Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

Featured Post:
Of Eating Disorders and Food Blogs

 

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too! 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

Gallery

Fantastic appliance for cake making on DHgate.com

This area does not yet contain any content.
Craftsy Writer

Entries in foodbuzz (5)

Sunday
Feb262012

Foodbuzz 24x24: Sweet Brunch in Philadelphia

Question: When you move to a new city, how do you get people to love you quick?
This was a question I came up against when I recently took an artistic opportunity to relocate from Seattle to Philadelphia for a while. With the prospect of several months on the East coast ahead of me, I knew that I wanted to surround myself with some sweet friends. 

What does Breakfast Eat?

And the answer to how I would do this was pretty easy: design a brunch menu completely composed of sweet treats. Sort of like "if you bake it, they will come."

The Spread at Brunch

And happily, the folks at Foodbuzz thought it was a fantastic idea too, and chose my concept for their monthly 24x24 event, wherein 24 food bloggers create a meal and execute it within the same 24 hours.

Beiler's Bakery

Now, to really immerse myself in my new city, I hit up the Reading Terminal Market for ingredients. If you're shopping for weekend brunch at the market, though, I suggest doing it on Friday or Saturday: the Amish vendors are not there on Sundays, and you definitely want to hit up Beiler's Bakery for cakes and cinnamon rolls, as well as other Amish vendors for farm-fresh eggs, milk, and all sorts of other ingredients. Like coffee.

Old City Coffee

And all of the other baking basics: eggs, butter, and cakes and pastries (flour and sugar I just got at the grocery store). Armed with plenty of delicious stuff, I set to work.
To start off with a bang, I started by preparing a tray of Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict. This recipe is possibly my crowning achievement, featured in my amazing book, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. Here's the recipe:
  • 2 Cadbury creme eggs
  • 1 plain cake doughnut
  • 1 brownie, the fudgier the better
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons' worth of buttercream frosting, to taste
  • 1 large slice pound cake, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • Red sugar sprinkles, to garnish

Procedure

Prepare the "side potatoes" by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. Add your cubed pound cake slices and fry on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Flip the pieces and fry for 2 more minutes. Once they are lightly crispy on the edges, they're ready; put them on the side of your serving plate, leaving half of it clear for the Benedict stacks.
Prepare your plate. Slice your doughnut in half; place the halves, cut side up, side by side on your plate. Cut your brownie in half, the way that you would slice a bagel (so that you have two fully sized but thin brownie pieces). Either cut or shape each piece into a circle so that it is slightly smaller in circumference than the doughnut halves. Place the circles on top of the doughnut halves. Note: While I realize that brownies might not have an accurate hue to represent the layer of ham, I chose them for their sturdy texture and for their deliciousness quotient. A pink cookie or layer of colored marzipan could be substituted if you really wanted a hammy look, though.
Prepare the Creme Eggs. The idea here is to get them lightly melty, but not so much that the yolk oozes out. I found that the best way to do this was to either put them on a sheet of aluminum foil atop a baking sheet and put them in either a toaster oven on high or a preheated moderate oven for about a minute. As soon as the tops of the chocolate eggs starts to get a bit shiny, remove them from heat, and very carefully (so as to not puncture the chocolate and let the yolk ooze out) transfer each egg to the top of your two prepared brownie and doughnut stacks.

Put your buttercream frosting in a small, microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for about 10 seconds, with additional increments of 5 seconds each if needed, until the frosting is soft enough that it drips lightly when spooned (you don't want it to be pourable though). Spoon as much as you'd like onto each prepared "egg" stack.Sprinkle each finished stack with red sugar sprinkles; serve immediately.

 

Om nom nom.

- - - - - - - - - - 

Next, you've got to have at least a couple of bagels with cream cheese--NOT! These "bagels" are actually doughnuts, split and filled with cream cheese frosting (using Philly Cream cheese, naturally!) and topped with poppyseeds. Here's how you make 'em:
Trompe L'oeil Bagel With Cream Cheese Doughnuts
  • Plain cake doughnuts (as many as you'd like); I got mine at Beiler's Bakery in the Reading Terminal Market
  • Vanilla or cream cheese frosting (about the same amount you'd use to top a cupcake for each doughnut; if you need a recipe, try this one or this one)
  • Poppyseeds (or sesame seeds would work too)
  • Butter (about a teaspoon-ful per doughnut)
Directions:
  1. Slice doughnut in half (for some reason it seems to work easiest if you apply the poppyseeds after slicing)
  2. In a small microwave-safe dish, melt about 1 teaspoon-ful of butter per doughnut you'll be making by putting it in the microwave for about 10 seconds. 
  3. Lightly brush the top side with about a teaspoon of melted butter (oh, get over it--they're already fried, anyway)
  4. Immediately sprinkle poppyseeds on top of the buttered side (this will ensure that they stick) and put this half to the side for a moment.
  5. Apply a generous dollop of room-temperature frosting to the bottom (sans seed) half of the doughnut. It is important that the frosting be room temperature because if it is chilled, when you try to spread it you may break the doughnut apart. Gently spread.
  6. Put the poppyseed-laden piece on top. Enjoy.

- - - - - - - - - - 

For the carb-o-holic, Funfetti Cake Mix pancakes are definitely also in order. I mean, half of "pancake" is "Cake", so why not make it extra fun by making them with cake mix?
Funfetti Cake Mix Pancakes
  • 1/2 box (about 2 1/2 cups) Funfetti or Rainbow Chip Cake Mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • butter, for greasing your frying pan
  • Combine the dry cake mix with the remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  • Blend on medium-low speed until the batter is fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  • Prepare your frying pan by lightly greasing it with butter; let it heat up on a medium-high heat setting on your stovetop.
  • Drop the batter, 1/4 cup at a time, on to the prepared griddle. When the edges turn golden and are beginning to lightly bubble, flip the pancake and let the second side bake (this may take less time than the first side).
  • Serve immediately; garnish with jam, syrup, or even some cake frosting if you're feeling very decadent.

- - - - - - - - - - 

Leftover Cake French Toast was also in order, so I picked up a small cake at Termini Brothers Bakery. I had a slice (yum) and then refrigerated the rest overnight to make some French toast with the rest!

Termini Bros., Philadelphia

Once you have your cake, here's how you make the French Toast with it:

Cake French Toast

  • 6 to 8 slices cake, chilled in the refrigerator overnight
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk or light cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon or other spices, to taste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons butter, for frying
  • Confectioners' sugar glaze or sprinkles, to garnish

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk or cream, sugar, and any spices you'd like to add, until the mixture is fully combined and lightly frothy on the edges.

Remove your cake from the refrigerator. It will work if you haven't chilled your cake too, but chilling it overnight keeps the frosting from melting all over when you pan fry the cake. Slice the cake into thick slices.

