August 26: National Cherry Popsicle Day, and Links for my Birthday

Happy Birthday to ME! Will I be enjoying a cherry popsicle on National Cherry Popsicle Day? HELL NO! I will be having birthday cake. THIS birthday cake.

This is the best birthday cake recipe ever. And I will listen to zero arguments because it is my birthday.

Make today magic, whether it's your birthday or not!

Recipe here.

and since it is my birthday, I'd like to celebrate with a batch of Baker's Dozen links, but all dedicated to funfetti-themed food!

You must make: Funfetti Marshmallows. (CakeSpy

You also must make: Funfetti Gooey Butter Cake. (CakeSpy

Funfetti cream pie! (The Domestic Rebel)

Funfetti pie crust! (Studio DIY)

Homemade funfetti cake. (CakeSpy)

Love it: funfetti cake batter breakfast bake. (Running with Spoons)

Funfetti gooey butter cookies! (Cookies & Cups)

Funfetti cheesecake stuffed crescent rolls! (The Chunky Chef)

Funfetti sandwich cookie pops. Yum! (Marisa's Italian Kitchen)

No-bake funfetti fudge. (Spoon University)

Funfetti popsicles! (Unusually lovely)

Funfetti cookies n cream blondies. (A BaJillian Recipes)

Funfetti pudding cookies. (Crazy for Crust)

Book of the week: The Disney Princess Cookbook. Why? Um...because it exists? 

August 10: National S'mores Day

Happy, happy, happy National S'mores Day, people! Here's how I'd like to celebrate with you: with cupcakes. S'mores cupcakes, yo!

facebook5.jpg

These cupcakes are a sophisticated way to enjoy the classic s'more flavors in a tricked-out way. Rich chocolate cake is studded with graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallows, then topped with a broiled, toasted meringue buttercream. They are toooooo gooooood, and they will impress all of your friends--guaranteed.

Easy Waffle Layer Cake

Happy 8/8! That seems like a magical and auspicious date, so I feel like sharing something special. 

How about a recipe that is easy to make, highly delicious, and might inspire people to label you a genius? I have such a recipe right here: WAFFLE LAYER CAKE.

Simply put, this is a layer cake made with WAFFLES, people. If you need me to expand on how brilliant it is, I'm happy to:

REASONS WHY THIS WAFFLE CAKE IS BRILLIANT

1. It's all about the frosting. 

You might be tempted to think that the little valleys in waffles make it an ineffective layering tool for frosting. You are wrong. What happens is that the frosting gets sucked into those little peaks and valleys, making for far more frosting between cake layers. It might not look as cleanly layered, but one bite in and you'll see what I mean about this being great. And if you're one of those people who says "I don't like too much frosting", you probably shouldn't be on this website, anyway. 

2. It is easy to make.

Instead of taking all that time to bake a cake, like a jerk, you can just use a package of waffles to make this cake! Simply toast your waffles while you're whipping up a batch of buttercream, then assemble and frost. 

Listen, sometimes, you feel like making a cake. Other times, you want dessert RIGHT NOW. This waffle cake provides a tasty solution for the latter situation. 

3. It is breakfast appropriate.

Made with waffles = fine for breakfast. SCIENCE. 

4. MEGA TASTY.

Waffles are just lightly sweet, which makes them the perfect accompaniment to an aggressively sweet buttercream. They keep it from getting too sweet, and they add a fascinating, lightly crispy texture that is different from a typical soft layer cake. 

Have I sold you yet? Probably, so why don't I go ahead and tell you how to make this thing?

HOW TO MAKE A WAFFLE CAKE

You need:

  • As many waffles as you feel like (suggested: 4-6)
  • 1 batch buttercream (I used this one)
  • sprinkles

Toast the waffles. Let them cool while you prepare the buttercream.

Whip up the buttercream. Here it was before all of the chocolate had been added.

