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Cake Byte: Cupcake Royale to Open New Location in Bellevue!

Break out the fat pants, Bellevue: your fair city is about to get a whole lot sweeter.

That's right: a buttercream wave is riding across the 520 bridge and coming your way, and its name is Cupcake Royale. 

They have officially announced the upcoming opening of their fifth retail location in Bellevue! 

Still waiting on details including location and official opening date, but in the meantime, they are hiring! Get more details here.

Get breaking news via their Twitter feed, or check out their blog here and their website here.


Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Thar's 24 layers in that there cake. Link below!Happy Friday! Here's how I suggest you keep your life awesome and your waistline vast this week.

Sweet! Another Cake Vs. Pie roundup!

It may look like a watermelon, but it's even better: watermelon-shaped cake!

Bananas. Foster. French. Toast. Find it here.

And once you make it, don't forget how to eat it right: find a tutorial on French Toast eating here.

Profiteroles to dream on, via Serious Eats.

Sweet and Tart: Citrus Cupcakes, discovered via Cupcakes Take The Cake.

Gelato Secrets Revealed: a sweet writeup on Seattle's D'ambrosio Gelato by Megan Seling.

I Scream...for ice cream Kolachkes! 

Have you bought a painting from the delicious Mike Geno show yet?

Favorite recipe, possibly ever (to read and to eat): Peanut butter and Shredded Mini Wheats.

Sweet mission: BikeLoc is a bike-across-America project which is dedicated to documenting the slow food movement. Potlucks across the US were on the menu--hope they had dessert!

24 Layer Chocolate Cake: A layer for every hour of the day.

Sweet memories: remember when I made the boys from BAKED choose which of their desserts would defeat one another in death battles? 


Pastry Public Service: Preventing Dessert Desertion

Friends, I know that CakeSpy is generally sweet and upbeat in tone, a sweet retreat from the everyday grind. But today we're going to have to get serious for a few minutes.

I feel as if it is my duty to solemnly address a rising epidemic in the world of sweets: dessert desertion.

I have compiled a collection of images to illustrate and bring attention to this alarming trend and to raise awareness for the plight of the abandoned pastry. I warn you, the following imagery may be disturbing.

This Oreo, for instance: cut down in its prime. It could have been that much more of a snack, if only it had been given a chance.

Or this croissant. Poor little buttery baked good wasn't even given a chance to be a complete breakfast.

And this muffin. I know, I know. The top is the best part. But did you really have to decapitate and then discard this muffin and leave its maimed remains for all of us to see?

And this donut, discarded with just a bite left. Who does that?

...and words can't even describe the pain and anguish that this image evokes.

But no, this plight isn't just limited to baked goods: I have, with my own eyes, witnessed a mass candy disposal. They could have been headed to Candy Mountain, but instead, it was Candy Murder.

But what can you, as an individual, do to help? Here are some tips.

  • Eat quality sweets. This way, the desire to discard will be diminished.
  • Wrap it up! Don't toss it just yet. You might want it later.
  • Don't be a deserter! Offer it to a friend. A lot of people are happy to finish what you started, when it's in dessert form.
  • And if you must discard? Please, do it humanely and out of the sight of sensitive sweet tooths like yours truly.

Please, take action! Don't let another sweet treat go to waste. Only you can prevent dessert desertion!

This has been a public service message from CakeSpy.


Sweet Pop: Pat Benatart for Serious Eats

As any 1980s music lover knows, running with the shadows of the night burns a ton of calories. You're going to need a slice or six of Pat Benatart to maintain your energy.

Inspired by pop-rock princess Pat Benatar, this tart starts with a cookie crust (erring more toward crumbly than "real tough cookie with a long history"), a lemon-lime cream cheese filling (sweet and rich with a pleasing tartness, these flavors say that "We Belong" together), and is topped with whipped cream for a sweet finish. The crowning glory? A totally cheesy free-form portrait of Pat, accented with Pixie Stix powder, one of the star's favorite treats.

It's an ideal mix of awful and awesome—basically, before you put another notch in your lipstick case, you'd better make sure you give it a taste.

