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Entries in cakespy seattle (7)

Friday
Jun192009

Better off Red: A Legendary Red Velvet Slice at The Kingfish Cafe, Seattle

Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe, Seattle
The Red Velvet Cake at The Kingfish Cafe in Seattle is kind of a local celebrity. It's always winning those "best of" polls and getting written up in the various publications around town. And yet--amazingly--I'd never managed to taste it. But all that changed this week when I hit up Kingfish for lunch with my friend (a self-described "dedicated dessert-er") Judy.
Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe, Seattle
Now, the first thing you'll notice about this cake is its size. It's huge. And I am not saying that in an annoying girlie sort of way. This cake is, like, really big. The slice pictured at the top is actually on a large dinner plate, and it took up most of it. I'm not a fan of sharing desserts, but this one definitely yielded four servings. No, really.

The first thing you'll notice upon tasting the cake is that it is chilled. For some this is a detriment, but I adore chilled cake: the flavor just seems to blossom on your tongue.

And as that flavor develops, you'll taste a variety of things. First, the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting, complemented with the slightest tang. Then sweetness again from the generous dollop of whipped cream, which is garnished with strawberries. Then the cake, which itself is not too sweet, but gently cocoa-y. Judy thought it tasted a bit dry compared to some of her previous visits. I tend to be forgiving about a slight dryness as long as the flavor is there, and the flavor certainly was there with this cake. When you get that one perfect bite with cake, cream cheese frosting, whipped cream and strawberry, it is...maybe not nirvana, but close.
Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe, Seattle
The overall verdict? While sometimes hype can ruin desserts, I definitely found this one to live up to its reputation and can't wait to return to Kingfish to sample the coconut layer cake and Strawberry shortcake.

The Kingfish Cafe, 602 19th Ave. East, Seattle, (206)320-8757; online at thekingfishcafe.com.
Kingfish Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday
Jun192009

Sugar Daddy: Trophy Cupcakes Debuts the Chocolate Stout Cupcake for Father's Day

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes
Beer and cupcakes may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Father's Day, but they should be.

Trophy Cupcakes is bravely helping Seattleites avoid cheesy cliche father's day gifts like ties and "World's Best Dad" t-shirts by debuted an amazing new limited edition flavor which will be available only through Sunday: the Elysian Dragon's Tooth Stout Cupcake.

The rich chocolate stout cake is delicious, but what really puts it over the edge is the Dragon's Tooth Stout Caramel Buttercream, which is so amazingly rich and buttery, it'll make Dad melt. 

Of course, if your dad isn't in the Seattle area you can still enjoy one in his honor. Ah, the gift that gives back.

Elysian Dragon's Tooth Stout Cupcakes, available through Sunday, June 21 at Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford and University Village. For more information and locations, visit trophycupcakes.com.

Thursday
Jun182009

Sweet Surprise: A Letter from a CakeSpy Reader

North Hill Bakery Cake, C/O Michelle
Not long ago, a CakeSpy reader wrote to me asking for advice on where to get a layer cake for her grandmother's 90th birthday party in the Seattle area; being from out of town, she didn't even know where to begin.

Now, personally I always find making recommendations pretty stressful--what if the other person's taste isn't the same as mine? What if a place that has never let me down has an off day when this person goes? But nonetheless, I bravely suggested a few places, including a Capitol Hill-based bakery whose birthday cakes I've always enjoyed, North Hill Bakery. A few weeks later I received this sweet email; I'm always so happy to hear about such sweet cake experiences!
North Hill Bakery Cake, C/O Michelle

Dear CakeSpy:

Thank you so much for all your help finding a bakery for my
grandmother's 90th birthday party cakes.

I ordered a coconut and a lemon cake from North Hill Bakery.

The were lovely, homemade looking treats that tasted wonderful. The
cake was moist and full of flavor, the frostings were light and
creamy. Everyone's stand-out favorite was the coconut but the lemon
was delightful too -- sweet, tart and very light.

The folks at North Hill were really great, they let us pick up the
cakes before they opened on Sunday and we were able to talk them out
of several lovely pastries as well.

