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Wednesday
Feb042009

Volcanically Delicious: The Lava Cookie

Lava Cookies by Chris
Cookies made by Cake Gumshoe Chris

Confession: we love Shirley Corriher's voice. It's just so...warm and appealing...almost hypnotic. We could listen to her talk about cookies and cakes all day, and then fall asleep to her southern twang reading us recipes at night.


So now you know. 

But certainly she's not just a voice: this chemist-turned-food guru knows how to make one fine cookie. Recently, Cake Gumshoe Chris made a batch of her Lava Cookies (with some small changes) from her book BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking, and we can say with little hesitation that they're one of the most delicious cookies we've ever tried. Though the recipe suggests serving them warm for a gooey (lava) inside, we also liked them room temperature, when the exterior was slightly crisp, but the inside soft and fudgy; and with Chris' substitution of trablit for vanilla extract, they had an ever-so-slight coffee kick.

Lava Cookies by Chris
Lava Cookies (please note this is an adaptation--for the original recipe check out this blog post)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp trablit
  • 1 cup spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  1. Arrange a shelf in the middle of the oven and place a baking stone on it. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Spray several heavy baking sheets with nonstick spray and line with release foil (nonstick side up). Set aside.
  3. In medium saucepan, melt remaining 6 TBL butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Let stand for 1 min., and then stir. If all chocolate is not melted, place pan on very low heat for 1 min, remove, and stir. Let stand for 1 min, remove, and stir. Let stand for 1 min. and continue stirring. Repeat until all chocolate is melted. Set aside.
  4. Min mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, salt, and trablit at high speed with an electric mixer for 2-3 min, or until light and pale yellow. Turn mixer down to low and pour in chocolate.
  5. In medium mixing bowl, combine flour and baking powder, beating well with electric mixer. Stir flour into batter in several batches. Scrape down bowl and across bottom. 
  6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 min. Using a 2-inch (#30) ice cream scoop, scoop dough place portions approx. 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time.
  7. Place baking sheet in oven on stone. Bake for exactly 12 min. Cool for 3-5 min. Best sered warm, but you can reheat each cookie in the microwave for 10 seconds for running centers. You can freeze cookies and thaw or microwave as you like.

Wednesday
Feb042009

Cake Byte: Crafty Wonderland in Portland!

Crafty Treats
Hey, Portland Cake Enthusiasts! If you're free on Sunday and looking for something awesome to do, why not come hang out and buy some Cakespy artwork at Crafty Wonderland

Here are the details: 
Date: Sunday, February 8th
Time: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Location: Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside, Portland, OR (Map)
Hope to see you there!

 

Wednesday
Feb042009

2.4.09: Baked Good of the Day: Linzer Tart Cookie from Pauline's Pastry

Linzer cookie from Pauline's in Ballard
Finally, I made it over to Pauline's when they were actually open (their hours are strange--closed Mondays and not open til 12 on some days).

Unfortunately, even when I arrived at 12.30 it looked like the cases hadn't yet been filled--kind of a bummer in such a small place (I like a well-stocked bakery case--part of the fun is looking before you buy, no?). However, the cookies that they did have out looked tempting, so I chose a Linzer tart. It was an adorable fruit-filled cookie sandwich with a sweet heart cutout, and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

The cookie was buttery and sweet--subtle, but very good. If I had to make one change, I might have put slightly less powdered sugar on top, but this is likely because I'm a messy eater. The jam in the middle was the perfect complement to the rich, buttery cookie. And at $1.25, it was a steal!

I've been told that the cupcakes, scones and tarts are also worth a try--based on what I've tasted, I am definitely interested enough for a return trip!

Pauline's, 2315 NW Market St., Ballard; (206) 588-8098.

Tuesday
Feb032009

Sweet Spot: Dessert Links!

Deathcake Royale
(photo credit C. Fisher Photography)


Deathcake Royale: It's back and better than ever at Seattle's Cupcake Royale, now cupcake-ier than ever! But this kind of awesome can't last--it's only available through Feb. 14!
Cake Balls: The new frontier?

 

Forget Silicon Valley--take us to Macaron Alley!

If this doesn't inspire you, nothing will: the Amy Atlas Lavender Snowflake Dessert Buffet.


We'd never even heard of Semla, but now we desperately want to get our hands on some.

 

Effie's Oatcakes are a simple, but exceedingly delicious little treat.

Nope--that's not cake.

 

If you run a baking business, you've got to know about food allergies. Read this, it could save a life!

Won't you support Good Food, one of Cakespy's favorite radio programs?


Cakespy hearts KCRW!

