's Guide to Domestic Happiness, [Thomas Kelly:London] 1817 (p. 462)

But as tempting as it was to figure out how to "pork in" a pound and a quarter of flour, something seemed missing from this recipe: namely, sugar. So instead I opted for a variation on the recipe (also from the Food Timeline):

[1824] Pound cake.
Wash the salt from a pound of butter and rub it till it is soft as cream, have ready a pound of flour sifted, one pound of powdered sugar, and twelve eggs well beaten; put alternately into the butter, sugar, flour, and the froth from the eggs; continuing to beat them together till all the ingredients are in, and the cake quite light; add some grated lemon peel, a nutmeg, and a gill of brandy; butter the pans and bake them. This cake makes an excellent pudding if baked in a large mould, and eaten with sugar and wine. It is also excellent when boiled, and served up with melted butter, sugar, and wine."
---The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, with historical notes and commentaries by Karen Hess [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia] 1984 (p. 161)

In this version, the proportions were pretty much a pound each, but in the effort to produce the most pure final product, I did not add the peel, nutmeg, or brandy.

So, here's how it all went down.

 

  • First, creaming the butter til it was "like cream"--basically, I beat it (in my very not 1824-esque Kitchen Aid) until it was softer than butter itself, and became an aromatic, beautiful sort of thing that begged to be slathered on bread.
  • In my second stand mixer (because yes, I have two...jealous?), I separately mixed the eggs. What did "well-beaten" mean? I took it to mean "beat into complete submission", so I let them thoroughly froth up by mixing them on medium for about 5 minutes (but to be 100% honest, I didn't really look at the clock).
  • Then, I started to add the rest of the ingredients, bit by bit, to the extremely creamy, dreamy butter.
  • This makes a pretty significant bit of batter, so I divided among a few pans. I baked each cake in a moderate (350-degree) oven until lightly golden on top--about 30-45 minutes depending on the pan size.  

 

But what of the cake that came out of the oven? Amazingly, this cake was far lighter than I would have expected. The crumb was surprisingly delicate, and the texture almost feathery--and yet, and yet, the indescribeably buttery and rich taste allows you to make no mistake, this is a serious cake through and through.

Would I suggest moving back to our pound cake roots? Probably not, because ultimately (for better or worse) I think I do prefer the hefty, dense, sliced loaves of pound cake that are more common these days. But it did make for a sweet experiment, and an even sweeter taste of history.

Want more? You can find a plethora of historic poundcake recipes (and info) on Food Timeline.

 

Tuesday
Sep212010

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Gateau, Djursholm, Sweden

The best part about having a store? Well, other than making absolute gobs of money, all day long, every day? 

Definitely the customers. I get to meet all sorts of cool dudes and dudettes not only from around Seattle, but around the world! And usually, they have great bakery suggestions.

But jumping to the head of the class? Customer (and cool dude) Nicholas, who splits his time between Seattle and Sweden (the poor thing), and sent some delectable photos from Gateau, a cafe in Djursholm, "a fancy area just outside of Stockholm." Let's take a virtual bakery break and imagine we're there with him, shall we?

First, here's the selection. Lovely, no?

...and how 'bout a closeup of some of the prettiest domes you've ever seen: chocolate cakes on the right, Princess cakes on the left.

...and here, a new classic in Sweden--the Royal Wedding Cake, which has gained popularity in bakeries since having been the cake of choice at Princess Victoria's wedding.

...but of course, nobody's going to forget about the classic Princess cake, even if there's no real straight answer as to why it's green.

Ultimately, this is what Nicholas decided on: a raspberry meringue cake! In his words: "Very tasty. In the back you can also see two 'kardemumakringlor' or a cardamom kringle on the plates."

...but the best part? Digging in. Don't know about you, but this is more desirable than any "wish you were here" postcard to me.

Want more? You can see more of Nicholas's delicious foodie photography here, and visit Gateau here.

Tuesday
Sep212010

Cake Byte: New Holiday Card Designs Available!

Some say that the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year, but I say if it's a season that involves cookies and Yule Logs, bring it on.

And it's in that sweet spirit that I'm delighted to unveil my 2010 collection of holiday cards! As reported on Cupcakes Take the Cake by the charming Java Cupcake, the sweetest cards on earth are now available online and at CakeSpy Shop--but be warned, they won't be reprinted, so when they're gone they're gone!

Of course, if you were a fan of last year's popular Naughty and Nice collection, I do still have a limited quantity of mixed cards available; or, you can either mix and match or have me choose a mix for you.

Find it all online at cakespyshop.com!

Monday
Sep202010

Stuff It: Cupcake-Stuffed Cupcakes for Serious Eats

I hold this truth to be self-evident: Cupcakes are better when filled. This, of course, is a lesson learned from Bake It In A Cake, which proves that there's no lack of material with which to fill them, ranging from cookie dough to dollhouse-sized pies to baklava.

But the ultimate cupcake-stuffer? Cupcakes themselves. By embedding miniature cupcakes—frosting and all—inside batter-filled standard-sized cups, you get a surprisingly delightful treat: The baby-cakes, sealed by the moisture of the cake batter, don't dry out, whereas the baked bit of frosting lightly spreads, browns, and adds a rich crunch, making for an overall taste and visual contrast which can't be beat.

Note: If you don't cover the mini cupcakes batter, the frosting will spread a bit and you might want to keep a cookie sheet under the muffin tin in case of drippage. Alternately, save a little batter and cover them completely before baking.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

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