Place your first waffle on a work surface, and put a nice dollop of frosting on top. Spread evenly. Put a waffle on top of that, and keep on repeating until your stack of frosted waffles is high enough for your liking.

Frost the top and sides. Garnish with sprinkles.

Put the cake in the fridge for about 10 minutes so the frosting can set (it will make it easier to slice). Slice and serve.

Happy Monday!

CakeSpy is 9 Years Old

On August 1, 2007, I made my very first posting as CakeSpy. I know. 9 years. There are functioning small people in society who haven't even been alive for that long, like my nephew.

NINE YEARS! THIS BLOG HAS BEEN ALIVE AND KICKING FOR 9 YEARS!

Since August 1 is my "blog birthday" and August 26 is my human birthday, I like to claim the whole month for ME.

Want to celebrate ME? Start by looking back at nine incredible moments from the 9 years I've had this site. No particular order, and by no means the only 9 incredible moments, but gosh, it's fun to revisit these. 

Nine amazing moments in the life of CakeSpy

1. When I dissed Martha Stewart but embraced the Pillsbury Doughboy. 

The first time I attended the Pillsbury Bake-Off, Martha Stewart was the host. Everyone wanted a photo with Martha. Not me, man. I totally played it cool. I was gonna be fine without a Martha Stewart photo, because I'm not bowled over by celebrities.

And then the Pillsbury Doughboy walked by. "I NEED A PHOTO WITH THIS DOUGHBOY!" I shrieked, and then promptly almost broke the costume by clutching him too hard. It was truly a glorious moment, and I think you can the true joy in my face.

2. When I got a bunch of book deals and wrote a bunch of books.

There is no feeling like getting a book deal - it truly is truly a Big Life Moment, and I am so fortunate to have gotten not one, not two, but three book deals. I have published two books of my own: CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods, plus a Unicorn Coloring Book, and now I am at work on a third cookbook, along with Andris of Baking Steel. I feel so fortunate to have been able to share my talents with the world in the printed form. My blog has been the gateway to making the books possible -- so thanks, CakeSpy!

3. When I got to meet Jay and Silent Bob, and they ate my Nanaimo bars.

On my first book tour, I was booked on a morning TV program in San Francisco. The other guests on the show? A bunch of zombies from Six Flags (it was around Halloween), Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, and JAY AND FREAKING SILENT BOB. Being from New Jersey, these two are like royalty to me. Now, the former two sets of guests (me and the zombies) were less big deals, so we had our own mini green room, whereas the Actual Stars had an Actual Green Room. However, I asked the green room attendant if he would be willing to tell Jay and Silent Bob that a fan from the Jersey Shore wanted to say hi, and they immediately said yes and I was granted entry. Antonio and Salma were having their segment, so I didn't get to meet them, but seriously, who cares? I GOT TO MEET JAY AND SILENT BOB! 

4. When I had a store. 

It's hard to believe sometimes, but I actually owned a CakeSpy Shop for a while! It was a little gallery in Seattle, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was a sweet little spot, and I had such great customers. I had to close when I decided to move to Philadelphia following a breakup, which was bittersweet. I still think fondly of my customers and my sweet little storefront on 415 E. Pine Street. It was the site of my book launch, it was the site of my 30th birthday party, there was even a wedding there once. It's in my heart forever. But I don't miss the over $2,000 per month rent!

5. When I quit my job. 

When I started CakeSpy, I had no idea what it was going to be or how it would evolve. But very quickly, I gained the support and following of some very cool people, who bought stuff from my online shop and clicked on my site so I was able to generate ad revenue. When I started my blog, I had a full time job at a refrigerator magnet company; in less than a year, I quit my job to pursue full time freelancing. 

Well, it's been 9 years of CakeSpy and 8+ of full time freelancing, and I have done all sorts of stuff, from painting murals to teaching baking classes to kids and then some...and I haven't looked back! Yes, I make less money, but the benefits outweigh that many times over. 

