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Tuesday
Dec022008

Cakespy Takes the Cake: A Special Guest Spot on Cupcakes Take the Cake!

Seattle Cupcakes: A Gentle Primer

Cakespy Note: As you know, Cupcakes Take the Cake is one of the awesomest sites ever--their dedication to cupcakes is awe-inspiring, and the girls who write for it happen to be 100% pure fun as well; they've been featured in many publications and even on Martha Stewart!

So it was an honor to be asked to be part of their "Guest Blogger" program in celebration of their 4-year anniversary. For our post, Head Spy Jessie sounded off on Seattle cupcakes--here's her contribution.

One of the most common questions I get asked by people coming to visit Seattle is "Where should I go for the best cupcakes?".

This question makes me want to pop a Xanax or ten, because it's a fraught question for a people-pleaser like me. How could I possibly know what you'll like? *Heaves into paper bag*

But you know what I can do? I can tell you what I like. Me, me, me. But I haven't set it up as a bakery guide: I've done it geographically, by destinations that I deem worthy, so depending on where you find yourself in Seattle, you'll never be far from a cupcake. Whether you like them or not will be up to you--but then again, isn't taking a risk part of having an adventure?
Here goes:

Cuppies at the West Seattle Junction
Alaska Junction in West Seattle: This is a cool little shopping area, but it's definitely a drive from downtown Seattle (at 6 or so miles, it would be an awfully healthy walk). But it's worth the drive because there you'll find Cupcake Royale and Sugar Rush Bakery, and just a bit down the road, a PCC, all of which have cupcakes. Yes, worth the trip.

 

Holiday assortment from cupcake Royale
Archie McPhee: Do you love kitschy, cool little impulse buy items? Of course you do, so you'll want to visit the Ballard neighborhood, home of Archie McPhee, which is the company that brought the world such gems as the Jesus Action Figure (c'mon, you've seen it at Hot Topic, don't lie). Just down the block, you can get your cupcake on at Cupcake Royale's flagship location, which features an amazing Cupcake art piece above the entrance.

Cupcakes, Whole Foods, Westlake

The Houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle: Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Seattle lives in a houseboat (sorry). However, you can get a Tom and Meg spark--at least for a few minutes--by visiting the houseboat where the magical film was made. It's kind of in no-man's land, but we'd say your best bet close by is Whole Foods Westlake, which has a good variety of cupcakes which are made in-house. I have to be honest though, I have never had one from this location--but I have had their house-made cheesecake and that was good!

 

Cupcakes with the Fremont Troll
Cardamom chai wheat-free vegan cupcake from Flying Apron, Seattle
Fremont Troll: I can't even begin to understand why someone made this, but I like it. Nearby, you can get your vegan cupcake fix at Flying Apron Bakery, which specializes in gluten-free, vegan baking. Some swear by their cake, but personally I think their cookies are better. PCC also has cupcakes (vegan and non), and you can sometimes-but-not-always get cupcakes at Simply Desserts (they mainly specialize in layer cakes and cakes-by-the-slice).

The Apartment Building from Singles: Aside from being part of one of the greatest films ever made, the apartment building from Singles, Coryell Court (at 19th and Thomas) is also close to a favorite bakery: The North Hill Bakery. They're only open til 5:30 p.m. or so, but I try to make it over whenever I'm in the neighborhood.
Northgate Mall: My friend Phil informed me that this was the first covered mall in North America. Of course, since he's from New Jersey, he knows his mall culture. Now, the Northgate Mall is pretty much what you'd expect in any suburban mall: jewelry stores, department stores, kiosks with back massagers. If you need to go here, then please, on your way, stop by the Blue Saucer Cafe; they retail cupcakes by Look Cupcake, which is a special-order cupcakery with filled cupcakes. Like, yum!

 

Cuppies at Pike Place
Cupcakes at the Dahlia Bakery, SeattleChocolate Ganache Cupcake
Pike Place Market: You may be surprised to hear this, but there are very few cupcakes at the market itself (though of course there are a lot of other great baked goods and food). They sometimes have them at Pike Place Bakery or at Michou, but in my opinion you'd be better off walking up a few blocks from the Market and checking out Macrina Bakery (read the Cupcakes Take the Cake review here) or Dahlia Bakery.

Pioneer Square / Underground Tour: The Underground Tour is cheesy, but I love it. There's a whole city beneath the city of Seattle! Like, whoa! And nearby, you can get your sweet fix at Grand Central Baking. OK, truthfully, they do not offer cupcakes. But, they offer mini bundt cakes, and they're super cute, so we're going to say they're a suitable stand-in.

Cuppie at the Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum: Refer to Pioneer Square or the Seattle Public Library; it's sort of in-between the two. Oddly, your pet might have the best chance of scoring a "pupcake" in the immediate vicinity, at Three Dog Bakery.

Cuppie at the Seattle Public Library
Seattle Public Library: I love the SPL. Seriously, I go there like 3 times a week at least to research various cake and baked good related things. I even designed a postcard (image above) that they sell in their store! If you choose to visit, you'll want to trek just a few more blocks up the hill to Sugar Bakery + Cafe, where the cake is sweet and they sell my artwork. Yes, there were two plugs for my artwork in this paragraph. Also, though they don't sell cupcakes, the nearby Belle Epicurean does sell (very good) small cakes.

January 6, 2008 

Space Needle: You'll be in the crossroads between the Belltown and Queen Anne neighborhoods. Up the road just a bit on the Queen Anne side is Metropolitan Market, where they sell cupcakes from previously mentioned Cupcake Royale; a bit further up the hill, Pasta + Co. has cupcakes too. Of course, I also live near the Space Needle so you could always give me a call and I might have some cupcakes.

 

Tacoma Cuppies
Cupcakes Make Mr. Cakespy Happy
Tacoma's Museum of Glass: This place is really cool--you get to see a real live glassblowing studio! It's hot, literally. And nearby, sweetness can be found at the adorable (and well-loved--they've been featured in Seattle Magazine and Sunset Magazine!) hello, cupcake, where the cupcakes are dainty-looking, but pack a dense, tasty punch when you take a bite (see above picture for an indication of how happy they made my husband, the dear Mr. Cakespy).


Cafe Au Lait Cupcakes Closeup
Woodland Park Zoo: It's not the Bronx Zoo for sure, but it's surprisingly comprehensive. Mr. Cakespy and I have spent many a happy day at this zoo. And as a bonus, it's not too far from Trophy Cupcakes, which you may know from its many features--on Martha Stewart, on Cupcakes Take the Cake, the Seattle P-I, and many more. What's a mile and a half walk when cupcake nirvana awaits?

