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Entries in batter chatter (100)


Batter Chatter: Interview with Mei of Tiny Hands Jewelry, and a Giveaway!

Much sweeter than wearing your heart on your sleeve? Wearing sweets around your neck, or on your finger, or around your wrist! I'm talking about food-themed jewelry of course, and I'm pretty sure that Tiny Hands makes the absolute cutest stuff around. From teeny-tiny waffles with butter to sno-cones (pictured above) to slices of pie to doughnuts and cookies and now, even cupcake rings, these charms are not only adorable, but they are scented, too. What a fantastic way to declare your love of sweets!

Now. I really want to share this great company with you, so I'm going to do two things in this post: first, I'm going to introduce you to the company owner, Mei Pak, via interview. And then second, I'm offering a giveaway! You can scroll to the bottom of the post to figure out how to enter, ok?

Here's the interview:
Please describe your business in 6 words or less. Super cute scented food jewelry!
What is the best thing to happen to you in the past 48 hours? Wow, it's like you're in my mind! My husband and I just bought our FIRST home!! We're so excited - it's the perfect house for us and where we're at in our lives now. We just finished moving in. We're really stressed with the transition, but we're also super happy about our new home!
Can you describe your office (or where you work)? Our new Tiny Hands headquarters has hot pink walls, rainbow colored curtains and a large U-shaped white desk with pink chairs for us to make and ship our food jewelry across the world! What was once a boring built in cabinet, will be a really nice and neat storage space for all our materials and shipping supplies. We removed the doors and installed white curtains so our storage area looks really pretty too! We have some modular Ikea furniture for more organized space as well.
What quality do you most value in others? Kindness -- a year ago I was featured on local TV for the first time. We don't have TV at home so there was no way I could record the show. That weekend I was doing a craft show, and a really sweet older woman said she saw me on TV and had the recording. A few weeks later, I received the tape in the mail! This woman's kindness really touched me and I won't forget what she did for the rest of my life!
If you could instantly conjure up any dessert or sweet in the world at this moment, what would it be? French macarons! There aren't many french bakeries here in the Twin Cities, and I know making macarons can be super tedious!
One of my favorite things about your line is that it's all scented. Have you ever gotten mixed up and given one of your pieces of jewelry the wrong scent? Hmm... if I have I don't remember it! I have everything labeled so it's really hard to screw up!
How do you stay motivated? I love looking at pictures of real food! Pinterest is great for that. When I see a delicious looking cake, I just want to miniaturize it!
Cake for breakfast. Thoughts? Oh, heck yes! Cake for second breakfast too!
In your opinion, do people tend to gravitate toward the jewelry that reflects their food tastes, or do they just choose what they find cutest? I think people pick jewelry they've had a personal connection with. I had a grandma buy a chocolate chip cookie necklace for her granddaughter, who she nicknamed Cookie!

What's the product you're personally most excited about now? Ice cream cone and cupcake rings! Everyone keeps asking for them, and I'm stoked to put them up for sale!
What is a dream you'd love to see realized within the next 10 years? It would be awesome that in the next 10 years, I can open my own restaurant or bakery! I love food and know so many people do too, so I can't think of a better way to share that kind of experience with people.
If you want more info, or to go shopping, visit Tiny Hands online!
And as for that giveaway...want to enter? OK! It's easy. Here's how you enter.
  1. First, choose any item equal or lesser than $30 from the store.
  2. Next, post a link to it, and why you chose that piece, either in the comments section on this post (moderation is enabled!) or post your response on the CakeSpy facebook page.
We'll choose one lucky entrant at random one week from today, (end of day on Wednesday, June 5) and send them their chosen item! Because shipping rates overseas and abroad can be hefty, though, we have to ask that only US entrants participate. 
Good luck!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Baker-Author Gesine Bullock-Prado

Are you a baker? Do you think you're pretty cool? Well, think again. Because Gesine Bullock-Prado wrote the book on cool baking. Actually, she's written several: My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a TimeSugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar; Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented; and now, Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes from Inside Out. I mean, seriously. You should take a few minutes here to buy all of them.

I baked something last week from the most recent book, and man, did it ever go over well. You'll have to wait a few days for that post, because I've been busy painting cupcakes and unicorns. But in the meantime I will show you a picture of one of the cakes from the book that my friend Peabody made. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her picture, especially since I didn't ask. But seriously, isn't this amazing?Image: Peabody

Yes, this cake, baked by Peabody, is one of the recipes featured in Bake It Like You Mean It.