 

Monday
Feb022009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Chelsea of Kingdom Cake

Kingdom Cake
It's true: cupcake businesses keep on opening...and we keep loving them. Especially when they have awesome names, as in the case of the Bay Area based custom-order cupcakery Kingdom Cake. Of course, a creative menu doesn't hurt--in addition to the usual chocolate and vanilla suspects, theirs also has more adventurous choices like Thai Tea, Pancakes and Bacon and Orange Nutella, plus vegan options--and, curiously enough, a few savories too. We recently caught up with proprietress Chelsea Mead--read on to learn her thoughts on the dark and light sides of cake:

 Cakespy: Where did you get the idea to start Kingdom Cake?
Chelsea Mead: The short answer is: everyone loves cupcakes. They sell themselves. I love watching how happy people get when cupcakes arrive to their occasion, or when they take their first bite. I am in the business of making people happy, and that makes me smile. It never gets old. The realization that I could start a business with cupcakes came after several requests for special orders from friends and coworkers. I started thinking of one fun flavor after another and it slowly became an addiction to perfect more and more recipes. I truly look at it as an art form. Designing new cupcakes makes my heart beat faster. I'd always rather be in the kitchen.
Photo c/o Kingdom CakePhoto c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: Be honest. If we order from Kingdom Cake, will our order be delivered by a knight in shining armor?
CM: Hilarious! I would just love that...I think my customers would adore the dedication to the "Kingdom" theme! Until I can round up all my Knights and purchase a charming carriage with horses, I will be doing most deliveries myself (how boring after all that!).

 

Photo c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: What makes cupcakes so special to you?
CM: How much time do you have? You see, I am into all things art. I am a woman with way too many hobbies. I love to paint and mosaic mostly. I have an art room overflowing with all sorts of unfinished projects. I am so busy moving on to the next thing it's hard to stop and finish a piece of work (especially when I'm juggling the cupcakes). When I started baking, I approached each flavor and each cupcake as an art form. What can I do to make this cupcake look the most fabulous? Making a cupcake look "cute" doesnt always do it for me, the design and placement of toppers really makes it right. Next comes the photo shoot. After the cupcakes are looking divine, then I get to use my fun Sony Cybershot and take really cool photos (my new favorite is a concept is cupcake shadows/silhouettes). Then to top it all off, I get to watch people completely indulge and go into their happy place when it's time to eat. It's the ultimate creative outlet.

CS: We see that you have a flavor called "pancakes and bacon". Can you elaborate a bit about what makes up this cupcake?
CM: The pancakes and bacon theme seems to be pretty popular nowadays so I am looking to redirect the concept of this cupcake. Currently the cupcake is a simple pancake base, with maple frosting, bacon toppers, and a salty maple filling. This is a great cupcake for breakfast (although all cupcakes are suitable for breakfast if you ask me). I am working on a french toast cupcake that I might combine with this, to make more of a "breakfast" theme.
Photo c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: We notice some savory options on your menu. Do you see savory cupcakes as a new and thriving branch of the cupcake phenomenon?
CM: Absolutely. In this cupcake-obsessed world we live in, we are constantly being challenged to do the next coolest thing. The natural progression has lead us to savory cupcakes. People in the business are aware of all of this, then I talk to some of my friends and they aren't even aware that cupcakes are taking over the world! I try mentioning ingredients to them like: bacon, basil, or chili and they say WTF? Keeping up with the trends is part of any business. I am lucky I'm in a business where this just makes it all more fun.

CS: What is your favorite type of cake?
CM: Currently it's a tie between Thai Tea and Basil Lemon Blueberry. Thai Tea frosting is like crack.

Photo c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: Which term do you use: Icing or frosting?
CM: FROSTING, all the way.

CS: Imagine this: you walk in on a loved eating a mass-produced prepackaged cupcake. What do you say to them?
CM: "(SIGH) I am so disappointed."

Photo c/o Kingdom CakePhoto c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: What is next for Kingdom Cake?
CM: My next business venture is vending at the local Bay Area Farmers Markets. Right now I am in the approval process, you should see me popping up slowly in the next month or so. The ultimate goal for Kingdom Cake this year is to open a storefront in the Bay Area. I am also looking into the Seattle Farmers Markets, however this will take a bit more time to work out. I lived in Seattle for 5 years and I look forward to branching out there.

 

Want More? Visit Kingdomcake.com. Even if you're not in the Bay Area though, you can enjoy their cupcakes via Flickr!

Friday
Jan302009

Mac Attack: Delicious Macarons from Petites Bouchees

Petites Bouchees
Over the past month or so, we’ve heard from a few reliable sources that they expect a movement toward small-scale desserts: an amuse-bouche at the end of the meal, just a few bites of sweetness. This appeals to us in many ways, but mostly because of the serious cuteness quotient. It’s impossible not to fall in love with little dishes bearing the little treats like petits fours, macarons, mini cupcakes or lilliputian cheesecakes.