 

 

So there you have it--my Seattle in Cupcakes, but of course, open for you to choose your own (totally sweet) adventure.
Thanks again to Cupcakes Take the Cake for letting me sound off, and a very happy 4 year anniversary to you well!

 

 

 


 

 

Sunday
Nov302008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Presidential Sweet: A Tour of Presidential Holiday Desserts

Presidential Sweet
The holidays are a wonderful time, aren't they? You get to sit around and eat. Hopefully at someone else's house, where they cook and you don't have to clean up afterward.

But what about the big house? That is to say, the White House? We began to wonder what sweets and traditions might have played into Presidential culture, in both the current age and years past. And luckily, we were chosen by Foodbuzz for the 24, 24, 24 project so we suddenly had the time and the means to learn and explore a bit more--all amounting to quite a sweet surprise for our family and friends the entire week of Thanksgiving! Let's just say it wasn't just one day of feasting chez Cakespy.

Mount Cupmore

 

The below is a combination of the actual dishes served based on actual Presidential menus we've located, known favorite recipes of the presidents and their wives, and, you know, a little mischievous daydreaming of our own. We made several of the recipes and served them to family and friends--and so, without further ado, here's a summation of several of our favorite Presidential-inspired dishes, going in chronological order:

A note about Thanksgiving: You'll notice that most Thanksgiving recipes kick in later on in the list--this is because although the first one was celebrated in 1671, it wasn't actually a holiday (or even celebrated regularly) until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln finally made it a national holiday. But there was plenty of other holiday goodness going around before--and since!
George thinks the cake is great
Washington's Great Cake: Our journey of delicious started with the big man, that Cherry-tree killa George Washington (OK, so maybe he did it, maybe not). Though George Washginton did have a Thanksgiving dinner, what we found much more entrhralling was Martha's famous "Great Cake" (read more here!), one of her favorites which was traditionally served at Christmastime. This cake truly was great--especially in size, as it called for 40 eggs, 4 pounds of butter, and a variety of fruits including 2 pounds of apples, and plenty of cream sherry. While tempted, the materials just seemed like a bit of a wast, so ultimately we did the recipe in 1/8 scale and it actually worked out ok; we ended up swapping egg-white icing (an acquired taste in our opinion) for a rich cream cheese frosting with some festive stars. George would approve, we think. If you want to try the actual recipe for THE great cake though, check out this site.
Cake frosting
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Corn Pudding
Thomas Jefferson's Corn Pudding: TJ was certainly a renaissance man, and in addition to a great deal of hobbies and interests, he was quite the gourmand--he's even credited with introducing the greater US culture to the île flottante (which he served at a New Year's fete). Though Thanksgiving wasn't technically a holiday yet, we like to think that he'd serve something like this sweet corn pudding at his table--a popular recipe during his Presidential years. At our table, we found it to be a pleasant-tasting dish--like some types of cornbread, gently skirting the line between side dish and dessert.
Thomas Jefferson's Corn Pudding
Sweet Corn Pudding Recipe
  • 2 c. whole kernel corn (1 16 oz. can) drained
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 stick butter
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix at high speed 10 seconds. Pour into well greased baking dish and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. To make enough for company I triple the corn and double everything else and bake it for an hour or more until a knife comes out clean.
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Gingerbread
Madison's Gingerbread: While to many, the Madisons (namely, Dolley) are linked to ice cream, Dolley also had a much warmer, but equally delicious, favorite for the holidays--Soft Gingerbread. Apparently hers got its unique and delicious flavor from beef drippings, but call us chicken, we decided to use butter instead and while we have no point of comparison, this one was very moist and delicious, so the butter seemed to have worked just fine. If you'd like, though, be the judge yourself!

DeliciousDelicious
Dolley Madison's Soft Gingerbread
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup fresh beef drippings
  • 1 rounded tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 rounded tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar (to top)
Mix molasses and beef drippings; dissolve baking soda in the 1/4 cup of hot water and add to molasses and drippings mixture. Sift together flour, ginger and cinnamon and add alternately with the cup of very hot water to molasses and dripping mixture. Beat well until batter is thoroughly mixed and soft enough to pour. Bake in shallow, well-greased pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until center of cake springs back when pressed gently. Serve warm, sprinkledwith powdered sugar. Makes 6 servings.

President stuff
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Martin Van Buren's Doughnuts: Well, we didn't actually make them, but we were fascinated to learn two facts about MVB: first, he and his wife spoke Dutch at home (he was American-born but of Dutch heritage); the second, that his favorite food was doughnuts. Here's a recipe for an 1800's era Dutch doughnut (oliebollen) that we bet he would have loved on Christmas morning.
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*Mischievous note* William Henry Harrison Might have Liked it: well, he wasn't president for long. but, he did prompt us to learn more about Funeral Pie.
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*Mischievous note* James K. Polk might not have had much of an interest in food, but we'd officially like to dedicated the Bûche de Noël and the millefueille to him--after all, he was Napoleon of the Stump.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Mary Todd Lincoln's Cake
Abraham Lincoln / Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla-Almond Cake: It's said that this is the one Mary made when courting Lincoln in the early days. Since they both met and later married during the holiday season--not to mention that Honest Abe declared it to be the best cake he'd ever tasted-- we figure it's a good holiday offering to represent Lincoln's era.
While the cake itself is good--dense, slightly nutty, and plenty buttery--we're not so sure about its aphrodisiac powers. We made our cake in just one layer, not two; all the more frosting to glaze on over it all.

 

 

Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla-Almond Cake (via Recipe Goldmine)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • White Frosting
  1. Cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla extract.
  2. Stir together the cake flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in almonds.
  3. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  4. Pour into two greased and lightly floured 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pans.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 28 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Fill and frost with White Frosting.
White Frosting: In a saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and dash salt. Bring mixture to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

 

In mixing bowl place 2 egg whites; very slowly pour the hot sugar syrup over, beating constantly with electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
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Cakespy Note: Though it's not strictly dessert, we couldn't help but notice that Andrew Jackson, FDR, Calvin Coolidge, and LBJ all had an admitted penchant for pancakes. We'll bet these carb-lovin' presidents would have enjoyed this Christmas tree composed of crepes like this one.
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William Howart Taft: It takes only a mere glance at the man to tell that he was as serious about sweets as he was about politics (it's true--he weighed well over 300 pounds). Apparently above all he had a soft spot for pumpkin pie; while we found the recipe below online for a "William Taft Pumpkin Pie", it seems a little bit suspect (we're not sure if they had canned milk then...does that sound ignorant?) we've gotta believe that in a different era, he'd have enjoyed the one at the bottom of this post even better.
  • 9 Inch pie crust
  • 1/4 c Granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c Brown sugar
  • 3/4 c Canned milk
  • 3/4 c Fresh milk
  • 1 1/2 c Pumpkin
  • 2 Eggs; separated
  • 1/4 ts Allspice
  • 1 ts Cinnamon
  • 1/2 ts Ginger (if you wish)
  • 1/2 ts Salt

Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Mix sugars, salt and spices. Add
pumpkin. Add egg yolks and milk. Add more spices, if desired. Last, fold in
beaten egg whites, not too stiff. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake
at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn down to 350 degrees until done,
about 30 to 40 minutes (depending on your oven). Pie ready when knife comes
out of filling clean.

