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Tuesday
Oct072014

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough Tips

Listen, I know it's not about cake, but I'm so proud of this post I could pop. It's about tips for making tasty and superior-textured gluten-free pizza crust, and you can check out the entire post on Craftsy. Enjoy!

Monday
Oct062014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip-Maple-Peanut Bars

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

I need to tell you, these bars basically have all the building blocks of what I consider delicious.

Well, first, before any ingredients, let's start with something important. Arlene Erlbach, who created this recipe, hails from Morton Grove, Illinois. I consider Illinois firmly planted in bar country. No, not dives where you drink beer (although yes, that exists there too). I am talking about cookie bars. The midwest just does them right.

Now, back to the actual ingredients. They have maple, which is a quintessential cozy flavor; they have peanut butter, which loves sweets and makes them nice and rich and dense. They have chocolate chip cookie dough, which makes everything better. The peanuts, frosting, and toffee bits are hardly necessary after all that goodness. But no, I am certainly not going to turn them away.

Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip-Maple-Peanut Bars

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 40 Min
  • Makes: 16 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 teaspoons maple extract
  • 1 cup vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • 1/2 cup salted cocktail peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toffee bits

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of the maple extract. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 to 2 minutes or until well blended. Press dough evenly in bottom of pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix frosting and remaining 1 teaspoon maple extract until smooth. In another small bowl, mix peanuts, toffee bits and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread frosting evenly over cooled bars. Sprinkle with peanut mixture; press in lightly. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before cutting. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store covered.
Monday
Oct062014

Healthy-Ish: Chocolate-Butterscotch Whole Grain Cookie Bars

Some cookies are definitely dessert.

And then there are others which reside under a mask of health. This mask may or may not be reality. This "healthy-ish cookie" can readily be sighted at establishments such as Whole Foods, health food stores, cafes outside of yoga studios, and places that smell of patchouli. These cookies typically include whole grains and/or wholesome ingredients, but at their very beating heart, they are a tasty dessert item. I'll show you a few examples of ones I've know and loved in the past:

Oatsies (click for recipe)"Power cookie" by Capers, at Whole FoodsVegan Oat Bar, Caffe Ladro, Seattle

So when I found myself with half a bag of Bob's Red Mill Hot Cereal, I was all, "I'm going to invent a healthy-ish bar cookie". I started with the basic idea of a Nanaimo bar crust type texture, but it's very different because it's made mostly with a whole grain cereal mix. 

 
Let me tell you, I came up with a recipe for sweet (and somewhat healthy) success.

They are tasty little things. They taste somewhat healthy, but the richness from the butter, and the sweetness from the melange of vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch, lends them a distinctly dessert-like feel.

They still feel like they might be breakfast-appropriate...but, you know, it would be a GOOD breakfast. 

Healthy-ish bar cookies

Here's how you make 'em.

Chocolate-Butterscotch Whole Grain Bars

Makes one 8 or 9-inch square pan's worth (how many? Depends on how big you cut them!)

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill hot cereal (I used this kind)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate morsels or coarsely chopped chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch morsels

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar. Once it's melted and combined, remove from heat, and add the vanilla and the egg. Stir vigorously so that the egg doesn't cook or leave scrambly bits in your mixture. Once it starts to thicken (right around the time the egg is thoroughly mixed in), add the cereal mix and flour and salt, stirring until thoroughly moistened. 
  3. Add the chocolate and butterscotch morsels. If you wanted, you could add some nuts or any other mix-ins you like at this point.
  4. Healthy-ish bar cookies
  5. Press the mixture into a greased 8 or 9-inch square pan. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and slightly dull on top. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly before cutting into pieces as large or small as you like. 
  7. Enjoy! Healthy-ish bar cookies

 

Monday
Oct062014

How to Use Fresh Flowers in Cake Decorating

Have you ever used fresh flowers in your cake decorating? If so, you know that it's harder than it sounds: keeping your cake from wilting the petals, and the stems from flavoring the cake, can be tricky to navigate. I wrote a great roundup of tips and tricks for using fresh flowers on your flour creation. Read the full article here.

Sunday
Oct052014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Grizzly Bear Claws

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events).
 

Gerald Martinez of Westminster, Colorado deserves an award: for the cutest pastry name in the running at this year's Bake-Off! Not that it's that different from "bear claw", but somehow the "grizzly" referring to a flaky coating of coconut makes me coo. That's cute! Plus, the pastries are a fine way to start the morning, made from biscuit dough reconfigured and filled with a date-nut mixture. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Grizzly Bear Claws

  • Prep Time: 25 Min Total
  • Time: 50 Min
  • Makes: 5 bear claws

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 large orange (1 tablespoon grated peel and 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons juice)
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3
  • cup finely chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup Jif® Creamy Almond Butter 1can Pillsbury Grands Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (5 biscuits)

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line large cookie sheet with Reynolds® Parchment Paper. In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the orange juice with whisk until smooth; set aside. In another small bowl, mix coconut and almonds; set aside. 
  2. In medium bowl, mix dates and 1 tablespoon of the orange juice. Stir in almond butter, orange peel and remaining 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Set aside. 
  3. Separate dough into 5 biscuits; press each biscuit to form 7x3 1/2-inch oval. Spoon about 2 tablespoons date filling on one half of each biscuit oval. Spread filling to center, 1 inch from short end and 1/4 inch from sides. Fold dough in half over filling; bringing top edge of dough even with bottom edge. Press edges firmly to seal. 
  4. Place biscuits 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Using sharp knife or kitchen scissors, make four 1-inch cuts, 1 inch apart on sealed end of biscuit. Gently stretch each section between cuts to form claw shape. Brush tops of biscuits with reserved orange glaze; sprinkle evenly with reserved coconut mixture. 
  5. Bake 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and coconut is toasted. Cool 2 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
Saturday
Oct042014

How to Keep Your Cakes From Falling in the Center

There aren't many bigger bummers than baking a perfect, beautiful cake and then having it fall in the center. I wrote a great article for Craftsy about some of the causes, and how to keep it from happening. Read the full article here!