So when we were recently asked by Veronica at Petites Bouchées, a Richmond, VA-based custom and mail order bakery specializing in adorable macarons, financiers, sables (and even the odd cupcake!), if we’d like to try a sample of some of her shippable macarons, we bravely accepted. After all, small and delicate desserts are the trend and we’re nothing if not cutting edge.
Pretty macaronsPetites Bouchees package
So how awesome is Petites Bouchées? Well, pretty awesome. The macarons arrived via express mail a few days later, with amazingly not a single cracked cookie shell. These cookies are almost—almost—too pretty to eat, comprised perfectly formed cookie-burgers (some with delicate gold coloring on top--very sophisticated), lined up in dainty little rows. But to not eat these macarons would be a travesty. Veronica, who has studied with Pierre ("Picasso of Pastry") Herme, knows what she’s doing: the cookie part of each macaron is slightly crisp on the outside, but soft inside, giving way to luxurious, decadent fillings.
Petites BoucheesMac Attack!

We’re still tasting our way through the box, but we’ve had enough to know that if desserts like these are the next big wave, we’re happy to go along for the ride.

For more info, visit the Petites Bouchées website; for more of Veronica's adventures, visit her blog!

 

 

 

Saturday
Jan242009

Pie, Oh My: The Most Amazing National Pie Day Celebration Ever

Best Pie Day Ever!
Did you know that January 23rd was National Pie Day?


Now, some may argue that the day to celebrate pie ought to be March 14th.

 

Unfortunately, these math nerds missed out on the cool-kid party we attended last Friday: a no-holds barred, absolute pie love-in, the likes of which we'd never seen.
Pie Day LocationEAT PIE!
It was held at the Salmon Bay Eagles Hall in Ballard, Seattle; while the sign said FOE, the sandwich board definitely let on that PIE meant FRIEND.
Glowing Pie at Pie Celebration
Tees for Sale at Pie day celebrationPrize Table
Inside, a veritable pie nirvana awaited, including music ("American Pie", anyone?) by our new favorite band the Fillings; EAT PIE t-shirts (designed by Christine Larsen); ginormous glowing pie sculptures; a projector screening various pie imagery, and of course, a delightful table of raffle prizes (including Cakespy artwork!).
With Music by "The Fillings"Me and Mary, the Pie Party organizer
The organizer, Mary, and her team (the À la mode girls) all wore the cutest pie-themed headpieces and dresses. (pictured: Head Spy Jessie with Mary)

Coconut Cream PiePecan PieCranberry Walnut PieThe Lemon Chess Pie was quite popular

Pie Buffet, with ice cream for those who prefer a la modePieSpy!
But of course, truly, the Pièce de résistance was the pie buffet: a series of tables set together in a line, it must have been over 30-ish feet long, with every type of pie you could ever dream of, both sweet and savory. We ogled over and sampled sweet varieties such as coconut cream, lemon chess, blueberry, marionberry, bourbon pecan, and more; even though we don't usually foray into savories, the Veggie Frito pie does deserve at least a mention. In a stroke of what can only be described as sheer brilliance, a large tub of vanilla ice cream (donated by Molly Moon) was positioned at the end of the line, a sweet gesture for those who preferred their pie à la mode; nearby, a station with milk and coffee offered accompaniments, but of course the cool and over 21 crowd could go to the adjoining bar area.

Of course, even sweeter than the pie was the mission: proceeds from raffle ticket sales went toward The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research

Seriously, words cannot really convey the true awesomeness of this Pie Day event.
Peanut Butter Mini Pies
In honor of the day, here is the offering that Head Spy Jessie made to the Pie Buffet: Cup-pies so dense and delicious, they'll knock your socks off (or rot your teeth out, either/or). Though the white chocolate version is shown, we brought the dark chocolate variety to the party.
White or Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup-pies

Crust (to be blind-baked before filling), recipe adapted from Taste of Home:
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
Preheat oven to 450. In a bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Roll out to desired thickness (maybe slightly thinner than you would for a regular-sized pie) on a floured surface; either cut with a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter (or just eyeball it and cut with a knife, you can shape it later) to about 2.5 inches across; press into cupcake cups and with fingers, shape to fit (I found this works best with silicone cupcake cups, which are sturdier than paper variations). This amount will make anywhere from 8-12 cup-pies, depending on how thick you like the crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned on the edges.
Filling (not baked), adapted from Diana's Desserts:
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate chocolate, coarsely chopped 
OR
  • 8 ounces white chocolate couverture, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter and Co.'s White Chocolate Wonderful)
Microwave chocolate and whipping cream in medium bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring every minute. Beat with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Add the 2 tbsp. of peanut butter; mix well. Spoon into prebaked (already cooled) shells. Refrigerate let cool; refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
Note: You may have extra filling, depending on how thick your crusts are. If so, it's...um...delicious by the spoonful.
For more info on all things pie, visit piecouncil.org, or to get in on the argument over holiday's date, visit The Stranger. Though it's not been active for some time, the Mini Pie Revolution has a lot of cute ideas too.

