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Sunday
Oct032010

Whoopie Pie Frozen Custard from Old School Frozen Custard, Seattle

Three guesses as to what was the most decadently delicious thing I tasted this week.

That's right: Whoopie Pie Frozen Custard. 

This bit of sweet manna was the special flavor of the day on Thursday, September 30th at Old School Frozen Custard in Capitol Hill. Now, if you don't know much about Old School, then let me learn you a bit about their M.O.: they generally have only three flavors available daily--vanilla, chocolate, and a special flavor of the day. Naturally, Audrey (who is also the one who inspired these cupcakes) and I had to walk over to sample this one.

So what exactly is Whoopie Pie frozen custard? Well, according to Old School's site, it's comprised of "Our Chocolate Cake Batter frozen custard with a delicious butter cream varigate folded into it".

But really, this description doesn't tell you much about the exquisite joy of eating it. While eating it, the first flavor that hits is chocolate--but then something happens. A slightly tangy, rich-sweet undertone to the taste--that's the cake batter. And then--little nubbins of vanilla buttercream swirled throughout--something that isn't really necessary, but sure is nice. 

While had I been given this custard blindly and asked what flavor it was, I might not instantly guess "whoopie pie", but I certainly would have finished it and licked the bowl. Yes, indeed.

The final word? A fine flavor of the day. Bring it back soon!

Old School Frozen Custard has locations in Seattle and Bonney Lake; visit their site for details.

Friday
Oct012010

Candy-Coated: Delicious Sweets from Dufflet

I want to tell you about the most recent series of confections that I can't stop cramming into my mouth: Dufflet Small Indulgences.

A couple of weeks ago the fine folks at Dufflet asked if they could send some samples of their products, and being the good sports we are when it comes to sweet treats, we said sure.

But we weren't prepared for the total awesomeness that came our way.

First, the caramel crackle. It doesn't look too glamorous--kind of like a cross between brittle and crackers. But when you bite into it, something happens: a dance party starts in your mouth. Sweet and salty, crumbly and chewy, this falls somewhere between cookie and candy, in the best way possible. It's delicious alone, but it's perfection atop vanilla custard or ice cream.

But oh, the "Marvelous Morsels". We received two types--the Cherries and Madagascar Vanilla ("seductively tart cherries scented with fragrant Madagascar vanilla, enrobed in smooth milk chocolate and tinted with entirely natural colour") and the Crunchy Caramel Crusted Pistachios in Milk chocolate ("perfect pistachios coated in hard crack-caramel, enrobed in smooth milk chocolate and dusted with confectioners’ sugar"). 

And similarly, both varieties disappeared quickly. The cherries were deliciously sweet and tart, and made beautiful (and tasty) cupcake toppers; the crunchy caramel crusted pistachios are like another party in your mouth, with a variety of flavors crashing together beautifully in each bite. 

So we've got to say: free samples aside, we were very, very impressed and I'd definitely buy them with my own money.

Find out more, seek out a store, or browse the collection online at dufflet.com.

Friday
Oct012010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

I hope you're not counting, because this isn't actually a baker's dozen of links, but they're so sweet you'll forgive me an extra, right?

Like you needed a reminder: CupcakeCamp in Newport, OR this weekend! CakeSpy! Bakerella! MORE!

Food News You Can Use: Bonbon Jovi Truffles are featured on WCP!

Honey, I'm Home: Honey Cake with Sour Cream Frosting, by Moscow Gourmet Kitchen!

Don't understand a word, but love everything I see: Objetivo Cupcake!

Beer? Brownies? How 'bout both? At once?

Sweet cupcakes, sweet cause: CupcakeCamp goes to London!

Sweet bakery find: a reader suggested Muscoreil's Fine Desserts and Gourmet Cakes in North Tonawanda, NY. I am not sure when I'll get there, but I love that they have a full selection of "Finger Desserts".

I've heard of 7-Up Cake...but 7-Up biscuits? Unheard of!

Speaking of biscuits, you can find a gluten-free recipe here (and see a peek of my card designs!) via Good Chemistry Baking.

I'm just saying, I love this gumball t-shirt.

These robots are ready to serve you...sweetness! Yumbots by Fred!

All of the visual appeal of watermelon, but none of the healthiness: watermelon cupcakes!

Tis the season...for pumpkin cookies! And these ones look amazing.

Sweet memories: ugly-but-delicious Praline Squares!

Wednesday
Sep292010

Maybe I'm A-Maized: A Brief History of Candy Corn

Image originally used for Serious EatsEating seasonal is of interest to everyone these days, and the freshest produce in the world of sweets right now is corn--candy corn, that is.

But in the same way that one might want to meet the producer, why don't we get to know the backstory behind those little sugary cones of delicious sweetness?

Here goes.

First off: Who invented Candy Corn?

According to this article, "Bill Plumlee, the public relations manager of Brach's Candy Co., said George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Co. created candy corn in the 1880s."

And, to answer another question you have ("what's up with the colors, dude?"), as I also discovered in the same article,

Creators chose the three colors of candy corn, to reflect the colors of the real thing.