Now, if you, like me, are curious to know more about the baking prodigy behind this creative deliciousness, well, you're in luck. Because Gesine was kind enough to answer a few questions so we could all get to know her better. This should whet your appetite til I can post that recipe!

Interview with Gesine Bullock-Prado

What's the best thing to happen to you in the last 48 hours?  The Dartmouth Women's Tennis team sent me a long sleeved team t-shirt to thank me for making them a cake while they were on the road, competing in LA.  I was away from home too, baking in California for the Bake It publicity tour, and I was already in the groove so I pumped out a checkerboard cake to fuel them away from home.  I really wasn't doing it for the cozy t-shirt, I swear.

What are your thoughts on cake for breakfast?  My thoughts are,"yes please."  And let's not forget that muffins, everyone's favorite morning comestible, are really just cake in paper Spanx.

Can you suggest a polite way to extract myself from conversations with people once they've said "I don't like dessert"?  "I have the number of a wonderful therapist who can help you with that."

Do you have any superstitions?  They usually follow along the lines of the rules of "Fight Club."  So I can't talk about them.

Zombie apocalypse! You only have time to grab three objects from your home before running. What are they?  The husband (I often treat him as an object because he's so pretty), the dogs (they count as a single unit and I might stuff them when they pass, so I'm counting them as objects too) and my flock of chickens and water fowl (also counting them as a single unit and see my dog answer re stuffing).

WITHOUT GOOGLING IT: what is cream of tartar, anyway?  If it's a something to do with pastry AND wine, I'll likely know the answer.  Cream of tartar happens to be and acid derived from a sediment left over from delicious wine fermentation,   I also am a meringue fiend and am friends with all acids that help in denaturing egg whites.  Do I get some wine for knowing the answer?

What quality to you most admire in a person?  Kindness

What is your personal mission statement?  Bake it like you mean it.  I'm not kidding.  I've been using it as a mantra for a kagillion years and it took me that long to realize that I could recycle it for use as a book title.  

What is your favorite US city for eating?  Vermont.  I's not a city but our entire population doesn't match the census numbers in a NYC borough so I think it counts.  I think we should rename the state Cheese City.

If you could choose any person living or dead to bake a cake or treat for, who would it be and why?  Mark Twain.  He loved his pie.  While he was spending an extended period of time in the UK, he wrote fantastic letters to his housekeeper back in the states just listing all the pies he wanted to eat when he got back home.

What's the best gift you've ever given?  A Zojirushi Fuzzy Logic rice maker along with a bundle of Japanese Pub Food cookbooks to my husband.  This was a few years ago and I'm still getting great food out of him on a weekly basis.  

Since you live in Vermont...can you tell me a story about creemees? They are delicious and not meant for the lactose intolerant.  I tolerate lactose beautifully so my stories don't include any danger or hijinks.  

If you were able to go back in time and give your 13-year old self a message, what would it be?  Buy stock in Microsoft & Apple.  


- - - - -

Don't you love her? Buy the book now: Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes from Inside Out


Batter Chatter: Interview with Ashley Foxen of Reality Bites Cupcakes

Reality Bites Cupcakes

Reality Bites, but Cupcakes Are Sweet. Sounds like a wise proverb, but truthfully I just made it up to illustrate the fantastic sweetness with a humorous edge (see trompe l'oeil "pancake" cupcake, above) that goes on in the kitchen (which is then documented on the web) of Ashley Foxen, proprietress of Reality Bites Cupcakes. This sweet blog and small baking business is based in NYC, where Miss Foxen focuses on making the big apple just a little sweeter each day. 

Recently, we decided to learn a bit more about each other by conducting some e-mail interviews. Here is the link to her corresponding interview with me; and now, here are the scintillating questions I asked her, punctuated with images of her sweet cupcake creations:

Reality Bites Cupcakes

First things first. Who-what-where-when-why?

Who: Ashley Foxen

What: Reality Bites Cupcakes

When: Est. September 2012

Why: I found my artsy self in the corporate world, desperately trying to find a way to fulfill my creative needs while working a full time job. For fun, I began baking for coworkers' birthdays, and it all snow balled from there! I hadn't even thought of defining myself as a "food artist" until reading CakeSpy, but I think it's perfect. I have found a way to combine my art background with my deep desire to make people happy.

