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Wednesday
Aug112010

Battle in Seattle: A Cake Vs. Pie Party Roundup

The writeup on SLOG is better.It happened the other night at CakeSpy Shop: Cake Versus Pie. The ultimate showdown. Planned along with the food-smartypants powers of Jenise Silva and Edible Seattle, and judged by experts including pie mavens Kate and Brittany. How'd it go?

Well, that begs the question: do you want the short answer or the long answer?

I'll give you both.

Short answer: a Pie won best in show.

The long answer: as a cake devotee, I am willing to admit the pie was stellar...but I am not admitting defeat. After tasting ten of the most delicious cakes of my life, and seeing how fast the leftovers disappeared, I don't think it's quite time to throw in the towel. And I'm willing to bet that there are many others who would be willing to take part in a delicious rematch.

Now, I could get all in-depth about it and tell you about the trials and tribulations, the whos, hows, and whys.

But you know what? A bunch of other talented writers and photographers have, ah, already done it for me. For the full review, I suggest that you click over to the SLOG, where the lovely and amazing Megan Seling delivers a play by play.

You can also find a great roundup here by Alana!

Here's another roundup by Irina Vodonos!

And--most deliciously--you can find some of the recipes for the treats we enjoyed in these places (perhaps more to come?):

Oh, and you can follow the Twitter feed from the event here. 

Wednesday
Aug112010

Brownie Heaven: The Baked Brownie

Now, I don't like to talk in absolutes, but...

...without a doubt, there's definitely something wrong with you if you don't think that the Baked Brownie is the finest brownie of all.

I recently used it as the base for Mimosa Brownies, which were most excellent--but really, this is a brownie that doesn't need anything added--and for that reason, I'd like to take a few moments to celebrate the beauty that is the Baked brownie in its purest form.

This is a brownie which is fudgy and chewy but not too extreme in either direction. Each bite is redolent of chocolate, and every bite is indulgently delicious. They're perfect (but it's ok if you don't like the espresso--while I don't necessarily understand what your problem is, they still taste great without).

Here's the recipe. As you can see from the top photo, it's not only CakeSpy-beloved, but gnome-approved.

The Baked Brownie

As seen in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking  

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely
  • 8 ounces butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal pan 9x13x2 pan (I like to lay down a bit of parchment too, for easy removal from the pan).
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.
  4. Configure a large sized double boiler. Place the chocolate, the butter, and the instant espresso powder in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. Mixture should be room temperature.
  5. Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
  6. Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK) fold the dry into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotate the pan half-way through baking) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  8. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.

 

Wednesday
Aug112010

Pie + Cake + Shake = Pake Shake

This is a personal note to everyone who came to Monday's Cake Vs. Pie Party. This crust-against-crumb was a star-studded event, and you have my greatest thanks (along with co-hosts Jenise and Edible Seattle) for coming. True, a PIE was declared best in show--but it was a rather fine specimen, so I can live with this.

But today I'm here to talk about the darker side of sampling 10 pies and 10 cakes in one evening: the massive pie-and-cake sugar hangover you're bound to have the next morning. How to deal with this unique sort of sugar shock to the system?

Hair of the dog that bit you, that's how. And my suggested medicine? The Pake Shake.

Equal parts pie, cake, and shake, this beauty is inspired by both the pake and the excess of Monday's indulgent evening of tasting pie and cakes. True, it may not be the most beautiful concoction, but it's good for what ails you, a sort of bloody mary equivalent for a sugar hangover.  Keep this idea on file for the next time you find yourself sampling 10 pies and 10 cakes in one night (it might be sooner than you think).

Pake Shake (Pie-and-Cake Shake)

Ingredients

  • 1 slice pie (I used the "Rhueberry", a lattice-topped rhubarb-blueberry pie made by Wendy Sykes)
  • 1 slice cake (I used a slice of mocha cake with chocolate buttercream made by Nazla Merce)
  • 2 large scoops vanilla ice cream
  • Cream or milk, to taste

Procedure 

  1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more milk or cream until it has reached your desired consistency.
  2. Pour into a glass, reflect on last night's revelry, and enjoy.

 

Tuesday
Aug102010

Cake Poll: Cupcake Tote Giveaway!

