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Entries in Cookies (172)

Friday
May092008

Hello, Biscochito: A Primer on New Mexico's Official State Cookie

Biscochito
Before a few weeks ago, we had never even heard of the biscochito. But then, one of our spies had the good fortune of meeting with an extremely talented writer who hails from New Mexico (buy her books! here!); when we asked what baked goods were popular in the area, she mentioned this cookie. Intrigued, we tested out a recipe. We were instantly hooked by the taste--to us, it kind of tasted like a mexican wedding cake cookie crossed with pie crust and a melange of spices including anise and pepper--and eagerly set out to learn more about this magical cookie which has claimed the heart of New Mexico (in fact, it's their official state cookie). Let's get better acquainted with the biscochito, shall we?

First off, what is a biscochito?
According to Miguel Hambriento, who wrote The Foods of Old Mesilla, they're "heaven's own little cakes blended delicately of sugar and spice, flour and wine and other secret ingredients, shaped by the swift fingers of the linda señora into small diamonds and baked until they are the delicate brown of the maiden's cheek kissed by the New Mexico sun".

However, if you're seeking a less poetic explanation, it's an anise and cinnamon flavored shortbread cookie which often contains wine. It's frequently made with lard, which gives it a melt in your mouth texture, but shortening and butter are used, more frequently in this day and age.

 

What's up with this cookie's name?
Depending on where you look, it may be referred to as the bizcochito, biscochito or biscocho. There's a bit of debate over the name of these cookies. In general, it seems that they're referred to as biscochitos in the northern part of the state, biscochos in the southern part of the state. But wait, that's not all. In 1989, when New Mexico House Bill 406 declared the bizcochito as New Mexico's Official State Cookie, there was a battle over how to spell the cookie's name--biscochito or bizcochito. Several lawmakers got on the House floor to press for the "s" or "z". Eventually the Senate returned it as bizcochito.

Of course, as one wise biscochito maker says: "it is the taste that gives a biscochito the name, no matter how you wish to say it."

 

What's the story behind this cookie?
Biscochitos were introduced to Mexico by Spanish explorers in the 16th Century. In Spain they are called Mantecosos (according to our spanish dictionary, the word mantecosa means "buttery" in Spanish--love it). This cookie has long been associated with celebrations, sometimes being called the "Original Mexican Wedding Cookie", frequently served in a diamond shape to represent purity (just think about it--ew). Today, they make frequent appearances at weddings, quincenieras, baptisms and Christmas parties.

Are biscochitos hard to make?

Well, the recipe is fairly straightforward; however, as bakers well know, sometimes it's not just the recipe but your technique. As one wise New Mexican lady put it, "You must have the hands (manos) to make a delicious biscocho that will melt in your mouth. Most people will try and make good biscochos but they will turn hard on them". (Source: Osito's Biscochitos)

What should I drink with biscochitos?
We'll defer once again to the expert Hambriento, who says: "Biscochos go with vino like an egg on an enchilada". Sounds good to us, Hammie. OK, maybe milk or hot chocolate for the kids.

 

 

Where can I buy these cookies?

A few places will ship biscochitos within the US. Try out one of the following websites: biscochitos.net, goldencrown.biz, or santafebiscochitos.blogspot.com.
How can I make these cookies?
If you want to be a purist, here's the lard version:

Biscochitos from a Trusted Source
  • 1 lb lard (no substitutes!)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps aniseed
  • ½ cup sweet table wine
  • 6 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1-2 tsp cinnamon for dredging
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream lard with sugar and anise seeds. In separate bowl beat eggs until light and fluffy; add to creamed mixture. Add dry ingredients and wine to form a stiff dough. (add more wine as necessary.) Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 

The next day, preheat the oven to 350º F. Have ready 2 ungreased cookie sheets.

