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Tuesday
Apr272010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Ideas for Mother's Day

Clockwise from top left: pedestals by Juliska; onesie by Bored, Inc.; baking cups by Bake it Pretty; cake plates by Once Upon a Pedestal. Links below.Moms are totally sweet--so why not treat them in kind? Here's a baker's dozen of sweet (some literally, some figuratively) gift ideas for Mother's Day:

Betty Crocker's Cooky Book: One of my all-time favorite cookbooks--I know my mom would be delighted with this, so I imagine yours would be too. A word of advice: definitely go for the spiral-bound version. Available on Amazon.

CakeSpy Artwork and Accessories: Oh, come on, don't act surprised. I have rent to pay now! Plus, your mom would probably love you forever if you bought her something from my shop. Shop online here.

Cake Plates and Pedestals by Juliska: If you're feeling like a big spender this Mother's Day, these breathtaking cake plates and pedestals would probably go over very well. While you're at it, buy me one too, ok? (thanks to my friend Love and Confections for introducing me to these!). 

Cookies by Mail from Hey, Sugar!: A delightful recent CakeSpy discovery (via DailyCandy), though this Chicago-based custom order baking company provides a full assortment of baked goods locally, they will ship their cookies in assortments or by the dozen in single flavors (like the alluring-sounding Aloha Cookie "When pineapple, coconut and macadamia nuts all mix together in a yummy, creamy snickerdoodle; your taste buds will say Aloha!"). Online at heysugarchicago.com.

Cups of all sizes and colors from Bake it Pretty: That's cupcake cups, of course. And you'll find the greatest variety of cute, pretty, sophisticated and kid-friendly ones here. Some for mom, some for you, some for your friends...

Cute as a Cupcake Baby Onesie by Bored Inc.: Naturally, babies are cute--but they can always be cuter. And that's easily done with these adorable "Cute as a Cupcake" onesies by Bored Inc.! Available here. 

Legalize Frostitution Tee from Cupcake Royale: Hipster moms who love baking will adore this tee from Seattle cupcake institution Cupcake Royale. Available here.

Little Red Riding Hood Tea Pot: Tea is totally sweet with treats, and it's sweeter still when served from an incredibly adorable tea pot like this one. Available at Fred Flare.

Retro Aprons by Kitsch'n Glam: These retro-cute halter aprons would make any mom happy, I think. Better yet, get one for yourself too. Available here. 

Three Months of Croissants: Do you really need to be told how much cooler this is than a fruit basket of the month club? Each month, a batch of prepared gourmet croissants will be shipped; simply thaw overnight and bake in the morning. The gift that gives back, especially if you plan visits back home around the shipment dates. Available at Williams-Sonoma.

Unique Cake Plates by Once Upon a Pedestal: One of a kind creations to display your sweet treats, made from salvaged plates put on a pedestal! Read the CakeSpy writeup of the company here. Available at Once Upon a Pedestal.

Vintage Cookie Jars from Jazze Junque: This site (and in Chicago, storefront too!) is a treasure trove of unique vintage and collectible cookie jars; stock constantly rotating. Available here.

What's New, Cupcake? by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson: If mom is a cupcake-maker, this book is a must-have--it's the uber-cute followup to the already uber-cute book Hello, Cupcake! which makes me want to coo every time I look at it. Available on Amazon.  

Monday
Apr262010

Sweet Combo: Chocolate-Filled Pretzel Nuggets for Serious Eats on National Pretzel Day

Guess what? Today is National Pretzel Day. But how to celebrate?

On the one hand the answer is painfully obvious--eat pretzels. But what kind of pretzels? After all, there are so many options: hard or soft, knotted or in stick form? Smothered in mustard or covered in chocolate?

Well, here's a suggestion for those who like plenty of sweet with their salty: chocolate-filled pretzel nuggets. These pillow-like nuggets are sort of like Combos meet chocolate covered pretzel--that is to say, the pinnacle of sweet and salty pretzel perfection.

For more, plus the full recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Friday
Apr232010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk

Undoubtedly you've baked with either Sweetened Condensed or Evaporated Milk, if not both. But what exactly are they? And what's the difference, anyway? Happily, I was able to get the full story directly from the source, when I sat down with a couple of the respective canned dairy products for an interview:

CakeSpy: First off, I'd like to thank my guests, Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk. And I'd like to say, for the record, that no matter what anyone says, I've never considered you dairy misfits.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: Who said that?

Evaporated Milk: I'll kill them! It was Whipping Cream, wasn't it? He's so smug.

CakeSpy: Outta sight! So, to get things started, Sweetened Condensed Milk...what exactly are you?

Sweetened Condensed Milk: Well, since I was googling myself before the interview, I can tell you that I'm "cow's milk from which water has been removed and to which sugar has been added, yielding a very thick, sweet product which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if unopened."