"It's supposed to mimic corn," Plumlee said. "Yellow on top, darker as it goes down and whitish as it nears the end."

Now, I have to squint really hard to see it that way, but maybe the inventor had very poor vision (or maybe he was color blind?).

Interestingly, as I found out on Slashfood,

 The design apparently made it popular with farmers when it first came out, but it was the fact that it had three colors - a really innovative idea - that catapulted it to popularity.

Of course, though Mr. Renninger is credited with coming up with this sweet idea, many actually assign credit to Goelitz (now part of Jelly Belly) as being the ones who really brought candy corn into the public eye:"1898. Goelitz Confectionery Company begins making candy corn or "chicken feed." They continue to make this Halloween favorite longer than any other company." ---Candy: The Sweet History, Beth Kimmerle (discovered via Food Timeline)

And to expand on that, according to the Jelly Belly site,

Our beginnings are traced back to a family named Goelitz. When two young brothers emigrated from Germany to make their mark in America, they set the family on its candymaking course. In 1869, just two years after arriving in America, Gustav Goelitz bought an ice cream and candy store in Belleville, Ill., and his brother, Albert was sent out in a horse drawn wagon to sell their sweets to nearby communities.

Then the second generation of the family jumped on the band wagon of candy innovations by making a new type of candy, then called "buttercream" candies, including Candy Corn, a sweet we've made since about 1900 (and still use the same recipe). These candies carried the family through the Great Depression and two world wars. Today, the great-grandsons of Gustav Goelitz, the fourth generation, are still carrying on the tradition of making candy.

Was it always a Halloween treat?

Interestingly, as I found on Food Timeline, candy corn wasn't always strictly associated with Halloween, but more with fall--the transition to "Halloween Candy" was perhaps a subtle shift: "Candy corn, like many other candies we enjoy at Halloween, was promoted as treats for Halloween by candy companies after WWII." (a time when, by the way, the art of Trick or Treating really began in earnest). As the writeup goes on, "Candy corn might have been especially popular because it was also a seasonal (fall) confection. Popcorn balls and candied apples are other seasonal (fall) treats conventinetly transitioned to Halloween."

How is it made?

As I learned from this interview on NPR,

In the early days, making candy corn was hard work. It was done by hand. The ingredients were cooked in huge kettles. Then, the hot candy was poured into buckets. Men poured the liquid candy corn from the buckets into kernel-shaped trays. The workers had to make three passes to create the white, yellow and orange layers. Production was so labor-intensive the candy corn was made only from March to November.

Of course, now candy corn is made by machine--I could try to explain it, but the Food Network can show you in living color:

But that's not the only thing that has changed. Per Slashfood, the ingredient list has, too:

Originally, candy corn was made of sugar, corn syrup (not HFCS), fondant and marshmallow, among other things, and the hot mixture was poured into cornstarch molds, where it set up...The recipe changed slightly over time and there are probably a few variations in recipes between candy companies, but the use of a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and vanilla (as well as honey, in some brands) is the standard.

Of course, if you're brave, you can make candy corn at home too. I did it last year, for Serious Eats.

How do Mellowcreme Pumpkins play into it?

Mellowcreme pumpkins (and the other weird shapes that come in those "Autumn Mix" assortments) were a later addition:

Candy pumpkins first were produced in mid 20th century using a process similar to that of candy corn. Corn syrup, food coloring, honey, and sugar are beat and heated in large kettles to produce an ultra-sweet syrup.

This slurry generically is called "mellowcreme" by confectioners, since the resulting candy has a mellow, creamy texture.

They are said to appeal in a different way than candy corn because their different volume and weight makes for an "interesting texture". And in case you were wondering--yes, I prefer Mellowcreme pumpkins to candy corn.

The final word?

Even if you believe, like Serious Eats, that candy corn is "the fruitcake of halloween candy" and one of the 10 worst Halloween candies to give out, there's no denying its iconic status as a Halloween classic, and whether it's because of its classic look or simply because it's slowly going stale in your goodie bag, it's not going anywhere.

Tuesday
Sep282010

Cake Byte: October Sweetness at CakeSpy Shop!

Dudes. Dudettes. Don't, like, freak out, but there are some very awesome things on the horizon at CakeSpy Shop (415 E. Pine St, Capitol Hill, Seattle) this month.

October 9, 5-8 p.m. Witch Craft Book Tour Halloween Party

Trick or Sweet? There will be plenty of both at this Halloween party with guest of honor Alicia Kachmar, co-author of Witch Craft: Wicked Accessories, Creepy-Cute Toys, Magical Treats, and More!, a collection of totally sweet Halloween crafts and recipes (and whose totally adorable crocheted candy corn and other sweet characters can be purchased at CakeSpy Shop!). Get your book signed, enjoy crafty activities from the book, engage in Halloween games, and indulge in Halloween cupcakes!

Oh, and there will be prizes! WIN sweet treats or perhaps even a copy of Witch Craft!

