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Saturday
Jun122010

Nut'n Honey: Honey Peanut Butter Refrigerator Cookies

You probably don't think of peanut butter cookies as a slice-and-bake refrigerator cookie, but you should.

I was immediately intrigued when I discovered this recipe in my beloved Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. And, upon testing out the recipe, ultimately rewarded. These cookies have all of the sweet-and-salty flavor that make peanut butter cookies so deliciously addictive, but with a subtle, mellow dimension from the honey, and a more delicate texture than their classic counterpart. The verdict? These fat, chewy, and lightly crumbly cookies are beyond welcome to co-exist peacefully with the flattened-by-fork tines variety in my cookie jar.

And based on how quickly they disappeared when I put them out at my shop, I'd say that the public agrees. Well, either that, or people will eat anything when it's free.

Note: The original recipe calls for 2/3 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts. I split the difference and used a cup-and-a-bit extra of chunky peanut butter--this kind, if you're curious. Also, I used more baking powder than specified in the original recipe.

Honey Peanut Butter Refrigerator Cookies

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

- Makes about 30 cookies -

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey or corn syrup (I used honey)
  • 1 cup (and maybe a spoonful extra) chunky peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Procedure

  1. Mix butter, sugar, honey, peanut butter, and egg thoroughly.
  2. Mix your remaining dry ingredients together, and then stir in bit by bit to your wet ingredient mix. If it is too dry, add a few drops of milk or cream until it is cohesive.
  3. Roll into a couple of logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 400 F. Cut dough in fat slices (I did about 1/2 inch) and place about 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown on the edges. Let cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Friday
Jun112010

Sweet Art: World Pupcakes

When it comes to puns related to the World Cup, what is the best direction to go? World Pup? Nah--not cute enough. World cup-cakes? Nah, still not quite there.

Oh--I've got it: combine them for ultimate cuteness! World Pupcakes!

In honor of that big soccer (to my friends not in the US, that's football) event that starts today!

Friday
Jun112010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Item of the week at CakeSpy Shop: New Giclee print by Julie West!Make the most of your friday by checking out these super sweet links!

Tiramisu that soaks up wine instead of coffee is just fine by me.

Beet cake is divine when topped with "slabs" of cream cheese frosting. 

A carrot cake to dream about, via Mango Power Girl.

What's the next big thing in baking? Modern Baking weighs in.

Where do cupcakes come from? "The Talk" notecards (featuring the image at the top of the post) now available online and at the retail CakeSpy Shop!

Sounds like a sweet getaway to me: 10 sweet factory tours to take in the US!

Sweet news: Treats Truck goes stationary--with a brick and mortar retail location!

Peanut butter, bacon, sugar, and a side of sweet pun: Sir Francis Bacon's bacon peanut brittle! (via The Nibble)

A savory side that is sweet enough for CakeSpy approval: Tom Douglas's Cornbread Pudding recipe from Etta's.

Art of the Tart: If you liked these Pop-Tarts Ice cream sandwiches, you'll probably like all the other over-the-top sweet recipes on the Pop-tarts website.

This granola is acceptable, because it's kind of like a deconstructed cereal cookie. (Molly Wizenberg for Bon Appetit)

Sweet and salty Espresso Nut Brownies: Yum, yum, and yum. (via The Cookbook Chronicles)

Sweet memories: You deserve a grilled cheesecake sandwich!

Wednesday
Jun092010

Shake Me Up Before You Go Go: The Red Velvet Cake Shake

There's a reason why you've never tried a Red Velvet Cake Shake. 

That reason, of course, is that the recipe relies on you having an extra slice of Red Velvet laying around, and as anyone knows, this is a highly unlikely occurrence.

However, after this weekend's Red Velvet Cake tasting, I found myself in such an unlikely situation. And given some time to consider it, a beautiful phrase came to mind: Red Velvet Cake Shake. Could it possibly be as good as it sounded?

The answer, of course, is yes. This shake is basically made of awesome: it has tangy cream cheese frosting, rich, moist cake, and sweet, creamy ice cream--all mixed into one pretty pink parfait.

Of course, if your instinct is to cry "too much", I do have a suggestion: call it a smoothie. No, this doesn't actually alter the recipe, but don't you feel healthier already?

Red Velvet Cake Shake

Ingredients 

  • 1 slice Red Velvet Cake
  • 2 big--and I mean big--scoops of ice cream (I used strawberry; I think that vanilla would also work well)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups milk

Procedure

Put all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until the shake has reached your desired consistency--shorter if you like little bits of cake in your shake, longer if you like a smoother texture. Add more ice cream for a thicker shake, more milk for a thinner one, as needed.