Dip each cake slice in your egg mixture, coating it fully on both sides (go ahead and submerge each slice). Place the dipped slice directly in the frying pan; depending on the size of your pan, add 2 or 3 slices at one time.

Let each slice fry for a minute or so, until it is lightly coming up on the sides (you can lift a side gently with a spatula to see if it is browning). Turn over and repeat on the opposite side, being sure to turn gently so that you don't let the frosting smear across the pan.

Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving platter or directly to plates. Repeat with the remaining slices until you've finished them all. If desired, top with a confectioners' sugar glaze and sprinkles. Serve immediately.

- - - - - - - - - - 

Of course, around this time you might be experiencing a sharp fear that you haven't supplied your guests with enough carbohydrates. The solution? Biscuits with sugar butter, naturally!

For the biscuits

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature, plus three tablespoons melted butter (for glazing the biscuits)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup whole milk
  • pats of butter, for serving (in case the sugar butter isn't enough)

 For the sugar butter

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (more if necessary, to your desired consistency)

 Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the room temperature butter with two forks (pie crust style!)--or go ahead and do this with a food processor if you've got one, mixing until the mixture is about the consistency of cornmeal. 
  3. Add 1/2 cup milk and mix (or pulse) until combined. Add more milk if needed until the dough has reached a consistency where you can form it into a large, soft ball (it will be sticky; handle with floured hands on a floured surface).
  4. Lightly knead the dough on a floured surface for 30 seconds--about 10 folds. The dough should be fairly moist and light--overworking will make the biscuits tougher (though still pretty tasty!).
  5. Form a ball with the dough, and then roll it out into a half-inch sheet on your floured surface using a well floured rolling pin. Using a biscuit cutter, larger cookie cutter, or a mid-sized drinking glass, cut into rounds or shapes. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter, because I, you know, love biscuits.
  6. Put the biscuits on your prepared sheet. Brush the tops with the melted butter and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, but keep the biscuits on the baking sheet until the sugar butter is ready--this will keep them warm. Nom.
  7. Prepare the sugar butter. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar and cook until the mixture bubbles. Add the cream, and turn down the heat to keep the cream just below a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes on low heat, ur until the sugar is dissolved, the mixture has started to reduce and thicken, and the flavors are working for you (you'll have to taste it for this part. Be brave.)
  8. Add a bit more cream if the sugar butter is too thick for your liking and stir to combine.
  9. Get ready to serve. Put a pat of butter on top of your biscuits, and ladle a big ol' spoonful of the sugar butter on top. Enjoy.

- - - - - - - - - -  

I know that for some people, the thought of brunch without cinnamon rolls is simply not fathomable. For those types, I tricked out some treats with chocolate chip cookie dough, making for delicious results:

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls Stuffed with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 package Pillsbury cinnamon rolls with glaze (I used orange sweet rolls)
  • 1 teaspoon chocolate chip cookie dough per cinnamon roll (if uneasy about if it will cook thoroughly, use an egg-free version)

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Unwrap the roll of cinnamon rolls until you get that jarring "pop" that means the feast has been unleashed.
  3. Separate the rolls, and unroll each one gently.
  4. Roll each teaspoon of cookie dough into a thin log (use floured hands), slightly thinner than the thickness of the unrolled cinnamon roll.
  5. Place the log of dough on top of the unrolled cinnamon roll, and gently re-roll. Repeat with the rest of the rolls.Place the rolls in a lightly greased pie plate (it keeps it all contained) and bake according to the package directions, 15 minutes or so.
  6. Once the rolls are out of the oven, gently heat the glaze in the microwave for about 10 seconds, or until pourable. Liberally glaze your cinnamon rolls with it.
  7. Enjoy.

- - - - - - - - - - 

Finally, you don't want to let your guests roll out the door on some sort of a sugar-bender, so I suggest serving them something savory at the end of the meal. Howsabout some cookies? But these cookies aren't sweet: they're savory! So here's a non-sweet treat that is fun to serve and delicious to eat - an idea I got from Pillsbury Bake-Off contestant Teresa Robinson! You can find the recipe here.

Thanks to Foodbuzz for choosing me for the 24x24 project this month, and thanks to Philadelphia for welcoming me with open arms!

Sunday
Dec202009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Sweet Snowball Cookie Celebration

Let it Snow Confectioners' Sugar
Snowballs. Russian Tea Cakes. Greek Kourambiedes. Bullets. Mexican Wedding Cakes. Viennese Crescents. Moldy Mice. Armenian Sugar Cookies. What does this international sampler of cookies have in common? Quite a bit, it seems--they are just a few (I've counted over 20!) of the countless riffs on the same basic cookie, comprised of butter and (usually) ground nuts, a melt-in-your mouth treat which is liberally coated in confectioners' sugar and seems to be a mainstay in so many special occasions.
Cookie!
So what gives? I took it upon myself to learn more about this cookie, ultimately applying the knowledge in the sweetest way possible for the December Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 project: by taste-testing seven different batches of these international treats with a group of friends and reporting not only on the intellectual findings, but dishing on the goods as well.

But first, a little background. What's up with this cookie? Foodtimeline.org offers up the 411:

According to several food history sources and cookbooks...these are a universal holiday cookie-type treat. This means this recipe is not necessarily connected to any one specific country. It is connected with the tradition of saving rich and expensive food (the richest butter, finest sugar, choicest nuts) for special occasions.
Of course, that having been said, the cookies do perhaps take their root from the Middle East:
Food historians trace the history of these cookies and cakes to Medieval Arab cuisine, which was rich in sugar. Small sugar cakes with nuts (most often almonds) and spices were known to these cooks and quickly adopted by the Europeans. This sweet culinary tradition was imported by the Moors to Spain, diffused and assimilated throughout Europe, then introduced to the New World by 16th century explorers. Sugar cookies, as we know them today, made their appearance in th 17th century. About sugar. Recipes called Mexican wedding cakes descend from this tradition. They first appear in American cookbooks in the 1950s.

See? I bet you're feeling smarter already. And now, Let it snow confectioners' sugar:


Snowballs

About the cookie: This is probably the most famous American version of the cookie--its name seems to stem from their appearance after being rolled in confectioners' sugar. The first mention I could find was a 1939 article in the Chicago Tribune, where it says "don't wait for signs of snow to make these frosty-looking snowball cookies, for they're good in any season". Regional variations will call for filberts, almonds, walnuts, or pecans.
Tasting notes: I made the standard-issue version not unlike the ones I grew up with. These ones, made with walnuts, tasted nostalgic, but didn't necessarily separate themselves from the crowd. But still--they were a delight to eat.