How: That is a wonderful question! I work out of my apartment, which you may realize cannot be all that big in NYC. But, I have found a way to make it work by both maximizing the use of the space I have (from the counters to the windowsills) and traveling to my family's home in the suburbs for bigger, more complicated projects. Which leads me to mention my sister and mother who have been incredible helps in this whole process. They are the brains and brawn of Reality Bites.

Reality Bites Cupcakes

What (in your opinion) is the finest trompe l'oeil cupcake you've ever made, and why? Hands down, it is the "bagel" cupcakes. They are an original idea, inspired by a food New York does best. These cupcakes even fool me, as I tend to crave the doughy goodness of a real bagel, when seconds earlier I was ready for dessert! They tease the taste buds more so than any other cupcake I have made.

Tell me about a life changing cupcake you've eaten. Oddly enough, I don't think it was a cupcake, but an entire chocolate cake. It was my first birthday, and instead of having to share it with everyone, my mother put the whole cake in front of me. It was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting- plain and simple- and it was all mine. I have never looked so happy as I do in the photos from that day. There is cake everywhere, particularly all over my face, hands and in my hair, but the smile on my face is priceless. How can anything top that? Clearly, I found joy in baked goods at a very young age.

Reality Bites Cupcakes

If you went back 200 years in time, how would you describe the modern-day cupcake craze to our forefathers? This is a tough one. How do you explain to anyone of that time that people wait in line for hours for baked goods? I guess I would explain that the cupcake craze has caused wars in the future- go with a topic they may be familiar with. Claiming one's cupcake territory is important, and while no one has died, Cupcake Wars gets pretty intense!

Reality Bites Cupcakes

What are the biggest differences between the baked goods of NYC and Paris, another place you've lived? I studied abroad in Paris and made a valiant attempt to eat my way through the City of Light. From macaroons (which NYC has since imported) to chocolate croissants, to a crepe with Nutella, I taste tested everything- a few times. There is something about the baked goods of Paris that makes them unlike those anywhere else. Everything tastes so fresh that it somehow becomes guilt free (or so I told myself). Maybe it is because things don't appear to be as mass produced there, but the treats of Paris all feel as if they are made just for you- particularly the crepe vendors on every other street that make them in front of you.  

Reality Bites Cupcakes

What is your biggest dessert dream? A cup of frozen yogurt that does not melt, refills itself, and cannot give me brain freeze.

For more sweetness, visit the Reality Bites Cupcakes website; there's also a twitter feed!


Batter Chatter: Interview with Amy Dumas, Pro Wrestler

Have you heard of SugarSlam? If not, are you in for some amazing cake-filled awesomeness. It's a yearly event put on by Natalie of Bake & Destroy, where you can flex your baking muscles. This year, according to the websit, "there are two titles up for grabs: SugarSlam 2012 Champion and People’s Choice. Our panel of judges will choose the Champ: Zach LinderAmy Dumas & Justin Howard."

Just be sure to enter SOON, because the deadline is coming up on July 20!

And as part of the festivities, celebrity Amy Dumas (you may know her as the WWE's Lita or as the lead singer of the Luchagors, among other career highlights) agreed to be interviewed on a foodie blog of Natalie's choosing. Well, naturally as a site equally as awesome as her own she chose CakeSpy!

And so here comes the first ever interview with a professional wrestler. It involves cake, promise.

I hear you're a healthy eater. That's perfectly acceptable. But when you indulge, what baked goods or desserts do you enjoy best? I am a healthy eater, but it's only so I can enjoy sweets! Um, how do I narrow it down? What desserts? Yes. All of them. Ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, whatever. Mint chocolate anything, peanut butter chocolate, cinnamon, caramel, coconut, dark chocolate. I love trying out fancy food places in my travels, but I find sometimes fancy desserts miss the mark. You know, like hazelnut infused mango truffle glazed ganache? Fuck that. Give me a donut, or a cupcake or ice cream. 

You've traveled all over the world. Can you tell me about a country or city's food culture that particularly fascinates you? Some of my favorite places to go aren't real big on desserts. I love Central and South America and Japan, but I can't say my most fond memories there revolve around a tres leches cake or some green tea ice cream. Europe has the lock on yummy pastries. However, there is a bakery in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua that has the best cinnamon rolls.  I think they taste better because the bakery is owned by this couple from Chicago who moved to Nicaragua with a surf board and some recipes and made it happen. There are fulfilled dreams in those cinnamon rolls!