The cakes were so popular that long-time Seattle residents kept asking
where I'd gotten them and pledging to get their next event cakes from
North Hill Bakery.

All in all, the cakes were a hit, I came off like a family hero, and
none of it would have been possible with out some CakeSpy help.

Thanks again.

North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Avenue E, Seattle, WA (206) 325-9007; online at northhillbakery.com.

Tuesday
Jun162009

We Must Increase Our Crust: A High 5 Cutie Pie Feature on DailyCandy

Cutie Pie from High 5 Pies
When I met High 5 Pies, the brainchild of Dani Cone (aka owner of Fuel Coffee) it was most certainly a case of love at first bite. Not only is their crust just how I like it: thick, lightly flaky, and very buttery, but their presentation is wickedly clever and cute.

Pie in a Jar, High 5 Pie
Take for instance their PieJars--pies baked right into a mason jar, which you can then heat and serve directly. It's a perfect gift, and no awkward conversations later about "Hey, can I get my pie plate back?".

My article for DailyCandy on Cutie Pies!

But their newest addition, Cutie Pies--mini pies baked in muffin tins--(which I just wrote a story about for DailyCandy)--will have you reeling from the cuteness. The fillings range from classics, like apple with a delicious crumb topping to unusual but surprisingly delicious combinations like peach, blueberry and clove. And as an added bonus, the high crust-to-filling ratio is tailor-made for crust enthusiasts like me who don't like it when pies are too fruity and virtuous-tasting.
Apple Hand Pies by High 5 Pie, Fuel Coffee
Of course, they've also got regular pies and sweet little hand pies on their menu too; check it out at high5pie.com. The pies are currently available exclusively at Fuel Coffee locations. For more information on the Cutie Pies, read the article I wrote for DailyCandy Seattle!

 

Monday
Jun152009

Hot Dogs for Dessert at Snacks! in Ballard, Seattle

When CakeSpy buddy Megan tipped us off about Snacks!, a new bodega in Ballard opened by Dante (of Dante's Inferno hot dog cart fame), we knew we had to hit it up. But why would Cake Gumshoes want to check out a bodega in an alley behind a bar, you ask?

 

Three words: Sweet. Hot. Dogs. 

No, seriously. Per myballard.com, Dante has "created a 'Chilly Dog' that is a hot dog bun with soft serve ice cream, his idea of an ice cream sandwich (served with a spork.)" OK, so there's not an actual hot dog in it. But still, it's a fun idea...sort of like a choco taco, but with a hot dog bun instead of a chocolate tortilla.
Naturally, we had to head over immediately upon hearing Megan's suggestion. Unfortunately they'd already closed for the night, but they were kind enough to invite us in for a look and even gave us some soft-serve ice cream, which they have in vanilla, chocolate and a combo swirl--sure, it was no Chilly dog, but it sure was delicious.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Snacks! Can't wait to try more of your sweet offerings.
For more information, read the entry on myballard.com.

 

Monday
Mar162009

Bittersweet News: Seattle P-I's Last Print Edition Runs Tomorrow

Cuppie regarding the P-I Globe in Seattle
This is bittersweet news indeed: we learned today that the Seattle P-I will run its last print edition tomorrow. Although the online version will continue (including CakeSpy Seattle, to the best of our knowledge), we will certainly miss the tactile enjoyment of unfolding a paper along with breakfast coffee (and cake, natch).

The P-I has been so supportive of CakeSpy since the start, having featured our artwork and quotes from our Spies on numerous occasions; rest assured, dear paper, you will be missed!

For sweet Seattle musings, visit CakeSpy Seattle.

Tuesday
Nov132007

Batter Chatter: Interview with Paul Verano of the Confectional (Via Cakespy Seattle)

Recently, the staff at an acquaintance's office got in a discussion over whether cheesecake is indeed a cake (just look at the name!), or a pie (it's got a crust!). The discussion became a heated debate, such to the point that they phoned a major cheesecake company's headquarters to find the answer (cake).

