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Entries in holidays (51)

Wednesday
Nov042009

Gingerbread, Man: A Sweet Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Julia

Gingerbread cake, c/o Cake Gumshoe Julia
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post and recipe from Cake Gumshoe Julia, a 26 old wife, exercise fiend, and baking enthusiast. She is always looking for ways to make recipes healthier and to enhance the fresh flavor (without losing deliciousness!). It can't always be done, but if it can be, then she will do it!  Her writing can be find at her site, Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body.

Ever since I made the Ultimate Ginger Cookies a few days ago I have been craving gingerbread. I can't get it off my mind. What the heck, I figured--I should probably just make some. So when 5:15 am came Saturday morning I decided that was the perfect time to start my baking.

Things started out with a measure of uncertainty: the batter seemed a little too sweet and runny; I didn't know how the baked product would turn out. It was my first time in years to make gingerbread; I have been so focused on pumpkin and mint the past few fall seasons that I nearly forgot about gingerbread. But not this year, my friends. Gingerbread is reining supreme so far in Autumn 2009. And since this bread uses no oil or butter and even has some whole wheat flour, it's practically health food.

When the bread puffed up perfectly, I was so happy. And then when I tasted it, oh my word, success! The lemon is sort of an odd component to add to the cake, but it gives it an extra freshness. You could use orange as well and that would be wonderful. But don't omit the lemon!
Gingerbread cake, c/o Cake Gumshoe Julia
Gingerbread Cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup (105 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 cup 1% milk (you can use non-fat or whole also)

Procedure
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Grease your pan of choice with non stick spray. Note: You have a variety of pan options: 24 Cupcake Pan (bake for only about 20 minutes) - 9 inch loaf pan - 9 inch round cake pan (bake for about 30-35 minutes). Set aside.
  2. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl of your electric mixer, beat the applesauce and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and molasses and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients and milk, alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing cake from pan. Let cool completely and then frost (I just used chocolate frosting from a can for the little cake. Remember, it was 5:15 Saturday morning. Making gingerbread was enough of an accomplishment that early).

Wednesday
Oct282009

Sweet Tart: Cranberry Bourbon Pecan Pie

Cranberry Bourbon Pecan Pie
Emily Post is probably frowning at me (tastefully, unobtrusively) from the great beyond for mentioning a holiday pie before Halloween is even over, but trust me: this one is worth the breach in etiquette.

The backstory? Not long ago, I sampled an absolutely delicious walnut-caramel-cranberry bar cookie in Chicago, and instantly I knew I had found a hit: the sweetness of the sugary nut mixture was perfectly paired by the tart cranberries. I had a feeling that it would translate beautifully to Pecan Pie.

So when I encountered the Bourbon Pecan Pie in the brand new (and so worth buying!) Grand Central Baking Book by local legend Grand Central Bakery (remember my adventure with early morning baking there?), I knew I had found the ideal recipe for my cranberry hypothesis.

Well, this spy is happy to report that it worked beautifully. Adding a generous handful of tart cranberries (I know! Fruit!) to the Bourbon Pecan Pie worked on two levels: first, it tempered the extreme sweetness of the pecan-sugar-corn syrup mixture; second, it added a refreshing tang to the fiery, warming bourbon.

Want some for yourself? Here's the recipe.
Cranberry Bourbon Pecan Pie
Bourbon Pecan Pie with Cranberries
-adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book-

 

  • 1 single pie crust, blind baked (ingredients below) 
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, lightly toasted
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used apple juice-sweetened; if possible, use the least sweet version you can!)