As an esteemed judge of SugarSlam, what are you looking for in a winner? The coolest Lita cake ever. Seriously, I am looking for something that looks like someone put some thought into.  If you are making a wrestling related baked good, I can already give you points for not taking yourself too seriously.  Just go for it. I can see voting for a failed experiment and a good write up because they tried. Although I am pretty impressed by the baking whizzes that can make food look like anything.....so yeah, a Lita cake.... And bonus points if it's vegan. 

Goin Bananas-1

Here's a picture of last year's SugarSlam winner. What are your thoughts on the cake (image above)? BTW, it's entitled "Goin' Bananas" - banana cake filled with banana custard, topped with dark chocolate buttercream, covered in homemade fondant. (she made Gorilla Monsoon's glasses from poured sugar. ) That thing is awesome. First of all, it sounds like it would taste delicious and it's creative. There are not enough Gorilla Monsoon cakes in this world. 

Angry Avocado  

Tell me three foods you couldn't live without (sweet or savory). Wheatgrass (is that a food? I want four then), kale, avocado, and chocolate. 

If a you were ever to be surprised with a pie in the face, what kind of pie would you choose? I would choose a coconut cream pie.  I think it would be light and not as dense as say, a chocolate peanut butter pie, so it would not inflict as much damage and the clean up would be yum.

Pies Vs. Cakes

Dessert face-off: If cake were to have a wrestling match with pie, who would win? Cake is going to win.  It is more structurally sound. Let's just say cake was flinging itself at pie, pie has oozed all over before there was even any impact and then cake absorbed pie like The Blob! Suck it, pie. You have no chance. 

If you were having Pee-Wee herman and a crew of luchadores over for dessert, what would you serve? I am picturing a last supper type of image with Pee-Wee Herman where Jesus would sit (obviously). I think I would do a Smorgasbord, dessert buffet style with everyone of my favorites all over the table. That way, there is something for everyone AND adds variety to the ammunition when I yell FOOD FIGHT!!!!

If you ignore the "Jason", it's actually quite appropriate.

Want more? Here are the important sites to visit: Bake & Destroy, Amy Dumas, SugarSlam.


Batter Chatter: Interview with Carrie of Fields of Cake

Images: Fields of CakeIt's time to catch up with Fields of Cake. 

Carrie Fields, owner of Fields of Cake, a boutique cake and fudge custom order bakery, is an ace baker and an equally awesome person (I know this because I hung out with her in Maine and then again at the Wilton Headquarters). And recently she relocated from Maine to Montana, so it seemed like a good time to catch up on her sweet adventures and how her business is evolving in its new location. Read on:

Did you drive to Missoula from Maine? If so, did you have any sweet bakery discoveries along the way? We drove from Virginia to Montana after living on Crete for 3 months. We were trying to beat storms so we drove until we couldn't drive anymore then slept and drove some more. I would LOVE to make that trip again just for soul purpose of stuffing my face full of sweet delights from all over the country. Some day. Sigh.

How is Missoula different from Maine, in terms of the sweets scene? Missoula seems SO much more open to the awesomeness of baked goodness in the form of sugar, flour, eggs...There is such a sense of pride in local and scratch made. There are GREAT local chocolatiers here and SEVERAL bakeries I can't WAIT to check out.

Please tell me you've visited Bernice's Bakery, one of my favorites! Don't hate me....I have yet to visit Bernice's though my brother-in-law is planning on taking me on a bakery crawl after my crazy Valentines Day push. He is supposed to be the local expert on ALL the great bakeries. I can't WAIT!

Is Fields of Cake going to change scope at all in its new hometown? The biggest change for me is going to be renting a commercial kitchen. Other than that, it will be same as before, focusing on going beyond what the customer requests and making each order a WOW order. My ultimate goal is to have a store front. But I am patient and know that it will happen when it needs to. I am so excited about the possibilities here. People are so open to new and fun things and ready for what I have to offer. Missoula really is the best.

You are still fulfilling orders even though you are currently in a temporary home before moving on to a more full time place. How on earth are you making that happen? Haa haa. I AM fulfilling orders. I actually am booked through next month. Any person in their "right" mind would not have put out the call for orders but I have not been in my right mind for YEARS and that is what makes my stuff awesome and my life even more awesome. I'm a lucky gal.