 

Pietime!Tasting pie is serious business
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Sweet Potato Casserole
Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon (his menu below) and Lyndon B. Johnson were apparently huge fans of the sweet potato casserole; happily, there's an official White House recipe. We doubled the marshmallow for added awesomeness. The founding fathers would approve, we think. We sure dug into this one with relish--er, sweetness.


November 27, 1969

 

 

  • 8 medium sized sweet potatoes,
  • roasted, peeled and passed through
  • a fine mesh sieve
  • 3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ bag miniature marshmallows
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly mix all the ingredients except the marshmallows. Spray a 9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour the custard and top with a half bag of mini marshmallows. Bake for about a half hour. Keep warm for service.
Sweet Potato Casserole
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Truman mini pie
Harry S. Truman's Light Pie: Via The Old Foodie, we discovered this excerpt from a 1946 edition of the New York Times:

WHITE HOUSE MENU GUARDS WAISTLINE.
The White House announced today an ample menu for the Thanksgiving dinner which President Truman will sandwich in between two diplomatic dinners, but he’s still dieting.

 

The continued waistline-reduction regime is on the authority of Mrs. Mary E. Sharpe, White House housekeeper, who counts the Presidential calories. She declined to elaborate other than to say: “When I make up menus I keep it in mind.”

Mrs. Sharpe gave the Thanksgiving menu as follows: clear bouillon, curled celery and olives, roast stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, buttered peas, cauliflower au gratin, orange and cress salad, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and cheese, candied fruit, nuts, coffee.

And so, we figured that it would be in keeping to make a pint-sized (diet friendly) pie for Harry--so, with an extra bit of filling from the Mesnier recipe (bottom) we made a single-serve piece in a cupcake cup, with a low-fat marshmallow topping. Still yummy, and mos' def cute!

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Jackie Kennedy's Hot Fruit DessertJackie Kennedy's Hot Fruit Dessert
Kennedy's Hot Fruit Dessert Pies: It's known that assorted pies and ice cream always played a role in the Kennedy Thanksgiving dinner. However, we took it a step further by combining the pie idea with Jackie Kennedy's famous Hot Fruit Dessert (click here for the recipe)--her signature dish. We made the dessert but then baked it in as a pie filling; we used extra pie crust from the recipe at the bottom of this post and used it to line cupcake cups, filling them with the fruit slurry and topping it all off with a brown sugar glaze on top. Though we're not usually fruit pie fans, this one had enough of a rich kick from the buttery glaze and sour cream that even we were impressed. As seen below, we think JFK approves as well. Of course if you don't care for fruit pies, you could always try to replicate these cookies.
JFK approves
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Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake
Johnson's Lemon Cake: Behind every great President is a great First Lady, and behind at least one first lady--Ladybird Johnson--was a great arsenal of awesome cake recipes. We went for one of her (and the President's) favorites--taking a modern twist and making them into cupcakes. The result? A cupcake that is light, fluffy, and simply delicious--so refreshing, it provides a nice foil to all of those other holiday foods!

 

 

Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
What's in the batter?
Icing Ingredients
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
  • 1 lemon, Grated rind only
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons cream (or more, until spreading consistency)
  • Yellow food coloring, if desired

Directions:
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored; blend into creamed mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; resift 3 times. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with milk. Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

 

Add vanilla extract, lemon rind and lemon juice; beat 2 minutes. Bake in greased 10-inch Bundt pan in preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. You can also can use three 9-inch round cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Double the frosting recipe for a layer cake.

Lemon Icing
Combine ingredients and beat, adding cream until desired consistency.

Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake (as cupcakes)
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Tassies
Jimmy Carter's Pecan Toffee Tassies: Now, Jimmy Carter did have holiday meals at the White House, duh, but even more importantly, he was the first Presidential figure to ever bake with Paula Deen--so we'd say that these cookies are a step above. We'd serve these at any Christmas party. Ours were stickier and less pretty than Paula's, but man, were they rich and delicious. Needless to say, they disappeared really fast.

Pecan Toffee Tassies (Via Paula Deen)

 

  • 1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 (10-ounce) package almond brickle chips
  • Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Unroll the piecrusts onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into 2 (15-inch) circles. Cut out 48 circles using a 1 3/4-inch fluted or round cookie cutter, re-rolling dough as needed. Place in 1 3/4-inch muffin pans, pressing on the bottoms and up the sides of each of the mini-muffin cups. Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, flour, and eggs in a large bowl, mixing well. Add the vanilla. Stir in the pecans and brickle chips. Spoon the pecan filling evenly into the pie shells. Bake for 25 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned. Cool in pans on wire racks.

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Presidential Eggnog
And now, to the modern day. What better to get into the spirit of the holidays than with some holiday spirits? For 11 years spanning the Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies, this eggnog recipe has ruled. In White House Chef, author Walter Scheiber describes how
every year, the holiday season was kicked off with the "running of the 'nog", our playful way of referring to the tour of the House we made with the eggnog (and a riff on the "running of the bulls" from Pamplona, Spain).
What can we say? This is the real deal--it certainly packs a punch, and even if it was just thanksgiving, it certainly put our crew in a celebratory mood. (Though for full disclosure, we didn't have Cognac so just doubled up on the rum. *hic*)
White House Eggnog
  • 5 ounces egg yolks (6-7 yolks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup Cognac
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • 7 ounces egg whites (6-7)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 quart milk, plus more if needed
  • Nutmeg, for serving
  1. Put the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachmen; whip until pale yellow ribbons form, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the cognac, bourbon, and rum, whip well, scrape down the sides, and mix again. Transfer the mixture to a 6-qt bowl.
  3. In separate, clean mixer bowl, whip the egg whites and salt until very stiff peaks form. Fold into eggnog mixture.
  4. Wipe out the mixer bowl, pour in the cream and vanilla, and whip until very stiff peaks form. Fold this into the eggnog mixture. Add the milk and whisk until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Chill, garnish with nutmeg (and cinnamon, in our case!) and enjoy!
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Yes We Pie
And for the past 25 years or so, apparently one pie has risen above all others in the White House: Raymond Mesnier's Ginger Pumpkin Pie. So we made it--here's one thing we wouldn't mind passing on to the next administration, we must say.