Rather Thick Single Pie Crust (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pcs., very cold
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cold water

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pie crust. Put the flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks grainy. Then slowly, while pulsing, add the water until you can form the dough by pressing it between your fingers. Note: this can be done by hand as well. Decant the loose dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap, fold the loose dough towards the middle and press with the back of your hands to form dough. Wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before using. Dough can be made ahead for up to one week. Before you're ready to bake this pie, blind-bake the pie crust for about 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees F.
  2. Ready to make the pie? Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F., baby!
  3. When you're ready to Prepare the filling. Put the corn syrup and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the butter, bourbon and vanilla. Let the mixture cool, and then add the eggs and whisk until smooth (don't add the eggs while the mixture is still very hot, otherwise you'll have scrambled eggs!).
  4. Fill and bake the pie. Arrange the pecans and cranberries on the bottom of the crust. Carefully pour the filling over them (some will rise to the top, like magic!). Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the filling is set; rotate the pan halfway through baking time. This pie allegedly serves about 8--however, what the recipe does not mention is that the 8 servings may be the same 2 people four times in one day.

 

Tuesday
Oct202009

Seriously Sweet: Frida Kahlo's Pan de Muerto for Serious Eats

Frida Kahlo Pan de Muerto
Ever found yourself lamenting the fact that there aren't more baked goods with unibrows?

Well, lament no more: check out Frida Kahlo's Pan de Muerto recipe from this week's CakeSpy entry on Serious Eats. I discovered the recipe in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle, but made it even awesomer by decorating the mini loaves to actually resemble the famous artist.

Pan de Muerto itself has an interesting history, by the way--you can check it out here.

For the full recipe and decorating tips, visit Serious Eats.

Friday
Jul032009

Snap, Crackle and Pop Rocks: Explosively Delicious Fourth of July Cookies

 

Pop Rocks Cookies: Tastes Like America.

Sure, you can make red, white and blue treats for the 4th of July. But how can you really American 'em up for the holiday?

 

You need to add explosions.
Pop RocksPop Rocks

Like a summer blockbuster movie, these cookies are chock full of explosions: they're both infused and garnished liberally with Pop Rocks. This not only makes them crackle like fireworks but also pays homage to that other all-consuming american obsession: truly trashy candy (and I say this in the most loving way possible).

So--are you ready to make your fourth of July extreme?

Here's how you do it.

Pop Rocks Sugar Cookies (based on this recipe from the King Arthur Flour site)

1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) butter
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar till smooth. Add the buttermilk and vanilla, again beating till well-combined. The mixture may look a bit curdled; that's OK.

Add the nutmeg, flour, baking soda and salt to the wet ingredients, and beat until the mixture forms a cohesive dough.
Red, White, blue.
Divide into three parts, mixing one part with blue food coloring (a lot!), one part with red (also a lot) and leave one part plain. This way, you can have a mix of red, white and blue.
Pop Rocks Cookies
At this point, you'll want to break into those Pop Rocks. I put a nice little handful of red (strawberry) and blue (raspberry) into the corresponding balls of dough (you could do a mix in the white dough).

Drop the dough in round blobs onto a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. They should be a bit bigger than a ping-pong ball, a bit smaller than a golf ball. Using a cookie scoop (or, if you have one, a small ice cream scoop, one that will hold about 2 level tablespoons of liquid) makes this task extremely simple. Leave about 2 inches between the dough balls, as they'll spread as they bake.

Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for about 12-14 minutes, or when they are just starting to brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. While you're waiting for them to cool, you'll want to take a small bowl and mix the leftover pop rocks with whatever red, white and blue sprinkles you've got around. Once cool, either top with a generous dollop of frosting (I used cream cheese, below) or put a dollop between two cookies for a sandwich. If you've just frosted the top of the cookie, apply sprinkle mixture to the top or dip it into the bowl if the frosting consistency allows for it; for the sandwiches, you can dip the sides in the bowl so that they pick up the sprinkle mixture.
Sprinkles on the sandwiches

Cream Cheese Frosting (from Slashfood)

Beat 8 oz. cold cream cheese (not rock solid, but it means you can use it straight out of the refrigerator) with 5 Tbsp. softened butter and 2 tsp. vanilla until combined. Gradually add 2 c. powdered sugar that has been sifted after measuring. Continue to add more sifted powdered sugar until you reach a consistency and sweetness that fits your taste.

