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Craftsy Writer
Saturday
May102014

Sweet Roundup: Fun Cakes

Looking for a fun cake idea? Check out this sweet roundup I did a while back for Craftsy. It will make you smile!

Friday
May092014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Good idea: make a fudge cake.You know, I would totally eat a waffogato.

Important skill: how to make doughnuts using biscuits from a tube.

Devil's food cake: an exploration.

Remember when I had the experience of doing an early morning bake at a commercial bakery?

Well, the friend I did that with has a pie company in Providence now! Check 'em out.

Ice cream filled glazed doughnuts.

Win something: there's a giveaway every friday on the CakeSpy facebook page!

Do you know the different types of kitchen whisks?

I'm rather curious about these pomegranate jellies.

Making your own chocolate morsels. I want to do this with flavored candy melts!

Glow in the dark buttercream. Fun and amazing!

How to make a chocolate bubble bath. There you go, someone made a tutorial. Thanks, internet.

I was just given a banneton, which led to the question "what is a banneton?". here's how I plan on using it.

Book of the week: An oldie but goodie, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Released in the early days of the CakeSpy blog, this has become a trusted volume in my kitchen, with fantastically amazing and delicious recipes for brownies, cookies, and many more American classics which are front and center at Matt and Renato's Brooklyn location of BAKED (also a stop on my first book tour!). If you don't already have this book, buy it. If you do have it, buy it for someone you love.

Tuesday
May062014

Mother's Day Flower Pot Cupcakes Tutorial

Hey, I know you probably already bought your mom the best Mother's Day present ever. But just in case you've slacked...

here's a fantastic and exclusive tutorial just for CakeSpy readers, by Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School!

You may remember how they previously shared a tutorial on making a magical unicorn cupcake. Well, this one is just as sweet! 

For easy reference, here's a review of what you'll need to make these sweet cakes:

Tools

  • 6 silicon flowerpot cases
  • Medium calyx cutter
  • Medium daisy cutter
  • Sieve
  • PME cone tool
  • Small rolling pin
  • Piping bag
  • Sponge former
  • Tweezers
  • Large lily cutter

Ingredients

  • Basic Victoria sponge (or vanilla cake) recipe to fill 6 muffin/ plant pots
  • 400g/ 14oz Ganache
  • 50g/ 1.7oz white flower /gum paste
  • 50g/ 1.7oz green flower/gum paste
  • 12x 20g white wires
  • Green florist tape
  • 6 pose pics
  • PME pearl spray

Enjoy, and happy Mother's Day in advance!

Tuesday
May062014

Sweet Work in Progress: Things Unicorns Love

Just a little something I'm working on, sweeties. Stay tuned for more of this fun project!

Monday
May052014

Sponsored Post: Amex Offers Makes Life Sweet

CakeSpy Note: This is a sponsored post via American Express and BlogHer. While yes, it helps me pay my rent (which helps me write posts for you to enjoy), Amex Offers is a program I considered relevant because I have made use of it with the card I use to buy ingredients and sweets, and have enjoyed the rewards myself. Plus, there's a chance to win a $100 Amex gift card! Scroll the post to learn more.

Nougat from Sugar & Spice, Taiwan

Sometimes credit card companies seem less like lenders and more like Evil Empires.

Make that necessary evils. After all, credit cards are the thing that enables you to buy not only ingredients and delicious pastries, but also enables you to live a cool lifestyle and buy the stuff that makes life totally sweet. This includes anything from nougat in Taiwan when you have no local currency to a rare type of Tahitian vanilla for baking the perfect cake. American Express has proven again and again that credit card companies need not be evil. In fact it is quite the opposite. I can tell you this because I’ve enjoyed their services and cards in my life as not only a business owner but as a person who enjoys awesome things. Amex, along with Amex Offers, is there to help.

I can tell you that when some dude or dudette poaches your credit card to buy plane tickets to Russia or spends an incongruous amount online shopping for booty shorts, Amex notices. They will call you, work with you, and help you figure it out. They’ve saved my hide before, and I’ll bet they’d save yours, too.

On a more day-to-day level, they understand that you get what you give, and so in return for their customers’ loyalty, they give good stuff. I like the idea that after months and months of buying ingredients to make cakes, cookies, and pies to feature on this site with my Amex card, using it exclusively to pay for my travel and rental cars as I travel for the latest sweet discoveries, I am going to be noticed and rewarded.

Not only does the Amex rewards program listen, but it rewards with things that you’d actually want and use in your everyday life. I can tailor the rewards to the things I love, like cute jackets at Brooklyn Industries, puppy chow and cute outfits for my pug, Porkchop (business expense, right? investing in ambience?) from Petco, or coffeebean.com.

So instead of the points going toward things I don’t want, care about, or need (I’m talking about you, monogrammed tote bag or branded digital camera circa 2006), I’m making an investment in myself--in more ways than one.