Let dough stand at room temperature till soft enough to roll out; divide into quarters and roll to 1/8” thickness. Cut out with 2 ½”-3” cutter and bake 10-15 minutes, or until cookies are pale blond on top, golden on bottom. Sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon while still warm. Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies.

However, if you're queasy about lard, we won't tell if you try this one; for vegans, we weren't able to find a recipe, but any suggestions? 

Sources used:

 


 

Sunday
Apr202008

Of Macarons and Madeleines: A French Cookie Faceoff

Oh no!
Over the past week, we asked you, our readers, which fancy French cookie you preferred: the macaron or the madeleine. Both cookies are steeped in tradition and lore--while the macaron has a place amongst royalty and in fancy tea salons, the madeleine was immortalized by Proust and also has its own rich history. At the end of our poll, the vote, while certainly not a landslide--was decidedly in the macaron's favor: 169 vs. 123 out of 292 votes.

But what did all of it mean? Like the spies we are, we delved on both sides of the ring to find out more:

So Popular!
Team Macaron: What is it about these l'il Luxembourgers? Here's what some experts had to say:

Lydia, who is planning on entering a pastry program very soon, sums it up nicely: "Macarons are like fairy cookies. They probably eat them in Middle Earth and Oz."...but don't think she's talking about their relative the coconut macaroon, for she goes on to say "I'm actually offended when someone thinks I'm talking about a coconut macaroOn in such glowing tones." Owch. Of course, Lydia has also had the privilege of eating macarons from Pierre Herme, which may explain why she's such a devotee.

 

For Veron, who runs the macaron-and-cupcake-makin' business Petites Bouchées (best business ever?), it's the variety and possibility that appeals: "With macarons, the flavors , color and uses are endless - your limit is your imagination. You can just sandwich them simply or make them part of an elaborate dessert. As she goes on to say, while perhaps an acquired taste, they do ultimately hook you: "When I first brought macarons in [to work], it took a while before the container became empty maybe because a lot of people are not familiar with them. Nowadays, on my way to the breakroom to leave some macarons I get stopped on the way so they can have first dibs."



Macaron on Unicorn

Team Madeleine: However, not all of you were sharing the love of that sweet-sandwich. So, heading over to the other side, here's what our experts had to say:
Allyson, whose skill is evident on her fantastic site ReTorte, cites texture and a low-key, nonfussy nature in the Madeleine's favor: "First of all, they're more cakey (or they should be)...Macaroons involve a lot of effort for little reward, in my humble opinion."

For Kelly, soon-to-be culinary school grad and brand-new pastry chef at A Voce, prefers the shell-shaped cookie: "I'm a bigger fan of the madeleine. I prefer their texture and flavor. As you well know, crispness has its place in cookie-land: i.e. biscotti. But in this case, I have to opt for the soft madeline. I believe the madeline's capability to stand on its own makes it superior to le macaron, that needs something like coffee and tea to compliment them. Even look at the petit four 'Sarah Bernhardt,' that macaron base needs that cream center and chocolate coating. Plus, macarons don't remind me of children's book series the way madeleines do...."
Oh no!
However, as Cake Gumshoe Phil (who is getting his PhD in literature) reveals, literary connections don't always bring on good feelings: "Like most people who are expected to have read Proust, I have a rather tortured relationship with him and madeleines. As almost everyone knows Proust's dipping of a madeleine into his tea recalls his aunt and his childhood, it becomes a moment of connecting to his past. Proust, of course is intimidating. It's long, complex and oh so French. Madeleines, while still being French however, are rather delicious in their petite nature and simple flavor. Yet, as much as I like them, the very site of a Madeline brings into me an anxiety over finishing Proust: " 'Have I read enough to actually talk to people about the book? Will I ever finish it? Do people actually read the whole thing? I really, really, really need to get back to that- I'll start tomorrow.' "