6. When I mailed an ice cream cone to myself.

Sometimes, I impress even me. I made myself laugh so hard working on this experimental post that it remains a high point of my blogging career. Full post here.

7. When I nailed the Whole Foods style chocolate cake. 

My sweetheart loves Whole Foods' flourless chocolate cake. I do too, but I don't love paying $30 for it. So I made a version myself, and it came out even better than theirs, if I do say so myself. It was a very proud moment as a baker. Recipe here.

 

8. Becoming an eating disorder recovery activist. 

In 2014 I wrote an article which talked about CakeSpy's role in my ongoing eating disorder recovery. The post was well-received, and acted as the gateway for me starting a section of my site called Unicorn Love (you can see it on the top panel under the website header) in which I talk about eating disorder recovery. 

While the readership for that part of the site is small, it's a very meaningful project for me, because I know that it has the ability to help people. I'm very thankful that in a weird way, my desert blog has led me to become an eating disorder recovery activist of sorts. 

 

9. My Ben & Jerry's adventure.

I was invited to Vermont, where I got to kick it with Ben (sorry, Jerry was out of town), try snowshoeing for the first time, and got to meet the real, live, actual cows which help create Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It was magical, and I feel so fortunate that I have had that life experience! 

Are you ever amazed at how far you've come in the past 9 years? I sure am!

July 31: National Raspberry Cake Day

Happy National Raspberry Cake Day! You know, I don't think I've ever had a raspberry cake. I've had raspberry-lemon, but not just straight raspberry.

Honestly, though, I am not totally jazzed about the idea of nubbly whole raspberries IN a cake. I'd rather have them on TOP of a cake or pureed in the batter. Cue this totally easy raspberry filling/sauce recipe! 

I used this mixture to top and mix into the filling of a cheesecake, and boy, was it ever good. It's incredibly easy to make and would work for a topping for a cake, or as a middle-layer filling. 

facebook6.jpg

Easy raspberry cake topping/filling

Printable version here

  • 1 bag (10 ounces) good quality frozen raspberries, thawed and crushed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Make it: Combine all of the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan.

Apply medium heat, and stir the mixture frequently until it begins to bubble and thicken. Remove from heat and set to the side. Yield: enough for a middle layer filling or to cover the entire top of an 8 or 9-inch cake.

Once cooled, you can swirl 1/4 cup of this into a cake batter (it will give a pretty color to vanilla cake batters), or use it as a filling or topping. Should it be another day or should you prefer another berry, this recipe works with blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, too.

Happy National Raspberry Cake Day! 

A Jar of Peanut Butter, Sugar, Salt, and Sprinkles

Guess what? This recipe is so easy it fits in the subject line of this blog post. Really, there's no reason to even click through to read it except for that I didn't include the quantities. 

Don't worry, I won't hold back. But first, I have some things I want to say.

First, it's no secret that I have a deep love for Peanut Butter and Company. I've been a recipe developer for them for gosh, like 5 years, maybe longer (here's one of my fave recent recipes). Through the years I have developed a deep respect for them and what they do. They're good as people, but they also make a great peanut butter. For me, the magic is in that they manage to create a high quality peanut butter that still has the kid-friendly and palate-pleasing appeal of a nice creamy or crunchy peanut butter. I also love that they do flavors, and they do a good job of it. I'm talking right now, in particular, about their Dark Chocolate Dreams variety.

Everyone who has ever sampled Dark Chocolate Dreams will undoubtedly agree: the stuff is like crack. It's like the best parts of a peanut butter cup rolled into an easy-to-spoon-into-your-mouth form. 

And I've found a way to easily make it into a party-friendly truffle that will please everybody, but the recipe just so happens to come together in minutes. I made these today for a party I am attending tonight; I can't wait to see how they go over!

This wasn't a recipe I was hired to create and was not sponsored in any way other than I made it using a jar that I had left over from my last batch of recipe development. It was totally generated for my own life and as an offering for aforementioned party. I acted as my own focus group and sampled one, and I am pretty sure they're going to be a hit. 