Snowball Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1-lb. confectioners sugar to roll cookies in
Directions
  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix butter with sugar until very light and fluffy. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in walnuts. Refrigerate until easy to handle.
  2. Make balls in the palm of your hand by tablespoons. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and bake in a 350 degree F. oven until golden brown, being careful bottoms do not burn.
  3. Place confectioners sugar in a large bowl. Take cookies from oven and gently put into bowl. Carefully, they are hot, toss cookies in sugar until they are coated.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Bullets of Sweetness

Bullets

About the cookie: These cookies are closely related to the snowball--in fact, I might even surmise that they are a regional version of them, based on the fact that some snowball recipes list a possible variation as using macadamia nuts. However, these ones intrigued me: in the leadup to the recipe, the writer notes that "when we were growing up, my sister Tammie rated these her favorite cookie".
Tasting Notes: Clearly sister Tammie knew what she was talking about. These cookies are the absolute lap of luxury. Flavorwise, they couldn't be more rich: the already buttery-tasting macadamia nuts pair perfectly with this buttery cookie, and they really do just crumble in your mouth. Yes, macadamias are expensive--but this one is worth the splurge. These were one of the top two cookies tasted.

Bullets Recipe

Adapted from Cookies by Natalie Hartanov Haughton

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • confectioners' sugar
Directions
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, granulated sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add flour, beating until well blended. If necessary, work with fingers until dough holds together. Blend in nuts. Shape into one-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 15-17 minutes, or until bottoms are golden. Remove cookie sheets; cool on racks. After they have cooled for about 30 minutes, roll in confectioners' sugar, coating completely. Makes 30.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Danny Takes a BiteKourambiedes (top right and bottom center)
Greek Kourambiedes (or Kourabiethes)

About the cookie: On Whipped, the site where I found this recipe, it says "in the bakeries of Greece, the Kourabiethes are piled up high and deep and look like a mound of little snowballs. My trusty, old-school Greek cookbook reads, 'Kourabiethes are the national cookies of the Greeks for Christmas and New Year’s Day.'
Tasting Notes: True to Whipped's word, these are truly "Greek little balls of heaven". The rosewater adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the cookies, giving them a unique flavor. I shaped some of these into crescents as well.

Greek Kourabiethes Recipe


Only slightly adapted from the recipe on Whipped


Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • about 2 cups of confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T brandy
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • rose water
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter and 1 cup sugar until very light and fluffy. Stir in egg yolk and brandy. Mix sifted flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Mix in the flour and baking powder a little at a time until dough no longer sticks to your fingers. Mix  in almonds while mixing in flour, accomodating for the extra ingredient and not letting the cookies get too dry. Knead well until dough is smooth and can easily be rolled; shape into balls or crescents--follow your bliss. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until very light brown. While still warm, brush very lightly with orange flower or rose water. Roll in confectioner’s sugar and set on a tray or plate. Use the remaining sugar to sift over top until well covered.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Jasen Takes a Bite

Mexican Wedding Cakes


About the cookie: Per Foodtimeline.org,

The cookie is old, the name is new. Food historians place the first recipes named "Mexican wedding cakes" in the 1950s. Why the name? Our books and databases offer no explanations. Perhaps timing is everything? Culinary evidence confirms Mexican wedding cakes are almost identical to Russian Tea Cakes. During the 1950s and 1960s relations between Russia and the United States were strained. It is possible the Cold War provided the impetus for renaming this popular cookie. Coincidentally...this period saw the mainstreaming of TexMex cuisine into American culture.
Tasting Notes: What set these cookies apart was the addition of cinnamon--they added a spicy holiday flair to the cookies and really set them apart from the rest. As you can see by the photo, even pugs couldn't avoid the holiday charm of these cookies.

Mexican Wedding Cakes Recipe

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
  1. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then pecans. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.
  3. Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)
  4. Sift remaining cinnamon sugar over cookies and serve.

- - - - - - - - - -
Moldy Mice Cookies

Moldy Mice

About the cookie: This is a rich, buttery pecan cookie smothered in confectioners' sugar, which to the best of my knowledge first cropped up under this name in a 1950 Junior League cookbook entitled Charleston Receipts. What of the name? As you can read on Serious Eats (where you can also find the recipe) I have two theories: first, if you squint really hard at the cookies, they sort of resemble tiny mice covered with mold. Second--my favored theory--is that it is a clever deterrent technique dreamed up by a baker frustrated by their delectable morsels disappearing too quickly.
Tasting Notes: These rich, tender cookies were a big hit: toasting the pecans before baking really added something.

Moldy Mice Recipe 

You can find it on Serious Eats!

- - - - - - - - - -
Russian Teacakes

About the cookie: Per foodtimeline.org,

Noble Russian cuisine (along with every other facet of noble life) was influenced by prevailing French customs during the 18th century. Tea was first introduced to Russia in 1618, but the Russian tea ceremony of samovars and sweet cakes was a legacy of Francophile Catherine the Great in the 18th century. It is interesting to note that A Gift to Young Housewives, Elena Molokhovet [1870s popular Russian cookbook] contains plenty of recipes for a variety of small baked goods, none specifically entitled Russian tea cakes. There are, however, several recipes which use similar ingredients.
Tasting notes: What can be said? This recipe is a classic.

Russian Teacakes Recipe

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 400ºF
  2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
  5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Armenian Sugar Cookies (Shakarishee)

About the cookie: This is a traditional cookie, called shakarishee, which I am told is a commonly served item at weddings or other special occasions.
Tasting Notes: Sweeter than some others, this recipe yielded a cookie that looked more like a drop cookie when baked rather than holding a snowball shape; the nuts were only an accent in this version, but what held true to all of the other recipes was the texture, which was crumbly and dense and delicious. Taster Jasen, who is himself Armenian, commented that "these make me feel like I should be at an Armenian wedding".

Armenian Sugar Cookies Recipe

Adapted from this Shakarishee Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter [unsalted]
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, egg yolk and the sugar until smooth and almost white in color. Add flour and blend well. If you are using the nuts, this is the time to add them in. Shape into small rectangles about 3/4" by 1 1/2".
  2. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. Note: The recipe notes that a blanched almond or walnut half can be placed on top of the cookie before baking, but for uniformity I did not add this.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Viennese Crescents

About the cookie: Well, it seems that Vienna has a bit of a history with delicious crescents--could the shape of this cookie be connected to the other famous crescent from that fair city, the croissant? Read on for Wikipedia's roundup:

Fanciful stories of how the kipfel - and so, ultimately, the croissant - was created are culinary legends, at least one going back to the 19th century. These include tales that it was invented in Europe to celebrate the defeat of a Muslim invasion at the decisive Battle of Tours by the Franks in 732, with the shape representing the Islamic crescent;that it was invented in Vienna, Austria in 1683 to celebrate the defeat of the Turks to Polish forces in the Turkish siege of the city, as a reference to the crescents on the Turkish flags, when bakers staying up all night heard the tunneling operation and gave the alarm; tales linking croissants with the kifli and the siege of Buda in 1686; and those detailing Marie Antoinette's hankering after a Polish specialty.