For the full entry and recipe, check out Serious Eats!


Taiwanese Dream: Say Hello to the Pineapple Cake

First off, my apologies to all of you poor souls who don't have a person who regularly brings you sweets from Taiwan. Cos you're really missing out.

Luckily, I have the lovely and amazing Kairu, who drops by my store from time to time, often with sweet and exotic treats. She's the one who introduced me to nougat from Sugar and Spice, and now, my latest obsession, an unassuming little treat simply called Pineapple Cake.

As Kairu presented me with a couple of them, she said "the first ingredient is butter, so you know it's good".

How right you are, dear Kairu. These flaky, buttery little parcels contain a sweet surprise within: a sticky, sweet, and perfectly complementary pineapple filling. There's nothing complicated about these sweets--but that is part of their charm. Or, as Mr. Spy put it, "they're like a much better version of Fig Newtons".

Perhaps these sweet little morsels don't solely warrant a trip to Taiwan--but if you or a friend are headed that way, they're worth seeking out.

The ones we sampled were branded as being from Sunny Hills, but the website didn't seem to work. However, you can find a great roundup of information, as well as a recipe to make them at home, on Zester Daily.


Cake Byte: Sweet Sandwich Fever in Las Vegas!

Guess what? As I recently learned from a Las Vegas PR person, August is both National Sandwich month and National Dessert Month. And happily, he gave me a very detailed lowdown on how some of the top eateries are celebrating--and they sound pretty good, if I do say so myself. These eateries may not be within everyone's range, but it's fun to dream, no?

  • Skybox Sports Bar and Grill at ARIA Resort & Casino is home to Vegas’ Ice Cream Sandwich Lollipops. Delicious and delectable, the dessert features a trio of ice cream flavors, including double chocolate mint, butterscotch-cappuccino and chocolate chip-vanilla, sandwiched between three classic varieties of mouth-watering cookies. The restaurant also serves Burger, Fries and a Shake, a delicious threesome that features a strawberry cheesecake slider with chocolate-dipped potato chips and a malted banana milkshake.
  • James Beard Award-winning chef Hubert Keller has created a delicious twist on the classic American burger at his restaurant Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay.  The Chocolate Burger and Creamy Cheese Cake Burger utilize warm donuts as buns, Nutella or cheesecake as ‘patties’, strawberries as the tomato and passion fruit gelée as cheese. Keller’s creations redefine the taste of typical desserts with culinary precision that only a master chef can provide. 
  • Created by Laurent Tourondel, Bon Appétit’s 2007 Restaurateur of the Year, the Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich at BLT Burger at The Mirage has re-imagined the concept of dessert. Delivered in strawberry, vanilla or chocolate-hazelnut flavors, this dish delights taste buds with the sweet flavor of the ice cream and the earthy essence of the macaroon.
  • The Ice Cream’wich, a twist on a traditional favorite, can only be found at ‘wichcraft at MGM Grand. Designed by legendary chef and Bravo’s Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, this sweet sensation features Häagen Dazs vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate, coconut or walnut cookies.
  • The tastiest treat at Aureole at Mandalay Bay, the Grilled Brioche with white truffle infused chocolate ganache, features dark chocolate ganache or pistachio olive oil ice cream in between two delicious pistachio lime biscotti.
  • Keeping with the pool-party trend sweeping through Vegas, WET REPUBLIC, the adults-only ultra-pool located at MGM Grand, offers The Whoopie Pie. With a whipped cream center sandwiched between two pieces of pound cake, this dessert is a perfect treat while having some fun in the sun.

Sweet Giveaway: Win a Handmade Apron by Curry Kay Designs!

Who is the cutest baker in the kitchen?

You, when you wear this adorable handmade apron by Curry Kay Designs!

First, why not get to know the artist? Here's what she has to say about herself:

I am a Connecticut based textile artist and event planner. I have always loved to bake in my free time (especially cookies and cheesecakes), but had difficulty finding textile kitchen accessories that fit my sense of style. Earlier this year I decided to leave my full-time corporate event planning job in order to pursue the perfect apron and dishtowel! I opened my Etsy shop in June with original aprons, dish towels and market totes that feature flattering styles, bright colors, and simple motifs. I especially enjoy creating custom pieces to match my customer's kitchen colors! Curry Kay Designs can be found on EtsyFacebook, and Twitter.