Win it!You know what's tote-ally awesome?

Winning a free cupcake tote, as seen in Sex and the City 2, that's what! And the totally sweet folks at Wedding Things, who have plenty of awesome cupcake gear, have kindly offered one up for a giveaway--along with a few packs of designer cupcake liners!

How do you enter yourself in the running? It's tote-ally (stop it, I know!) easy: just put your response to the below pressing cake question in the comments section!

Which is a better combination: chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, or vanilla cake with chocolate frosting?

US or Canadian entrants only, please. The cake poll will close one week from today, on Tuesday, August 17, at 12pm PST. The winner will be announced shortly after. Can't wait to see if you won? Shop for sweet stuff at Wedding Things!

Tuesday
Aug102010

Cake Byte: The Incredibly Awesome Art of Mike Geno at CakeSpy Shop!

Things I'm having a hard time with? First and foremost, wrapping my mind around the awesomeness that is Mike Geno's artwork. Second, believing that it's really here at CakeSpy Shop! 

These oil paintings are lovingly rendered on wood panels, and seem to channel the skill and style of another famous foodie painter, Wayne Thiebaud.

Now, I certainly can't afford a Thiebaud, but these Peeps might be within my price range:

Oh, and there are savory offerings too:

But even if you can't visit the shop, you can check it all out online here!

Tuesday
Aug102010

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on A La Mode Pies, Seattle

The time is Pie--er, high--to discover some delicious new pies in Seattle. 

I'm happy to share my newest discovery: A La Mode Pies, a new company which is currently running a fairly small operation, working on a custom order and wholesale basis in Seattle (as I learned from owner and "Pie Guy" Chris Porter, a retail location is the ultimate goal; for the moment, though, if you want to try it by the slice, the pies can be found most reliably at Knee High Stocking Co.)

Why are they worth seeking out? Well, for me, it comes down to one beautiful, beautiful phrase: "Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Tart". This beauty is described as a "gift to your sweet tooth"--comprised of bittersweet chocolate ganache lining an all-butter crust, which is then filled in with toasted pecans and a perfectly balanced, rich homemade caramel. 

Another lovely which has captured my attentions is the fetching "Chocolate Cream With Pretzel Crust", which sounds like the perfect unity of sweet and salty (and we all know how delicious chocolate and pretzel are together!).

And--OMG, cute!--they have LolliPies!

And of course, if you like, you know, health food, they also have fruit pies, including the signature "Blue Hawaiian" (blueberry, pineapple, and coconut) and seasonal variations such as Sour Cherry.

You can hit them up online to order entire pies, or you can visit Seattle's Knee High Stocking Co. to grab a slice today.

Monday
Aug092010

Chocolate Dream: Double Chocolate Ice Cream Pudding Pie for Serious Eats

Topping the list of things I'll never do again? Preparing instant pudding pie filling with cold milk. Why? Because as it turns out, it's far more delicious when you make it with melted ice cream.

And when you make it chocolate on both counts (pudding and ice cream), you'll be rewarded with possibly the most luxuriant chocolate cream pie filling you've ever tasted. The thick, velvety chocolate mixture falls somewhere between pudding pop and mousse in texture, which is so deeply, darkly, completely chocolaty in flavor that you won't want the slice to stop.

Note: As for the pie crust, the style used is up to you. I used a traditional butter pie crust, but you could easily swap it out for a graham cracker or cookie crust if desired.

For the recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Monday
Aug092010

Sweet Dilemma: Cake or Pie?

Friends, the Cake Vs. Pie Smackdown is warming up at CakeSpy Shop! Judging begins at 7, but the pile o' pies and cakes is growing! 

In case you can't make it down to 415 E. Pine St tonight, please do take part by weighing in with the one that captures your sweet affections:

Cake or Pie?

Monday
Aug092010

Reading Is Totally Sweet: Honey-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Berries Recipe from Author Jenny Nelson

Eating is awesome, but what to do during those in-between meal times when you're not hungry? Work up an appetite by reading food-themed literature, that's what. Or at least that's what I do (when I'm not painting anthropomorphic pastries, of course).

