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Monday
Dec142009

Sweet Charity: CakeSpy and Menu For Hope 6!

Menu For Hope donation
As totally sweet as it is to receive gifts around the holiday, sometimes it's even sweeter to give back. With that in mind, CakeSpy is happy to donate an original 11x14 framed watercolor painting featuring cupcakes and bacon (awesome!) as part of this year's Menu For Hope!

What is Menu For Hope, you ask? Here's the scoop, via Chez Pim:

Menu For Hope is an annual fundraising campaign hosted by Pim Techamuanvivit and a revolving group of food bloggers around the world. Five years ago, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia inspired me to find a way to help, and the very first Menu for Hope was born. The campaign has since become a yearly affair.

Each December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a delectable array of food-related items for the Menu for Hope raffle. Anyone – and that means you too - can participate. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual ticket to bid on an item of your choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim on Monday, January 18.

So how do you get in on this sweet action? To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle, here's what you need to do:

  1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list (the code for my donation is UW31).
  2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.
  3. Please specify which bid item you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item, and please use the bid item code (remember--mine is UW31).
  4. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.
  5. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
  6. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
  7. Check back on Chez Pim on Monday, January 18 for the results of the raffle.

Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

Monday
Dec142009

Sweet Variation: Alternate Construction for the Berlinerkranser

Norwegian butter cookies
Do you like the idea of the berlinerkranser , but not the idea of rolling and twisting dozens of cookies? Happily, there is a variation on the cookie which is a bit faster but no less delicious: using the same dough, the cookies can be formed into buttery little thumbprint cookies with pretty sprinkles on the side. Here's the recipe variation:

Berlinerkranser, Reconstructed

- makes about 36 cookies -

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • red and green candied cherries
  • (optional) red and green sprinkles, mixed together in a small dish

Procedure

  1. Mix butter, 1 cup sugar, orange rind, and eggs thoroughly. Stir in sifted flour until fully incorporated. Chill dough.
  2. Heat oven to 400°F. Break off small pieces of dough and roll into circles, a little smaller than a ping pong ball.
  3. With a finger, press an indent into each cookie and press a piece of candied cherry in the indent. If desired, roll the sides of the cookie in red and green sprinkles for a pretty effect.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes, or until set but not brown.

Monday
Dec142009

Sweet Holiday Cookies: Berlinerkranser For Serious Eats

Berlinerkranser
In spite of what the name may imply, the Berlinerkranser is actually not German at all—in just about every recipe I have seen, these rich wreath-shaped butter cookies are said to hail from Norway, where they are a holiday tradition.
Could it be the result of German immigration patterns? Or perhaps these buttery wreaths call to mind the holiday decorations from Berlin?
Alas, while I cannot answer these questions, I can attest to their deliciousness. Buttery, crumbly, and complemented with a whisper of tartness from orange zest and plenty of sweetness from candied fruit garnish, these cookies are like a bite of holiday cheer.
Berlinerkranser
You can find the full entry and recipe at Serious Eats.

Thursday
Dec102009

Lovin in the Oven: Almond Tea Cake Recipe

Almond Tea Cake
So, a few weeks ago I received this package in the mail with a bunch of recipes from Love N Bake, a company which makes fancy pastry fillings (almond paste, praline filling, chocolate filling, etc). "Whatever" I thought.

And then two days later, a big ol' box of said fillings arrived in the mail. Sweet! I was excited not only because they were free (cheapskate!), but because each flavor had recipes on the label (don't you just love back of the box recipes?). So I set to trying out the recipe on their almond paste package, for Almond Tea Cake. Don't let its unassuming appearance deceive you--this cake is heavenly. Simultaneously light and buttery all at once, it's got an amazingly luxuriant feeling in the mouth, and is equally as delicious as a breakfast treat, teatime companion or (with whipped cream) a respectable dinner dessert.

Almond Tea Cake

  • 1/2 cup almond paste (I used Love N Bake's...but you probably guessed that)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Optional: 1/2 cup white chocolate, cut into coarse pieces (I scattered them on top just before baking--yum)
Procedure

Beat the almond paste with the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add ther butter and beat until fluffy. eat in the eggs. Stir well and then fold in the baking powder, flour and vanilla.
Spread the batter into a greased 8-inch cake pan. If you'd like to add the white chocolate, add it now, scattering it evenly over the surface of the cake (it's ok if some sinks). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack, and unmold. If desired, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Thursday
Dec102009

Holiday Beer Cheer: Beer Honey Torte With Banana and Rum Flambe Recipe

Honey torte w/ banana and rum flambe
In case you didn't know it, there's a website out there called BitterSweet Partnership--and it is dedicated to "unleashing women's love for beer". I know, who knew, right?
But I was instantly intrigued when they emailed me a rather delicious-looking dessert recipe (developed with UK chef Allegra McEvedy) which includes, of all things, an unlikely pairing of beer, bananas, honey and rum: a recipe for a Honey Torte with Banana and Rum Flambe. Now that sounded good enough to share! While I haven't tried the recipe yet, I thought it was fascinating enough to post. Feeling brave? Here's how you can make it:

Beewyched Christmas Honey Torte With Banana & Rum Flambé
Part of the Bittersweet Christmas Beery Menu

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle beewyched beer
  • 400g stoned dates – the stickier the better
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 50g sultanas
  • 150g butter, unsalted and at room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g soft dark brown sugar
  • half a tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp honey
Topping ingredients
  • 2 to 3 bananas
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
  • 80ml rum
  • 1 tub vanilla ice cream
Procedure
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC. Simmer the dates and sultanas in the beer, stirring occasionally for 15 mins until like a very thick compote.
  2. Either vigorously by hand or with an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter, then add the eggs one by one.
  3. Sift the flour with the bicarb and then fold into the mix, along with the honey, ground almonds and vanilla extract.
  4. Once the compote has reached a suitably dolloping consistency, spread it out thinly on a large plate/baking tray to cool down.
  5. Use a knob of butter to grease the inside of a springform cake tin about 20cm across by 6cm deep. Then toss in a small handful of plain flour and coat the inside lightly in it, knocking out the excess into the mix.
  6. When the date compote has stopped steaming, fold it into the mix and then tip everything into the cake tin.
  7. Cook for 1hr 10mins, then leave to sit for 10mins before lifting out onto a serving plate (ideally your torte will still be warm-ish when you are ready to serve)
  8. When it comes to the bananas, get a heavy-based frying pan onto a medium/high heat and melt the butter in it so that it starts to fizzle. Cut the bananas into oblique 2cm thick chunks and fry them and the flaked almonds for just a couple of minutes until the ’nanas begin to soften and get a slight colour.
  9. Sprinkle on the soft brown sugar and swirl and toss until all the sugar has melted in the butter and the bananas are coated. Spoon these on top of the torte then take the cake to the table and turn off the lights!
  10. In your smallest saucepan gently heat the rum until it’s steaming and just about to start simmering, then quickly pour the hot rum all over your cake and spark it up with a match. Voila!

Thursday
Dec102009

Magic in the Middle: The Sandwich Cookie Pan by Williams-Sonoma

I want this cake pan!
O.M.G. alert. Really, this awesomeness doesn't really need more than an introduction. Say hello to the Sandwich Cookie Cake Pan by Williams-Sonoma.

Here's what they have to say about it:

Sandwich cookies are a childhood favorite one never outgrows. Our pair of baking pans captures this nostalgic treat as a luscious cake. Enjoy the classic pairing of chocolate and vanilla cream or try a more sophisticated combination such as espresso-fudge cake with cappuccino cream filling. The set includes two nonstick baking pans that turn out cakes embossed with "cookie." The cast aluminum pans spread heat evenly for uniform baking. Our exclusive ceramic-reinforced Goldtouch™ coating ensures easy release and cleanup. Hand wash. 9" diam. Set of two pans. A Williams-Sonoma exclusive.

Buy it--now!--at williams-sonoma.com. P.S. If you already knew about this pan, why didn't you tell me about it?

Wednesday
Dec092009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Brittany Blanchard of Brintinis, Portland OR

Delicious Pairing C/O Brintinis
Have you ever wondered about how dentists (and their employees) feel about cupcakes? Well, they love them--and there's proof, as proven by Brittany Blanchard, who works for a dentist by day and is the proprietress of Portland-based custom cupcake business Brintini's by night. Want to find out more? Here's the interview:

CakeSpy: Tell me more. What made you decide to start a custom cupcake business?
Brittany Blanchard: I decided to start a custom cupcake business because I have always really loved cooking but I especially love baking and I have the most ridiculous sweet tooth of anyone I know. Really it's just an excuse to eat delicious dessert every single day.
Snickerdoodle C/O Brintinis
CS: Are you interested in opening a retail shop at some point, or do you intend on focusing on the custom orders?
BB: I would eventually like to open a shop in Portland but for now I will focus on custom orders. I will also be slinging cupcakes in local farmers markets after the new year.

CS: Rumor has it you work in the dental industry as well as making cupcakes. Would you consider your cupcake-self your Peter Parker/Spiderman style alter ego?
BB: I do work in the dental industry! You know, I get similar questions all the time.I was recently asked if I had a contract with the dentist I work for to bring in my clients with cavities. It does seem funny that someone promoting good oral care would be promoting sugary treats as well but what can I say, it's job security. Just Kidding! I think its okay to enjoy a treat from time to time(or in my case all the time), if you take good care of your mouth.
Peppermint C/O Brintinis

CS: ...you mention that dentists buy your cupcakes. What flavor do dentists go for when they go to the dark (sugary) side?
BB: The dentist I work for has ordered the Snickerdoodle and Red Velvet. He actually bribed me for the Snickerdoodle and Buttercream recipes because his son loved them. He is so cute, he can't say cupcake so he calls them Pupcakes. His son I mean. He calls me the Pupcake girl! I also recently made an order of Gingerbread Cupcakes for a local dentist. Apparently dentists can have a sweet tooth too.