October 14, 6-8 p.m. Artist Reception: Jill Labieniec

Let's face it: the walls of your house look lame. Why not remedy the situation by buying a gorgeous print by Seattle-based artist and CakeSpy buddy Jill Labieniec? She'll be showing artwork in the upstairs gallery at the shop for October, and we'll be hosting an artist reception on Thursday, October 14th, so you can meet the super sweet artist yourself!


Tuesday
Sep282010

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Recipes Featured on Peanut Butter & Co.!

Probably you already suspected this...but I'm an all-star.

No, not in the "can't get that Smashmouth song out of my head" sort of way. I've been chosen as an All-Star Blogger and contributor to the Peanut Butter & Co. All-Star Recipe Blog!

Basically, this means that you'll be seeing a series of totally sweet recipes dreamed up by moi on the site over the next few weeks, featuring (natch!) the awesomely rich and delicious peanut buttery goodness that is Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter, a product which I am very happy to say I believe in, and frequently eat by the spoonful. You can already find a recipes for Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars and for a Peanut Butter Dutch Baby, with more to come!

Keep updated on all of the sweet (and savory!) recipes on the site, from myself and a knockout series of food writers/bloggers, on the Peanut Butter & Co. All-Star Recipe Blog!

Tuesday
Sep282010

Get Figgy: Fig-Panettone Bread Pudding Recipe

Bring us some figgy pudding, and make it tasty! Here's an intriguing recipe for bread pudding with figs and brandy--delicious for the shorter and cooler days that lie ahead. It's a sweet guest contribution from self-proclaimed "fig enthusiast" (no, really) Sherri Lee, from her cookbook Under the Fig Leaf, a culmination taking "her passion for figs and 10 years of cooking experiments into a fig cookbook featuring over 130 recipes from appetizers, beverages and salads to main courses and desserts." Here's the recipe:

Chef Joseph’s Fig-Panettone Bread Pudding

 Ingredients

 

  • 2 cups dried figs, chopped, stems removed
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 2 Tablespoons butter for greasing baking dish
  • 12 cups Panettone Italian Bread, torn into pieces
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks, reserve whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Soak the chopped figs in the brandy and set aside.
  3. Butter a 9x13 glass baking dish
  4. Place the pieces of panettone in the baking dish and toss them evenly with the figs and brandy.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the whole eggs with the egg yolks.
  6. Stir in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, cream, milk and sugar.  Beat well.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks.
  8. Fold the whites into the egg yolk mixture and pour over the panettone and figs.  Let stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Bake uncovered for 1 hour.  Serve warm with a splash of heavy cream.

 

Tuesday
Sep282010

Sweet Mini-Series: Hummingbird Bakery Chronicles, by Cake Gumshoe Alexandra

CakeSpy Note: This is the introduction to a series of several entries about (and recipes from!) London's Hummingbird Bakery by Cake Gumshoe Alexandra Levert, who is an assistant director for a French television network in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking and baking because she finds it comforting and yet challenging at the same time. She tries to combine her love of food and her love of travel as much as life will let her.

Alexandra's Spy Report

I recently went to visit my Australian friend and her boyfriend in London, England. Upon my arrival, as I reached into my bag to give them a little souvenir from my trip to Prague, she handed me a book… Something called Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I was immediately intrigued by it, seeing as the cover adorned lovely cupcakes and a few other desserts. You see, I’ve been obsessed with cupcakes for quite a while now, and seeing this picture of the beautiful and perfect sweets didn’t help my obsession. When I finally opened the book, I remember being completely enamored with the variety of desserts being described and also with the beauty of their presentation. To my great surprise, my friend told me the bakery was actually in London itself, and that we could go to one of the three locations during my stay. How marvelous!

My experience at The Hummingbird Bakery

The location I went to is situated on Wardour Street, a small side street in SoHo. I could see the white and pink hummingbird sign by the entrance from far away. When I went in, I found it as adorable as I thought I would: Cupcake pop-art on the walls, cookbooks on shelves, dessert trays and, most importantly, endless rows of cupcakes. I went there on a Saturday, so the bakery was packed and extremely busy. I queued for my chance to finally get one their sweets, but when one of the girls working there asked me what I wanted, I couldn’t even choose! Vanilla with vanilla frosting? Too easy.  Vanilla with chocolate frosting? Too common. Orange blossom? Maybe some other time. Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting? Perfect! I bought my cupcake along with two notebooks as souvenirs for my friends back in Toronto. Then my friend and I walked to Trafalgar Square and devoured our desserts in seconds! The cake was moist and flavorful, the frosting was simply delicious, and the two put together made it one of the best cupcakes I have ever had. My friend had also bought the raspberry cheesecake and after having only a spoonful of it, I can honestly say it was incredible.

The final word?

So, if you are ever in London and are looking for a little (or big) something to satisfy your sweet tooth, I definitely recommend The Hummingbird Bakery. Now, I am back home and eager to try some of the dessert recipes. Stay tuned to hear about my attempt to make some cupcakes of my own.

In the meantime, check out Hummingbird Bakery online!

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.
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