Easiest-ever peanut butter chocolate truffles

Printable version here

  • 1 jar Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (you could use a chocolate-hazelnut spread too if you aren't into peanut butter, but if that is you, WHO ARE YOU)
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • a big ol'bunch of sprinkles

Place the peanut butter in a stand mixer. Add one cup of sugar and the salt, and mix on low speed until nice and combined. 

Once mixed, pause mixing, and add another cup of sugar, and keep on mixing until nice and combined.

Repeat the previous step, adding the last cup of sugar. It should come together into a pliable dough, like play-doh. 

Roll the mixture into balls (about an inch, slightly more, in diameter). Roll each ball in sprinkles, and then place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet.

Put the truffles in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Enjoy! 

The Easiest Ice Cream You Will Ever Make

When something sounds too good to be true, it tends puts me in a very wary state of mind. "I'll believe it when I see it" is my general attitude. What can I say? I'm from New Jersey. We're brought up like that.

However, when something sounds too good to be true but then turns out to be even better, I have it in my heart to party like I'm Snooki in a Jersey Shore bar. 

This two-ingredient ice cream--WHICH REQUIRES NO CHURNING YES ALL CAPS NECESSARY--is one of those miraculous things that turned out way better than I ever thought it could. 

I had read about two-ingredient ice cream here and there; I'd seen it on facebook and pinterest. But I'd never tried it, until the other day.

I wanted to try it as part of Craftsy's Ice Cream Social (my name for it, not theirs), wherein they asked some of their bloggers to come up with some creative ice cream recipes. You can view all of them here.

I'm very glad that I spent the long five minutes required to make this ice cream.*

* = plus chilling time.

The idea is very simple: fold some whipped cream into some sweetened condensed milk, freeze, and serve. Voila! Ice cream. 

I figured there had to be a catch, but having done it, my friends, I can tell you, this recipe is LEGIT. 

And so easy that I even fancied it up with an optional 2 extra ingredients: vanilla extract and salt (salt not pictured). 

The texture of this ice cream is a little flakier than traditional ice cream right when you scoop, but after oh, 30 seconds it softens into a creamy, dream-state sort of food.

With the rich mouth-feel (I hate that term but it's really the only one that fits here) of cream and the completely irresistible flavor of sweetened condensed milk, this ice cream is a beautiful treat that can stand alone as a lovely dessert.

But...you know, it couldn't hurt to add some chocolate sauce.

Or some sprinkles. 

Go ahead, give it a try and see for yourself. You can literally make this ice cream in five minutes; cooling does take some time, but the effort output is very small. 

2 to 4 Ingredient Ice Cream

Makes about 2 pints' worth - printable version here 

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups heavy cream

Optional additions: 

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • salt 

other flavorings or mix-ins of your choice 

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl. Your biggest mixing bowl, please. Stir in the vanilla and salt, if using. 

Put the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until the mixture attains firm peaks. 

Remove the bowl from the mixer (go ahead, lick the whisk attachment if nobody is looking) and spoon a nice dollop of the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk. Stir to combine. This might seem like a throwaway step, but don't skip it; it makes the texture of the sweetened condensed milk lighter, and therefore makes the following step easier to complete. 

Fold the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk mixture. Stir slowly and gently, trying to discourage deflation in the mixture. After a while, the mixture will become smooth and cohesive. I hope you listened to me before when I said use a big bowl. I didn't totally follow my own advice and while it worked out fine, it was a little messy, as you can see:

Spoon the mixture into a freezer-safe container (I used a freezer-safe plastic container).

Cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap, and then let the mixture chill. It will be appropriately firm within 2 hours, but it won't attain an optimal ice cream texture for about 6 hours or overnight.

PSST! I also tried some with a sweet variation: A big ol' handful of sprinkles folded into the mix before freezing. It made for a slightly happier variation of this tasty dessert!

Have you ever made no-churn ice cream?