So Pretty!
But if you're still undecided? Of course, there is also the school of thought that they're just from different worlds and that individuals will generally relate to one more than the other depending on who is doing the tasting. As Aran of the lovely site Cannelle et Vanille says: "I see the madeleine as the 'stout' girl vs the 'ecole superior' refined macaroon. Madeleines are soft and bumpy, dipped in coffee, making a messy table from spilling milk.... and the macaron with its thin crunchy exterior and refined almond crumb is like the perfect, slim daughter of a diplomat... the macaron has travelled the world and can be filled with matcha ganache, passion fruit... she has experience in the ways of the world as the madeleine is a sweet country girl."
Beautifully put indeed--after all, who wouldn't admire that sleek, refined macaron? Perhaps we all want a piece of that glamour.
Or perhaps what it really comes down to, all things considered, is cuteness. Which one is more adorable? Well, as proven from the unicorn's preference, cuter crowd of friends, and batting lashes, we suspect we know what really threw the vote.


Mad et Mac

 

Sunday
Apr062008

In Defense of the Coconut Macaroon: Ode to an Ugly Cookie

Macaroons

Cakespy Note: Although the terms macaron and macaroon can be used interchangeably for the French version of the cookie, to avoid confusion we have referred to the French version as macaron and the American version as macaroon below. Additionally, thank you to Cake Gumshoe Christine, who made the cookies pictured above.

 

In magazines, online and in fancy restaurants these days, it's hard not to run into the macaron--you know, that delicate little French sweet-burger of a cookie. And while yes, the macaron does have a certain je ne sais quoi, we at Cakespy can't help but feel for their ugly little sister, the coconut macaroon. It's quite different from its French counterpart--usually a lumpy, coconut-rich confection, often dipped in chocolate. No, they're not pretty, but there's something unpretentious and charming in their unabashed excess: they're extremely sweet, extremely rich, and extremely...coconutty. And so, we'd like to take a few moments to rediscover the coconut macaroon, and why it ought to be loved:

 

 

First things first: how in the world are these two cookies related? While they don't look or taste the same, they are indeed part of the same family tree. While there is evidence of meringue-type cookies going as far back as the 1500s, the macaron in its current form is accepted as taking shape in the late 1700s when two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth were seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution, and paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaron cookies. However, these original macarons were simply cookie rounds--it wasn't until the 1930s that fancy tea room Ladurée began serving the cookies in a new way, with a sweet ganache filling between two of the traditional rounds. Naturally, the sweet filling and flavor and texture contrast caught on, and the l'il Luxembourgers began to take the world by storm (read more about the Frenchie ones in this fantastic writeup by one of our favorite foodies, Robyn Lee).

 

 

However, veering on a different path than Ladurée, the cookie also gained popularity with the Italian Jewish population because it requires no flour or leavening (the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, like yeast, baking powder and baking soda—instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites) and can be enjoyed during Passover. Naturally, due to a high level of deliciousness, it gained popularity all over Europe as a year-round sweet, and regional variations popped up. The coconut macaroon seems to have gained popularity first in Glasgow, Scotland; it is most likely from here that it hopped over the pond and captured the hearts of Americans.

So, that's the story of the macaroon, or at least the best we could piece it together (our sources listed below). But more importantly, why should you love the coconut macaroon? Well, here are several points in its favor:
Transportability: With its lumpy texture and dense shape, this is an easily transportable treat, ideal for packing in a lunch or carrying in a bag for an on-the-go snack. Try doing that with a macaron, we dare you--those babies are so delicate they'll crack if you look at them wrong. So high maintenance!
Shelf Life: The French macaron, with its meringue-y outer shell, is not only delicate, but it goes stale very rapidly; in our opinion, its texture and taste are severely compromised if they are not consumed the same day they are made. On the other hand, coconut macaroon seems to last longer if stored properly; we've had fantastic macaroon experiences even two or three days after baking. Whether it's due to their higher fat content or its denser texture, we don't know, but we like the idea of a cookie that's not gonna love us and leave us the very next day.