What was the most popular treat on your valentine's day menu? Hmmmm, The most ordered this year aside from the combo pack was the Chocolate Dipped Espresso Fudge. Oh Jessie, YOU WILL LOVE IT! Second to that was the Blueberry Pancake Fudge.

What sweet from your menu did YOU enjoy most on Valentine's Day? My Raspberry Truffles are always on my personal menu. Actually ALL of my items. I can't help myself. Maybe I'll make a cake decorated with the left overs!! Ooooo! Yeah, that's it! Wanna come join me?

What's next? That's the great part about life. You never can be certain what is next. I am hoping to be rolling in sugar for a very long time to come. I have job hunting to do to sustain until I get the business going strong. I can't wait to show Missoula what I have to offer.

For more, including recipes for some of the items pictured in this interview, visit fieldsofcake.com!


Batter Chatter: Interview with Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop, Orange County

What's a "Whacky Cake"? Read on.In the modern world, it seems like just about every other person has some sort of a baking business, be it their bread and butter or a little something on the side.

Sadly, a lot of businesses like this fizzle out. But Meringue Bake Shop, located in Orange County, CA and run by baker Kristin Ausk and her husband Lyle, is an inspiring exception. While they don't have a retail storefront (yet), they've been going for four years and have a loyal following at farmer's markets in the area; as they put it, "While our name may have 'shop' in it, we are currently a catering business working out of a commercial kitchen in Fullerton. But we have our eyes set on the future and so our name reflects that."

Until that sweet day, let's learn more about what keeps them going strong, shall we? (Hint: it may or may not include buttered and toasted Pop-Tarts):

How has Meringue Bake Shop changed since you established it four years ago? Hmmm. I honestly don't feel like much has changed. I'm sure a lot has, like we are now at farmers markets and are consistently busy instead of having one or two orders a month but I guess it just feels like business as usual. We have received some great press and accolades from industry experts so that has helped us grow. Occasionally someone will come up to me and be excited to meet me and that kinda freaks me out, but in a good way. That certainly wouldn't have happened a few years ago.

Your world-famous PushCakes seem to have inspired some...for lack of a better word...copycats. How do you deal with people who are a little too "inspired" by your business? Ha well.... I am going to be honest and say that it is challenging for me to deal with. And I am trying to learn to let go and just accept that it's a great idea and so of course people are going to want to make it their own. Look at Bakerella! But it does upset me when someone talks about it as if they came up with pushcakes or use the name I invented and tell me they had no idea. Or purposefully go around and try to "steal my thunder" so to speak by following my press around the internet to tout their version. That's just not nice. And I was bummed when I found out someone is publishing a book about the very idea, someone who isn't even in the business and ultimately will get all the credit for it. But I digress! I really owe its wide spread popularity to you, for doing the first official post about PushCakes here on Cakespy!

Shucks! I'm blushing. OK, so...PushCakes were one of the items that brought your business to the public eye in a big way. How big a part of your business are they today? Right now pushcakes are probably 40% of my business. I'd like to get that to at least 75%. I am working on an online storefront so I can spread the pushcake love all over the states. But since I only do this part time, and a lot on my own, it's going to take longer than I'd like. Plus it's just me and my husband baking, creating and assembling these and we've only got 4 hands between us!

Tell me more about your "whacky cake", that lovely thing with a funny name pictured at the top of this post. The whacky cake is based off an idea I saw in a Donna Hay magazine a year or so ago. My friend Sharon from Cupcakes and Cutlery showed me the cake and told me that I just had to make it my own. I found a company in Australia that is making something with a chocolate mold in the shape of a cake that you break open with a hammer. I believe they call them smash cakes. What makes mine different is that underneath that chocolate dome and layer of delicious candy, you'll find our yummy cake and buttercream. So after eating some sugar, you can eat more sugar! Everyone's happy! So far I've just been making them for kids parties but they would great for marriage proposals, gender reveal parties, milestone birthdays or even for graduations. We can put anything inside the cake as long as it's small.

What flavor would your last-meal cake be? It would have to be a slice of Le Bete Noire. It's a cake made at Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. The cake is comprised of layers of a creamy semi-sweet chocolate mousse, vanilla crème brûlée, chocolate ganache, dark chocolate cakes and moistened with Madagascar vanilla bean syrup.