Sprinkles
Sprinkle mixture

I used two half-pouches of Pop Rocks (what was left after I folded some into the dough) and a mix of some other red, white and blue sprinkles I happened to have around.


Pop Rocks Cookies
Mmm, tastes like America.

 

Thursday
May072009

Sugar Mama: An Ode to the Sweetest Mom Ever

Illustration by my amazing mom
People frequently ask me what inspired me to start CakeSpy.com. What in the world could have contributed to such a deep interest (bordering on obsession) in cake that someone would devote their life to eating, researching, writing about, and illustrating it?

Well, as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree--or in this case, the crumb doesn't fall far from the cake.
That is to say--blame it on my mom. 
My mother, Margie Moore, is just about the coolest person there is. Growing up, for every birthday we had an amazing cake. None of this store-bought sheet cake business, no sir--we always had some sort of multi-tiered pink confection that put even wedding cakes to shame--like this one:

Cake from Above
Of course, making cakes like this was a time consuming ordeal, and very trying on the rest of the family as we were unable to indulge right away. So to stave off our sticky fingers, she'd always make a little something extra with the leftover cake batter: a batch of festively frosted cupcakes:

 

Cupcakes in a Row

...now, don't these look familiar? After all, they're the inspiration for a little cupcake character you've come to know and love.


Cup-bunny meets Cuppie

 

But wait--there's more. My mom is not merely a sugar enabler--she's also a renowned children's book illustrator. And yes--cake and sweets often play a role in her illustrative work, in books such as Ruby Bakes a Cake, A Horse's Tale: A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure, Bear of My Heart and many more.
Illustration by my amazing mom

Happy Mother's Day to the sweetest mom, like, ever.

To check out Margie Moore's illustration work, visit margiemooreillustration.com. 
For Margie Moore's birthday cake recipe, click here.

 

Monday
Dec222008

The True Meaning of Christmas (Cookies, That Is)

Christmas cookies
What is a Christmas cookie?

Is this a trick question? Perhaps.

Cookie ShotsChristmas Cookies
On the one hand, you may think that a Christmas cookie is one that you make (and eat) around Christmastime. But is that all there is to it? Because certainly Christmas cookies aren't just a result of everyday recipes dressed up with red and green sprinkles or dye, are they? It seems to us that certain cookies, while available at other times of year, proliferate around the holiday season--spritz cookies, gingerbread, cutout sugar cookies, for instance. In addition, how is it that nearly every family has a unique collection of cookies--ranging from bonbons to melt-in-your-mouth meringues to Rum balls--that only come out around the holidays?


Christmas cookies from our neighbors
To discover the true meaning of Christmas (cookies), we had to look back--way back--in time. Now, it's no secret that sweets have been part of holiday rituals since long before Christmas was a declared a holiday (which was in 1870, in case you were wondering). But according to Foodtimeline.org, it was a combination of Eastern spices and European flair that contributed to the cookie's success:
Gingerbread Men
Ancient cooks prepared sweet baked goods to mark significant occasions. Many of these recipes and ingredients (cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds, dried fruits etc.) were introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages. They were highly prized and quickly incorporated into European baked goods. Christmas cookies, as we know them today, trace their roots to these Medieval European recipes. Dutch and German settlers introduced cookie cutters, decorative molds, and festive holiday decorations to America. German lebkuchen (gingerbread) was probably the first cake/cookie traditionally associated with Christmas.
Naturally, cookies lend themselves very nicely to cookie cutters, which we would surmise is one reason why they tended to stick around as a Christmas tradition--not to mention that they have a long shelf life, travel well, and are made in larger batches that imply bounty (that is to say, even though 24 cookies and one cake may have the same surface mass, the number of items can fool us into feeling as if there is more to share).
Of course, the article goes on to state that sugar cookie type recipes descended from English traditions; perhaps their trip over the Atlantic was the inspiration for Animal Crackers, which were originally designed as Christmas ornaments
The best sugar cookies...EVER
While the tradition of Christmas cookies may have its roots in Medieval Europe, and while we may associate some cookies with the holidays more than others, it's also true that Christmas cookie recipes today come from all over the world--it would not be unusual to see German Lebkuchen, Scottish Shortbread, Italian Pizzelles and all-American Cornflake wreaths sharing the same plate. Why so? Well, we surmise that it's an illustration of evolution--as people immigrated and adapted, naturally they would want to honor their culture's recipes with the Christmas cookie tradition. While this may blur the boundaries of what is a Christmas cookie and what is just a cookie, it certainly does make the variety and joy of discovery at holiday parties a whole lot more fun. 

