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Cakespy Undercover: Macaron Fever at Honoré in Seattle

Macarons from Honore, photo c/o Kim
Seeking Parisian-style macarons in Seattle? We'd been hearing some great things about Honoré in Ballard, so recently our Cake Gumshoe Kim went to see for herself. Here are her thoughts:

I wanted some macaroons--so I went to Honoré and bought 5! I've now tested all the flavors I got. Granted, these are the first macaroons I've ever had so I don't have much to compare them to, but I have to say they were amazing! They were everything I hoped they would be.
Macarons from Honore, photo c/o KimMacarons from Honore, photo c/o Kim
I chose lavender, coffee, pistachio and another one which I think was chocolate/coconut/salted caramel. They had about 10 flavors in all and i wished I could have got one of each, but unfortunately I was on a budget! I'm a sucker for all things lavender flavored - I had a feeling those would be my favorite so I bought two. I was right! The lavender flavor was just right, they were topped with little flowers, and had a delicious creamy chocolate filling which I didn't expect. The coffee one had a rich coffee flavor which was very satisfying. The pistachio flavor was very nutty and tasted just like pistachios... except sweet! Lastly, I finished off the mysterious chocolate/coconut/salted caramel this morning. It was so good! I could definitely taste the salted caramel, and there were little bits of coconut inside the cookie.

So to sum it up - they were all good, and all different. I want to go back and try more flavors!

On another note about Honoré's general awesomeness - the girl working the counter was so nice. She listed off all 10 or so macaroon flavors to me, sweetly, without an eye roll in sight! We also got a croissant which was very good, and they had a bunch of other pastries that looked really yummy.

Honoré is open Wed.–Sun.; 1413 NW 70th St.; 206.706.4035.


Honoré Artisan Bakery on Urbanspoon



Sweet Spot: Dessert Links!

Flossing is now awesome
Flossing is now officially awesome, thanks to Archie McPhee's cupcake floss. (Thanks Jill and Maika for the tip!)

Check out this gorgeous Starry Night-inspired cake!

Gummi Bear Battalion: whimsical and fun food art.
Vegan wasabi fudge? We're intrigued.
Serious Eats weighs in on the phenomenon of enticing food smells.
Avocado...pie? Who would have thought it would sound so good?
They're known for their King Cake, but Haydel also makes another sweet treat: Roman Chewing Candy.
It's certainly not cheap, but we were exited to find a place that will ship a Hummingbird Cake.
Kelly Confidential: a virtual bakesale for a cause.
Chet and Dot makes cute cake-shaped pincushions.



Holey Yum: Donut Pies

Donut Pies!

Donuts play nice, don't they? They're so open to collaboration. There's donut bread pudding. Donut burgers. Donut muffins. Donut soup.

And now, Donut Pie. Don't be fooled by the photo at the top: these are no typical donuts. They're in fact little morsels of pie crust, with filling rolled inside of them and then fried. While they're certainly not health food, they certainly are delicious: crispy, not too-sweet, easy to make, and completely open to improvisation with flavor. Here's how we made them:

Donut Pie
Donut Pies
  1. First, choose your favorite pie crust recipe (we used this one). We made the equivalent of a single pie crust, and the yield was about 15 mini Donut Pies.
  2. Next, decide what your filling would be. For our filling, we mixed one ripe banana, a small amount (1/4 cup, adding more to desired thickness) of heavy whipping cream, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and two pinches of cinnamon. We mashed it until it was incorporated, but still a little bit lumpy. You can fill them with just about anything you'd use in a pie though. Let your filling sit to the side.
  3. Roll out your pie crust, and then score into strips. The strips should be about 2.5 inches wide, but as long or as short as you'd like. The length will determine how large the donut's circumfrence will be, so if you like mini donuts, keep them shorter.
  4. Donut Pies
  5. Lengthwise, spoon a small amount of filling in each strip. Be sure to leave a small gap of space at the top and bottom of the strip.
  6. Donut Pies
  7. Fold the crust over the filling lengthwise, so that you have a long, narrow, filled "log" of pie crust with filling inside.
  8. Donut Pies
  9. Form into a circle.
  10. Donut Pies
  11. Since we don't have a deep fryer, we then filled a frying pan on  with about 2 cups of canola oil, set to high heat, and once hot gently placed the donuts several at a time into the fryer, frying each side about 3-4 minutes or until golden.
  12. Donut Pies
  13. Gently remove from frying pan and place on paper towels to blot excess oil.
  14. Donut Pie
  15. Garnish as desired: with additional fruit topping (as above), whipped cream, ice cream, or for a more donutty look, chocolate icing (as seen on the chocolate topped ones) and sprinkles or swirls. Yum.
Donut Pies