Pop Tart Vs. Toaster Strudel

Pop-tarts or toaster strudel? DUH! Pop-tarts baby! I eat mine toasted with salted butter and cut into fourths. shhhh

What is, in your opinion, the ideal cake-to-frosting ratio on a cupcake? I personally prefer 1/3 buttercream to 2/3 cake.

Can you name some bakers who truly inspire you? Oh yes. Elisa Strauss, Karen Krasne, Kari Haskell, Carrie Fields, Julie Desmeules, Rosie from Sweetapolita, and you!

If money were no object, what would you love to do next with your business? Open a real shop! One with a case full of cupcakes, cookies, diner cakes, bars and puddings. A pink and white checked floor, tinsel lampshades, turquoise vinyl booths, a cakespy mural in my kitchen, a glitter toilet (yea you heard me!), a space for parties and a retro jukebox playing daft punk, madonna, rodrigo y gabriel, abba, squeeze, and zz top (among others). ;)

For more awesome, visit the Meringue Bake Shop website or find them on Facebook.


Batter Chatter: Interview with Marin Turner of Sugar Girl Creations

Marin Turner has a dream. A sweet dream.

She's currently raising money to create a mobile bakery featuring the sweets she bakes under the name of "Sugar Girl Creations" in Idaho. Sweet fancy! That's my kind of dream.

Let's learn more about the lady behind the mixer, shall we? This is an interesting source of information for anyone interested in opening a small baking business--including the ups and downs, and all the sweet moments that go into caking it--er, making it--happen.

So...who are you are and how did you got into the business of baking? My name is Marin Turner and I am the baker/owner of Sugar Girl Creations. My journey to baking was a long one filled with so many different jobs that I can't even count. But through it all, you could always find me in the kitchen making something yummy. I heard the suggestion that I write a cookbook so often that I decided to try it. Starting with the dessert section (cake in particular), I spent a few weeks trying out new recipes. I tried to move on to the other sections, but I was always coming up with another cake that I wanted to try. I think at that point I just realized that, " I love cake and I don't want to make anything else." I started bringing everyone I knew cupcakes to test for me. One person was my spinning instructor. She dubbed me her "Sugar Girl". After that, starting the company seemed like a no brainer. I named my husband Chief Tasting Officer and we were off.

You're in the process of raising money to open a mobile bakery. Can you tell me more about how you're going about it?  The fundraising process is not an easy one. After some research on different ways to raise capitol, we decided to use the crowd funding website Kickstarter.com as our clearing house. Getting the word out that we are crowd funding really is an amazing process though. I am doing interviews on radio and the web, we are on Twitter @sugargirlidaho, and facebook too. I spend a lot of time just calling and emailing people to have them spread the word. IE... Harassing them. I am pretty sure that my family is hiding all of my posts on facebook at this point.

What has been the hardest part so far about trying to start up a business? - Idaho doesn't have cottage laws on the books, so in order to start we had to go through the health department and find a commercial kitchen to bake in. This can be an extremely cost prohibitive process. Some kitchens charge upwards of $20 an hour to work there and for a small business such as ours, that can eat your profit margin pretty quickly. Add to that the fact that you have to schedule a time to come in and bake and it makes it really hard to operate. Thats why we decided to branch out and build ourselves a mobile bakery.

As for the baked goods... Do you have a signature sweet or service? If so, what is it? - I would have to say that we don't have a signature service or sweet, but I definitely pride myself on my vegan cupcakes. We take part in a local vegetarian potluck once a month and I always try to come up with a new goodie to bring with us. I have tasted some vegan recipes that are just awful. And I really think that there is no excuse for that. I love it when people come up to me and have to ask me multiple times, " are you sure that was vegan?" It makes me smile, because I know they truly enjoyed it.

Hey! What flavor is "Jerry Cake"--this item on your menu intrigued me! - A Jerry Cake can be any flavor of cake that is light in color. I dye the batter to make it tye-dye in honor of Jerry Garcia. This cupcake is kind of a nod to my mother. She is my creative inspiration and one of the biggest "Dead Heads" I know.

What sweet do you suggest from your menu for Valentine's Day?  Really there are two that just say valentine to me. On the sweet and innocent side there is the Angel's Kiss. Its a pink champagne cake filled with an orange pastry cream and topped with our fresh strawberry and champagne buttercream. For the darker side of love, our MHC cupcake is super decadent and absolutely sexy. We start with with a dark chocolate cinnamon cake and we fill it with a cayenne dark chocolate ganache. The cupcake is also topped with a cinnamon whipped cream and a sprinkle of cayenne.