Tasting Notes: This is a winner. The almonds paired with almond extract was an idea I got from Cook's Illustrated, and it really did give the cookies a full, almond-y flavor and helped balance out the fact that almonds are a drier nut than some of the more smooth, buttery varieties I had tried in other recipes. These were simply lovely.

Viennese Crescents Recipe

Makes about 36

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, butter, nuts, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, salt, almond extract, and vanilla. Hand mix until thoroughly blended. Shape dough into a ball; cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  3. Remove dough from refrigerator and form into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball into a small roll, 3 inches long. Place rolls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet, and bend each one to make a crescent shape.
  4. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set but not brown.
  5. Let stand 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets and place on racks to cool. After about 30 minutes, dip cookies in the confectioners' sugar to coat them. If not served right away, dip them again directly before serving to ensure a snowy coating.

- - - - - - - - - -

So, to sum it all up? It was particularly sweet to see how this cookie transcends so many borders: even though our cultures may be very different, we all have some sort of variation of this cookie in common. Regardless of the language you speak or the culture you come from, a cookie made of butter, ground nuts, and coated in confectioners' sugar is a type of equality that is within reach for everyone: easy to make, and completely delicious.

Sunday
Mar292009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Like a Rolling Scone: A Collection of Rock N Roll Inspired Sweets

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24
When this month's Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event came around, the inspiration came close to home for your dear Cake Gumshoes: we looked at the Seattle music scene to plan a musically-inspired menu of sweets! And so we hooked up with two local bands, Exohexo and Speaker Speaker, and took a collection of sweets inspired by famous rock stars on tour with them around the city, through rehearsals, recording and even a show. Would our theory that baked goods just wanna rock, and rockers just wanna eat baked goods, hold true? Only one way to find out; here are the sweet results.

Rolling Scones
What better way to start (well, that's relative--it was nearly noon) the day than with a baked good homage to one of the most influential rock bands out there--in morning pastry form as not Rolling Stones, but as Rolling Scones. As our musicians quickly discovered, there is no better way to get the day started than with one of these sweet babies under your thumb; complete with the slightest touch of brown sugar, they're a perfect way to get the day going. (see below for Danny warming up with a Keith Richards scone!). These ones will certainly gather no moss.
Danny with a Rolling Scone

Rolling Scones (adapted from this recipe)
  • 2 Cups of Flour
  • 1/4 Cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (3/4 of a stick) of butter
  • 1 Cup of whipping cream
Topping: Decorating markers, chocolate and vanilla frosting; red gel or decorating icing.

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and add to the mixture.
  3. Using your hands, break up the butter into even smaller pieces while tossing with the flour until the largest pieces are no bigger than a pea.
  4. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour the cream into the well.
  5. Using your hands, mix by hand until the dry ingredients are all moistened.
  6. Gather into a ball and place on a lightly floured board.
  7. Knead 10 times, pushing the dough with the heel of your hand and folding over until the dough is smooth.
  8. Pat the ball into a 9-inch circle about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
  9. Cut into 8 to 12 wedges like a pizza
and to make them Rolling Scones:
  1. Shape into ovals, making sure to pinch the middle to form a little bit of a nose and facial structure.
  2. Brush the top with an egg wash (optional).
  3. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and still slightly moist in the center
  4. Once cool, decorate with a dollop of frosting for hair, and draw in facial features with a food-safe marker as desired.

(Makes 8-12)

 

Rolling Scones

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pink Frosted Floyd Donuts
Of course, no morning would be complete without doughnuts, so we came up with these delicious (and easy!) Pink Floyd glazed doughnuts. These ones were easy--we picked up a few mini doughnuts at local legend Mighty-O and doctored them up a bit to pay homage to their iconic "Animal" album cover.
How can you make these adorable Pink Floyd inspired donuts? It's easy. Piggies
Pink (Frosted) Floyd Donuts
  • Mini Pink Frosted donuts
  • 2 pink jellybeans per donut
  • decorating gel for details
  • Small dab of pink frosting (to use as "glue" for the ears)
In the center of each mini donut, press a jellybean in the center; the frosting should hold it in place. If it doesn't, put a small dot of frosting on the back and it should make it adhere. Cut the second jellybean in half, and using your thumb and forefinger squeeze one end until it forms a triangle. Put a dot of pink frosting on the bottom of the triangle and adhere one to each side of the top of the donut (for pig ears). Using black decoraing gel, make two dots for eyes, two dots on the jellybean nose, and a smiley face for optimal cuteness. (see below for Hiromi, the violinist, getting some sweet energy from one of them!)

 

Hiromi with Pink frosted Floyd donut

-------------------------------------------------------------------------


Robert Palmier Girls
Of course, after unloading equipment and warming up a bit, the band was in need of some sweet caloric replenishment--enter the Robert Palmiers. No, Robert Palmer may not be the epitome of an exceedingly influential rock musician, but the kitsch value of his backup band--not to mention the easy pun--made for some delicious snacking.

PalmiersRobert Palmiers

 

 

Robert Palmiers

Ingredients:
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (or more, or less, to your preference)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar per pastry sheet (approx.)
  • Decorating gel in black and red
Preheat oven to 400°F.

 

 

  1. Sprinkle some sugar on a work surface and cover it with a puff pastry square sheet. Then sprinkle more sugar evenly over pastry sheet and roll it out into a 10-inch square with a rolling pin. 
  2. Fold in two opposite sides of the pastry sheet square so that they the sides meet in the center. Fold in same sides of the pastry again.
  3. Fold one half of the pastry over the other. Cut pastry crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip cut sides of each piece in sugar and arrange, cut side down, on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with three remaining pastry sheets.
  4. Bake palmiers in batches in middle of oven until golden on bottom, about 12 minutes. Turn over and bake until golden on bottom, 5 to 7 minutes more, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Once cool, decorate with red lips and black "hair" for the full Palmer girl effect.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ready for a tangent? We didn't have a chance to make it this time, but doesn't Milli VaNilla Wafer Pudding sound tasty? 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Otis Redding
And OK--everyone makes mistakes. So we've got to admit from the start there's a reason why the Otis Redding-themed cookies aren't as cleverly titled as the rest. Originally we mistakenly thought (bad gumshoes!) that "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" was a Sam Cooke song--and Sam Cookies sure would have worked. It was only in the 11th hour that we realized it was actually Otis Redding--and so here they are, the O(h so delicious)tis Redding Cookies, served on homemade graham crackers made to simulate the cookies "sitting on the dock of the bay". We chose molasses because that's about how smooth and rich Redding's voice was. Oh well--Jasen, who plays both guitar and drums, didn't seem to mind sampling one during their show.
CookiesSam Cookies
Otis Redding Cookies (note: we adapted this from Epicurious)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. and lightly grease 1 large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.
  3. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy and beat in molasses. Beat in egg until incorporated. Gradually beat in flour mixture and combine well.
  4. In a small shallow bowl put remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Form dough into 2-inch balls and roll in sugar. On baking sheets arrange balls about 4 inches apart and flatten slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.
  5. Bake cookies in middle of the oven 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden. (Cookies should be soft.) Transfer cookies with a metal spatula to racks to cool.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
As a brief interlude--if you're interested in maintaining that mellow, why not indulge in a Fleetwood Macaroon?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