A Sweet Proposal: Love, CakeSpy and Marriage

Proposal series
A note from Head Spy Jessie:

By profession, I am an illustrator specializing in portraits of anthropomorphic cupcakes. As such, I'm sure you can imagine the delightfully unusual requests for custom artwork I've gotten: cupcakes and a client's pet being chased by the Sta-Puft marshmallow man; an aggressive cupcake brawl; horror-movie inspired cupcakes--the list goes on and on. 
But last week, I delivered one of my sweetest commissions to date: a series of four paintings to be used as part of a marriage proposal
The first painting showed the happy couple flying into San Francisco for the weekend (shown top);
The second painting showed them having dinner at a fancy restaurant overlooking the Bay Bridge;

Proposal series

The third one showed them in a photobooth at the Musee Mecanique, where the photos coming out showed the actual proposal going on;

Proposal series

And finally, the happy couple back at home and enjoying some pizza at their regular place.

The artwork was delivered on Friday, and the proposal happened over Valentine's Day weekend; of course (duh!) she said yes, and the couple couldn't be happier. 
I live in a saccharine world for sure--but this one really made me melt like a puddle of ice cream on hot pie. It was such a pleasure to be part of such a sweet moment.



Looking Good: Sweet Treats from Look Cupcake in Seattle

A surprise package from Look Cupcake
Last week, something magical happened: upon returning home to the Cakespy Headquarters after running some errands, we found the most gorgeous box of cupcakes on our porch. Magic!

The parcel was from Seattle's newest custom-order cupcake business, Look Cupcake. Based out of a commercial kitchen on Lower Queen Anne, owner Rhienn Davis takes a unique slant on the cupcake trend by looking inwardly--literally--by specializing in gourmet, filled cupcakes.

Look Cupcake
Our assortment included three flavors: the Feather Boa (coconut cream cake, mojito cheesecake filling, vanilla buttercream, coconut garnish); the La Nina de Chocolate Diablo (spiced mexican chocolate cake with kahlua especial swiss meringue buttercream); and the A Formal Affair (vanilla cake, bittersweet ganache filling and whipped truffle frosting).

These cupcakes were--to put it mildly--crazy delicious. But even more than the fillings, what impressed us was the frosting. Silky, buttery and absolutely luxurious, it seemed different a lot of other cupcake-frostings we've tried. What gives? 

Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!
Turns out, they were topped with what is known as Swiss Meringue Buttercream (and in the case of the chocolate frosting, ganache whipped in, which only added to that luxurious texture).
So what is Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Happily, Rhienn (aka the "Cliff Clavin of buttercream") was able to explain:


The difference between meringue buttercreams (there are several - Italian, Swiss, French - every European country thinks they know best, apparently,) and regular "American style" buttercream (what we think of as a more "crunchy" frosting) is as follows:


  • American buttercream is just butter (sometimes a little cream cheese) and TONS of powdered sugar mixed together. The result is that intense, super sweet, sometimes a little gritty, frosting. I make a great one with fresh ginger grated into it. Mmmm!
  • (Pick your European country) Meringue buttercream is made by dissolving a relatively small amount of granulated sugar into egg whites, whipping it into a meringue and then adding the butter. They're smoother, creamier and less over the top sweet. They also stand up better in heat, which is awesome for those of us that do seven million weddings in the dog days of summer.
So there you go--unexpected free cupcakes, and an unexpected lesson on various different types of frosting: we'd call that a sweet treat, indeed.
For more information, visit lookcupcake.com.



Pie, A La Mode: A Campaign to Make Pie Cooler

A La Mode, a Pie Gossip Magazine
Every so often, someone will make that grand, sweeping statement: "Pie is the New Cake". Usually, this is someone who owns or is related to the owner of a pie-related business. Unfortunately, in a world which supports cupcake shops opening roughly every five minutes, pie has simply failed to have the same effect in the baked-good market.