Mystery having been solved, we set out to find more about this silky, indulgent treat; who better to turn to than The Confectional, the Pike Place Market purveyor of creatively flavored full-size and mini cheesecakes, as well as adorable chocolate-covered cheesecake truffles? In a recent interview with owner Paul Verano, we learned about what makes a cheesecake great, regional cheesecake preferences, and even got a cheesecake confession:

Cakespy: So. You are part Colombian, living in Seattle, with a cheesecake shop that was realized in Wellington, New Zealand. This all sounds very cosmopolitan! Can you fill in the blanks on how you got started?
Paul Verano: I was born in the US, but lived in Colombia as a child. I've been a baker since I was four years old, well actually my first 'baking' was a no-bake cookie, but that seriously set the ball in motion and I was immediately into the oven with the next thing. In college I would bake massive rich chocolaty cakes that my friends fawned over. I tried out cheesecakes and came up with my Cookies and Mint Chocolate cheesecake straight away. This is on my menu today and remains my all time personal favorite flavor.

For the next several years I would take my cheesecakes to parties and they proved to be extremely popular. Several friends started ordering them for their own parties and for weddings. Eventually, when my partner and I were living in New Zealand our friends there pretty much pushed/encouraged me further than anyone had before into opening a business.

So my first store was in Wellington, New Zealand. We opened in May of 2004. It was delivery only back then. Here in Seattle we opened our first storefront in December of 2006. We are about to celebrate our one-year anniversary in the Pike Place Market.

CS: What made you decide to locate in the Pike Place Market?
PV: When we moved back to Seattle a friend who knows Kurt Dammeier of Beechers, Bennett's Restaurant, etc. suggested we sit down with him and discuss the possibilities of opening a store in Seattle. He immediately loved my product and after our first meeting said we had to look into the Pike Place Market as it would be the perfect venue for my cheesecakes. My partner and I left that meeting and walked across the street to the Pike Place Market offices. On the rental board was a space available which is now our 490 square-foot store. It was very karmic and I'm very happy with how it all transpired.

CS: Do you ever barter lunch for cheesecake with your neighbor vendors?
PV: Absolutely! One of the great things about working in the market is that most vendors will trade or at least have a 'market discount', as we do. The community in the Pike Place Market is fantastic. There is a bit of competitiveness for some vendors, but for the most part everyone is excited to help everyone else out. We are asked constantly where the best of this is, or best of that is. "Where's the first Starbucks?" is the most asked question.

CS: You're called "the Confectional", a clever take on "The Confessional". Do you have any cheesecake confessions to share with us?
PV: Hmmm. A cheesecake confession of my own...well...yes. I actually like the batter of my cheesecakes more than the baked product. But isn't that true for cookie and cake batter, too? You just can't sit down and serve a batch of batter for dessert, now can you? But oh, don't tempt me. I've been known to blow people away with unexpected desserts. Oh, and I can't suggest enough, if you're up to it, warming up my cheesecakes (oven or microwave) and serving them with your favorite ice cream. Oh my word.

CS: We imagine that you get quite a few out of town visitors. Have you noticed any trends in cheesecake preference for people from different parts of the world?
PV: The biggest trend was fully expected after having such a great 'test market' in New Zealand. It's that our most popular flavor is the Raspberry White Chocolate. It's the most popular by DOUBLE the next flavor! For some reason the Kahlua White Chocolate seems to be very popular with the Asian community. And southern Americans often ask where the Amaretto Cheesecake is, (and clearly it's pronounced Ameretta in the south...I love it!). Really, all our cheesecakes seem to sell equally. The only other thing I'll say is that most people that approach our display case are enamored with our 12 main flavors, plus seasonal flavors, and can have a difficult time choosing which one to get. It's amazing how often someone will get an extra cheesecake flavor to try later... a good problem to have!