So how do you put yourself in the running? It's easy: just weigh in on this important cake issue in the below section.

What is your favorite cheesecake flavor? 

Oreo? Key Lime? Strawberry? Thin Mint? Or just plain? Inquiring minds must know.

US entrants only, please. The cake poll will close one week from today, on Tuesday, August 24, at 12pm PST. The winner will be announced shortly after. Can't wait to see if you won? Shop for sweet stuff on the Etsy site!


Spy Lessons: Danny's Tutorial on How to Eat French Toast More Awesomely

If you've ever been to brunch at Calamity Jane's in Seattle, you know that while it's not officially on the menu, the Orange Almond French Toast is pretty much always offered as a special.

And boy, is it ever special. Here's a description of it:

Macrina's Colombe Pasquale bread dipped in Drambuie French Toast batter then grilled, served with a dollop of whipped cream, maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar.

That's right: even if it's written in comic sans, it still looks good. But here's something you may not have considered: how will you eat it?

Well, as Danny is about to demonstrate, there is a proper method to apply when devouring to maximize deliciousness. Here goes:

Step 1: Look. At. This.

Step 2: Unwrap butter. Place a small dollop on each slice of toast, so that by the time you butter the last slice, the butter on the first slice is melty.

Step 3: Spread butter on each slice. That's right.

Step 4: In a confident and assertive manner, pour the syrup in a crisscrossing motion from end to end of the French toast fan, to ensure even and full coverage.

Step 5: Spoon or fork a dollop of whipped cream over each slice.

Step 6: Admire handiwork (see picture, top of post).

Step 7: Dig in.

Step 8: You did it!

Step 9:Awesome overload: time to go to sleep, or maybe die, but pleasurably so.

Feel free to apply these steps for awesomeness at your favorite breakfast or brunch establishment, with substitutions as needed based on ingredients. 

Calamity Jane's, 5701 Airport Way South, Seattle; online here.

Calamity Jane's on Urbanspoon


Cakewalk: A Sweet Tour of Levallois, France from Cake Gumshoe Robert

CakeSpy Note: The best part about being a professional cake gumshoe? Meeting other pastry enthusiasts and learning about their bakery adventures. What follows is a Gumshoe report of Levallois, which is just outside of Paris and dubbed "honorary 21st arrondissement", contributed by Robert N. Mayer of Salt Lake City. Who is this fella? "As a professor of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah, I take my consumption seriously and believe that my findings should be validated by others.” 

This past April, CakeSpy reported having visited over the course of seven days a bakery (or other sugar‐oriented place) in each of Paris’ 20 districts (arrondissements). My first thought was that I should don my running shoes and try to perform the same feat in one day. But that would only attest to my envy.

Instead, I broke some new ground, literally. Just outside the Paris Périphérique Highway but still on the Metro line lies the city of Levallois‐Perret. Although it occupies less than one square mile, Levallois is full of street names that evoke French history (Danton, Voltaire, Victor Hugo), and, more important to me, is more densely packed with pâtisseries and boulangeries than any arrondissement in Paris proper. It also has a lively covered market on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, a pedestrian‐only street, and a quaint city hall.

It is ironic that rue Louise Michel (1830‐1905) is named after a French anarchist who sentenced to prison for leading a Paris mob in pillaging a baker's shop. That’s because rue Louise Michel is home to four fine bakeries:

Fougeret Henry, 16 rue Louise Michel

This is the archetype of a traditional, neighborhood bakery, down to the baby blue paint and paintings that surround the front door.

L’Atelier des Pains, 32 rue Louise Michel

With its original location in Courbevoie, this new bakery has taken Levallois by storm. From the front window, you can see their pastries and breads coming out of a huge, shiny over. The fruit tarts are especially good, but the lunch crowd lines up for their baguette sandwiches.