So what's the problem? Clearly, it's a lack of media attention. After all, what did Heidi get for Posh on her birthday? What does Katie pick up for a sweet afternoon snack with Suri? Sorry, pie--but cupcakes are most definitely taking that cake.

But we feel for you pie lovers--really, we do. And so, in an effort to lend a helping hand in getting pie the attention it deserves, may we humbly suggest the following tried-and-true tabloid methods to be applied for pie promotion? Here goes:

Stir up some controversy:

A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine


Get people thinking about the issues that touch pies' lives:

A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine


Dish about fashion faux pas:

A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine


But of course--in spite of everything, don't forget to show how pies really are just like us:

A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine



Scandalized? Well, they say there's no such thing as bad press; surely these sweet tips are the first step in making pie the true cream of the crop--or at least shaking off some of that wholesome crusty image.



Cake Byte: CakeSpy Featured on Good Food!

Cakespy hearts KCRW!
What a sweet Valentine's Day treat: CakeSpy was featured on KCRW's Good Food! Our Head Spy Jessie was interviewed about her recent cupcake art installation in Seattle by the amazing Evan Kleiman. It was such an honor to be featured on the show--in our opinion, it's one of the best food shows out there!

You can download the show at the Good Food website, and here's a link to the cupcake art installation post.

And of course, don't forget to support KCRW and Good Food!


Cake Poll: Love and Chocolate!

Win it: Cake poll!
How time flies! It's been a while since our last Cake Poll, so we're making up for it by offering a very sweet treat: an original (not a print!) Cakespy watercolor! The watercolor (shown top) will come in a 4x5 inch frame and will go to just one lucky winner. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with your responses to the below poll, centered around the star of all February sweetness: chocolate! Here goes:

  1. Chocolates for Valentine's Day: cute or cliché?
  2. The chocolate box: which flavor would you rather leave for others?
  3. Milk chocolate: amateur hour or respectable citizen?
  4. Chocolate in savory foods (mole sauce, etc): awesome, or awful?
  5. Hot chocolate: with or without marshmallows?
  6. Chocolate-flavored or scented body products: ooh, or eww?
  7. What's your favorite chocolate dessert?
The poll is open for anyone (US and international!) to enter; the deadline is 12 p.m. PST on Saturday, February 14. The winner will be announced shortly after! 



Sweet Factory: Behind the Scenes at Little Rae's Bakery in Seattle

Glitter Heart Cookie
Recently, our Head Spy Jessie was invited to take a tour of Little Rae's Bakery, a wholesale bakery here in Seattle (and, one of the nation's few completely nut-free bakeries). If you live in the Seattle area, you're undoubtedly familiar with their natural, organic baked goods--they're sold at nicer supermarkets and coffee shops all throughout the city, and even made national headlines with their recent First Family Cookies.

Having grown up fascinated with that spot about how crayons are made on Sesame Street, and as an avid watcher of Unwrapped, there was no doubt about a response--the word "YES!" couldn't be uttered quickly enough.

So, what goes on at a factory of sweetness? Here's what she saw:
Hobart!James with a big cookie/scone machine

First off, everything is big. Big, big, big. From an enormous Hobart mixer to a big machine which divides dough into individual portions, the machinery is heavy-duty (see Little Rae's owner James next to one of the machines for a size comparison).

They're also baked in ginormous ovens, which trays are loaded into and rotate in a circular motion to bake evenly.
JUST out of the big oven!Coming out of the oven

Of course, the most magical part (to me) was the point at which they were out of the oven--when the aroma of fresh, sweet baked goods was rich in the air, and the employees set to frosting and decorating them. Several employees were delegated to these tasks, and moved at warp speed, icing, frosting and adding sprinkles to the cookies. Really, I could have watched them do this all day.
Cookies being frosted and sugaredJust frosted cookies
Professional cookie decoratorsBefore and after cookiesMaple sconesJust frosted scones
Finally, once allowed to dry or set, the baked goods are packaged--all of the packaging has fun pictures of the employees-- and put out for deliveries.
Cookies just packaged!Packaging the cookies
Of course, I'd be lying if I didn't mention that one of the best parts of the tour was the box of free goodies I got at the end of it, including my favorite, their iced shortbread cookies:
Booty from the tour!
Moreover, I was impressed by the fact that even though they are baking these treats in larger quantities, the process isn't really all that different than baking at home--just a lot more sterile (no licking the spoon here!) and with a lot bigger machinery. It was especially exciting to see that even at a larger scale, this company isn't adding anything scary to their baked goods--it's all fresh and organic, and it's clearly a labor of love for owner James, who oversees all daily operations. And of course, having seen the process, it made the cookies all that much more delicious to eat afterward.