 

 

Presidential Pumpkin Pie With Ginger
Ingredients for the Pie Crust
Makes enough for 2 12-inch pie shells.

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening, plus some for greasing parchment

Recipe for pieProduct Placement?
Ingredients for the Pumpkin Filling
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 18 ounces milk
  • 2 2/3 cups plain canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 baked 12-inch pie shell (recipe below)
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • Candied ginger, finely cut

Directions for the Pie Crust

 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place ingredients in mixing bowl. Then using paddle attachment of an electric mixer, mix until well blended, about 3 minutes.
2. Divide dough in two; shape each into a ball. (Dough balls can be wrapped and frozen.)
3. Roll out on floured surface into a round to fit a 12-inch glass pie plate. Trim crust at edge of plate. (It will be covered with whipped cream.)
4. Prick crust with fork on bottom and sides. Crumple a piece of parchment paper; open up and grease one side of the paper. Place greased side down in crust; fill bottom and a little up the sides with dried beans.
5. Bake 15 minutes; remove from oven, and carefully remove paper and beans. If crust tears, patch it by pressing together with your fingers. Bake another 10 minutes, until crust is brown, and remove. It is not necessary to wait for crust to cool before filling.

Directions for the Pumpkin Pie

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat whole eggs and yolks lightly.
3. Cream sugar and eggs, and beat in salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour into pre-baked pie shell.
4. Bake about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not jiggle. Cool pie on wire rack, then chill.
5. To serve, whip cream and pipe around edge of pie; decorate with candied ginger.

(Eggnog and pumpkin pie Recipes courtesy of Roland Mesnier, Chief White House Pastry Chef, copyright 2001.)
Yes We Pie

 

As for a grand finale? How about a sculpture of Mt. Rushmore rendered in sugar cookie dough and cake? OK, it sounded great in theory--but alas, our chef d'oeuvre turned out to be a major chef don't. And yet...while eating hunks sugar cookie dough molded into a vague visage of a President, one can't help but be slightly dazzled by all that sweetness--regardless of whether the outcome looked more like an unholy mashed potatoes and peas combination. Hey, you win some, you lose some.
Mt Rushmore from sugar cookie dough
In closing? Have a sweet Holiday Season, and thank you again to Foodbuzz for letting us have fun with the 24, 24, 24 project--and do check out the other entries here!

For suggested further reading, check out the sources we used for this post:

Dessert University: More Than 300 Spectacular Recipes and Essential Lessons from White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier
The White House Cook Book : A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home Containing cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner Giving Table, Etiquette, Care of the sick, Health Suggestions, Facts Worth Knowing Etc.
Presidential Tidbits & Trivia by Sid Frank and Arden Davis Melick
The President's Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy
Zimbio.com
Hugging the Coast

 

 

 

Friday
Nov282008

Shake it Up: The Lovely and Amazing Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

Pumpkin Pie Shake
There's a lot of attention given to Thanksgiving Leftovers. From smashed potato cakes to stuffing fritters to creative recipes that go far beyond the standby turkey sandwich, the leftovers are sometimes even more coveted than the feast itself.

However, never until this year had we ever had to worry about leftover Pumpkin Pie. In general, it gets--wait for it--gobbled up straightaway.
However, this year, having made not one but four different pies (more about that in a few days), we suddenly did find ourselves with leftovers. While steaming milk for coffee this morning, suddenly we had a memory of recently having read about a gorgeous-sounding apple pie shake in John T. Edge's Apple Pie book; why not try it with some pumpkin pie?
Now, we're certain that there are a zillion different variations that you could use, but here's what we did--and man, was it delicious.
  • 6 ounces unsweetened soy milk (we're sure dairy milk would be fine too, this just happened to be what we had)
  • Dash of soy creamer
  • small handful mini marshmallows
  • 1 small slice pumpkin pie (we used one on which the crust measured about 2 inches)
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste
  • Leftover PiePumpkin Pie Shake
  1. In a small saucepan, warm soy milk and creamer; once warm, add marshmallows and continue to warm (but not boil) until marshmallows are fully melted. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or spices to taste.
  2. Place pie slice in blender.
  3. Pour liquid mixture over pie slice, and add ice cubes
  4. Blend until smooth

Pumpkin Pie Shake
Try to drink slowly; inevitably, it will be so delicious that you'll get brain freeze. Wait it out, then repeat. It's sure to give you energy for all that shopping you've got to do.

 


 

 

Friday
Nov282008

Cakespy Undercover: A Sweet Vegan Surprise in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Vegan Baked Goods, Puerto Rico
Rincón is a gorgeous little spot in the northwest of Puerto Rico, known for its amazing weather and surf. Food-wise, you can expect some amazing fare, from tostones and rice and beans to fiery, spicy chicken to delicious concoctions involving rum and coconut. What you might not expect, however, is a mecca for vegan baked goods.

However, the tide is changing, as Cake Gumshoes Margie and Kenny found out on a recent trip, when they attended the Farmer's Market of Rincón. At the market, which takes place the first and third Sundays of every month in the town's main plaza, they happened upon Vanessa, a vegan baker (pictured top), who often takes part in the market.
Downtown Rincon, Puerto Rico

As our Gumshoes report: "We had a carrot muffin made with rice flour. It was the first time I ever had something vegan but it had a good flavor that got better with each bite and left a nice aftertaste."

By the looks of it, these treats were delightfully moist, dense, and rich--we hope they packed some of Vanessa's wares to bring back home.

Interested in finding out more about Rincón? Visit rinconpr.com.

Sunday
Nov232008

Sweet But Dark: Fifty Ways to Kill a Twinkie

Twinkie #8: Teddy Graham Attack
Thanks again to our buddy at Suspect and Fugitive for her help on this adventure!

It's been said that Twinkies could survive a Nuclear Holocaust--and we wouldn't dare challenge the wisdom of The Family Guy. But what about far more mundane, everyday perils? Certainly Twinkies aren't completely indestructable. There's always a means to an end, isn't there? As Paul Simon once said, there must be fifty ways to leave your lover--and so, in what may be considered a perverse twist on this logic, we figured there must also be fifty ways to kill a Twinkie. Ranging from somewhat useful to creative to downright cruel, here they are:


Twinkie #1: Die, Twinkie, Die!Twinkie #1: Dead
1. Step on it. If so desired, do it slowly.

 

Twinkie #2: Dead!Twinkie #2
2. Death by Razr: crush it in a cell phone.