Landslide of delicious, C/O Brintinis
CS: While you offer the typical flavors, you also have some seasonal/specialty ones (Plum spice, etc!). How do you decide on new flavors?
BB: I get inspired to create new flavors by other desserts that are delicious, for example: I have cupcakes inspired by Rocky Road Ice Cream and Snickerdoodle Cookies. I also like to get ideas from family and friends on what flavors to experiment with, so I have a huge list of different flavors to try out!

CS: If you had to replace one meal with a cupcake every day for the rest of your life, which flavor would it be?
BB: If I had to replace a meal with a cupcake for the rest of my life it would be the Vanilla Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting. Believe it or not, my favorite flavor is vanilla! Other flavors I love to have in moderation but if I had to eat the same flavor daily it would definitely be vanilla.

CS: What are some of your favorites from your current menu?
BB: My favorite flavor to eat off my current menu is the vanilla velvet, but I have some new experiments involving vanilla that may soon be on the menu so we shall see how long that lasts. My favorite flavor to make though is the Red Velvet. I think Red Velvet cake is so pretty that I am always excited to bake it!
Gingerbread Cupcake C/O Brintinis
CS: What's next for Brintini's?
BB: What's next? Hmmm...I guess Farmers Market will be Brintini's next destination and hopefully maybe a cute little cupcake shop following that.

For more sweetness, visit brintinis.com.

Wednesday
Dec092009

Gingerbread Mad Men: A Recipe for Serious Eats

Gingerbread Mad Men - Don Draper
They say you have to learn the rules before you break them. But is it ever possible to break them just a little bit while you learn them? Case in point: gingerbread men.
Gingerbread Mad Men - Joan
I haven't made enough of them to feel comfortable messing with the classic recipe but wanted to have a little fun with this batch nonetheless. The solution? Using a classic recipe—in this case, from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book—but decorating them as Gingerbread Mad Men, inspired by the characters in the AMC series.
Gingerbread Mad Men - Betty Draper
Note: I am pretty much obsessed with Mad Men (I blame my friend Julie). I only discovered it about a month ago and actually am not caught up to the end of Season 3 yet, so please, no spoilers!
Cuppie Loves Mad Men!
You can check out the full entry -- plus the recipe I used -- on Serious Eats!

Wednesday
Dec092009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy at Crafty Wonderland in Portland December 13

Cuppie Loves Voodoo Donut, Portland OR
Oh, hi Portland. Now, I know you already love sweet stuff: after all, you are the home of such amazing bakeries as Saint Cupcake, Ken's Artisan Bakery, Crema, Voodoo Donuts, Honore, and Pearl Bakery--just to name a few.

But this weekend, a veritable storm of sweetness is going to descend on your fair city from up north--yup, CakeSpy is coming to town!

Mr. Spy and myself will be showing at Crafty Wonderland's Super Colossal Holiday Sale this Sunday, December 13!

Here are the details:

Super Colossal Holiday Sale!
December 13th from 11am-7pm
at the Oregon Convention Center
777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, Exhibit Hall D
All Ages * Free Admission * Goodie Bags for the first 200 people!

For more information and directions, visit craftywonderland.com !

Hope to see you there! Oh, and any Portland bakery suggestions are welcome, too!

Wednesday
Dec092009

Sweet December: The Holiday Cupcake Roster at Trophy Cupcakes

Bourbon. Eggnog.
Not that you need a reason to go to Trophy Cupcakes this month, but you know what? Here are four reasons. You know what that means? No excuses.

#1: CakeSpy Art Show. Buy original artwork all December long at the Wallingford location of Trophy Cupcakes! The paintings are selling like hotcakes so be sure to go soon for a sweet holiday gift for your sweetie!

#2: Bourbon Eggnog Cupcakes: One of the December flavors which seems to sell out every day. This bodes well.

#3: Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes: Another of the December flavors, comprised of rich chocolate cake and a gorgeously buttery-pepperminty buttercream, all topped with crushed candy canes for the perfect balance of decadent, sweet, and crunchy.

#4: Gingerbread Cupcakes: The final of the three December flavors, this spicy gingerbread cupcake is perfectly balanced by a slightly tangy, bright orange zest buttercream.

Bonus reason: The Candied Yam Cupcake! This Thanksgiving has proven so popular that Trophy is offering it Wednesdays and Fridays all December long.

You know what this all means: get yourself to Trophy Cupcakes! For locations and more information, visit trophycupcakes.com.

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