Want to learn more about Little Rae's Bakery? Visit their website at littleraesbakery.com. Not in Seattle? Don't despair--you can still enjoy their baked goods via mail order.



Cakewalk Special: Seeking Sweetness in London with Cake Gumshoe Kirsten

London Cakewalk
(Blondies in the top right, c/o Outsider Tart)

There are so many reasons to love London. The museums. Those charming palace guards. Not to mention English accents--everywhere! And while it's not generally thought of as a baked good mecca, that seems to be changing--as Cake Gumshoe Kirsten (a London resident in the know) reports, there are plenty of sweet places to be found in London, ranging from fancy chocolate shops to arbiters of East-meets-West sweets to--yes--even a few Southern USA-style bakeries. Read on for Kirsten's suggestions for the best places to get a sugary fix in London: 

Hummingbird Bakery, LondonHummingbird interior 
Hummingbird Bakery: Classic American cupcakes have only recently become popular in London, but boy, have they gone done well. The most renowned is Hummingbird Bakery. They’re a short walk from the famous Portobello Rd markets, and make a great spot to recharge your batteries after a serious vintage clothes shopping session. Their red velvet cupcakes are divine. There’s just enough perfectly creamy cream cheese icing and they will kindly give you a fork to eat with if you get a sudden rush of British manners at the sight of these monsters.

They also do cakes (New York style cheesecakes and Chocolate Devil’s food cake are displayed on pretty pastel cake stands) as well as cookies and pies. And no, most Brits still can’t get their heads around eating pumpkin as a dessert.


47 Old Brompton Rd (South Kensington Tube)
Open 10.30am-7pm daily

133 Portobello Rd (Notting Hill Gate Tube)
W11 2DY
10am-5.30pm Tues-Sat
11am-5pm Sunday
Closed Monday

Yuatcha Dragon
Yuatcha: This is an extremely flash Chinese restaurant in the midst of Soho. Being near my office, one of my favourite lunchtime pastimes is to gaze in at their spectacular patisserie section as I meander past. Their rainbow of macarons are as amazing as the Parisian café Laduree’s, but here you’ll find them in slightly more exotic flavours. Coffee milk chocolate anise, coconut pistachio cinnamon, hibiscus, lychee raspberry and chocolate jasmine are just a few. If you wish to take a box away, expect an artfully wrapped box to be handed over.

Whereas the basement is where you’ll star spot in the evenings, the ground floor of the restaurant has more of a teahouse vibe, making it the perfect place for a fabulous afternoon tea (which comes with dim sum as well as pastries), or just for their spectacular desserts. Along with hand-painted chocolates and truffles, you will spend 10 minutes simply gazing at their intricate works of art.

For me it was a tough choice…would it be the passionella, with milk chocolate biscuit and mousse topped with passionfruit cream and coulis? Perhaps the asian citrus yuzu? Yuzu Kura has a dark chocolate mousse, yuzu jelly, yuzu and a dark chocolate biscuit. Apricot Millefeuille with caramelized puff pastry, lemongrass almond biscuit, apricot compote and coconut cream?

No, for my fellow gum shoe and I, it was the dragon. A diamond angled dark chocolate case with dark chocolate brownie as a base, topped with a spicy dark chocolate ganaches, raspberries and little cubes od raspberry and red pepper coulis. Delicious!