Nutrition: Coconut is very high in Manganese, a mineral that is part of many different enzymes working throughout the body. Manganese deficiencies can cause weight loss, nausea and vomiting, poor growth, and abnormal reproduction. Clearly, you don't want any of that! By simply adding some sugar, egg whites and flour to your coconut, you have thus created a pleasurable way to increase your Manganese intake.
Brownies, combining with: Though perhaps you haven't thought much about browniefication (the art of combining brownies with other baked goods), clearly the coconut macaroon is a fine choice when you're considering what cookie addition might give your brownies a little "oomph". As proven by the Macaroon Brownie at Dish D'Lish in Seattle, it is a marriage made in heaven. Try that with a macaron.
Pop Culture: Coconut macaroons have made several appearances in film and TV:
  • They play a major role in the 1994 black comedy "Freaked" when one of the main characters complains of the coconut being "skimped on" in his macaroon. So sad!
  • In the first Season of The Sopranos, Tony tries to play peacemaker by presenting his mother with a box of macaroons, which he knows to be her favorite. Though it's clear that Livia Soprano wants those cookies, she's one manipulative mom and ultimately turns them away. Quel dommage!

Where can you buy coconut macaroons? Online, here are a few spots: coconutmountain.com will ship coconut macaroons anywhere in the US from New Hampshire; Tripician's, who have been making macaroons since 1910, will ship them anywhere in the US from Southern NJ; The Macaroon Shop in Avon-By-The-Sea, NJ, will also ship within the US; online ordering is not available, but their contact information can be found at macaroonshop.com.

How can you make coconut macaroons? Well, you could use the recipe listed in this previous post from the Sweet Melissa Cookbook, which we've tried and is fantastic (photo top); or, you could give this exceedingly rich and delicious one a try (we love the sweetened condensed milk--so bad, but so good), from the Barefoot Contessa:

Coconut Macaroons
  • 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
  3. Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or two teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.

 

Tuesday
Apr012008

No Fooling: Sweet Ideas to Make April Kinder

They say that April is the cruelest month. But at Cakespy, we have the perfect idea for making the month a bit kinder--sweet treats in the mail! The perfect thing to put a sparkle in the eye and a spring in your step, no matter how many April Showers you're up against. To that point, we've assembled a list of some of our favorite new discoveries in the world of shippable baked goods--delectable treats to send off, care-package style to friends and family...or perhaps to your entitled and deserving little self. Of course, once you taste these treats you might not want to share the care--but hey, sometimes you've got to be cruel to be kind.


Sugar cookie from the Sweet Tooth FairyThis is what love looks like.
The Sweet Tooth Fairy: Have you ever bitten into a cookie and had to pause and sit down before continuing? If so, then you'll understand why we're so in love with their sugar cookies, which are dense, crumbly, and frosted with a rich, decadent frosting that will keep you coming back for more. We love their rich little cake truffles too--blurring the lines between fudge, cake and truffle, these are little gems of pure pleasure in your mouth. As a bonus, everything was beautifully and securely packaged in their parcel. Sugar cookies are $28 per dozen (but they're BIG); cake truffles are $15 per half-dozen; these and more are available online at thesweettoothfairy.com.

Cakespy Note: If cake truffles intrigue you, learn more about the art of cake truffles from a very talented friend of ours, Bakerella! She'll be showing Martha (you know, THE Martha) how it's done this thursday on Martha Stewart Living--find out more here!

Ginger White Chocolate Cookie, Sugarlicious NYMoody Brownie
Sugarlicious NY: Specializing in old-school treats like cookies and brownies, these are classic home baking with a modern makeover, from beautifully designed packaging to classic flavors with just a little something different thrown in. Our favorites? The surprisingly subtle and pleasing "Red Hot" Brownies (brownies with a touch of chili and cinnamon), and the Ginger White Chocolate Cookies. Of course, old favorites like chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies are on hand too. Cookies are  $18 per dozen; $24 for 9 generous brownies; these and more available at sugarliciousny.com.