CS: Where do you get your recipes?
PV: I have created all of my recipes, sometimes from suggestions of flavors and following a hunch and working it out. My cheesecake truffles were invented in my home kitchen just two weeks before opening the store and have proven to be extraordinarily popular, and are pretty much to-die-for. There's also my Colombian Hot Chocolate. A thick European-style drinking chocolate that is designed after my Grandmother's recipe. In Colombia the hot chocolate is about as thin as water, but in my store I get to decide how thick the chocolate is, and I just don't mess around. Not too overpowering, but enough to remind you that chocolate can be a serious happy-inducing pill. We start with melted dark chocolate, organic whole milk, and like my Grandmother's, I have a bit of Colombian coffee and just a hint of her signature spices.

CS: Have there been any great cheesecakes in your past that have inspired your baking efforts?
PV: While there are many incredible cheesecakes, cheesecake makers and cheesecake styles, I find that my personal favorites are the ones that are absolutely naked and most simple. That's why there are three ingredients in my base. As simple as it gets. Then adding the flavors to 'dress them up' is all about balance. It's chemistry at it's tastiest. I'm not sure I have an inspiration from somewhere else. So many recipes are just too sweet. We have a much lower amount of sugar in our recipes than most that I've seen/tasted.

CS: Would you say that your cheesecakes are "New York" style, or "Italian" style? Or something else?
PV: We are closest to a "New York-Style" cheesecake, but I go for a slightly denser, in-your-face version. In fact we call our New York-Style a "Seattle's New York-Style"...that is to say that we Seattleites often consider ourselves a bit 'heartier' than New Yorkers. More rugged in the Northwest, eh? And our crust is a bit of heaven. We use Maria Biscuits from Spain, which make a beautiful crust. Most graham crackers have partially hydrogenated oil, and again we try to keep it as pure a product as we can. Maria biscuits are very simple, elegant and make a great crunchy crust.

CS: What is the most important aspect in making a great cheesecake?
PV: Keep it simple. As pure as you can. Do not over or under mix. And love making it. If you love the making and the baking and pay special attention to detail, they'll taste it!

CS: What is your most popular flavor at the shop?
PV: Raspberry White Chocolate--although, our holiday flavors are definitely winning right now! Those are Pumpkin and the Cranberry White Chocolate...with a hint of Cardamom.

CS: What is your personal favorite flavor?
PV: Cookies and Mint Chocolate, but whenever I taste one of the others I get a little bit giddy because they are all so good! My other top favorites are actually our 'richest' cheesecakes, the Coconut Cherry Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Chocolate and the Quadruple Chocolate. See a trend there? Everyone has a different favorite. All our staff have their own faves and are asked often enough that we've listed their favorites on each sign in the display case.

CS: Some people are scared of cheesecake because it is "fattening". Any response to this?
PV: Indeed. For some people it's a viscosity issue and they will simply NEVER like cheesecake. We've actually converted some of these people and now have loyal fans that wouldn't dream of eating a cheesecake before. As for fattening: there's a lot of concern about carb counting vs. fat, etc. What I can tell you is we have a very reasonable sized individual serving that's completely satisfying. That alone is a saving grace, and without consuming a giant American-sized portion of a so-so product. On top of that our Raspberry White Chocolate cheesecake is about 320 calories, which is far less than most of our customers guess. Some flavors a good bit less, and others a bit more calories. I like to remind people that if they're that worried about 320 calories, then after you eat it, go for a brisk walk for 20 minutes, or enjoy the Pike Place Market for an hour, and it's pretty much null and void, no?

CS: In your opinion, what is the best beverage accompaniment for cheesecake?
PV: Coffee, espresso, Earl Grey tea, and if you're enjoying our Mochaccino cheesecake, a nice, full-bodied red is something else. Oh, or a fine chocolate port on the side or drizzled right on our Seattle's New York-Style cheesecake. Whew!

CS: What is next for The Confectional?
PV: Our next goal, after getting through our first full holiday season in the Pike Place Market, will be to work toward opening a commissary baking space, as well as a second location.

The Confectional is located at 1530 Pike Place, in the Pike Place Market (not far from that first Starbucks). For more information, visit theconfectional.com.

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