15-17 Broadwick Street
Soho, London W1F 0DL
Tel: 020 7494 8888

Mon-Thurs: 11am-11.30pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-11.45pm
Sun: 11am-10.30pm
(dim sum served from midday)

Paul A YoungYoung Hot Chocolate
Paul A Young: London in winter can be a cold dark place. Which is a perfect reason to indulge in some warming rich real hot chocolate. Paul A Young is a chocolatier who has 2 boutiques in London. His truffles are spectacular, particularly if you are keen to challenge your tastebuds. Marmite is a brown yeasty spread that people on this side of the world spread on their toast for breakfast. You either love it or you hate it…and I couldn’t love Paul’s marmite chocolate truffle more.
But on the day I squelched into Paul’s warm inviting purple store (it was raining cats and dogs outside), it was his hot chocolate and brownies that called. Paul’s hot chocolate is dark, rich, creamy and spiced to your liking. The Mayans used to add spices such as chilli, cinnamon, ginger and pepper to their drinking chocolates, and at Paul’s, you’re able to choose what you’d like to spice up your cup of liquid heaven.
His delightfully sinful brownies have been named ‘the gooiest in Britain’. The moment you take a bite, it all makes sense. They’re available in classic chocolate fudge, stem ginger, simnel (with spiced fruits and marzipan) or my favourite…Pecan.


Keep in mind that a lot of shops in the City aren’t open during the weekends, so if you’re after a wonderfully wicked weekend fix, you should head to his Islington store instead. (Angel tube station)

33 Camden Passage,
Islington, London
N1 8EA
(Angel Tube)

Closed Monday-Tuesday
11am-6pm Wed, Thurs, Saturday
11am-7pm Friday
12-5pm Sunday

20 Royal Exchange,
Threadneedle St, London
(Bank tube)

10am-6.30pm Monday-Wednesday, Friday
10am-7pm Thursday
Closed weekends
Also shut for lunch between 2-2.30pm daily.

Mrs. Marengo, LondonMrs. Marengo Cheesecake 

Mrs Marengos: In the heart of London’s media region (Soho), you’ll find a number of vegetarian restaurants. Mrs Marengo’s is a wonderful place for a quick bite- I’m a daily visitor for their wonderful vege soups. But it’s not just the vege delights that make this place a must visit…their front window is always filled with a huge variety of cakes, slices, biscuits, tarts and cupcakes.
The Lemon Meringue pie seems to get bigger every time I pass, and the white chocolate pistachio cheesecake gets me every time!
There’s almost always a couple of gluten free, vegan or wheat free options, including rich dark brownies and chocolate raspberry truffle cake…just perfect with a side of their homemade honey frozen yoghurt. It’s a great little place to pop into when you want to get away from the chaos of Oxford St or the tourist prices of Piccadilly Circus!


Open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm (Breakfast 8am-11.30am)
Saturday 12pm-6pm (breakfast 12pm-4pm..for those who like a sleep in!)
0207 287 2544

53 Lexington Street, Soho, London W1F 9AN
Nearest tube:
Oxford Circus Tube Station (0.4 km)
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station (0.4 km)
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station (0.5 km)
Leicester Square Tube Station (0.6 km)

Peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes from Outsider Tart, LondonOutsider Tart "Pup"Cakes 

Outsider Tart: Run by two business and life partners (both handily called David), this place specializes in classic American sweeties. Mega sweet chunky brownies the size of New York, mega cupcakes in dozens of exotic flavours with loads of whipped buttercream (mmm, chai anyone?) and pies galore!


The guys also do a fabulous cake and pie selection (lemon meringue, peach, pecan…and they’re even trying to convert us to sweet potato and pumpkin!)

One of the Davids was raised in the Deep South so has brought his passion for biscuits and scones to Outsider Tart. Here in the UK, we’re used to petite sweet scones with a smattering of jam and clotted cream….but these guys do good ‘ol American ones in every flavour from Chocolate to Chestnut to Cheddar and Dill.

My favourite part of their selection is their ‘Barkery’. That way you can buy a cupcake for yourself, and a ‘Pupcake’ specifically for your dog!

The boys bake their goods from the downstairs area of Profile, a gay bar in Soho. They used to sell their wares at the bar, but due to some issues with the bar’s hours, you usually find them at their stalls in different farmers markets in London.
The markets are a little further afield, but definitely worth checking out!

Every Saturday at Richmond Farmers Market
Heron Square, London TW9
Time: 11am - 3pm

Also, every Sunday at Chiswick Farmers Market
Dukes Meadows, Chiswick W4
Time: 10am - 2pm


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