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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.

Tuesday
Dec082009

Rocky Romance: Rocky Ledge Bars Recipe

Delicious Rocky Ledge Bars

@mseling (yes, I just referred to her by Twitter name) is a person I admire on many levels. She's an amazing writer; she's a fixture in the Seattle music scene; and--most importantly--she bakes a mean cookie. And at my recent cookie exchange party, she brought it--literally--with two amazing batches of delicious treats. Here's the first recipe of the two, which is a bar cookie, adapted from Martha Stewart's "Rocky Ledge Bar" recipe. Let me tell you, these bars--which are weighty little morsels, chock full of marshmallows, rich, buttery and caramel-y topping, and of course, chocolate--are serious business, but seriously delicious. Some might say they're too much, but I say they're just enough.

Rocky Ledge Bars
-makes 16 bars -
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Note: if you are in a crunch, you could make these using a brownie or blondie box mix--simply use the mix as specified on the box, omit the ingredients used for the cake base, and skip to step 3.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 18 soft caramel-candy cubes, coarsely chopped

    Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the longer sides. Brush parchment with butter (not overhang).
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until well combined. Mix in flour mixture until combined. Fold in half of each of the marshmallows, chocolates, butterscotch chips, and caramels.
  3. Spread batter in prepared pan. Scatter remaining marshmallows, chocolates, butterscotch chips, and caramels on top. Bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Lift out of pan, and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remove parchment, and cut into about 16 triangles. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Tuesday
Dec082009

Cake Byte: Jane and Michael Stern in Seattle in January!

Milk and Cookie in Seattle
Jane and Michael Stern talk a lot about foods like hot dogs, mac and cheese, burgers, and savory things.

But from time to time, they also break out an exquisite gem of a sweet find--which are reported on their site, roadfood.com. And generally the sweets they love are of the intensely decadent, no holds barred variety (yesss!).

And now they're coming to Seattle!

They will be speaking on January 12, 7:30 pm at Benaroya Hall, Seattle; Tickets are $25-50, $10 for students/under 25; available at lectures.org or at 206.621.2230. There will also be a community dinner the evening before (it's pricey, but hey, if you're a super fan, why not?); for more info, click here.

Monday
Dec072009

Cake Poll: Sweets In Movies, and a Sweet Giveaway!

Sweet Giveaway
Are you ready for some Christmas magic? Heck yes! With that in mind, how 'bout another giveaway?

This time, it's a totally sweet prize pack brought to you by the movie It's Complicated, featuring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, which was directed by Nancy Meyers and will be in theatres on December 25. Why this movie? Well, because as you know I am fascinated with dessert in movies, and this one features the inimitable Meryl as a baker!

Here's what you can win:

Prize 1: “Uncomplicate Your Holidays with a Visa Cash Card!” -- one winner will receive a $50 Visa Gift Card, and an It’s Complicated tote bag filled with an apron, t-shirt, blanket and the official soundtrack!

Prize 2: Five additional *daily* winners will receive an It’s Complicated Tote Bag filled with an Apron & T-shirt!

These sound like some sweet prizes for movie enthusiasts!

How do you enter?

It's easy: just leave a comment below saying what your favorite food-in-movie scene is! And since I'm feeling generous, feel free to post your favorite sweet or savory food moment in movies!

The giveaway will run for two weeks! In the meantime, check out the trailer below--you can also find out more about the movie on the official website or on Facebook!

Friday
Dec042009

Cake Poll: Favorite Christmas Cookies and a Huge Wilton Cookie Exchange Giveaway!

Wilton Giveaway - It is Huge!
So, check it. Several weeks ago I received an email from Wilton asking if I'd like to check out their new book, Wilton Cookie Exchange--a collection of ideas and recipes for creative Christmas cookies, with plenty of cookie-exchange party ideas. Um, of course I would like to check it out. And to my surprise and delight, about a week later, I received a package--with not only the book, but a veritable truckload of sweet cookie swap schwag--from cookie cutters to decorating gel and sprinkles, to parchment paper and decorative boxes, and even invites--so that I could host my own cookie exchange party. Yes! And so I did. Here are just a few of the cookies people brought:
Lisa's Cookies"Lina" CookiesMarshmallow DreidlsRobby's Creamsicle squares dipped in Chocolate
Pretty much, it was the awesomest holiday party ever, with dozens and dozens of beautiful cookies and great company.

And you know what? You too can experience this cookie nirvana. Wilton has very generously offered to donate the works--the cookie exchange book and comprehensive party package, including what by my estimation tops over $100 worth of cookie decorating and party products--to one lucky CakeSpy reader.

How do you enter yourself to win? It's totally easy. All you have to do is leave a comment saying what your favorite Christmas cookie is (while not necessary, please do feel free to link to a recipe!) in the comments section below. But enter soon: the Cake Poll will close at 12PM PST on Tuesday, December 8, and one winner will be chosen at random. US entrants only this time, please. Good luck!