Wednesday
Jun092010

Cake Byte: Sweet New Stationery by justJenn Designs at CakeSpy Shop!

You already know that CakeSpy Shop is a pretty sweet place.

But it just got even sweeter, with new stationery from justJenn Designs!

Now, in case you didn't know, justJenn is kind of like a sweet soul mate to CakeSpy--the author runs a food (mostly sweets!) blog in addition to running a stationery business. Awesome, right?

Here's a sampling of the sweet designs that you'll find at the CakeSpy Shop:

The Magritte-inspired "Cupcake Crumbs" design (pictured top);

A card to help you declare your bacon love;

Robot love;

and of course, one that pretty much says it all: Thanks for Nothing.

There's also a sweet fill-in series!

...and the piece de resistance, a square pin which you can turn to show your allegiance: pie or cake? (you know the right answer).

Buy it all online here!

Tuesday
Jun082010

Sweet Loafing: Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips Recipe from Cake Gumshoes Denise and Steve

When readers Denise and Steve came into my store, they told me that they had been on a 30 mile bike ride that morning. My response was something along the lines of an aghast "on purpose?". But I quickly forgave them for their inherent sportiness, because guess what: they brought me banana bread. With big ol' chunks of chocolate. Even the vaguely healthy applesauce in its construction couldn't cancel out that decadence.

Well, Mr. Spy and I deemed this an ideal breakfast bread, and I eagerly set to recreating the magic in my own kitchen, this time made with butter, chunks of milk chocolate, and a mix of walnuts and pecans. I really don't have to tell you it was delicious, do I?

It's a very easy recipe to personalize and make your own; here's Denise's base recipe so you can choose your own adventure with it.

Oh, and by the way, here's the cute custom painting I did for Denise and Steve while we talked about our favorite pastries!

Dense, Delicious Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

With serious thanks to Denise and Steve

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour, or you can do a mix of 3/4 c white flour and 3/4 c wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (kosher salt is okay too)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c mashed banana (3-4 very ripe, Denise usually uses 4 for extra moist
  • bread!)
  • 1 c sugar (can reduce to 3/4 c, or 1/2 c)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c melted, cooled butter (I use canola oil, or a heaping 1/3 c apple sauce to be really healthy! and do use a little extra apple sauce to keep bread moist)
  • (optional) 2/3 c chopped nuts (I used a mix of pecans or walnuts)
  • 2/3 c chocolate chips for banana chocolate chip bread (Denise lists this as optional--I vote necessary)

Procedure

  1. Mix all of the above together in a big bowl. Don't overmix--just mix until incorporated.
  2. Bake at 325 degrees F for around an hour, check center with toothpick; if toothpick comes out clean, it's done.
Tuesday
Jun082010

Cake Byte: You Must Listen to Spilled Milk

Now, you know that I don't want to tell you what you should and shouldn't do.

But.

You really, really, must listen to my favorite podcast, like, ever: Spilled Milk.

It is a podcast collaboration between two famous foodies in the Seattle area: Matthew Amster-Burton (author of Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eateramusing Twitter-er, and like, totally a customer at my shop) and Molly Wizenberg (of Orangette, Bon Appetit, A Homemade Life, and Delancey fame), who do a weekly feature in which they fearlessly tackle a particular food subject-- alternately talking smack, cooking, and on special occasions, they even start fires.

Of course, as you might imagine, my favorite 'casts have been the ones where they delve into the world of sweets: most notably Milkshakes, Junk Food, and Rhubarb. But really, they're all worth a listen. And I wasn't surprised when Sur La Table started sponsoring them.

Why not listen now, so when it becomes really big and famous you can say in a world weary way "I liked it better before it was really big and famous"?

And even though one of the 'casters is one of my customers, I'd totally say this about Spilled Milk even if he wasn't. Well, probably. 

Check it out here.

Monday
Jun072010

Pop Art: Pop-Tarts Ice Cream Sandwiches for Serious Eats

Did you know that the ice cream sandwich was invented in the early 1900s, as a sanitary solution for serving ice cream on hot summer days? Well, times have changed since then—society and freezers have both evolved, and instead of sandwiching our ice cream between cookie wafers, we now have the ability to serve it between layers of another modern marvel, the Pop-Tart.