CakeSpy: Wow, that's a long time.

Evaporated Milk: No wonder why you seem so dated.

CakeSpy: Now, now, Evaporated Milk. I'm interested in you too--what is it exactly that you are?

Evaporated Milk: So glad you asked. I'm comprised of dehydrated milk, and am considered a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk.

CakeSpy: You guys, no offense, but it doesn't sound like you're all that different. What exactly is the difference between you two?

Sweetened Condensed Milk: I've got sugar!

Evaporated Milk: I don't need sugar! I have a very unique flavor and am often used in desserts such as Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: But with my deliciously decadent sugary nature, I'm often used in desserts too--perhaps most notably, or notoriously, in the Magic Cookie Bar.

Evaporated Milk: I thought those were called Hello Dolly Bars.

CakeSpy: Tomato, tomahto.

Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk (in unision): Whaaat?!?

CakeSpy: Nevermind. (pause)

Anyhow, to review, you're both shelf stable canned milk products, but basically Sweetened Condensed Milk has added sugar, and Evaporated milk doesn't. You both have a rich history and a rich texture, and are often used in baking. And no matter what Heavy Cream, Yogurt, or Cream Cheese says about your status as reputable dairy product, I love you both.

Evaporated Milk: Thanks...I think.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: Let's go shank Heavy Cream!

For recipes using Sweetened Condensed Milk, visit the Eagle Brand site; for Evaporated Milk recipes, check out Carnation.

Friday
Apr232010

Cake Byte: Molly Moon's to Debut Ice Cream Truck This Summer (Via Capitol Hill Seattle Blog)

Photo as seen on Capitol Hill SeattleThe other night, I had a dream that an ice cream truck crashed into a cupcake truck and that a scene of delicious destruction unfolded.

Now, I'm not saying that I wish harm upon anyone, but if my dream were to be a reality, I think it would be super delicious if the ice cream in question were from Seattle ice cream icon Molly Moon's.

And guess what? As I learned from my friends at Capitol Hill Seattle, they're debuting an ice cream truck this summer. As they report it, 

 While we're lucky to have the brick and mortar MM already in the 'hood, the idea of having the truck cruise over to serve the crowds of kiddies in the Volunteer Park wading pool on a hot August afternoon is almost as tasty as a scoop of salted caramel with hot fudge.

Yup--looks like Seattle's about to get even sweeter. For more information on Molly Moon's Ice Cream, visit their website.

Friday
Apr232010

Blue Days, Starry Nights: An Awe-Inspiring Van Gogh Cake

Friends, I want to share with you the most inspiring cake I've seen in some time: the Starry Night Cake that my friend Jenny in Baltimore made for a friend's birthday.

This cake, of course, prompts so many questions--including A) How on earth did she do it? (apparently it took 5 1/2 hours, and I'm not surprised). B) How on earth could they cut into that beauty? C) How did it taste? (I've tasted Jenny's work so I know it was good)...

but most importantly...why doesn't this super-talented girl have her own bakery? Count CakeSpy as an avid fan and customer-in-waiting.

For a gallery of photos of the cake and the eating of, visit Jenny's Facebook page!

Friday
Apr232010

Full of Charm: Lucky Charms Treats Recipe

To tell you what a Lucky Charms Treat is--which basically amounts to a Rice Krispie Treat, but with Lucky Charms--really doesn't do it justice.

Because while this technically tells you what they are, it really doesn't tell you about the strange beauty of seeing how the marshmallow colors run into each other, and the surprise of coming across an extra marshmallowy pocket of flavor while crunching through these super sweet treats (which I made for the Great American Bake Sale).

But perhaps you might get a hint of the magic that is the Lucky Charms Treat if I show you the pan used to make them, which was streaked with marshmallow rainbows after being emptied into the pan to cool:

...or maybe that just sealed your resolve to never, ever go down this road.

But if you'd like to see for yourself, here's the recipe (oh, and if you like messing with cereal treats, you might like this too).

Lucky Charms Treats

Makes about 12

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups Lucky Charms

Procedure

  1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. 
  2. Add cereal; stir until uniformly coated.
  3. Using a buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.
Friday
Apr232010

Chip off the Old Block: A Cookie Monster Guest Recipe from Vero NYC

Cookie by Carol's CookiesStart working up an appetite: Chocolate Chip Cookie Day is coming up on May 15th. And from what I hear, there's a rather unexpected place to score a delicious dessert called The Cookie Monster in NYC: Vero, a wine bar with two locations in the city. As they tell it,

 Despite not being on the menu, the Cookie Monster is one of Vero’s most popular items and devoured by regulars and discovered each night at their two locations in Manhattan.  While this simple dessert may seem each to prepare, each day the cookies are flown fresh from Carol’s Cookies in Chicago, who was voted most popular chocolate chip cookie by People Magazine.