John Lemon Bars

When a band records, it's important to keep in mind what sound you're going for, and what might be your goals. So of course, we whipped out the inspiration bigtime by bringing out some bar cookies inspired by a former Beatle: the John Lemon Bars. Decorated with his signature self-portrait, these bars added a reminder of how the sour can mix with the sweet in the process: imagine how sweet the result can be. Jason (below) sure seemed to think they came out well. Did they make him a better bass player? We can't say for sure, but it couldn't have hurt.
Note: We used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen to make the John Lemon Bars

Jason playing bass and eating a John Lemon Bar
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
James Brownies
And once they get jamming, and start feeling good? OW! Of course, it's time for some James Brownies. Unfortunately, the likeness was perhaps not the best; working with chocolate syrup from a picture, and trying render it as quickly as possible resulted in some warping--it sort of resembles that portrait that Napoleon Dynamite did of his would-be prom date. But you know what? Nobody really cared, because did these brownies ever OW! Make them feel good.
James Brownies
James Brownies (Adapted from the brownie recipe found on Oprah's website):
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or light-colored metal baking pan. (Note: we used a 10x10 pan)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder.
  3. Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.
  4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
  5. In a small dish, microwave the peanut butter for 30 seconds or until melted. Pour into the batter and lightly stir.
  6. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares (or large hunks) and serve.
  8. Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies will keep for a few days--or so we hear. We didn't get the chance to find out, they disappeared so fast!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cannoli-sa loeb
Perhaps she's not exactly a trailblazer, but there are few in the CakeSpy demographic that don't recall that so-awful-it's-catchy ode to the 90's called "Stay" by Lisa Loeb. Why not pay homage to this nostalgic cheesiness than by immortalizing it as a cheesy treat? In this case, the cheese was ricotta--stuffed inside of fried shells of cannoli deliciousness from one of the few places in Seattle that sells the Italian treat: Remo Borracchini. Decorated with some retro-cool glasses, sweet red "lipstick" and batting eyelashes, this one charmed even the baddest type of rock star. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Crosby, Stills Ganache and YUM
We knew that we'd need to make something delicious at this point in the day for the final leg, so it was time to roll out the big one: Crosby Stills Ganache and Yum, a multilayered confection as intricately intertwined as the group for which it was named. Basically it was a riff on this chocolate topped princess cake we made a while back, except we swapped the inside cake for chocolate cake rather than sponge, and used crumbled up Graham (Nash) crackers instead of macaroons. Yum, indeed.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
As a brief tangent, you know what would go well with this cake? Some hot cocoa--with marshmallows. Just like clouds in your coffee, but better.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Red Velvet Underground Cake
Finally, we've saved our favorite for last. Perhaps it's just our art-school background, but to many of us Cake Gumshoes, the The Velvet Underground is not just an influential band, but the influential band. After all, they've captured the hearts of musicians and artists alike--why not bakers? And so, the Red Velvet Underground Cake was born. We made ours using the famous Cake Man Raven recipe--using plenty of red food coloring for a viscerally red interior, we decorated it with an edible wafer printed with that famous banana; on the outer edges, we lined banana slices across the sides. The crowning glory? A slight touch of white pepper in the topping--now that's what we'd call a white light white heat cream cheese frosting!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Concert!
Of course, after all this awesome, does anyone have an appetite? Probably not. However, if anyone did, there are plenty of The Pixies' Stix on hand.
Of course, this is all some serious sweetness--but at the end of the day, what did the band have to say? Well, here's a special message.

Cue the chorus of "Pour Some Sugar on me"--repeat and fade! A rock n' roll fanta-sweet indeed! Thank you FoodBuzz for funding our fun times and once again helping us attain an extreme sugar high!

Foodbuzz!

 

Sunday
Nov302008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Presidential Sweet: A Tour of Presidential Holiday Desserts

Presidential Sweet
The holidays are a wonderful time, aren't they? You get to sit around and eat. Hopefully at someone else's house, where they cook and you don't have to clean up afterward.

But what about the big house? That is to say, the White House? We began to wonder what sweets and traditions might have played into Presidential culture, in both the current age and years past. And luckily, we were chosen by Foodbuzz for the 24, 24, 24 project so we suddenly had the time and the means to learn and explore a bit more--all amounting to quite a sweet surprise for our family and friends the entire week of Thanksgiving! Let's just say it wasn't just one day of feasting chez Cakespy.

Mount Cupmore

 

The below is a combination of the actual dishes served based on actual Presidential menus we've located, known favorite recipes of the presidents and their wives, and, you know, a little mischievous daydreaming of our own. We made several of the recipes and served them to family and friends--and so, without further ado, here's a summation of several of our favorite Presidential-inspired dishes, going in chronological order:

A note about Thanksgiving: You'll notice that most Thanksgiving recipes kick in later on in the list--this is because although the first one was celebrated in 1671, it wasn't actually a holiday (or even celebrated regularly) until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln finally made it a national holiday. But there was plenty of other holiday goodness going around before--and since!
George thinks the cake is great
Washington's Great Cake: Our journey of delicious started with the big man, that Cherry-tree killa George Washington (OK, so maybe he did it, maybe not). Though George Washginton did have a Thanksgiving dinner, what we found much more entrhralling was Martha's famous "Great Cake" (read more here!), one of her favorites which was traditionally served at Christmastime. This cake truly was great--especially in size, as it called for 40 eggs, 4 pounds of butter, and a variety of fruits including 2 pounds of apples, and plenty of cream sherry. While tempted, the materials just seemed like a bit of a wast, so ultimately we did the recipe in 1/8 scale and it actually worked out ok; we ended up swapping egg-white icing (an acquired taste in our opinion) for a rich cream cheese frosting with some festive stars. George would approve, we think. If you want to try the actual recipe for THE great cake though, check out this site.
Cake frosting
--------------------------------------------------------------
Corn Pudding
Thomas Jefferson's Corn Pudding: TJ was certainly a renaissance man, and in addition to a great deal of hobbies and interests, he was quite the gourmand--he's even credited with introducing the greater US culture to the île flottante (which he served at a New Year's fete). Though Thanksgiving wasn't technically a holiday yet, we like to think that he'd serve something like this sweet corn pudding at his table--a popular recipe during his Presidential years. At our table, we found it to be a pleasant-tasting dish--like some types of cornbread, gently skirting the line between side dish and dessert.
Thomas Jefferson's Corn Pudding
Sweet Corn Pudding Recipe
  • 2 c. whole kernel corn (1 16 oz. can) drained
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 stick butter
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix at high speed 10 seconds. Pour into well greased baking dish and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. To make enough for company I triple the corn and double everything else and bake it for an hour or more until a knife comes out clean.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gingerbread
Madison's Gingerbread: While to many, the Madisons (namely, Dolley) are linked to ice cream, Dolley also had a much warmer, but equally delicious, favorite for the holidays--Soft Gingerbread. Apparently hers got its unique and delicious flavor from beef drippings, but call us chicken, we decided to use butter instead and while we have no point of comparison, this one was very moist and delicious, so the butter seemed to have worked just fine. If you'd like, though, be the judge yourself!