Walnut CookiesChocolate Spice Cookies, Jennie and Vera's
Jennie and Vera's Cookies: (photos above care of Jennie and Vera's with thanks) Jennie and Vera's cookies are like little works of art, equally easy on the eye as they are on the palate. From the "walnut"--which looks like a shelled walnut and a macaron had a baby (and oh, what a baby: a cookie composed of ground walnuts, filled creamy walnut filling flavored with Croatian walnut liqueur) to the chocolate spice cookie, which marries Hungarian paprika with black pepper, ground chocolate and cocoa, we're pretty much hooked. Anyone you send these to is very lucky indeed! Prices range depending on cookie style; available online at jennieandverascookies.com.

BiscuiteersBiscuiteers
But if you're in the UK, don't despair--we have a good one for you too: Biscuiteers! Basically a biscuit-and-telegram service, you choose your cookie (sorry, biscuit) and your message, and it's sent to the recipient of your choice. Far less expected and much sweeter than flowers, in our opinion! Prices range from £8.00 for an individual message and treat, and go up from there; available online.


DSC05525

 

Tuesday
Mar042008

Pretty In Pink: A Sweet History of the Pink Frosted Cookie

 

The Pink Frosted Cookie

Regional Specialties--what's up with them, exactly? Sure, you have the big famous ones--New York bagels, Chicago deep dish pizza, San Francisco sourdough. But what about those not-quite-as-famous ones, existing just a little bit under the radar? Those ever-present little food items that you might even stop noticing simply because they are ubiquitous--it might take a trip or a move from your hometown to raise your awareness. But why is this, exactly? Why is it that kolaches about in Texas but are sparse elsewhere, that black and white cookies reign in the Mid-Atlantic, but don't seem to exist in the Pacific Northwest? Yes, these are the questions that fill our minds and color our days here at Cakespy--and right now, that regional bee in our bonnet is The Pink Frosted Cookie.

 

If you don't live in Seattle, you might not even know about this cookie (while it exists elsewhere, we've never seen it in quite the same proliferation in our assorted travels); even if you do live in Seattle, you might not have stopped to question why it is that this confection is always around--gas stations, delis, grocery stores, drugstores--everywhere! What makes this relatively simple cookie, comprised of a rich shortbread base and a very generous, very sweet frosting topcoat, so popular? Luckily for you, we found out about its history so you don't have to.

On our path of discovery, the first thing we discovered is that the "original" pink frosted cookie was sold under the name Uncle Seth's Cookie--while various takes on it exist (including a company we like, Bite Me, Inc.), this Uncle was the Founding Father. The company (and recipe) was sold to Seattle wholesaler Mostly Muffins in 1996, and this is where we discovered this story:


Uncle Seth’s Cookie was a concept developed from a passion of fun and feeling good. From the high mountain tops of Bali came the inspiration for the feel good cookie. Danny Brown, the originator and inventor of the Original Pink, also known as an Uncle Seth Cookie, found a kindred spirit in a man named Seth. Seth moved from a crazed urban setting better known as the City, to live his dream of peace in the mountains. The namesake of the Uncle Seth Cookie gave tribute to this man named Seth who changed his life for the sake of fun and happiness. To bring a bit of that passion and fun to light, Danny created a cookie that says eat me because you can. This cookie has a good aura. After nine years of hand rolling this Danish Shortbread, Danny too, decided to head for the hills. Mostly Muffins purchased Uncle Seth’s Cookies in 1996 and Danny was off to live in Hawaii!

 

Mostly Muffins now proudly carries on the tradition of fun and feeling good by serving the Original Pink to the entire Northwest community. Eat one of the Original Pink Cookies and you can’t help but smile!