What's the secret to perfectly delicious frosting?   I have learned that patience is a virtue in baking. Don't rush the process. You really have to take your time beating the butter before you start adding sugar. I'll just turn the mixer on high and do something else for a while. Close to 6 or 7 minutes. This really gives me the texture I want. When I add the sugar, it cuts in nicely and gives me frosting that is fluffy and creamy all at the same time.

Excuse me...but please, tell me...what's a cookie mug? A cookie mug is everything you need to really enjoy a wonderful cookie. Our Hot Chocolate on a stick (to be melted into the mug filled with warm milk), Marshmallows, and a few of our yummy cookies (flavor varies and we do have vegan options)

What's next?  Right now we are puting all of our energy into opening the Sugar Shack, but in the future I would like to change our town's view on food trucks. Right now the town that we live in does not allow food trucks to park and sell. We will actually opperate out of a neighboring town. But there is a large lot here in town surrounded by trees that has been vacant for years. I would love to work with the owner of this lot to turn it into a food truck pod. There are so many wonderful chefs in our area and I think that this could really bring further growth to North Idaho.

For more, visit the Sugar Girl Creations website!


Batter Chatter: Interview with Christy Beaver, Co-Author of Mini Pies

Mini Empire Bakery pies

Curious about the life of a pie-maker and cookbook writer? Here's an interview with Christy Beaver, co-author of Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats (you can find a recipe from the book here!):

So. Your book is out. How does it feel? It's surreal. I can't imagine how new parents feel, because I was totally overwhlemed with joy holding a cookbook.

What was the hardest part about developing recipes for a book? once you get past the standard flavors, developing creative flavors that push the boundries (just enough but not too much) was a fun challenge.

I have a friend (really, I do) who doesn't like Pumpkin Pie. I know, I know. What other pies might you suggest for Thanksgiving? I agree with Morgan (read her interview here). And the savory sweet potato might work for them.

What is your personal favorite recipe in the book? Aunt Jimma's chocolate pie. Its SO freakin' good and totally worth the effort. My second favorite is Verry Berry.

If your partner, Morgan, is expanding Mini Empire to the east coast, and you have a book now, does that mean it's a Maxi-Empire now? It will always be mini and adorbale. That way no one will see it coming when we take over the world.

Any advice for people who want to pitch / write a cookbook, now that you've had the experience? It's a lot of work, and totally worth it. You have to find a balance between being emotionally invested in your project and not bursting into tears once the editor gets ahold of it and changes everything.

What's next? More cookbooks, hopefully. :) We want to write one for mini cupcakes and one for scookies.


Batter Chatter: Interview with Morgan Greeseth, Co-Author of Mini Pies

Mini Empire Bakery pies

Curious about the life of a pie-maker and cookbook writer? Here's an interview with Morgan Greenseth, co-author of Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats (you can find a recipe from the book here!):

So. Your book is out. How does it feel? It feels amazing and surreal to finally hold the book in my own hands.

What was the hardest part about developing recipes for a book? Not gaining 10 lbs from testing all the pies! Luckily we had many volunteers to sample our batches and give feedback.

I have a friend (really, I do) who doesn't like Pumpkin Pie. I know, I know. What other pies might you suggest for Thanksgiving? Bourbon pecan works wonders, and many have stated that they haven't liked Bourbon Pecan until they tried ours. Sweet potato is a good alternate as well. Otherwise, chocolate pie because chocolate is delicious at any occasion.

What is your personal favorite recipe in the book? Very berry, hands down. The first time I tried it, I exclaimed "Holy crap this is good!" Well, more like "hum mum mmm mm uh mmd " because my mouth was full, but I had to let it out.

How did Susanne become such an expert on lemon meringue? I'm intrigued by the recipe intro. Susanne is my mother, and as they say, mothers know best. I grew up with this pie and it was the only pie I liked for years.