Twinkie #4
3. Put it in a handbag for a week. That sucker doesn't have a chance.

Twinkie #5twinkie side view
4. Put it in the mail. (Note: The first picture is before we sent it --for the recipient's privacy we photographed it before adhering the label-- and the second is after it arrived.)

5. Shank it. 

Twinkie #6
6. Leave it out in the Seattle rain.

Twinkie #7: Listening to Randy Newman
7. Make it listen to Randy Newman on an endless loop.
8. Take it to a fat camp and see how long it lasts.

 

Twinkie #8: Teddy Graham Attack
9. Teddy Graham attack!

Twinkie #9: Assaulted with Boiling waterTwinkie #9: Assaulted with Boiling waterTwinkie #9: Assaulted with Boiling water
10. Pour boiling water on it. Either marvel at, or be repulsed by, the results.

Twinkie #10: In the grate!Twinkie #10: In the grate!
11. Stuff it in a sewer grate.

Twinkie #11: Hurled at the Space Needle
12. Hurl it at the Space Needle. (Note: We wanted to throw it FROM the Space Needle, but fearing arrest and / or heavy fines, we decided to throw it AT the Space Needle.)

Twinkie #12: In the StreetTwinkie #12: Roadkill
13. Make it into roadkill.

Twinkie #13: Being Kind
14. Give it to someone less fortunate (to use it as a punching bag when they see they got a ticket).

Twinkie #14: Impaled!
15. Impale it.

Twinkie #15: Chop it in Tiny Bits
16. Chop it into tiny bits--you know, like mobsters do.

Twinkie #16: Make Croutons
17. Fry cubed Twinkie and make Twinkie Croutons.

Twinkie #17: Make friends eat Croutons
18. Make your friends eat a real salad with Twinkie croutons--hilarity will ensue! (for you).

Twinkie #18: Salt
19. Add salt. It kills slugs, so why not Twinkies, right?

Twinkie #19: Microwave
20. Put it in the microwave. Wonder why the microwave makes the cream filling turn to translucent goo.

Twinkie #20: Go all Damien Hirst on itDamien Hirst Twinkie
21. Go all Damien Hirst on it!

Twinkie Tiramisu
22. Make it into something delicious, like Twinkie tiramisu.

#22: Feed it to a snake
23. Feed it to a snake.

Twinkie #23Twinkie #3
24. Sit on it for an extended period of time.

#41 Put bleach in its coffee
25. Put bleach in its coffee.

#23: Twinkie cut in half
26. Slice it in half and try to see hidden Rorschach-style pictures.

Twinkie Hot Dog
27. Make Twinkie hot dogs!

Twinkie #27: Chair balance
28. Use it to balance a wobbly chair.

Twinkie #28: Heart Attack
29. Give it a Monster Thickburger--a heart attack will surely follow.

Twinkie Mad Science
30. Go all mad science, like these people did.

Twinkie #33: Instant breakfast
31. Make it into an instant breakfast. Screw you, Carnation Instant!

Twinkie #31: Alcohol poisoning
32. Give it alcohol poisoning.

Twinkie #32: Death by literature
33. Use it as a bookend.

#33: Godzilla kills twinkie
34. Leave it to Godzilla's wrath.

35. Dehydrate it.

#35: Give it to a Guinea Pig
36. Give it to a guinea pig.

#36: Skewered Twinkie
37. Skewer it. Twin-kebab, anyone?

#37: Twinkie Sushi
38. Make Twinkie Sushi (Note: This was not originally our idea. Check it out here.)

Twinkie #39: Give it to Mariah Carey
39. Give it to Mariah Carey. That Twinkie's a goner for sure.

40. Submit it to cryogenesis, as these people did.

 

Twinkie Zombie attack!

41. Zombie attack!

 

Frozen Twinkie
42. Freeze it

#43: Death by kitchen fan

43. Put it in the kitchen fan.

 

#45: Doorstop
44. Use it as a doorstop.

#46: Mauled by a unicorn
45. Mauled by Unicorn!

#24: Drop it off a building
46. Drop it off a building. We didn't, but they did.

Twinkie, Mentos, Diet Coke
47. Mentos, Diet Coke, Explode!

#48: Death by Hanging
48. Hang it.

 

#49 Keith Richards and Twinkies
49. Give it to an artist. We gave it to our good friend at Suspect and Fugitive, who made a "Twin-Keith Richards" portrait out of the creme filling. Why? Well, as an homage to their shared infinite shelf life.

Finally, for #50? Oh, you know...eat it. If you dare.

Wednesday
Nov192008

Sky Rockets in Flight: Afternoon Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight
Early on in the novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of the characters, Edmund, is enchanted and hypnotized by an unusual food: Turkish Delight

Now we know that everyone is entitled to their opinions and tastes, but we think Edmund could have done better. Truly, we've just never understood the appeal of the sticky confection known as Turkish Delight. Sure, it's got an interesting history--but in we've always found its texture kind of weird, and it's always seemed to have had a bit of an identity crisis (somewhere between candy, jelly, nougat and fruit roll-ups). However, when we recently came across a recipe for "Turkish Delight Frothy", a kind of nonalcoholic hot toddy featuring the confection, we have to admit we were intrigued, and so we gave it a try.

Turkish Delight Frothy
The recipe had a distinct Middle Eastern feel, what with rosewater, honey, pistachios, and cardamom. This got us all excited--we love Middle Eastern pastries which largely rely on said ingredients.  But would it be enough to make Turkish Delight haters into lovers?
The Turkish Delight Frothy definitely has its strong points. It's warm, spicy, sweet and comforting--like a chai tea latte. However, it's worth noting that rather than masking the flavor of the confectionery, the added ingredients actually managed to heighten it--which we imagine, if you're a fan of the stuff, would be--well, delightful. However, as we sipped we realized that maybe, secretly, brattily, we were hoping that the extra stuff might make frothy might taste like something other than its main ingredient. Le sigh. So while we'll likely stick with hot chocolate and chai as our hot beverages of choice, if you are a fan of Turkish Delight, this one might be worth a try.

 

Here's the recipe:

Turkish Delight Frothy

Serves: 2

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 ounces Turkish delight, cut into small cubes, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted pistachio nuts, finely chopped
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and Turkish delight. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just reaches the boiling point. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer or whisk to beat the cream, rose water, honey and cardamom until just stiff.
  3. Divide the milk mixture between 2 serving cups, then top with the whipped cream. Garnish with additional cubes of Turkish delight and the chopped pistachio nuts.
  4. Serve it with a spoon for eating unmelted (and delicious) lumps of candy at the bottom.