 

Friday
Jan232009

1.23.09: Baked Good of the Day: The Josephine from Hot Cakes

Piece of cake from Hot Cakes, Ballard Market
Today I made a new discovery: Hot Cakes at the Ballard Farmer's Market. It's a small operation run by Autumn Martin, of Canlis and Theo Chocolate fame; the limited menu consists of just three types of cakes: the "Ari Cole", a ready-to-bake molten chocolate cake which can be baked at home or at the market for you; the "Josephine", an almond-rum financier; and one savory option, the "Dean Martin", a savory consisting of dates, bleu cheese and bacon.

I tried a sample of the "Josephine", which I thought made a very pleasant morsel--buttery, lightly nutty and with a taste of rum which didn't hit me right away, but was rather a pleasant lingering aftertaste. Apparently it's a hot seller at the market, and with good reason--this would be an ideal breakfast or teatime cake, à mon avis.
Hot Cakes
Hot Cakes are available Sundays at the Ballard Farmer's Market; according to the website, they are now available at the Theo Chocolate retail store as well. For more information, visit autumnmartin.com.

Thursday
Jan222009

1.22.09: Baked Good of the Day: Pistachio Cream Puff from Gelatiamo

Pistachio cream puff, Gelatiamo, Downtown
When it comes to cream puffs, I like mine a little bit more dense--that is to say, full of cream filling and generously iced. The delicate ones that have a mere dollop of filling have never been my cup of tea.

I was thrilled to find that Gelatiamo does cream puffs just the way I like them: a delicate pastry filled with luxuriously thick cream, and topped with sweet icing. The pistachio cream puff was subtle and didn't overwhelm; however, I liked the fact that it didn't have the typical chocolate icing ; also, the slight crunch from pistachio bits on top didn't hurt. And in keeping with the "small bite" trend, these cream puffs aren't huge, so are a perfect portion for after lunch or dinner.

Pistachio cream puff, Gelatiamo downtown.

Gelatiamo on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Jan212009

Taking it to the Sweet: A Cupcake Street Art Installation

Taking it to the Sweet
Sometimes life sucks. We're talking about the little things that can wear on you in a big way: long commutes; waiting in line; dealing with rude people; being broke.

It was with these stressors in mind that we dreamed up an installation project small in scope but big in touchy-feeliness: we made a batch of fake cupcakes with uplifting phrases attached, and placed them throughout our neighborhood. 
Told you it was touchy-feely.
Here's what we did:
First, we made up a batch of faux cupcakes using plaster of paris. (Cakespy Note: If doing it again we might not use the silicone baking cups though, because they have a built-in fill line which showed up in our finished cakes.)
Fake CakesFake Cakes
Making Fake FrostingFake Cakes

Then we attached little flags to each, with cute sayings.Sweet Sentiments

Then came the fun part: we let 'em loose around town. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Park Bench cake
A park bench got a whole lot sweeter with a cupcake that said "You're super sweet";


People Like You. Really.
On top of a "No Parking" sign, a cupcake declared "People like you. Really";

Remain Calm.
Atop some foliage, stressed passersby are reminded to "Remain Calm";

Eat More Cake!
Perched atop a hydrant, one cupcake urges you to "Eat More Cake";

Relax!
On someone's garden patio, there's a reminder to "Relax!";

Have a very sweet day!
At a bus stop, weary travelers are told to "Have a very sweet day!";

Stay Cute!
Smokers may want to be cool, but this cupcake urges them to "Stay Cute!";

You Deserve a treat.
On an entryway, one cupcake reminds that "You deserve a treat";

The Economy is gonna be OK.
And finally, an ATM got a whimsical upgrade with a cupcake bearing the saying "The economy will be OK".

But on to the big question: Why?

Well, it's not too complicated. You know that we're strange little darlings, we spies. We liked the idea that the novelty of finding such an unusual art object in an unexpected spot might give viewer pause. Perhaps coming across one of these little cupcakes it made them smile, or maybe it annoyed them as a piece of rubbish. Maybe it made them scratch their head and wonder why. But in any instance, the ultimate goal was a repreive--a momentary escape from everyday worries, and a small reminder that yes, life can be strange--but sometimes sweet.
What happened to the cupcakes? Beats us, though if you live in Seattle, you might just find a sweet surprise where you least expect it.

 

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