DeliciousDelicious
Dolley Madison's Soft Gingerbread
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup fresh beef drippings
  • 1 rounded tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 rounded tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar (to top)
Mix molasses and beef drippings; dissolve baking soda in the 1/4 cup of hot water and add to molasses and drippings mixture. Sift together flour, ginger and cinnamon and add alternately with the cup of very hot water to molasses and dripping mixture. Beat well until batter is thoroughly mixed and soft enough to pour. Bake in shallow, well-greased pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until center of cake springs back when pressed gently. Serve warm, sprinkledwith powdered sugar. Makes 6 servings.

President stuff
--------------------------------------------------------------
Martin Van Buren's Doughnuts: Well, we didn't actually make them, but we were fascinated to learn two facts about MVB: first, he and his wife spoke Dutch at home (he was American-born but of Dutch heritage); the second, that his favorite food was doughnuts. Here's a recipe for an 1800's era Dutch doughnut (oliebollen) that we bet he would have loved on Christmas morning.
--------------------------------------------------------------
*Mischievous note* William Henry Harrison Might have Liked it: well, he wasn't president for long. but, he did prompt us to learn more about Funeral Pie.
--------------------------------------------------------------
*Mischievous note* James K. Polk might not have had much of an interest in food, but we'd officially like to dedicated the Bûche de Noël and the millefueille to him--after all, he was Napoleon of the Stump.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Mary Todd Lincoln's Cake
Abraham Lincoln / Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla-Almond Cake: It's said that this is the one Mary made when courting Lincoln in the early days. Since they both met and later married during the holiday season--not to mention that Honest Abe declared it to be the best cake he'd ever tasted-- we figure it's a good holiday offering to represent Lincoln's era.
While the cake itself is good--dense, slightly nutty, and plenty buttery--we're not so sure about its aphrodisiac powers. We made our cake in just one layer, not two; all the more frosting to glaze on over it all.

 

 

Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla-Almond Cake (via Recipe Goldmine)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • White Frosting
  1. Cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla extract.
  2. Stir together the cake flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in almonds.
  3. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  4. Pour into two greased and lightly floured 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pans.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 28 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Fill and frost with White Frosting.
White Frosting: In a saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and dash salt. Bring mixture to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

 

In mixing bowl place 2 egg whites; very slowly pour the hot sugar syrup over, beating constantly with electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Cakespy Note: Though it's not strictly dessert, we couldn't help but notice that Andrew Jackson, FDR, Calvin Coolidge, and LBJ all had an admitted penchant for pancakes. We'll bet these carb-lovin' presidents would have enjoyed this Christmas tree composed of crepes like this one.
--------------------------------------------------------------


William Howart Taft: It takes only a mere glance at the man to tell that he was as serious about sweets as he was about politics (it's true--he weighed well over 300 pounds). Apparently above all he had a soft spot for pumpkin pie; while we found the recipe below online for a "William Taft Pumpkin Pie", it seems a little bit suspect (we're not sure if they had canned milk then...does that sound ignorant?) we've gotta believe that in a different era, he'd have enjoyed the one at the bottom of this post even better.
  • 9 Inch pie crust
  • 1/4 c Granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c Brown sugar
  • 3/4 c Canned milk
  • 3/4 c Fresh milk
  • 1 1/2 c Pumpkin
  • 2 Eggs; separated
  • 1/4 ts Allspice
  • 1 ts Cinnamon
  • 1/2 ts Ginger (if you wish)
  • 1/2 ts Salt

Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Mix sugars, salt and spices. Add
pumpkin. Add egg yolks and milk. Add more spices, if desired. Last, fold in
beaten egg whites, not too stiff. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake
at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn down to 350 degrees until done,
about 30 to 40 minutes (depending on your oven). Pie ready when knife comes
out of filling clean.

 

Pietime!Tasting pie is serious business
--------------------------------------------------------------
Sweet Potato Casserole
Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon (his menu below) and Lyndon B. Johnson were apparently huge fans of the sweet potato casserole; happily, there's an official White House recipe. We doubled the marshmallow for added awesomeness. The founding fathers would approve, we think. We sure dug into this one with relish--er, sweetness.


November 27, 1969

 

 

  • 8 medium sized sweet potatoes,
  • roasted, peeled and passed through
  • a fine mesh sieve
  • 3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ bag miniature marshmallows
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly mix all the ingredients except the marshmallows. Spray a 9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour the custard and top with a half bag of mini marshmallows. Bake for about a half hour. Keep warm for service.
Sweet Potato Casserole
--------------------------------------------------------------
Truman mini pie
Harry S. Truman's Light Pie: Via The Old Foodie, we discovered this excerpt from a 1946 edition of the New York Times:

WHITE HOUSE MENU GUARDS WAISTLINE.
The White House announced today an ample menu for the Thanksgiving dinner which President Truman will sandwich in between two diplomatic dinners, but he’s still dieting.

 

The continued waistline-reduction regime is on the authority of Mrs. Mary E. Sharpe, White House housekeeper, who counts the Presidential calories. She declined to elaborate other than to say: “When I make up menus I keep it in mind.”

Mrs. Sharpe gave the Thanksgiving menu as follows: clear bouillon, curled celery and olives, roast stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, buttered peas, cauliflower au gratin, orange and cress salad, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and cheese, candied fruit, nuts, coffee.

And so, we figured that it would be in keeping to make a pint-sized (diet friendly) pie for Harry--so, with an extra bit of filling from the Mesnier recipe (bottom) we made a single-serve piece in a cupcake cup, with a low-fat marshmallow topping. Still yummy, and mos' def cute!

--------------------------------------------------------------
Jackie Kennedy's Hot Fruit DessertJackie Kennedy's Hot Fruit Dessert
Kennedy's Hot Fruit Dessert Pies: It's known that assorted pies and ice cream always played a role in the Kennedy Thanksgiving dinner. However, we took it a step further by combining the pie idea with Jackie Kennedy's famous Hot Fruit Dessert (click here for the recipe)--her signature dish. We made the dessert but then baked it in as a pie filling; we used extra pie crust from the recipe at the bottom of this post and used it to line cupcake cups, filling them with the fruit slurry and topping it all off with a brown sugar glaze on top. Though we're not usually fruit pie fans, this one had enough of a rich kick from the buttery glaze and sour cream that even we were impressed. As seen below, we think JFK approves as well. Of course if you don't care for fruit pies, you could always try to replicate these cookies.
JFK approves
--------------------------------------------------------------
Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake
Johnson's Lemon Cake: Behind every great President is a great First Lady, and behind at least one first lady--Ladybird Johnson--was a great arsenal of awesome cake recipes. We went for one of her (and the President's) favorites--taking a modern twist and making them into cupcakes. The result? A cupcake that is light, fluffy, and simply delicious--so refreshing, it provides a nice foil to all of those other holiday foods!