I realize that it is a millennial thing to say, but the fact that they are also all over social media making their program known is helpful to me. I can keep up with current offers and see what’s going on with my friends. I adore Amex for helping make my life more awesome while I do and spend money on the things I need to run my business and my life. I’m delighted to share this program with you, sweeties!

Here's the nitty gritty:

OFFERS ARE RELEVANT & CURATED: Amex Offers are curated for me by American Express based on where I’ve shopped in the past and my current location. It’s great that no matter where I am, Amex gives me highly relevant and interesting offers from brands I love that are actually useful and that I will use immediately to save money.

HOW IT WORKS: American Express makes it super easy to get savings every time I shop. I can either use my American Express online account ID to log in at www.amexoffers.com and get offers right in my account dashboard – all I have to do is click on ‘Save’ to add the offer to my Card. Or, I can easily and securely connect my Amex Card to social networks like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and TripAdvisor to add offers to my Card right in those places. Then, I just have to spend with my Card like I normally would and the merchant and I see the savings add up as statements on my bill.

EASY & SEAMLESS: With Amex Offers, I love not having to clip coupons or remember codes – it’s so easy.

TONS OF OFFERS AVAILABLE: It’s crazy – right now Amex has more than $15 Million in savings available for Card Members… go get your piece of the pie!

That's enough about me. It's time to talk about you, and to reward what YOU do with the possibility of winning a $100.00 AmericanExpress® GiftCard. Yes, you heard me! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What is your favorite part about Amex Offers?

 

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#AmexOffers” and “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 5/5-5/31

Be sure to visit the Amex Offers brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

Friday
May022014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

I love this cake stand series. No, that pony is not a unicorn, but close. PS: the seller, Culinary Surfer, was so pleased with my share that they gave me (and my readers, you!) a discount code: CS1 for 10 percent off. 

Chocolate cookies made with...mustard??

Woot! Thank you to Parade Magazine for featuring my brilliant ideas for leftover Easter candy.

My favorite facebook page, possibly ever.

Not literally sweet, but definitely totally sweet: my tips for making perfect quiche.

Croissant french toast with strawberry syrup. Outta sight!

I think I'd like to try this chocolate tres leches cake recipe.

How to make gummi candies at home.

Adorable "keep off the grass" cake. Striking and whimsical--I like it!

Cotton candy cupcakes: still a fave.

Yoga cookie cutters: so cute!

Banana chocolate chip crumb cake

Still (as always) perfect and delicious: chocolate chip cookies from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

Book of the week: A Cake Lover's Recipe Notebook. A fun new spin on the expected cake book, this is part guide book, part recipe book, and notebook. It's separated into tabbed sections ("posh cakes", "little cakes", etc) and is wire bound with sections for notes, and this also makes the pages lie flat, which I love. Plus, the photos are beautifully styled, so it's fun to look at even while you're not baking. 

Wednesday
Apr302014

Pure Sin: Butter Ice Cream Recipe

Butter ice cream

Don't be fooled. As sweet as the scoops above might look, the fact is that they are stuffed with sin. You see, dear readers, I have a confession to make. I have done something so, so, SO naughty.

I've made butter ice cream.

BUTTER ICE CREAM! 

You may be wondering, "is this for real?". Well, the answer, my friends...

Butter ice cream

While you absorb the gravity and general amazing-ness of this statement, let me explain. Don't start panicking, because there is a homemade butter ice cream recipe at the end of the story.

I was writing about how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker for an upcoming post on Craftsy, when it hit me: what if I used butter instead of cream to make the ice cream? After all, isn't butter the condensed best part of cream, anyway? The more I thought about it, the better an idea I decided it was.

So using the same method I used for the Craftsy writeup, I whipped up a batch of vanilla ice cream. But instead of heavy cream, I substituted an equal amount of butter. From there, I basically followed the same steps.

So, now that you've had some time to digest the words "butter ice cream", you're probably wondering "was it gross? Or was it awesome?". Because let's be honest, when somebody says something like "butter ice cream" it's probably going to be one or the other: awful of awesome. Something like butter ice cream is never just "well, it was ok". 

Butter ice cream

Listen. I need to tell you that there is a reason why this kind of ice cream is not sold in stores. It is absolutely made of sin. It tastes like the unholy love child of a rich buttercream frosting and frozen custard, which is to say, it tastes amazing. 

Now, there were some differences between the butter ice cream and regular ice cream. For one, it was flakier in the pan once frozen; I had to let it sit at room temperature for about 2 minutes before it would scoop properly. It doesn't have the same exact texture as ice cream. Oddly, the texture is more like a coconut milk or vegan ice creams I've tried in the past. But the taste is nothing like those varieties. 

Butter ice cream

Listen, I am not going to advocate eating buckets of the stuff, because quite frankly, you'd probably have a heart attack. But I am going to say that as a garnish for a treat, a thinly spread filling in an ice cream sandwich, or enjoyed in a single sinful scoop, this is a treat which ends up tasting way better than it has any right to. 

