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Thursday
Mar122015

How to Make Paleo Coffee, AKA Bulletproof Coffee

Paleo coffee DIY

When I was in Asheville, several of my yoga school classmates became hooked on something sold at the Whole Foods nearby called "Paleo Coffee". Well, I didn't have too much interest in it until someone told me it contained butter.

What? Coffee with butter? That sounded awesome!

I was intrigued, and when I tried the stuff, I found that it was quite agreeable. Turns out, it was not only butter but coconut oil in addition that gave the coffee its rich, creamy flavor. Yes, I liked the stuff.

After Asheville, I promptly forgot about it until I happened upon this article in In Touch Weekly (one of my guilty pleasures fo'sho). I had to roll my eyes at it a bit, but then again, I have to say that the butter diet is one of the better ones I've come across. 

Paleo coffee DIY

They called it "bulletproof coffee" but it was the same thing that Whole Foods in Asheville had deemed Paleo Coffee. Either way, I think this stuff is worth a try. It's far cheaper to make it at home (I've seen it for sale between $4 and a whopping $8 per cup) and it's pretty delicious. While I will never ever suggest a fad diet to you, I think that this buttery coffee is a curiosity that is worth trying at least once! 

Paleo coffee DIY

Paleo Coffee, or "Bulletproof" Coffee

inspired by In Touch Weekly and Greenlife of Asheville 

  • 2 cups (16 oz) hot brewed coffee
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (I used unsalted) 

Procedure: It's as easy as combining all of the ingredients, but I will give you a few small tips. First, you'll definitely want to use super hot coffee, because it needs to be hot to allow the coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, become liquid, and the butter to melt. Second, I suggest pouring the mixture into a bowl and mixing it all together with a whisk, because if you just stir with a spoon in the cup, it won't be vigorous enough to make the butter droplets go away. I find that it just looks better when mixed thoroughly.

Paleo coffee DIY

Finally, be sure to drink it while it's quite hot. The fat will begin to separate as it cools, making for a less appetizing visual.

Have you ever tried bulletproof or paleo coffee? 

Thursday
Mar122015

Actually Good: Stout Beer Ganache

Do you like beer? 

Beer ganache

In general, I do not. But in recent years I have come to appreciate a few what I will call "fancy beers" - the type that cost more than the average six pack, have the word "handcrafted" somewhere on the packaging, and that the average football watching dude would probably scoff at. 

The only problem is that a lot of the fancy beers only come in 22 ounce bottles. Now, as an occasional beer drinker, this is an insanely large quantity to me; I have never and probably will never be able to finish an entire bottle. And as it simply isn't the same the next day (flat!) and I'm the only one in my house who drinks it, it has been relegated to "occasional" treat, and I usually end up throwing out the un-consumed portion. 

I hate waste.

So the last time I bought a fancy-ish beer called Cappuccino Stout, I had some, and then decided to experiment with the rest.

What would happen if I substituted fancy beer for cream in a ganache recipe? What would beer ganache taste like? 

Well, given the success of chocolate stout cupcakes, I figured there was a chance that I could be successful. So I heated up the beer, and then mixed it with mixed dark and milk chopped chocolate in an equal quantity. 

I let it sit until it firmed a bit, and here's what it looked like.

Beer Ganache

And as for the taste? Surprisingly good. Like, actually good. The beer didn't so much taste beer-y anymore, but it more imparted a malty, caramelly taste to the chocolate. If I had been given a sample and you'd asked me to do a blind taste, I would have said that it was some sort of malted chocolate sauce.

Stout beer ganache is definitely worth your time. I think I'll try it on top of brownies next! 

Actually-Good Beer Ganache

Note: you can use whatever quantity you like, as long as the beer and chocolate are in equal weights. 

  1. Put the beer in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble (not to be confused with the fizz), like it's just shy of boiling. 
  2. Beer Ganache
  3. Either add the chocolate to the pan, or pour the hot beer over chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  4. Beer Ganache
  5. Mix until combined, and the chocolate has melted.
  6. Let set until it has reached cool room temperature. Enjoy as a cake filling, icing, or as a tasty dip for cookies.
  7. Beer Ganache

Would you ever try beer ganache?

Monday
Mar092015

Three Ingredient Chocolate Cake

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake

Well, technically it's four ingredients. But I happened to have ganache handy, so I didn't need to take any extra steps. 

Even if you don't have ganache handy, though, this cake is incredibly easy to make. All you need is ganache, eggs, and sugar. If you have these things, you could be eating this cake within the hour. For reals. 