 

 

Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
What's in the batter?
Icing Ingredients
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
  • 1 lemon, Grated rind only
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons cream (or more, until spreading consistency)
  • Yellow food coloring, if desired

Directions:
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored; blend into creamed mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; resift 3 times. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with milk. Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

 

Add vanilla extract, lemon rind and lemon juice; beat 2 minutes. Bake in greased 10-inch Bundt pan in preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. You can also can use three 9-inch round cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Double the frosting recipe for a layer cake.

Lemon Icing
Combine ingredients and beat, adding cream until desired consistency.

Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake (as cupcakes)
--------------------------------------------------------------
Tassies
Jimmy Carter's Pecan Toffee Tassies: Now, Jimmy Carter did have holiday meals at the White House, duh, but even more importantly, he was the first Presidential figure to ever bake with Paula Deen--so we'd say that these cookies are a step above. We'd serve these at any Christmas party. Ours were stickier and less pretty than Paula's, but man, were they rich and delicious. Needless to say, they disappeared really fast.

Pecan Toffee Tassies (Via Paula Deen)

 

  • 1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 (10-ounce) package almond brickle chips
  • Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Unroll the piecrusts onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into 2 (15-inch) circles. Cut out 48 circles using a 1 3/4-inch fluted or round cookie cutter, re-rolling dough as needed. Place in 1 3/4-inch muffin pans, pressing on the bottoms and up the sides of each of the mini-muffin cups. Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, flour, and eggs in a large bowl, mixing well. Add the vanilla. Stir in the pecans and brickle chips. Spoon the pecan filling evenly into the pie shells. Bake for 25 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned. Cool in pans on wire racks.

--------------------------------------------------------------
Presidential Eggnog
And now, to the modern day. What better to get into the spirit of the holidays than with some holiday spirits? For 11 years spanning the Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies, this eggnog recipe has ruled. In White House Chef, author Walter Scheiber describes how
every year, the holiday season was kicked off with the "running of the 'nog", our playful way of referring to the tour of the House we made with the eggnog (and a riff on the "running of the bulls" from Pamplona, Spain).
What can we say? This is the real deal--it certainly packs a punch, and even if it was just thanksgiving, it certainly put our crew in a celebratory mood. (Though for full disclosure, we didn't have Cognac so just doubled up on the rum. *hic*)
White House Eggnog
  • 5 ounces egg yolks (6-7 yolks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup Cognac
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • 7 ounces egg whites (6-7)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 quart milk, plus more if needed
  • Nutmeg, for serving
  1. Put the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachmen; whip until pale yellow ribbons form, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the cognac, bourbon, and rum, whip well, scrape down the sides, and mix again. Transfer the mixture to a 6-qt bowl.
  3. In separate, clean mixer bowl, whip the egg whites and salt until very stiff peaks form. Fold into eggnog mixture.
  4. Wipe out the mixer bowl, pour in the cream and vanilla, and whip until very stiff peaks form. Fold this into the eggnog mixture. Add the milk and whisk until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Chill, garnish with nutmeg (and cinnamon, in our case!) and enjoy!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yes We Pie
And for the past 25 years or so, apparently one pie has risen above all others in the White House: Raymond Mesnier's Ginger Pumpkin Pie. So we made it--here's one thing we wouldn't mind passing on to the next administration, we must say.

 

 

Presidential Pumpkin Pie With Ginger
Ingredients for the Pie Crust
Makes enough for 2 12-inch pie shells.

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening, plus some for greasing parchment

Recipe for pieProduct Placement?
Ingredients for the Pumpkin Filling
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 18 ounces milk
  • 2 2/3 cups plain canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 baked 12-inch pie shell (recipe below)
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • Candied ginger, finely cut

Directions for the Pie Crust

 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place ingredients in mixing bowl. Then using paddle attachment of an electric mixer, mix until well blended, about 3 minutes.
2. Divide dough in two; shape each into a ball. (Dough balls can be wrapped and frozen.)
3. Roll out on floured surface into a round to fit a 12-inch glass pie plate. Trim crust at edge of plate. (It will be covered with whipped cream.)
4. Prick crust with fork on bottom and sides. Crumple a piece of parchment paper; open up and grease one side of the paper. Place greased side down in crust; fill bottom and a little up the sides with dried beans.
5. Bake 15 minutes; remove from oven, and carefully remove paper and beans. If crust tears, patch it by pressing together with your fingers. Bake another 10 minutes, until crust is brown, and remove. It is not necessary to wait for crust to cool before filling.

Directions for the Pumpkin Pie

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat whole eggs and yolks lightly.
3. Cream sugar and eggs, and beat in salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour into pre-baked pie shell.
4. Bake about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not jiggle. Cool pie on wire rack, then chill.
5. To serve, whip cream and pipe around edge of pie; decorate with candied ginger.

(Eggnog and pumpkin pie Recipes courtesy of Roland Mesnier, Chief White House Pastry Chef, copyright 2001.)
Yes We Pie

 

As for a grand finale? How about a sculpture of Mt. Rushmore rendered in sugar cookie dough and cake? OK, it sounded great in theory--but alas, our chef d'oeuvre turned out to be a major chef don't. And yet...while eating hunks sugar cookie dough molded into a vague visage of a President, one can't help but be slightly dazzled by all that sweetness--regardless of whether the outcome looked more like an unholy mashed potatoes and peas combination. Hey, you win some, you lose some.
Mt Rushmore from sugar cookie dough
In closing? Have a sweet Holiday Season, and thank you again to Foodbuzz for letting us have fun with the 24, 24, 24 project--and do check out the other entries here!

For suggested further reading, check out the sources we used for this post:

Dessert University: More Than 300 Spectacular Recipes and Essential Lessons from White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier
The White House Cook Book : A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home Containing cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner Giving Table, Etiquette, Care of the sick, Health Suggestions, Facts Worth Knowing Etc.
Presidential Tidbits & Trivia by Sid Frank and Arden Davis Melick
The President's Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy
Zimbio.com
Hugging the Coast

 

 

 

Sunday
Sep212008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Sweet Trompe l'oeil

A Sweet Trompe l'oeil
We never understood why tourists went to go see the fish being thrown at the Pike Place Market until one day, when walking by, we saw an errant throw, which resulted in a fish hitting an unsuspecting passerby. All of a sudden we understood--now that's funny. Is there anything more rewarding than a little mischievous fun?