-- Recipe from Louise Pickford's "Hot Drinks" (Ryland, Peters & Small), we found it via the Seattle PI.

 

 

Tuesday
Nov182008

Ask a Gumshoe: Where Can I Find a Cookie of the Month Club?

Cookie Bakers
We get a lot of mail with baked good related questions--and we'll admit it, sometimes we're stumped! But we always try to do our homework--and so here is a new feature in which we will strive to answer these important questions so that others can benefit from our sweet findings too!

This week, we received a message from a Cakespy reader, wondering if there is such a thing as a cookie-of-the-week club. Though we don't know of any cookie of the week clubs, upon searching we did realize that there is a very active culture of cookie of the month clubs out there--the hardest part may be choosing your favorite. Now, we can't say we endorse any of these companies as we've never joined their clubs, but having looked at quite a few, these were the ones that seemed most appetizing, interesting, and user-friendly to us:


Cookie of the Month, Chip N Dough
Who: Chip N Dough
What to expect: 12 jumbo cookies a month; on the first month, your recipient will receive a cookie jar which they can replenish each month with the new batch.
The goods: You can either have them choose an assortment or choose your own flavors; the cookies are fairly traditional, including classics like chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal chocolate chip, and a decadent soft chocolate cookie-brownie hybrid which they call the "Brookie".
The investment: There are a variety of plans. Prices range from $67.95 for a prepaid three month plan to $269.95 for the whole year long. Monthly plans are available too, for $24.95 a month.
Shipping: Not included.
Where to find them: chipndough.com.

Cookies by "My Kids' Cookies"

Who: My Kids' Cookies
What to expect: 12 jumbo cookies each month; customizable packaging options available, and you have freedom to choose the day of the month you'd like to have them shipped to the recipient.
The goods: The monthly selections are set (flavors include classics like Snickerdoodles, Oatmeal Raisin, Milk Chocolate Walnut, and gourmet variations like Oatmeal Cranberry and White Chocolate Macadamia); however, it's possible to specify whether you'd like your selections with or without nuts.
The investment: $315 for the year
Shipping: Included in the cost.
Where to find them: mykidscookies.com.

Solomon's Cookies Carmelitas
Who: Solomon's Gourmet Cookies
What to expect: A set selection of gourmet cookies delivered monthly.
The Goods: They have a set selection, with a limited number of substitutions possible:
  • January - Jelly Cookie
  • February - Chocolate Mint Brownie
  • March - Coconut Bar
  • April - Raspberry Brownie
  • May - Caramelita
  • June - Chocolate Chip Brownie
  • July - Muriel Roth Bar
  • August - Turtle Bar
  • September - Chocolate Filler
  • October - Caramel Brownie
  • November - Banana Bar
  • December - No Nut Assortment
The Investment: A varying scale of plans are available in 3, 6, or 12 month intervals. You can choose either a 12, 18 or 30-count monthly shipment for any of these durations, depending on your budget. on the low end, a three-month plan of a 12-count box of cookies is $50.95 for the entire three months; for big spenders, a 30-count assortment sent every month for 12 months would run $448.95.
Shipping: Not included. They estimate that shipping adds $6.50-$8.50 per shipment.
Where to find them: solomonscookies.com.

 

Allisons GourmetAllisons GourmetAllisons Gourmet
Who: Allisons Gourmet

What to expect: One dozen of the generously sized "flavor of the month" cookie delivered early each month.
The goods: The flavor selections are set but correspond nicely to the seasons; all ingredients are all-natural and organic. Gotta love that.
  • January: Oatmeal Raisin
  • February: Double Chocolate Chunk
  • March: Butterscotch Pecan
  • April: Peanut butter chocolate chip
  • May: Vanilla Almond
  • June: Coconut key lime
  • July: Peanut butter
  • August: Chocolate Hazelnut
  • September: Oatmeal chocolate chunk
  • October: Pumpkin spice
  • November: Cranberry Orange
  • December: Gingerbread Spice
The investment: Two options are available--prepaid or monthly (with a three month minimum). The cost is $35.36 per month.
Shipping: It looks from the site as if some of the shipping is included in the cost, but it may be subject to increase depending where the cookies are being sent.
Where to find them: allisonsgourmet.com.

 

Gotta have Cookies
Who: Gotta Have Cookies

What to expect: A batch of cookies delivered each month to your recipient; a personalized gift message accompanies the first shipment.
The goods: The selections are set:
  • January: Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Squares
  • February: Heart Cut-Out Cookies
  • March: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • April:  Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • May: Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • June: Macadamia and Milk Chocolate Chunk
  • July: Snickerdoodles
  • August: Macadamia and White Chocolate Chip
  • September: M & M Cookies
  • October: Monster Cookies ( Peanut butter, M & M’s, chocolate chips and oatmeal)
  • November: Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip
  • December: Assorted Christmas Cookies: Spritz, Peanut Butter Blossom and the “baker’s choice”.
The investment: The club is set up in 3-month ($89.75), 6-month ($170.05) or 12-month ($321.20) installments. 
Shipping: Not included
Where to find them: gottahavecookies.com.

Monica'sMonica's
Who: Monica's Best Gourmet Cookies
What to expect: One dozen fat (in this case, this is a compliment) cookies delivered each month on a a box "elegantly finished with ribbon".
The goods: The selections by month are set:
  • January - Peanut Butter
  • February - Mocha Chocolate Chip
  • March - The Trio
  • April - Iced Lemon
  • May - Iced Almond
  • June - Assorted
  • July - Iced Orange
  • August - Oatmeal Raisin
  • September - Chocolate Chip
  • October - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip
  • November - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
  • December - Iced Peppermint
The investment: The club is set up in 3-month ($72), 6-month ($145), 9-month ($214) and 12-month ($279) increments.
Shipping: Shipping is included in all aforementioned fees.
Where to find them: monicasbest.com.

Carolina Cookie Co
Who: Carolina Cookie
What to expect: Depending on your investment, either one or two dozen dense cookies per month which are strangely, almost shaped like southern biscuits. 
The goods: The selections by month are set:
  • January: Chunky Chocolate
  • February: Triple Chocolate Pecan
  • March: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
  • April: Sugar
  • May: Butter Pecan
  • June: Oatmeal Raisin
  • July: Chunky Reeses Peanut Butter
  • August: Oatmeal Cranberry Nut
  • September: Chunky Chocolate Pecan
  • October: Chunky Milk Chocolate
  • November: Milk Chocolate Macadamia Nut
  • December: Gingerbread
The investment: The club is set up in 3-month ($53.95 /dz; $75.30/ 2 dz.), 6-month ($106 / dz; $153.70 / 2 dz); 12-month ($201.93 / dz; $293.64 / 2 dz) increments.
Shipping: Price includes standard shipping.
Where to find them: carolinacookie.com.