So I was delighted to receive a review copy of Georgia's Kitchen, a novel wherein the namesake character is a New York chef who goes to Italy to find herself, both in a culinary and existential sense. The book is full of sensual descriptions of delicious food (hooray!). While there isn't a heavy dessert presence, happily I was able to catch up with author Jenny Nelson, who was able to answer the question: what type of dessert keeps authors inspired? Here's what she had to say about one of her favorite recipes, for Honey-Yogurt Panna Cotta:

Panna cotta, a deceptively simple Italian dessert that means, literally, cooked cream, is one of my favorite desserts to make, serve and – most important – eat! I serve it all the time -- at dinner parties, holidays and even as a weekday treat for my kids. It’s elegant, delicious and so, so easy to prepare. While tasty panna cotta recipes abound, this is one of my all-time favorites. You can make it even richer using all cream, but I opt for a more healthful 1 cup half and half, 1 cup whole milk. Either way, it’s delicious.

Honey-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Berries

Serves 8

  • 2 cups heavy cream (or 1 cup half and half, 1 cup whole milk; or 2 cups whole milk)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey, plus more for serving
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are my favorites)

Procedure

  1. Place cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring cream to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cover pan, remove from heat, and set aside steep, at least 10 minutes.
  2. Place 1/2 cup cold water in a small bowl, and sprinkle gelatin over water; set aside to soften, at least 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk yogurt, honey, vanilla and salt until combined; set aside.
  4. Return cream to a boil. Remove from heat, and immediately stir in softened gelatin until dissolved.
  5. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into yogurt-honey mixture; mix until combined.
  6. Divide mixture among eight 4- to 6-ounce ramekins. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
  7. Wash berries and, if necessary, cut into bite-size pieces. Mix together and set aside 
Sunday
Aug082010

Smart Cookie: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

What's better than a chocolate chip cookie?

How 'bout a big, cakey version of it served in cupcake form and slathered with rich chocolate fudge frosting?

Say hello to your new favorite dessert mash-up: the chocolate chip cookie cake. This is a cupcake adaptation of the chocolate chip cake found in Warren Brown's United Cakes of America, and if I do say so myself, it's delicious: rich, buttery, and sweet, it has all of the elements that make the classic cookie great, and then gets even better with the addition of frosting. Yes! 

Here's the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

adapted from United Cakes of America

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips, plus extra for garnish

Creaming ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk

For the icing:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 stick soft unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 335 F. Place the rack in the middle position. Line 14 cupcake cups with liners (split them among two trays). Or, line two 9x2-inch round pans with parchment.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl; combine the dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips in another. Set aside.
  3. Using a flexible spatula, toss two tablespoons of the wet ingredients with the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the dry ingredients. Toss again to coat evenly.
  4. Mix the butter and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment until the combination is well creamed--about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg and yolk, one at a time.
  6. Alternately add the dry and wet mixtures, about a quarter each at a time, without pausing between additions. Ease the resistance against the mixer's paddle by lowdering the bowl or raising the mixer's head.
  7. Remove the bowl and fold in the chocolate chips with the flexible spatula, using the handle if necessary. This mixture will be thick--more like cookie dough than cake batter.
  8. Divide the dough into your prepared pans or cupcake cups. If you're using pans, it will be too thick to spread to the edges, but the oven's heat will spread it for you. If you're using cupcake cups, put a heaping spoonful (or ice cream scoop's worth) of batter in each cup.
  9. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes for a cake--for cupcakes, I found that about 30 minutes was more like it. The edges will crown slightly, and become crispy. The tops should be evenly browned.
  10. Cool the cakes in the pans to room temperature, then if you're making cakes, invert them, using a small offset spatula to release the edges; if you've made cupcakes, just remove them from the pan.
  11. Prepare chocolate icing.In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and sugar to a light simmer, stirring occasionally. Place the butter, chocolate, and vanilla in a large bowl. Pour the hot cream over the ingredients in the bowl and let stand for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool, but do not refrigerate. Once the icing has thickened, stir with a flexible spatula until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Choose your adventure on assembly in the next step.
  12. Spread either between cake layers, leaving the top bare or sprinkled with confectioners' sugar and chocolate chips; if you're making cupcakes, spread frosting on top, or remove cupcakes from cups, split in half and fill with frosting and top with confectioners' sugar and chocolate chips as in the case of the cake.
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