Okay, so it proves that fact can be stranger than fiction--without, of course, explaining why the cookies are so popular, or why they thrived in the Seattle region. Our theory? So happy you asked. In our minds, the first aspect is timing: the cookie got its start being sold in coffee carts just as the coffee business was starting up in earnest in Seattle; naturally, they would appeal for the same reasons that coffee is so popular in the area--the climate just begs for rich treats and coffee during those rainy days that take up oh, eight months of the year. The second and perhaps more important aspect? Duh--The frosting color. there's no secret that pink frosting tastes better than any other color.
See? You've learned something new today! And while the pink frosted cookie itself seems to be a Seattle phenomenon, we do believe that the concept behind the regional specialty is universal, so approach your local treats mindfully; whether it's strange, cute or plain scary, there's bound to be a story behind that confection!

For more information on the pink frosted cookie, visit mostlymuffins.com. Not in the Seattle area but want a pink frosted cookie? We hear you: similar-looking products can be found online here and here, or--even better, we found a recipe which is said to yield a very similar taste to the original Uncle Seth's Cookie, right here at allrecipes.com.
Cakespy Note: Want our Cake Gumshoes to research a particular baked good in your area? Let us know! Feel free to leave a suggestion for us to sleuth in the comments or via email to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

 


 

Thursday
Jan172008

Holy Cowvin: A Good Cookie (Which Happens to be Vegan)

Photo credit goes to Greg Schaler Photography; thank you to Sticky Fingers Bakery for permission to use the image!

The subject of vegan pastries really brings out some passionate feelings. There are those (usually non-vegans) who swear that they don’t taste as good as dairy desserts; there are those (usually vegans) who insist that they taste a whole lot better. As for the Cakespy crew? While few of us eat a strictly vegan diet, perhaps our vegan vs. non-vegan cupcake tasting best sums up our feelings: while they can sometimes taste different than their dairy counterparts, vegan pastries are often good--really good--once you get past certain preconceived notions.

However, sometimes a baked good comes along that is just so good that it defies labels: vegan, non-vegan, who cares—it’s just good.

And the Cowvin Cookie from the Sticky Fingers Bakery in Washington DC, is definitely one of these exceptional baked goods: a cookie bar comprised of a rich oatmeal cookie crust cradling a generous dollop of rich, creamy, delicious, dairy-be-damned frosting in the middle. In fact, it was an experience so pleasurable that East Coast Cake Gumshoe Jenny described it as so good that she saved the second half til later so that she could continue to savor the experience all day (got to love that restraint!).

 

And certainly, the Cowvin can be loved for its story as well as its taste: the name is inspired by a real-life veal calf by the same name who was rescued from becoming a special of the day by do-gooders in the DC metro area. The little guy was placed in the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland, where he lived out his days in bucolic bliss. Cowvin loved oats, so it seemed appropriate to name an oatmeal cookie-cream bar in his honor--especially since it is dairy-free!

Now that’s what we’d call a sweet treat—one you’ll enjoy whether you’re vegan or not!

Want to make ‘em? Well, you’re on your own there—the recipe’s top secret! However, the kind folks at Sticky Fingers wouldn't leave you hanging; they'll ship them nationwide for $18.50 per half dozen (so worth it) plus shipping and handling; order them (and other pastries too!) by phone: (202) 299-9700, or order online at stickyfingersbakery.com .

Or, if you're in the DC area, just go visit! They're located at 1370 Park Rd. NW, one block north of the Columbia Heights metro stop.


Sticky Fingers Bakery in Washington

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec132007

Memoirs of a Forbidden Cookie

Forbidden Cookie
It was a dull Monday, this past one. Until they arrived. None of us even saw them coming, until there they were, in an unassuming priority mail box from somewhere in Texas.

We opened the box, and there they were: the cookies of our dreams.

We were first drawn to these cookies via the seller's Etsy store, where the photo kind of made them look like a cross between a slab of cookie dough and a scoop of ice cream. Intriguing. A bag cost $12.99 for 8 cookies, and came to about $20 after shipping charges. Were they really worth it?