Cookie Monster dessert, photo c/o Vero NYCAnd I tend to believe them--any dessert that calls for ice cream and whipped cream respectively in 4 scoop quantities--in addition to the cookie--is probably going to be pretty good, in my opinion.

However, if you can’t make it in to Vero to try this bite of chocolate chip cookie heaven, Vero was kind enough to share a recipe to recreate the magic at home--of course, the Carol’s Cookie and Vero’s ambience are not included.

Vero's Cookie Monster

Ingredients

  • 1 plate-sized chocolate chip cookie (preferably from Carol’s Cookies in Chicago)
  • 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 4 scoops of fresh whipped cream 
  • Drizzle of rasberry coulis
  • Drizzle of chocolate coulis
  • ½ cup of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries

Procedure

Place warm cookie on plate, top with ice cream and whipped cream; drizzle with raspberry and chocolate coulis and garnish with fresh fruit.

The Cookie Monster is $12, and available for dinner every night at both location, ask for it by name at both Vero locations in Midtown and Uptown; for directions and more info, visit veronyc.com.

Friday
Apr232010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweetly Named Towns in the US

Take me to Sweetieville!Life would be a dream, sweetheart, if you lived someplace with a dessert-related name. Here's a baker's dozen of real places in the US with baking-related names:

Also worth noting? There is, in fact, a Bacon, Delaware and a Ham Lake, Minnesota.

Got any other foodie-type town names to add? Leave a comment!

Thursday
Apr222010

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Dollhouse Bake Shoppe, Los Angeles

All photos c/o Dollhouse Bake ShoppeEveryone knows that small things are cute. But at Los Angeles-based Dollhouse Bake Shop, not only are the goods adorable, but totally sweet (literally) too--taking form as little ice cream, candied apple, or animal-shaped confections which are--surprise!--filled with cake truffle filling! Here's the story about -- and many pictures from -- CakeSpy's latest online bakery crush.

Dollhouse Bake Shoppe was founded by owner Lindsay Morton in 2009. Soon after applying to grad school, she decided to pursue her dream instead and moved back to her hometown in LA to start a business that brings smiles to faces, and sweetens lives.

Combining her love for sweets with her innate artistic flare, she followed her heart and turned her dream into a reality when Dollhouse Bake Shoppe was open for business. Her vision to create a unique and tasty line of delectable "dollhouse size" desserts has become her signature approach in this vastly growing market. By putting her own twist on her favorite desserts she introduced Dollhouse Bake Shoppe's signature and best selling item, the "Cakelet", and created a chocolate canvas to decorate each hand sculpted piece into an edible work of art.

With a variety of anything but ordinary flavors, Lindsay's endless creativity, and of course, everything bite sized, Dollhouse Bake Shoppe makes the perfect treats to match the theme of any event, from birthdays to weddings, showers, parties, or for those simply craving a little something sweet without the guilt of indulging."

Dollhouse Bake Shoppe baked goods are available by special order / delivery in the LA area; additionally, some (but not all) of the items can be shipped. For more information, visit dollhousebakeshoppe.com.

Thursday
Apr222010

Cream of the Crumb: Crumb Cake Cupcakes at Sugar Mommy Cupcakes, Denville NJ

Friends, I want to share with you what may be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen: the Crumb Cake Cupcake.

This beauty comes from what I consider the Crumb Cake Capitol of the world, New Jersey (Garden State, pshaw!). The crumb cupcake is on the menu at the newly-opened Sugar Mommy Cupcakes in Denville, and is described as "Yellow cake with cinnamon and sugar baked inside. Cream cheese frosting with crumbs on top." Of course, just to avoid any awkwardness later, I am admitting up front that I added the "i love you" motif to the back of the image. 

I learned of Sugar Mommy Cupcakes via trusted NJ Cake Gumshoe Steph (who also sells sweet stuff under the name SassyBelleWares), who unfortunately wasn't able to sample this particular variety, but did have good things to say about the cupcakes in general after her husband surprised her with a few: 

My husband said "this girl makes GOOD cupcakes" and he is not a cupcake lover like me. I tried the red velvet which was moist and I loved the frosting...usually I am not a huge cream cheese frostng fan but this one was more like a buttercream cream cheese. The other one I ate was a chocolate chocolate. I love chocolate bars but for some reason when it comes to cake & frosting I prefer vanilla vanilla. However, this chocolate cake was moist and the chocolate icing was light and fluffy and delicious. I will be going there to try everything else soon!

In the Denville area? Hit them up: Sugar Mommy Cupcakes, 60 Diamond Spring Road, Denville, NJ (Inside Cafe Metro); even if you're not in the area, you can get a virtual sugar rush online at sugarmommycupcakes.com.

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