Sugar SkatesChristmas cookies with matcha glaze by MPG
And of course, it makes us all better able to add a few more recipes to our arsenal--as well as experiment--each year, sometimes with delicious results

Bonbon Cookies in pink!
But what of the US tradition of leaving cookies for Santa, you may be asking? Well, to us, that one's easy--clearly, Santa (whoever he or she is) wants a midnight snack. Duh.


Want more?

  • For a by-country list of Christmas cookies, visit christmas-cookies.com (though we didn't recognize any of the US ones!)
  • For more information about Christmas cookies in history, visit The Food Timeline.

 

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

 

 

 

Friday
Nov282008

Shake it Up: The Lovely and Amazing Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

Pumpkin Pie Shake
There's a lot of attention given to Thanksgiving Leftovers. From smashed potato cakes to stuffing fritters to creative recipes that go far beyond the standby turkey sandwich, the leftovers are sometimes even more coveted than the feast itself.

However, never until this year had we ever had to worry about leftover Pumpkin Pie. In general, it gets--wait for it--gobbled up straightaway.
However, this year, having made not one but four different pies (more about that in a few days), we suddenly did find ourselves with leftovers. While steaming milk for coffee this morning, suddenly we had a memory of recently having read about a gorgeous-sounding apple pie shake in John T. Edge's Apple Pie book; why not try it with some pumpkin pie?
Now, we're certain that there are a zillion different variations that you could use, but here's what we did--and man, was it delicious.
  • 6 ounces unsweetened soy milk (we're sure dairy milk would be fine too, this just happened to be what we had)
  • Dash of soy creamer
  • small handful mini marshmallows
  • 1 small slice pumpkin pie (we used one on which the crust measured about 2 inches)
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste
  • Leftover PiePumpkin Pie Shake
  1. In a small saucepan, warm soy milk and creamer; once warm, add marshmallows and continue to warm (but not boil) until marshmallows are fully melted. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or spices to taste.
  2. Place pie slice in blender.
  3. Pour liquid mixture over pie slice, and add ice cubes
  4. Blend until smooth

Pumpkin Pie Shake
Try to drink slowly; inevitably, it will be so delicious that you'll get brain freeze. Wait it out, then repeat. It's sure to give you energy for all that shopping you've got to do.

 


 

 

Sunday
Jul132008

French Toast: A Salute to Our Favorite Parisian Things for Bastille Day

Paris, je t'aime
For serious Francophiles, July 14 is the most wonderful time of year: Bastille Day. Well, Bastille Day itself may be a celebration of the anniversary of a très bloody uprising, but we're choosing to celebrate the day in a far less visceral and much sweeter way: by celebrating all of our favorite things Parisian and pastry related! And so, here's a little parade of ten of our favorite Frenchie things, from pastries to places and experiences:

(Cakespy Note: OK, so our list of loves is pretty central to Paris, probably because that's the only place in France we've ever been.)
Part 1: Five French Pastries We Adore

 
1. Religieuse Experience: The first ever pastry we tried in Paris was the Religieuse. An iconic-looking pastry, the Religieuse is apparently named for its resemblance to a nun's habit, although we're not sure if there is any further religious association with its invention. What we do know is that the fancy eclairs, which can be filled with various fillings, are exceedingly delicious and beautiful. Also, for lovers of the religieuse and cupcakes, run, don't walk, for this fantastic wallpaper which we discovered through Chocolate & Zucchini. (Religieuse, pictured left, from Laduree's site). 