Resoundingly, yes. These cookies were somewhere between cookie dough and cookie, a wonderfully moist and dense cookie that had a wonderful "toothfeel": not so sweet as to make your teeth hurt, and with a gorgeously yielding texture. The cherry and chocolate chips were subtle but identifiable, and one of our spies actually closed their eyes while eating; they were that good.

The one downfall? When we emailed to inquire about featuring a photo from their Etsy site, we were told that they did not like to have their photos put up on blogs. Fair enough, we reasoned--so we took our own photo. But we wouldn't be so brash as to tell you that all you'd need to do to buy these cookies is go to a web site that has letters contained in the phrase Full Jasper but with no space, followed by etsy.com.

Because that would be giving away the forbidden secret.

Black Forest cherry cookies are available somewhere on the internet.

Saturday
Nov102007

Short and Sweet: Cupcake Shortbread Cookies by Teacake Bakeshop

What could be nicer with afternoon tea than a couple of shortbread cookies?

Shortbread cookies decorated to look like cupcakes, that's what.

And now that can be an everyday treat, thanks to the Bay Area-based Teacake Bakeshop, whose vanilla bean shortbread cookies are each decorated with a simple but charming cupcake drawing rendered out of icing. The 1.5" diameter mini-shortbread cookies are a little spendy ($44 for 48) but each one is hand decorated, sweet and buttery; just think of how many people you could make smile with a box of 48 of these happy little treats. Seriously, we're smiling just looking at the pictures!

Just more proof that cupcakes make everything happier.

Available online at teacakebakeshop.com. Or, if you're in the Bay Area, visit their retail store at 5615 Bay Street, Emeryville, CA.

Tuesday
Nov062007

Easy As 1-2-3: ABC Cookie Cutters by Fred

The gingerbread man has got to be up there amongst the most smug of cookies. A perpetual smirk, flashy decorations...even in literature, he's laughing at us: “You can’t catch me, I'm the Gingerbread man!”. Kind of makes you want to teach them a lesson.

Get your comeuppance with Fred’s ABC Cookie Cutters. Released earlier this year, the set is perfect for the forthcoming holiday cookie season: it includes three cookie cutters die cut to look as if a bite has already been taken out of the gingerbread man (and thus, ABC = Already Been Chewed). Not only is it immensely gratifying to see the Gingerbread man isn’t so sassy anymore, but bring these to a family party and watch hilarity ensue: “Did someone already take a bite of these?”. Bet you haven't had this much fun at a family function since Cousin Mark's "coming out" during the holiday season of '02.

Bring on the holidays.

Available online at calliopeboutique.com.

Tuesday
Oct162007

Don't Leaf Me: A Sweet Design Gingerbread Leaf Cookies Debut at Chocolati Stores

The leaves of fall: vibrant and speaking of the fleeting moments of life. Full of beauty; a seasonal poem.

That is, until it starts raining and they’re mucking up gutters and getting slippery, making you slip while walking to work, thus messing up your new “grown up” work outfit and resulting in nasty looks from the boss. Not that we'd know.

Here's a much more rewarding perk of the season: leaf-shaped, chocolate-dipped gingerbread cookies by A Sweet Design. This Seattle-based cookie wholesaler, headed by the friendly Pamela Rose, is known for their wonderful, thick, spicy gingerbread and sugar cookie creations (which are sold in various coffee shops in the area, including Cherry Street Coffee). And happily, they will be debuting their fall gingerbread selections this very week: leaf cookies at Chocolati in Greenwood this Wednesday afternoon, with wrapped cookies to follow next week in all three locations.

No manual labor necessary, and you’ll certainly have no trouble cleaning up this fall treat.

Leaf cookies available starting October 17 at Chocolati in Greenwood (8319 Greenwood Ave. N, near corner of 83rd); wrapped cookies available at all Chocolati stores starting next week; locations online at chocolati.com.

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