Maison Baillon, 57 rue Louise Michel

Baker Philippe Baillon has won the award for the best baguette in the Haut de Seine region three times in the last eight years. This shop in Levallois is his second, the original being in nearby Neuilly. I particularly like the well‐browned palmier.

Festival des Pains, 85 rue Louise Michel

The wide smile of the baker is almost as good as the pastries in this new shop; I zeroed in on the items with pistachios.

Of course, if you manage to escape rue Louise Michel with your sweet tooth intact, you are within two blocks of:

Boulangerie Alain Bernard, 6 place Henri Barbusse

Alain recently took over a bakery that used to attract me with its pear tart. Alain is partial to brioche dough. You practically need sunglasses to look at the brioche with its bright pink pralines.

G Jusseaume, 16, rue Henri Barbusse

OK, this is technically a traiteur rather than a patisserie, but the shop (located on the pedestrians‐only block) makes its pastries on site. I enjoyed the fruit tart shaped like a bird’s nest.

Eric Kayser, 19 rue Trébois

True, this is one of 19 locations in the Paris area, but even its chocolate chip cookie was worth trying.

Le Grenier à Pain, 53 rue du Président Wilson

Most bakeries occupy corner lots, but this one is tucked into the middle of the block. The breads are notable and change every day. I opted for a chocolate item that resembled a bouchon with its gooey middle.

If you get back on the metro at the Anatole France stop, you might stop at William Galland, 73 rue Carnot, where I learned to love the almond croissant, and Jeanne, 63 rue Voltaire.

You won’t find web sites for these (mostly) family‐owned bakeries. Nor will you hear a lot of English spoken in Levallois. It’s the real France. But the people will take the time to communicate with you if you’re willing to use whatever French you have and let them take it from there. 

CakeSpy Note: and it's a sure bet that if you try to communicate, the rewards will be sweet.


Dough-Eyed: Cookies and Controversy from My Dough Girl in Salt Lake City, Utah

Which would you like first? The good news or the bad news?

The good news: My Dough Girl Cookies, a bakery in Salt Lake City, makes amazingly delicious cookies. I mean, like, really good. Fat, chewy, buttery, and flavorful morsels, sweetly packaged in the cutest retro sleeves. I recently had the good fortune to try several when SLC-based Cake Gumshoes Rob and Carol came to Seattle for a visit and brought me four specimens for me and Mr. Spy to sample.

We tried the "Lilly" (lemon sugar cookie with lemonheads and lemon glaze), which was bright and sunny and -- surprise, crunchy!--from the addition of sweet-sour lemonhead candies, the "Sandy" (the special flavor of the month, with macadamia nuts, zucchini, and milk chocolate), which was an unlikely, but oddly addictive combination--

--as well as a rich, filled chocolate cookie, and what I think may have been the "Betty" (oatmeal cookie with fruit bits), which was moist, buttery, and not at all as healthy-tasting as it may sound. In a good way.

The bad news: My Dough Girl Cookies won't exist for much longer. You see, one chubby little white guy doesn't like this Utah-based bakery's name very much at all--the Pillsbury Dough Boy. As it turns out, owner Tami Cromar recently received a cease and disist" order from General Mills, saying that she'd better change the name of her bakery.  According to The Salt Lake Tribune

The national company, which owns Pillsbury, said the name is too similar to its iconic Dough Boy character and represents trademark infringement. The letter also suggests that because My Dough Girl sells frozen take-and-bake cookie dough — just like Pillsbury —the Utah product could tarnish the company’s reputation.

Rather than fight, Cromar has decided to comply with the request, which includes a gag order that forbids her to talk to news media. She referred calls and text messages from The Salt Lake Tribune to her attorney, Catherine Lake. Calls to Lake’s office also weren’t returned.

But don't despair, because there's more good news: Although the name will change, the cookies will not. As the article goes on to say,

"I have to stick to baking so cookies can still be a part of all our futures,” Cromar wrote earlier this week. “ If the Dough Girl fights, there will be no cookies."

And that would be seriously bad news.

Whatever you want to call them, you can find 'em at 770 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah; online here.

My Dough Girl on Urbanspoon

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