Saturday
Oct042014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Easy Double-Chocolate Brownies

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

The list of things in the world that are better than home-baked brownies...well, it isn't a very long list.

Make them easy to create using just seven ingredients, and make them gluten-free to boot, and you've got a treat that will please many palates. Thank you for the recipe, Michelle Matoba of Fair Oaks, California...and good luck at the Bake-Off!

Easy Double-Chocolate Brownies

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 20 Min
  • Makes: 24 brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 13x9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add remaining ingredients; beat with electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes or until well blended. Spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 22 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 30 minutes. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.
Saturday
Oct042014

Coconut Pistachio Gateau with Marzipan Filling

Photo via The Everyday Art of Gluten-FreeI'm not anti-gluten; I'm pro-delicious. This cake happens to be gluten-free, but that doesn't stop me, because just look at the thing. It is a guest post featuring a recipe from The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends. It is inspired by a recipe from Austin pastry chef Sandy Reinlie, a "genius" when it comes to combining flavors. 

Coconut Pistachio Gateau with Marzipan Filling

For the cake

  • 2 1/2 cups "cake and muffin" blend (link here)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • scant 1 cup finely ground roasted salted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pure olive oil
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the icing

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the marzipan filling

  •  1 pound gluten-free almond paste
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • green food coloring (optional)
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Garnish

 

  • 2 cups salted pistachios, chopped
  • toasted coconut

Procedure

  1. Start by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour blend, sugar, pistachios, cornstarch, and baking powder. Beat briefly to combine. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg yolks, sour cream, and extracts until very smooth. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients in a slow, steady stream. Beat the batter on high for one minute, or until thick and smooth. Add the shredded coconut and mix until just combined.
  4. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they attain stiff peaks. Using a wooden spoon, fold this mixture into the batter until there are no more white clumps remaining.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top cracks slightly and the edges have pulled away from the sides.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least an hour.
  7. Make the icing now. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over medium high heat. Bring the syrup to a boil, whisking to make sure the sugar dissolves, and cook until the temperature registers 239 F (115 C, soft ball stage) on the thermometer. This will take several minutes. 
  8. Meanwhile, in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until opaque and frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high until the whites are thick and foamy.
  9. With the mixer on high speed, pour the hot sugar syrup into the whipping egg whites in a slow, steady stream being careful to keep the hot syrup between the bowl and whisk to prevent sprays of sugar on your skin or beautiful face. Beat the meringue for 7 minutes, or until the egg whites are very shiny and hold deep folds. The mixer should be cool to the touch on the bottom. Beat in the vanilla just til combined. 
  10. Make the filling. In a food processor fitted with the "s" blade, combine the almond paste with the corn syrup and one to two drops of the food coloring, if using. Mix them until the paste is very smooth. If the almond paste is crumbly, add a bit more corn syrup, a teaspoon at a time, until it folds in on itself. 
  11. Lightly dust your work surface with confectioners' sugar. Turn out the marzipan mixture and roll it into a circle 1/4 inch thick and 11 inches in diameter.
  12. Assemble the thing. Invert the cooled cake onto a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper. Wrap a thread or piece of unflavored dental floss around the circumference of the cake, halfway from top to bottom, and draw the floss tight, using it to cut the cake in two layers (or do it the normal way with a serrated knife).
  13. Set one layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Place the marzipan disk on top. Dollop 2/3 cup of the icing on to the marzipan and spread it twoard the edges. Top with the second cake layer. Ice the cake with the remaining icing. Press the pistachios on the sides of the cake, and sprinkle the top with toasted coconut. Keep the cake under a cake dome for a few days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

 

Saturday
Oct042014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Salted Caramel-Cashew Cookie Tarts

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

In the recipe headnote, these little morsels are described as "A little bit of sugar cookie. A little bit of cashew butter. A little bit of caramel. A little bit of chocolate. AND a little bit of sea salt in one awesome bite! What's not to love?"

Well, I don't have much to offer in terms of argument there. What is not to love? And to boot, it all comes together to form those little tartlets in just 30 minutes (cooling time is longer, but you can wait, I know you can!). This clever recipe comes from Natalie Morales of Oakley, California. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Salted Caramel-Cashew Cookie Tarts 

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 35 Min
  • Makes: 24 tarts

Ingredients

  • 1 package Pillsbury Ready to Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped salted cashews
  • 1 bag (11 oz) caramel bits
  • 1/2 cup creamy cashew butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In small bowl, place cashews. Coat each cookie dough round with cashews, pressing cashews lightly into dough. Place 1 cookie dough round in each muffin cup; press slightly.
  3. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately press handle of wooden spoon in center of each cookie to make 1-inch wide indentation. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Loosen with tip of knife; gently remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  4. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave caramel bits, cashew butter and 3 tablespoons water uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring once, until mixture can be stirred smooth. Spoon about 1 tablespoon caramel mixture into each cookie cup (cups will be full). Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until caramel mixture is set.
  5. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth. Spoon and spread 1 teaspoon melted chocolate over top of each cookie cup; sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until chocolate is set. Store covered.
Saturday
Oct042014

Pumpkin Pie Croissants

Pumpkin pie croissant, anyone? For an (easy!) recipe and full tutorial, click here.

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