This cake was inspired by the three ingredient peanut butter cake I made for Craftsy. The cake got a great reaction, because it's just so darned simple: peanut butter, eggs, sugar. That's it.

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake

Of course, it also came with questions, ranging from the deeply boring ("Can I substitute non-sugar substitute?" and the like) to sensible ("can I use natural peanut butter?") to very interesting ("can I add chocolate?" "Can I substitute almond butter?"). 

Well, the questions about chocolate in particular intrigued me and my sweetheart, especially because we had a big old pan full of ganache in the kitchen (related: I love my life). 

So, along with said sweetheart, a version of the peanut butter cake was made, but this time with ganache instead of peanut butter.

Well, let me tell you.

It was a bit flatter than its peanut butter counterpart, but it...was...freaking...delicious.

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake

 

It is like eating the best parts of a chocolate layer cake, but condensed into one little dense form. It's simultaneously rich and oddly light.

Although it technically added more ingredients, topping the cake with whipped cream or ice cream is a really, really good thing. 

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake

I don't want to waste any more of your time, because every minute you read this is a minute less that you'll be baking this cake. So let's get baking! Here's how you do it. 

Three Ingredient Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces ganache, weighed on a scale
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and 8-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Lightly grease the top of the parchment paper, too. This will ensure easy removal later.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs until more than doubled in volume — about 8 minutes at high speed.
  3. 3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake
  4. Stop the mixer. Add the sugar, and beat one more minute, until fully combined, on medium-high speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary.
  5. Stop the mixer. Add the ganache, and mix on the lowest setting only until no streaks remain and the color is consistent. You can also add the ganache by hand, gently folding it in to the egg mixture.3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake
  6. Pour the batter in your prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Immediately run a sharp knife along the perimeter of the cake pan to loosen the edges. Let the cake cool completely before inverting on to a cake platter and serving. Store in the refrigerator, but serve at room temperature.
  8. 3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake

How would you top this cake?

Sunday
Mar082015

CakeSpy's Recent Craftsy Posts

Photo via Craftsy blogHow to create beautiful stippled (millions of dots!) drawings

Think you know a lot about buttercream? Prove it by taking the buttercream quiz.

A primer on chicken flatbread sandwiches. Delicious!

Make eating easier: how to cut meat against the grain.

How to paint skin tones.

Roasted avocado slices. Best. Snack. Ever. 

Gluten-free hummingbird cake. So. Good.

Create a beautiful batik-style painting on paper. 

How to pack watercolors for travel. Good because I travel a lot!

Beautiful and inspiring beaded wedding cakes. (pictured top)

Sunday
Mar082015

Last Meal-Worthy: Snickers Cheesecake Recipe

Snickers cheesecake

"If I could only eat one pie for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. It’s so incredibly good!" - so says Roy Fares in the headnote for this recipe, featured in the new book United States of Cakes: Tasty Traditional American Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Baked Goods. I am pretty into this book so far. For one thing, it's beautiful eye candy: I could look at the pictures of cakes and places all day--it speaks to my sweet tooth and wanderlust tendencies.

Now, the title might be a bit misleading - while you might be picturing sweets from sea to shining sea, the book is mostly set in Southern California. The author, Roy Fares, is an international pastry chef celebrity, and on his travels, the Los Angeles area intrigued him quite a bit--so he settled there to bake through some American favorites. It's a beautiful book, but don't expect a book like United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State. DO expect some delicious and decadent desserts, like the one featured below. 

Snickers Cheesecake

Makes 12 pieces

Pie Shell

  • 15 (200 g) graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (100 g) butter
  • 1⁄4 cup (40 g) sugar
  • 11⁄2 tbsp (10 g) cocoa powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp (3 g) salt
  • Cheesecake Filling
  • 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1⁄2 cups (600 g) cream cheese
  • 3⁄4 cup (180 g) sugar
  • 2 tbsp (20 g) all­ purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup (59 mL (50 g)) whipping cream
  • 2 (30 g) egg yolks
  • 2 (110 g) eggs
  • 1 1⁄2 (80 g) Snickers bars
  • 1⁄2 cup (60 g) salted peanuts

Frosting

  • 1 1⁄4 cups (300 g) cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp (15 g) cocoa powder
  • 3⁄4 cups (120 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp (11⁄2 g) vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 cup (50 g) whipping cream

Garnish

  • Pieces of Snickers
  • Salted peanuts
  • Optional, cocoa powder for Dusting

Make the Pie Shell

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius), convection function. Run the cookies in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Melt the butter and add it. Add a little more butter if you think that the mixture is too dry to work with. Line a springform, 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter, with the crumbs, create an edge of about 11⁄2 inches (4 cm) high. Flatten the surface a little with the back of a tablespoon. Bake in the center of the oven for 7 minutes. Allow to cool.