----------
UPDATE: The Winner! The winner, chosen at random, is Mandy from Wisconsin! The prize has been received and she reports that she will be hosting a cookie party this weekend! (By the way, her favorite cookie? "Mexican Wedding Cakes/Swedish Teacakes, or whatever you like to call them. Ground pecans, and double-dipped in powdered sugar! Very strong memories of home and baking cookies with my mother.")

Friday
Dec042009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Carrie Sellman of Half Baked - The Cake Blog

Cherry blossom cake by Carrie Sellman for CakeSpy Interview
Let's talk about cakes. More specifically, beautiful cakes--which are in abundance on the great site Half Baked - The Cake Blog. Written by Carrie Sellman, a former cake shop owner-turned blogger, this site is a great resource for not only cake but party ideas, and you can easily lose yourself looking at the gorgeous pictures. And now is the time to discover the site--there's currently a pretty awesome $100 Crate & Barrel gift card giveaway going on! But who is behind the blog? Read on to learn more:

CakeSpy: First off--tell us a bit about who you are.
Half Baked Cake Blog: My name is Carrie Sellman. I’m a cake designer and former specialty cake shop owner, now turned blogger. Most importantly, I’m a lover of all things cake!

CS: What is your first cake memory?
HB: Growing up, my mother always went out of her way to celebrate family birthdays. There was always party decorations, our favorite meal and of course, cake! I have such great memories of my childhood birthdays! Making a wish and blowing out candles. Chocolate cake was always the staple for my family. Ironically now as an adult, I prefer something lighter when it comes to cake.

CS: Your site mentions that you are self-taught. How did you develop an interest in cake decorating?
HB: When I was about 10, I got my first set of cake decorating tips and a pastry bag from the craft store. I made my dad a character cake of a golfer for father’s day. You know my star tip got a workout on that cake! I’m sure there is a picture somewhere… but let’s just say that my talent was not yet at full potential. Fast forward many years through college and a career in IT. I started to think that my hobby could be something more. Thanks to the encouragement of my husband, family and friends, I decided to go for it!

CS: You closed your business in Dallas to relocate--any plans to open a new location where you are now, in Illinois?
HB: Yes, closing my business in Dallas was a heart wrenching thing to experience. But my husband got the opportunity to pursue his dream job. So we relocated to Central Illinois. I truly wish I could reopen here, but I just don’t think it’s the right market or the right time. So I’ll have to settle for writing about cake, for now…

CS: Do you find that the baking scene is different in Illinois than in Dallas? How so?
HB: Most definitely. I think all trends tend to hit the big cities first and then spread throughout the rest of the country. The cupcake trend is just now settling in here. I think it will be a little while before cake design, as I know it, will be in demand. I wonder if the high costs inherently associated to a cake that requires such intensive labor will prevent modern cake design from ever truly becoming popular here. But what do I know!

CS: Fondant seems to be a type of icing that can often taste...well, not good. Do you have any tips for making it more delicious--recipes, types to use, things not to do, etc?
HB: You would not believe the number of clients who love how fondant looks but prefer the taste of buttercream. Most often my solution is to give them a little bit of both. The majority of my cake designs have a buttercream base icing with fondant accents only (i.e. the stripes, polka dots, flowers, bows, etc). The perfectionist in me spends way too much time smoothing the buttercream to give it that porcelain look, but I think it is worth it. The end result is a stunning cake that still tastes good! If I cover the entire cake in fondant, then I use Satin Ice and I roll it as thin as possible.

CS: Tell us about one of your personal favorite cakes that you've made.
HB: It’s really hard to pick a favorite. It seemed like I used to have a new favorite each week! But one of my all time favorites is a design that I created for Bride & Bloom Magazine (pictured top of the post). I was given basic guidance that the theme was Asian Contemporary and the colors were red and black. But other than that, I had complete creative control. I always feel that I do my best work when I have more freedom with the design. It was three tiered (one tall, two short) with ivory fondant and black satin ribbons. The cherry blossom pattern was inspired by a sleek and modern pillow from Crate & Barrel. We placed some black river rocks around the base of the cake stand for the photos, which was the perfect finishing touch.

CS: Your blog focuses a lot on parties (at which cakes are consumed, natch). What role does cake play in a party?
HB: What’s a party without cake? Cake is the best part of any party. Really, think about birthday celebrations in the workplace. Why does everyone head to the conference room for some awkward idle banter? It’s all about the cake! Cake brings people together. :o)

CS: How does your blog feed your cake obsession?
HB: I truly miss owning my business, working with clients to design a cake for their event. You feel like such a part of their big day. I loved that! But my blog allows me to play a small role in my reader’s events. Whether it provides them with some inspiration or connects them with a fabulous cake designer in their area via our Top Tier Directory. And I get my cake fix by featuring hot new cake designs, the stunning events where they were enjoyed, and the talented artists behind the cakes. Throw in some inspiration boards, real parties, insightful articles and fab finds. You’ve got yourself a party. Have I mentioned that I LOVE parties?

For more sweetness, check out Carrie's site, Half Baked - The Cake Blog; you can also stay updated via twitter!

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