SnickerDoodles by PlatineChocolateChip Cookies by Platine
Who: Platine Cookies
What to expect: 18 original artisan recipe cookies (and bars) the first week of every month.
The goods: The monthly selections are set:
  • January Platine Signature Cookie
  • February Our Best Brownies
  • March Chocolate Chunk
  • April Snickerdoodles
  • May Chocolate Galore
  • June Milk Chocolate Nut
  • July Oatmeal Raisin
  • August Blondies
  • September Traditional Rugelach
  • October Halloween Candy Craze
  • November Chocolate Gingersnaps
  • December Cranberry Chocolate Chunk
The investment: The club is set up in 3-month ($85), 6-month ($150) and 9-month ($220) increments.
Shipping: Shipping is not included.
Where to find them: platinecookies.com.

Tribeca Treats
Who: Tribeca Treats
What to expect: 1-2 dozen cookies per month (depending on the month's selection).
The goods: The monthly selections are set: 
  • January: Stick to your resolutions (at least until February!) with our fat-free and gluten-free "Spa Cookies". The recipe comes from the famed Golden Door Spa in Southern California.
  • February: Treat yourself or your valentine to heart-shaped raspberry linzer cookies
  • March: Traditional New York black & white cookies, only bite-sized
  • April: Our ever-popular caramel sandwich cookies, in both chocolate and vanilla versions
  • May: For Mother's Day, our fudgy brownies (even better than mom used to make!)
  • June: Peanut butter thumbprint cookies filled with milk chocolate ganache
  • July: Refreshing lime shortbread cookies, with a lime glaze
  • August: Cinnamon buttermilk cookies (if French Toast were a cookie, this is what it would taste like!)
  • September: Rekindle your summer campfire memories with our S'mores cookies
  • October: BOO! our Halloween sugar cookies are a hit with kids and adults
  • November: Chocolate hazelnut cookies are a perfect treat by a toasty fire
  • December: Adorable gingerbread men, just in time for Holiday season
The investment: The club is set up in 6-month ($210) or 12-month ($360) increments.
Shipping: Shipping is included in the cost.
Where to find them: tribecatreats.com.
Carol's Cookies
Who: Carol's Cookies
What to expect: A monthly shipment of 1 dozen enormous cookies with a gift message.
The goods: The monthly selections are set: 
  • January: The No-nutter...a dozen of all of our handmade cookies without the nuts
  • February: Sweets for my Sweet - a dozen of Cinnamon Swirl and Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
  • March: Awww, Nuts! - a dozen of our assorted cookies with nuts
  • April: Specialty Chocolate Month - a dozen of our cookies with rich dark, milk and white chocolate
  • May: The Kitchen Sink - whatever we have in stock is what you get
  • June: Cookie Jar with half of a dozen of our gourmet assortment
  • July: Best Sellers - whatever our best sellers are, you'll be getting our top three
  • August: Fruit of the Month - a dozen of our Oatmeal Raisin and Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies
  • September: Minis - a Small Gift Tin packed full with Carol's Minis
  • October: Choco-holics - anything and everything chocolate this month!
  • November: Tandem Coffee Cups - two of our Carol's Coffee Cups so you have something to dip your cookies into
  • December: Gourmet Assortment - our standard measure for perfection, a dozen of our handmade, assorted cookies
 
The investment: The club is set up in 6-month ($205) or 12-month ($400) increments.
Where to find them: carolscookies.com.

Do you have an opinion on the best cookie of the month club? Leave a comment or send us an email!

 

Monday
Nov172008

Peanutty Buddies: Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies from Peanut Butter and Co.

Chocolate peanut butter shortbread cookie stack
When Peanut Butter and Co., a cute little Greenwich Village cafe known for its incredible number of variations on the humble peanut butter sandwich, began distributing their peanut butters nationwide, we were thrilled. We love peanut butter. 


When it came to their book The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook: Recipes from the World's Nuttiest Sandwich Shop though, we were a bit skeptical. Honestly, why bother with a cookbook when their stuff tastes so good just eaten directly from the jar? Yes, it's true--we're not above eating a spoonful of "Mighty Maple" (delightfully crunchy) or White Chocolate Wonderful (kind of like a white-chocolate Reese's cup, only all smooth and silky) right from their respective peanut butter jars.

But somewhere between spoonfuls, a glorious thought occurred: What if it tasted even better baked into something? 

And so we consulted the book, and settled on something simple to start: the peanut butter shortbread. While theirs calls for regular peanut butter, we upped the ante by using their Dark Chocolate Dreams variety. These cookies bake for a long time, which allows ample time for the aroma of peanut butter, chocolate, and cookie to permeate the entire house. This is not a bad smell to have permeate your house, by the way. The taste seemed to have three defined layers: upon first bite, one encountered the sandy, slightly salted, buttery bite of the shortbread; then, a moment later, there was the peanut butter; chasing it very closely, a finish of rich, dark chocolatiness. Oh, were they delicious. Here's our adaptation of the recipe:

  • 2 cups flour 
  • 2/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (We used their "Dark Chocolate dreams" variety)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Their recipe says it yields 12 wedges of shortbread, but we did a combination of thinly rolled cookies and simple, small round cookies and got more like 24.

  1. Prehead the oven to 275. Either grease a 9-inch cake pan (if you want wedges) or just grease a regular cookie pan if you're a rule-breaker, like us.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt and set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla til fluffy. Continue mixing, adding the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time, until fully incorporated.
  4. (a.) If you want classic wedges, at this point press the dough into the prepared cake pan, using a knife to score the surface of the dough into 12 wedge-shaped pieces. Repeatedly press the tips of te tines of a fork around the outer edge of the shortbread, creating four concentric circles of dots. (b.) If you want to go your own way, roll them into little balls and then flatten them slightly (like at the top). We also rolled out a few and tried to use a cookie cutter, but the buttery nature of this dough didn't take to that so well. All the same, we did get a few cute Cuppie-cookies.
  5. Bake for 75 minutes (since we'd broken a rule, we checked it at 60 minutes and ultimately took them out at 65 minutes or so), or until shortbread is a pale golden color (since ours was brownish from the chocolate, we looked for a slight crispness around the edges). If in wedges, allow to cool for 1 hour before cutting. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Cakespy Note: we should add that while the peanut butters are available online at ilovepeanutbutter.com, the shipping can get pricey; you might want to try your local supermarket. We found that they had them at our local gourmet supermarket in Seattle, so we can only assume they're around the rest of the US too!