Make the Cheesecake Filling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius), convection function. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and flour in a bowl until fluffy. Whisk in the cream. Fold in the egg yolks one egg at a time with a spatula. Cut the Snickers into pieces and spread them over the bottom of the pie shell along with the peanuts. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the middle of oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (105 degrees Celsius) and bake for 35 minutes (do not open oven door). Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake stand in the heat for another 25 minutes (which reduces the risk of cracking). Remove and let cool completely. Let the cheesecake stand in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, so that it hardens properly. Run a thin knife around the form’s edge before it is removed. Rinse the knife with hot water a few times during that process.

Make the Frosting, and finish up

Mix all the ingredients except the cream in a bowl and whisk until the mixture feels fluffy. Whip in the cream in batches until it becomes a smooth frosting. Pipe or spread the frosting over the cheesecake. Garnish with Snickers chunks and peanuts and, if you like, dust with cocoa powder.

What dessert would you choose if you knew it would be your last meal?

Saturday
Mar072015

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cake

Got eggs, peanut butter and sugar? You could be enjoying this cake in less than an hour. Really. 

It's only three ingredients, but it tastes way fancier. Trust me: try this one. 

Intrigued? Recipe here. 

Friday
Mar062015

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Watercolor batik

Melt or temper? Here's a guide to when to do what. (Baking 911)

Our history is jotted on recipe cards. A sweet essay. (Charlotte News Observer)

Gluten-free hummingbird cake. (Craftsy)

Virtuous no-bake lemon bars. They look delicious, virtue or no! (Sun Diego Eats)

A new book explores the history of nutritional supplements. Interesting! (NY Times)

Opening a young coconut. (Faye's Fork)

Fruity pebble cereal baked doughnuts. (American Heritage Cooking

Cinnamon roll cheesecake? I'm into it. (Life, Love, and Sugar)

Bananas foster bread pudding. YES! (Grandbaby Cakes)

It's a good day to make Nanaimo bars, I think. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Brownies with coconut and matcha swirl. I'd give 'em a whirl. (Mainly Baking)

Awesome, inspiring beaded wedding cakes. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

I am very into these saucepan brownies. (The Cooking of Joy)

Book of the week: Raising Unicorns: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Running a Successful - and Magical! - Unicorn Farm No, not technically a cookbook, but magical enough to bear mention on this site. The description really does it for me: "In this book, author Jessica S. Marquis provides everything you need to know to make a good living as a unicorn farmer. From choosing the right breed (Purebred; Twinkletoe; Karmic; Gigglerump; Horse with Horn) to picking the unicorn farm dream team (an alchemist; stable hands; groomers; The On-Call Virgin (OCV); lawyers), you are guaranteed to have a magical journey."

Wednesday
Mar042015

Giveaway: CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled Life

UPDATE: THE WINNERS!

I have chosen and contacted all of the winners who were chosen at random from the comments on this post and on Facebook - Congratulations!

Winners:

  • Katrina, who chose Biscoff Pop-Tarts 
  • Donna, who chose (good idea) 
  • Mary, who had thoughts of strawberry rhubarb or cafe au lait Pop-Tarts. 

All tasty! Cgongratulations again!

 

--------

Original post:

Hi friends! Happy Wednesday, sugary wishes, etc. Let me get straight to the point: I feel like giving away a few copies of my awesome first book, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

Why? Because if you are what you eat, then we should all eat more awesome and sweet desserts. It will likely make us all better people.

So what do you have to do to enter one of the three copies I am giving away? All you have to do is think about Pop-Tarts. Namely, Pop-Tarts that *should* exist. Like these: 

All you have to do is comment on this post, or on my Facebook page, with an answer to the following important question:

What flavor of Pop-Tart do you think should exist, that doesn't quite yet?

It can be one of the ones that I've drawn on the above illustration, or perhaps a flavor that you've invented in your imagination. 

I'll let you weigh in on this important subject for the next few days, and I'll choose three winners at random on Wednesday, March 11, at 5pm MST. Because shipping overseas is prohibitively expensive, this time the contest is only open to entrants with US shipping addresses. 

Good luck! 

Wednesday
Mar042015

Panettone Monte Cristo Sandwiches

I made something savory. Deal with it.