I had high hopes when I discovered this treasure of an idea on the official Pop-Tart site—and happily, these sweet treats lived up to every single one. They managed to meld nostalgia and delicious, rich flavor all in one sweet summery treat. I composed mine in two flavors: Strawberry frosted Pop-Tarts with strawberry ice cream, and S'mores Pop-Tarts sandwiched with decadent Rocky Road ice cream. But let's be honest, the flavor variations are virtually endless.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Sunday
Jun062010

Sweet Surrender: A Red Velvet Smackdown and Tasting with Lorna Yee and Jackie Baisa at CakeSpy Shop

It began, as so many excellent things do, on Twitter.

Upon rhapsodizing about the most excellent Red Velvet Cake from Seattle's Kingfish Cafe, Lorna Yee responded with what can only be described as fighting words: "My red velvet cake is better". 

Now, as Red Velvet challengers go, Lorna Yee is a formidable one: her recipe comes from her recently published book, The Newlywed Kitchen (which contains this recipe for Chocolate Mudslide cookies, btw), has received rave reviews.

The only way to figure out this battle? A Red Velvet Smackdown, natch! 

With the Kingfish Red Velvet Cake in one corner, and Lorna's Red Velvet in the other, we set up a tasting at CakeSpy Shop, with talented photographer Jackie Baisa to document every sweet minute. Of course, cute husbands Danny (aka Mr. CakeSpy) and Henry were on hand to help out.

Lorna was also kind enough to bring a large batch of cupcakes to share with customers at the shop. She ran out of red food coloring at a certain point, so a lucky few actually got Blue Velvet Cupcakes.

So how did these ladies in red stack up?

Well, on the one hand you've got the Kingfish Cafe Red Velvet, which is something of a Seattle standard. It's dense, it's sweet, it's rich...but depending on what day you buy it, sometimes it can be a little dry. Still, I wouldn't kick it out of bed for leaving delicious little crumbs.

But then you've got Lorna's triple-threat of awesome. Equally dense and rich, this is nonetheless a very different cake, with pronounced contrasting flavors: a very tangy and only lightly sweet, very cream cheese-y frosting and a rich, extremely moist cocoa-infused cake. All of the tasters, who were cut generous slices, zeroed right in on the compelling flavor contrast, and were more than happy to wax poetic about the sweet subtleties in flavor--but perhaps even more telling, everybody cleaned their plate. 

Lorna Yee and very cool kid IrisSimilarly, customers who came in and sampled the cupcakes were thrilled with their sweet treats, and Lorna not only sold through her stock of books but also raided nearby Elliott Bay Books for more.

The final word? You should still order the cake if you go to Kingfish, but for your next special occasion, bake the one from Lorna's book. People will remember and love you for it.Jackie Baisa, Lorna Yee, CakeSpy

Want to see more awesome photos of this event? Visit Baisa Fotograferie (photos coming soon!)

For Lorna's Triple Red Velvet Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting recipe, visit her site, The Cookbook Chronicles!

Sunday
Jun062010

Cold Times at Hot Licks, Fairbanks Alaska

Photo c/o Flickr user mikeczyzewskiPop Quiz: you're looking for something delicious and sweet to eat in Fairbanks, Alaska. Where do you go?

According to a CakeSpy reader, the place you go is Hot Licks. Why so? 

Well, for one thing, it's an ice cream place that starts out with a great story. Per their website:

Hot Licks began in 1986 as a joint venture between two brothers, Geoff and Adam Wool. Hot Licks was their response to the conclusion that there was no super premium ice cream in Alaska. The two brothers had recently arrived from Boston at a time when the resurgence of old fashioned, high quality, batch made, ice cream was at its peak. Adam came to Fairbanks to complete his requirements for a physics degree from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Geoff came to work as a Special Education teacher. They thought that in their spare time they could work together to bring quality ice cream to Fairbanks.

What started out as a lark became an overnight college town sensation. Adam, an accomplished jazz drummer, organized the Hot Licks Jazz Band and Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream was synonymous for the best ice cream and the hottest jazz around. In addition to ice cream, Hot Licks made soups, fresh baked breads, and cinnamon rolls, all from scratch. They were known in Fairbanks as the home of the four basic food groups: Soup, Bread, Ice Cream, and Coffee.

But of course, while a story always helps, it's the ice cream itself that keeps people coming back. Made in small batches using no artificial ingredients or stabilizers, the menu really does speak for itself, what with a dazzling array of flavors--which, in addition to the usual suspects, includes such unexpected delights as Apple Pie (made with apple pie filling and broken waffle cones), Torrone (nougat, honey, almonds, bitter-sweet chocolate, and citrus peel in vanilla ice cream), and S'more (chocolate chips, marshmallows and Graham crackers).

Hot Licks has several locations in the Fairbanks area; for more information, visit hotlicks.net.

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