If Morgan is expanding Mini Empire to the east coast, and you have a book now, does that mean it's a Maxi-Empire? Although our empire has reached a vast audience, our operation is still as bite-sized as our treats ;)

Any advice for people who want to pitch / write a cookbook, now that you've had the experience? We were fortunate enough to have been asked to write the cookbook, so we don't have experience with pitching. But for those who want to write, I'd say three tips: 1. Make sure you have friends who'll test your treats. 2. Failed recipes are good things. They're help you create an even better recipe. 3. Mothers and grandmothers give some of the best baking advice.

What's next? We have a few secret things in the works and possibly a mini pie kit. 

Buy the book: Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats.


Batter Chatter: Interview with Julie Winer of Splurge Bakery, Millburn NJ

Splurge: verb. Definitions:

1. to indulge oneself in some luxury or pleasure, especially acostly one: They splurged on a trip to Europe.
2. to show off.

Well, I'd gladly engage in all of the above when it comes to baked goods, especially when they're as sweet and cute as the ones at Splurge Bakery in Millburn, NJ. But what's the bigger story behind the bakery? So glad you asked. And to answer, why don't I share this sweet q+a I shared with owner Julie Winer:

Splurge...please, tell me how you decided on your delicious bakery name. When we first came up with the idea for Splurge Bakery, we envisioned a place where you could come and really enjoy fresh-baked treats made from the finest ingredients.  It would be a great way to literally treat yourself and your family and your co-workers to something delicious; to really indulge in something and forget about your worries for a little bit.  Splurge just seemed a great way to represent that feeling!

You offer custom photo cookies. Do cookies taste better with loved ones' faces on them? Of course!  Everything tastes better when you're thinking about someone you love!  Our photo cookies are such a great item for 1st birthday parties, landmark anniversaries, weddings, and more - people just adore our homemade shortbread cookies, and topping them off with a photo of a friend or relative (or even a business card) is just an added bonus!

You have an event called "Whoopie Pie Weekend". Sounds like the best weekend ever, what happens during it? It is the best weekend ever! During Splurge Bakery's Whoopie Pie Weekend, we set up a Whoopie Pie bar where you can make your own Whoopie Pies, mix and match different cake tops and bottoms, and fill with delicious creamy icing.  We also have all of our unique Whoopie Pies available for sale, including traditional ones as well as Red Velvet, S'mores, German Chocolate, and – believe it or not — Pina Colada.  We'll be hosting our next Whoopie Pie weekend in January 2012, and we can't wait!S'mores whoopie pie

What cupcake flavor excites you most now that fall is in full swing? We're so excited about our new Caramel Apple Cupcakes for the fall.  They're made with our delicious spice cake, homemade caramel, and fresh apples.  They are the perfect cupcake for fall and apple season.

Tell me the truth. What kind of magic powers will I develop after I eat your Apple Magic Bar, which is made of everything that is delicious: Chopped pecans, butterscotch, coconut, apples and semi-sweet chocolate? Well, I wish I could tell you that you’ll be able to wave your fairy wand and grant 7 layers of rainbows and sunshine on everyone you meet!  But, I can say that you’ll just be really super happy and you’ll have a magic smile on your face when you’re done eating one.

I feel like rugelach is often an overlooked cookie, so I was happy to see it on your menu. Can you say a few words about why it ought to be loved? I love rugelach!  It’s just such a delicious cookie with lots of tradition built in to its flaky goodness.  We actually hand roll, fill with our home-made apricot or raspberry mixture, and then cut each rugelach, unlike many mass-produced varieties you see today.

What is the ideal frosting-to-cake ratio on a cupcake, in your opinion? In my opinion, a perfect cupcake will be 2/3 cake and 1/3 frosting, but I respect everyone’s own feelings about this. I know it’s a very personal preference!

When you have a day off from baking, what do you like to do? I don’t ever have a day off from baking, but if I did I’d go to New York City and see a Broadway show and go out for a nice dinner, maybe go to a museum if there was enough time!

What kind of treat do you crave on YOUR birthday? For my birthday this year, I had our own Luscious Lemon Cake with lemon curd, but next time I’ll have our cheesecake, which is amazing, if I don’t say so myself! 

What's next for Splurge? What’s next for all of us at Splurge is lots of birthday parties for kids of all ages in our prep kitchen, many corporate gift orders for the holidays, and tons of yummy treats, cakes, and pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah.  We’re also hosting a fundraiser on November 18th for the landmark St. Stephen’s Church down the street from us here in Millburn, New Jersey which was badly damaged by Hurricane Irene. 

For more, visit the Splurge Bakery website.

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