Monte Cristo sandwich

Well, as savories go, this Monte Cristo-inspired sandwich is sort of a crossover. The traditional sandwich features meat and cheese on bread, which is battered French toast style, toasted, and often served with confectioners' sugar and jam. So it's got one foot in the dessert world, even if technically, it's a savory food. 

Honestly, I don't know why Monte Cristo sandwiches served on panettone aren't a thing. Monte Cristo sandwich The lightly sweet, spongey bread is the absolute perfect carbohydrate for this sandwich: absorbent enough to get crispy and flavorful once toasted with the egg mixture, and with little fruits and bits and bobs which make the whole sandwich more interesting.

If you still think it's totally inappropriate that CakeSpy made something savory, well, I have this to say: you have to warm up for dessert somehow. 

As hybrid foods that span sweet and savory go, this is an indulgent and delicious one. Here's how you make it. 

Monte Cristo sandwich

Panettone Monte Cristo

Makes one large sandwich (suitable for sharing; or, double or triple the recipe)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or water
  • 2 thick slices of panettone (I used Bauli Pandoro Panettone di Milano, and cut "coins" off of the circular loaf)
  • a few slices of ham
  • a few slices of cheese
  • mayonnaise and mustard to taste
  • jam on the side, if desired 

 Procedure 

  1. Mix together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. 
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt a knob of butter in the pan. 
  3. Brush the first slice of pannettone with the egg mixture on both sides, and place it in the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium low. Toast each side until lightly browned, and remove from the pan to a plate on the side. Repeat with the second slice of pannettone. Turn off the heat for the moment.
  4. Monte Cristo sandwich
  5. Once all of the sides of the pannettone are lightly toasted, spread mayonnaise or mustard on one side of each slice. Place whatever fillings you'd like inside, and sandwich the slices together. 
  6. Put the heat back on to medium-low, and melt more butter in the pan if necessary. Place the sandwich in the pan, and toast on either side until nice and toasty, with the cheese melty in the middle.Monte Cristo sandwich 
  7. Remove, and serve in warm wedges. Serve with jam if desired. 

Have you ever tried a Monte Cristo sandwich?

Monday
Mar022015

Italian in Your Mouth: Torta Caprese

Have you ever heard of Torta Caprese? 

Torta Caprese

My sweetheart was enchanted by this recipe in Brooks Headley's book Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts: The Recipes of Del Posto’s James Beard Award–Winning Pastry Chef. So...well, he made it. And we ate it. And I want to tell you that it is worth your time. 

According to the book, Torta Caprese is an Italian sweet, named for the island of Capri. This is a traditional version that gets its structure from "walnuts and the superpowers of egg whites". 

It's a very thin brownie, so we decided it was better to serve them in little short stacks, like the one pictured (five brownies at once? How American!). Since they're so thin, it's really like making a DIY layer cake. 

Torta Caprese

Every flavor shines in this recipe, so it's a good time to bring out quality ingredients: basically, your brownies will taste as good as the chocolate you use. 

It's also naturally gluten free, "making it perfect for passover, or for that friend who is not eating gluten, for whatever very real or totally imagined reason."

Torta Caprese

Torta Caprese

Only slightly adapted from Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts: The Recipes of Del Posto’s James Beard Award–Winning Pastry Chef.

Yield: 1 baking sheet of brownies

  • Bittersweet chocolate, very best quality, chopped, 1 1/2 cups (200 grams)
  • Walnuts, chopped, 1 3/4 cups (200 grams)
  • Sugar, 3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup (150 grams plus 50 grams) 
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon * (4 grams) - note, original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons
  • Unsalted butter, 2/3 cup (or, 1 1/3 sticks) (155 grams), melted
  • Eggs, 4, separated

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the chocolate, walnuts, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt, until you have chunks of chocolate and walnut that are not huge but not totally obliterated either. You don't want a paste. Avoid that.
  3. Torta caprese
  4. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix well with a rubber spatula. Add the egg yolks, and stir to combine. Set the chocolate mixture to the side. 
  5. Torta caprese
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed, slowly adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beating continuously until the whites have a meringue-like texture. Do not overbeat.
  7. Torta caprese
  8. Fold the egg whites gently into the chocolate mixture, and pour the batter on to the prepared baking sheet. 
  9. Torta Caprese
  10. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  11. Torta Caprese
  12. Let the cake cool in the pan, and cut into chunks. This also freezes beautifully, and will last up to 2 months. Just thaw and serve.
  13. Torta Caprese

How many slices would you stack for dessert?

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