OK. Maybe you're sold, maybe not. But if you are curious, here's the recipe. 

Butter ice cream

BUTTER ice cream

Makes about 12 cookie scoop sized servings

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Procedure

  1. Cut the butter into small pieces. Place the first five ingredients (everything but the vanilla) in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir CONSTANTLY. I found that if I didn't, burned bits of butter would form very quickly.  If they do, don't stop: we'll strain the mixture in a little bit.
  2. Butter ice cream
  3. Continue to cook until the temperature has reached 145 F (a few degrees over is fine). Keep a close eye on this as the smoke point for butter is 150 degrees F. Remove from heat, and if needed, strain the mixture into a different bowl through a sieve to strain out burned bits. Stir in the vanilla and place the bowl or pan in an ice bath.
  4. Butter ice cream
  5. While the mixture is cooling in the ice bath, place a stainless steel bowl (fairly shallow) or baking pan in the freezer to chill.
  6. Once the mixture has cooled, gently pour it into the cold pan. Take care that no drops of water from the bottom of the pan get in the mixture.
  7. Place the pan in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan. Chances are, it feels a bit gluey. It's OK. Stir it as vigorously as you can, using a combo of rubber spatula (to loosen the mixture from the sides and bottom) and a whisk (to mix). Stir vigorously (but not so hard as to make the mixture go flying) for 1 minute or so. Return the mixture to the freezer.
  8. Homemade vanilla ice cream
  9. Repeat this process every 20 minutes or so for 6 cycles. The mixture will be slightly thicker every time. If at any point it is too thick, place the mixture in the refrigerator to soften slightly before stirring, then do the step and return to the freezer.  Once the ice cream has completely frozen, your ice cream is ready. 
  10. Butter ice cream

Enjoy in moderation and good health. 

Butter ice cream

Tuesday
Apr292014

Bali Diary: Dosha Balancing Drink Inspired by Bali Buda

Bali

In case you've been living under a rock and didn't know I spent an extended time in Bali, well, let me tell you.

Bali was great. It was magical. I eat pray LOVED every minute of it. 

One thing that was especially eye opening to me was the fact that Health Food Can Be Delicious. For instance, one day I am at a cafe called Bali Buda (yes, that's how it's spelled). They have something on the menu called a "Dosha Balancing Drink". I had no idea what a dosha was, but I know that the items that were in it according to the menu, which included banana, dates, and almonds, all sounded quite to my liking.

Bali

I took one sip and said to my companion, "I have no idea what a doshi is but mine feel so balanced right now!". You see, I'd already forgotten what this beverage was balancing. But what I still don't forget is the taste. It was perfect. Very mellow and subtle, but so calming. Even though it was a chilled drink, it tasted like a comfort food, with the sweetness of the banana and dates working in sweet harmony with the almonds. You could not be in a bad mood while drinking this thing. 

I blinked out of my reverie as my companion spoke up.

"Dosha," she gently chided, and I received the reader's digest version of the dosha story. Basically, doshas (is it doshi, plural?), according to Ayurvedic medicine, are "each of three energies believed to circulate in the body and covern physiological activity."

Anyway, if you want to know more about the doshas in your particular life, there's a quiz on the Deepak Chopra site. I can't believe I just linked to Deepak Chopra on CakeSpy. 

Unicorn eating a banana

Anyhow, once you forgive me for linking to the Chops, do give this recipe a try. Even though it's health food, it's awfully good food. The sweetness of the bananas and dates work beautifully with the richness of the almonds; even though it has no dairy, it's amazingly creamy. I'm never going to tell you it could stand in for dessert, but it's very acceptable as a snack or breakfast. 

Dosha Balancing Drink (AKA banana date almond smoothie)

Inspired by Bali Budha; adapted from Deliciously Ella

Makes 2 delicate servings, or one very large one

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups very cold almond milk
  • 8 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Procedure

  1. If your blender is not incredibly strong, go ahead and coarsely chop the almonds to start. I don't really care if they have skins on or not.
  2. Undress the bananas and remove the pits from your dates.
  3. Now, combine all of the ingredients in your blender. Blend for, I don't know, 1 minute or so, until it has reached your desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky, so I can use a spoon toward the end to snack on the lumps of almond and date bits. 

Enjoy in good health and highly balanced doshas. 

Tuesday
Apr292014

TV Show Themed Cakes

See that American Idol-themed cake? It's by Whipped Bakeshop, and it's also part of a roundup I did of TV show themed cakes. Check them out here!

Monday
Apr282014

Sweet Art: Donut Dream, It's Over

Perhaps you've already seen this image via my instagram, twitter, or facebook (I shared it all over) but in the odd event that you missed it, I thought this image might make you smile and make your Monday a little brighter. It's on sale as a print in my online store, too!

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