Chocolate peanut butter Shortbread cookie

 

 

 

Saturday
Nov152008

Sweet Spot: Dessert Links!

Lamb and Lion Cuppies

Who can wait til March for lions and lambs when they're this cute? Similarly cute are our favorite links this week:
Help the economy: go to the Urban Craft Uprising, Seattle's awesome holiday craft show! Cakespy and many other arbiters of cute will be in attendance!
In Maine and love to bake? Sign up for Iron Cupcake in Maine, which is headed up by Carrie from Fields of Cake!

 

Testing recipes? Follow pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon's wise guide.

 

Bakery owners (or hopeful bakery owners) listen up: The Ten Commandments of Cupcakes. Thanks Lydia for the tip!

Chocolate ravioli: need we say more? (thanks Leslie for the tip)
Sweet accessories we want: the cutest cake and ice-cream air fresheners we've ever seen, at peachypan.com; cupcake pajamas by PJ Salvage (thanks for the tip MPG!); bakery-themed bath products by sassypinkboutique.com!
A marriage made in heaven: Cakespy artwork now available at acupcakery.com!
Still have all your teeth? You won't for long: say hello to Wick's Sugar Pies.
In Seattle? Interested in food culture? Sign up for the Wednesday University evening course, "Food for Thought: The Ethics, Culture and Politics of Eating". We did!
We tried it at the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking book party, and we liked it--Rogue Brewery's chocolate stout.

 

 

Friday
Nov142008

Lost and Found: The Chocolate Topped Princess Cake

Princess Cake
What makes a dessert go extinct? Times changing? Palates and preferences shifting? Dessert chefs retiring? All of the above? 

Whatever the reason, and wherever they may go, there are nonetheless certain desserts that stay alive in people's memories. And during our recent bout of research (read: obsession) with the Princess Cake, we came across one such dessert. The Princess Cake at famed Los Angeles eatery Scandia was not green, and in fact, it even varied a bit from the classic recipe, getting an added crunch from two layers of macaroons in addition to the layers of cake, jam and cream--and an added layer of richness with a layer of chocolate frosting atop the classic marzipan. However, one thing is for certain--this cake was certainly loved. 
While Scandia is no longer around, luckily Cake Gumshoe (and go-to pastry Chef of the Cakespy crew) Chris Jarchow sleuthed out the recipe for Scandia's Princess cake in the gorgeous book Lost Desserts: Delicious Indulgences of the Past Recipes from Legendary and Famous Chefs by Gail Monahan. Together, we took on the massive (and very time-consuming) cake-making project. Here's how we did it:


Princess Cake

Princess Cake (It says it serves 8-10, but we found that a little went a long way and it was more like 15 servings...no, really)
For the Yellow Cakes: 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Vanilla Buttercream: 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Marzipan Icing:
  • 1 cup almond paste
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 large egg plus one egg yolk (or more if needed to make a spreading consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the chocolate icing:
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature and lightly beanten
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Macaroons
To assemble the cake: 
  • 24 almond macaroons--somewhat hard and chewy, not hard and crisp (recipe suggests store-bought but Chris made ours)
  • about 5 tablespoons dark rum (or more, if you're feeling frisky)
  • About 2 cups best-quality raspberry jam
To make the yellow cakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 6 or 8 inch round or square cake pans at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter the paper and dust the paper and pans with flour.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix for 30 seconds until combined. Add the butter and remaining 6 tablespoons milk. Mix on low speed until uniformly moist. Switch to high speed and mix for 1.5 minutes. Add the egg mixture in three batches, beating 15 seconds after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces with a spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after they are removed from the oven.
  5. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen the cakes from the sides of the pan with a small knife and invert the cakes onto the racks. Re-invert and cool completely. Split each cake horizontally into two layers.
To make the vanilla buttercream:
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the syrup comes to a rolling boil and the sugar dissolves, and the entire surface is covered with large bubbles. Immediately pour the syrup into another cool saucepan or metal bowl to stop the cooking. 
  3. Beating constantly, add the syrup to the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the last of the syrup into the yolks and to scrape down the bowl occasionally. Continue to beat until the mixture is completely cool.
  4. Gradually beat in the butter and then the vanilla. Store the buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and beat again before using.
To Make the Marzipan Icing:
  1. Cut the almond paste into small pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer with the sugar, the whole egg, and the egg yolk. Beat on medium speed until combined, adding more egg if necessary to make the icing a spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Frosting
To Make the Chocolate Icing:

 

 

  1. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. When melted, remove from heat and add the confectioners' sugar and hot water. Stir thoroughly; add egg and beat well. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time and beat until thoroughly combined, smooth, and glossy (this took several minutes).

Layering the Princess Cake
To Assemble the cake:
  1.  Lay the macaroons out on a piece of wax paper, flatten them a bit with your hand, and spinkle with 2 tablespoons of the rum. Set aside.
  2. Layer a cake layer on a cake plate and dampen the top with 1 tablespoon of rum. Spread generously with jam and then cover evenly with 12 or so macaroons. 
  3. Spread the underside of a second cake layer with buttercream, about 3/8 inch thick. Place this second layer, buttercream side down, on top of the first layer. Dampen the top with 1 tablespoon of rum. 
  4. Spread the top of this second layer generously with jam (be sure to hold the side of the cake so it doesn't slide around).
  5. Spread the underside of a third cake layer with buttercream, again about 3/8 inch thick, and lay it, buttercream side down, on top of the second layer.
  6. Dampen the top of the third layer with the last tablespoon of the rum, spread generously with jam, and evenly cover the jam with the remaining 12 macaroons.
  7. Spread 3/8 inch of buttercream on the underside of the fourth cake layer and lay it, buttercream side down, on top of the third layer.
  8. Use leftover buttercream sparingly to tidy up the cake: fill gaps on the sides between layers, and just generally smooth things over. Put the cake in the fridge or freezer for at least 15 minutes to harden the buttercream. Note: Ours started to pull a "Leaning tower of Pisa" in the fridge, so it might be a good idea to support it on the side somehow. We eventually put a wooden skewer through the cake to keep it solid).
    Making the Princess Cake
  9. When the buttercream is hard, ice the cake with a layer of marzipan icing. Refrigerate or freeze for about fifteen minutes, again to harden the icing, and then ice a final time with the chocolate icing (we didn't think it was attractive during this time, but it's quite pretty once sliced into--see top!).
    Scandia's Princess Cake
  10. The cake should be kept in the refrigerator until one hour before serving. It can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance and kept well covered and refrigerated. It can also be frozen.
Note: The vanilla buttercream, marzipan, and chocolate icing will keep well in the fridge for several days. To store longer, freeze.

 

 

 

 

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