And now that you understand our sense of humor a little bit better, we present our project, done for the "24, 24, 24" Foodbuzz launch: A Sweet Trompe Trompe l'oeil.

What's a trompe l'oeil? The phrase, French in origin, roughly translates to "trick of the eye"; it is often used to refer to a work of art rendered such that is tricks the viewer into believing it is something else.


In our case, the trompe l'oeil was not a painting but foodstuffs, created completely out of cake and sweets, made to resemble a fancy restaurant's menu, and served to a group of unsuspecting dinner guests. They came expecting a sumptuous dinner, which of course they got--but what they didn't know was that it was all comprised of cake, cookies and various sweets! Here's what we served and what they thought:

Egg Cream
Let the games begin: Would you care for a drink?
For something with the fizz of champagne but a super-mega dose of sweetness, we decided to serve Egg Creams!
What it is: An egg cream is a treat first discovered during one of our spies' college years in Brooklyn. Contrary to its name, it contains neither egg nor cream. Its name is shrouded in mystery--some say "egg cream" is a slurring of "chocolat et crème", some say the original recipe actually did include eggs; others say it comes from the Yiddish echt (meaning "genuine" or "real", as in "this drink is the genuine creamy article"). But no matter where it comes from, it is very delicious, and must be consumed immediately after making otherwise it will lose its head and separate (probably why there's never been a mass produced version).
How we did it: Here's the recipe we used, care of What's Cooking America: Now, we know that a *true* Egg Cream can only be made with Fox's U-Bet Syrup, but alas--it is not easily found in Seattle, so we settled for...another brand.
  • Approximately 1/2 cup cold whole milk*
  • 1 cup bottled seltzer
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup**
* Skim or 1% milk won't foam as well
** Fox's U-Bet Chocolate Syrup is used in New York.

 

Pour 1/2 inch of cold milk into a tall soda glass. Add seltzer or club soda to within 1 inch of the top of the glass; stir vigorously with a long spoon (this will cause it to become white and bubbly with a good head of foam).

Very gently pour 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup slowly down the inside of the glass; briskly stir with a long spoon only at the bottom of the glass where the chocolate sits. The resulting drink should have a dark brown bottom and a 1-inch high pure white foam top (if you mix it too much, the foam disappears).

NOTE: Do not let Egg Cream sit for a long period of time-5 minutes or more; it will go flat.

Effectiveness: OK, nobody was fooled by this one, even though we served it out of a repurposed sparkling wine bottle. Also, our crew found the Egg Cream to be...shall we say an acquired taste. Luckily we had some real bubbly on hand to soften the blow.

 

Caviar on toast...made of cake and sprinkles!
A Pinkies-out Appetizer, Perhaps?

At this point, we brought out the appetizers and the bread basket. Let's start with the appetizer.
What it is: "Caviar" made of chocolate sprinkles with crème fraîche (really cream cheese frosting) atop "toast" (cake).
How we did it: Slicing a piece of pound cake, we made sure to use a side piece so that we could get a nice triangle shape; we coated it with a healthy layer of cream cheese frosting for the crème fraîche, and topped it delicately with some chocolate sprinkles (we took care to find the perfect shape--not too oblong--ultimately we found the perfect shape at Seattle's ultimate cake resource, the Home Cake Decorating Supply Co. (they have everything!).
Effectiveness: It worked! While it may not have fooled tasters into believing it was going to be caviar, they did think it would be savory.

Bread and Butter
Well-bread: Time for some carbohydrates!
After enjoying a sweet drink, our guests were presented with the bread basket. Certainly they were ready for some carbs...but a sweet surprise awaited them!

What it is: Various cakes--ranging from cupcake "rolls" garnished with poppyseeds to pound cake (deemed the perfect choice because of its coloring and "crust") with a dab of buttercream "butter".
How we did it: This one was easy; the cupcakes looked like rolls in the basket; the pound cake was just sliced thinly, and the butter(cream) was presented in a butter dish.
Effectiveness: It fooled them! Since we served it at the same time as the "caviar", nobody had yet made the sweet discovery, so they thought this was just "regular" bread. Heh heh.

 

Sweet Salad
The Plot Sweetens: Salad time!

Oh, we're proud of this one.
What it is: A green salad made of "lettuce" made of green mint confectioners chocolate; cookie "tomatoes" and cake "croutons".
How we did it: For the salad, we melted the confectioners chocolate on the stovetop, then spread it in a thick layer on a piece of saran wrap. Fold over saran wrap so that it covers the layer of chocolate; "scrunch up" by hand to spread the chocolate and also to give it a slightly rippled effect. Let cool for about 30 minutes, and remove plastic wrap; voila! Lettuce! ** For more details and pictures, check out this post.
Effectiveness: Once again, nobody was fooled by this one--at least, nobody thought it was real veggies--but nobody was quite certain what it was made from. More importantly though, everyone thought it was pretty much the awesomest salad ever, so we'd consider that a victory.

Steak Cake
Steak CakeCake
A Cake...Steak?
Certainly by this point in the meal everyone's ready for some protein...right? Wrong!
What it is: A cut of steak "cake", made out of a thin slice of spice cake (not for any reason other than we thought it would be a nice flavor variation) covered in rolled fondant and then painted using food coloring; "green beans" comprised of vegan (that is to say, salmonella-free) cookie dough, and a side of "risotto" made of brown rice pudding (made using this recipe for rice pudding.)
How we did it: For the "Steak", we referred to the Confetti Cakes cookbook (check out their blog too!), using its tips for creating a "wood" look on a fondant cake (page 42); we used colors more appropriate to meat, and added a cross-hatch on the top to simulate grill marks. For the green beans, we added four drops of green and one drop of yellow dye to a baseball-sized ball of dough, mixed thoroughly by hand, and rolled out small balls into bean-shapes.
Effectiveness: This main dish was a hit! Serving it to a vegetarian crew, it was easy to pass off as a soy-based meat product, so while nobody thought it was actually meat, tasters dug in expecting a savory soy cutlet or something of the like. Boy, did they have a surprise waiting for them! The green beans were declared a hit (can you really go wrong with cookie dough? far more delicious than marzipan, we think), but the rice pudding was perhaps too sweet (then again, perhaps palates had been numbed by this point?).

Chocolate cake
There's always room for dessert: Cake Time!
What it is: It's a chocolate frosted cake, silly.
How we did it: We made it using this cake and this frosting.
Effectiveness: Our guests were wary by this point, so very little of this cake was eaten (oh well, just more for breakfast!). However, there was at least one plaintive plea for "a piece of celery, some cheese, just anything without sugar, please!". And that, friends, means sweet victory.
Chocolate cake
Thank you to Foodbuzz for giving us the chance to let our creativity run wild on this wonderful experiment and supersweet experience! We're gonna send our dentist charges to you, hope that's OK.

 

© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.