2. Debutante Divorcé: The second pastry we tried in France was the Divorcé. Though its name would infer separations, we think it's probably more of a heavenly marriage of flavors: though some variations existed, our favorite was an eclair-ish pastry topped with half-chocolate, half-coffee icing, and then inside the pastry, beneath the chocolate iced section there is coffee cream, and beneath the coffee icing there is chocolate cream. Mon dieu! (Photo left, from a flickr pool).



Luxem-bourgers meet a real BurgerMacarons, Le Panier, Pike Place Market
 
3. Mac Daddy: Naturally, the macaron plays a big role in our French dreams. What could be Frenchier than those sweet little burger-cookies? (For more on the dear treats, check out this previous posting).
Napoleon, Zabar's, NYCNapoleons at La Bergamote
4. Grosses Bises for the Mille-feuille: This pastry is also known as the "Napoleon"--but although it's a mighty little bite, it's said by some that it's not actually named for Monsieur Bonaparte, but instead is named after Naples the city, where it is said to have been invented. What in the world is a mille-feuille though? According to Wikipedia,
The Mille-feuille (French 'thousand sheets'), Napoleon (U.S.), vanilla slice, cream slice or custard slice (Commonwealth countries) is a pastry made of several layers of puff pastry alternating with a sweet filling, typically pastry cream, but sometimes whipped cream, or jam. It is usually glazed with icing or fondant in alternating white and brown (chocolate) strips, and combed. The name is also written as "millefeuille" and "mille feuille".

The St. Honore Pastry
5. Chiboust, a Coup de Coeur: ah, the Gâteau Saint-Honoré. It's a cake "named for the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré or Honoratus (d. 600 AD), bishop of Amiens"-- but really what gets us excited is the creme filling, named after the pastry chef who invented it circa 1846: "Crème Chiboust, also called Crème Saint-Honoré, is a crème pâtissière (pastry cream) lightened with whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg whites"...this pastry cream is the stuff of dreams, light and rich all at once, not too-sweet; and when contrasted by the perfect pastry crust, not a taste easily forgotten. (Picture shown: individual Saint Honore pastry).

 

 

Part 2: Five Frenchie Things and Places We Adore:
1. Boulangeries et Pâtisseries: As a general cultural note, any country that is advanced enough to have two genres of bakeries is really just fine by us. So what is the difference between the two types of French bakery? A Boulangerie is where you'd got to get your baguette; a Pâtisserie is where you'd go for an eclair or tarte au citron. There can be crossover of course, but in our minds, it's the Boulangerie for carbtastic treats; the Pâtisserie for creamy and chocolatey treats.
Pastries hanging out at Laduree in Paris
2. Lovely Laduree: A simple visit to the Laduree website is like a mini-escape from real life--but a visit in person to one of the venerable Paris teahouses is like going into an Alice in Wonderland world. No, they're certainly not cheap, but can you really put a price on true magic? Multiple locations; online at laduree.fr.
3. Bagels and Brownies: Yes, this is an actual place in Paris. When we came across it, we were...intrigued. Tucked in a side street near the Alliance Française, there was a line out the door every day for this purveyor of American-style treats, including jumbo cookies, blondies, doughnuts and, bien sur, their namesake items. So how was the Parisian take on American baked goods?Heartbreakingly delicious, and most certainly not low-fat. Parfait. Bagels and Brownies, 12, Rue N D des Champs, 75006 Paris, France; +33 1 42 22 44 15‎.

L'Opera
4. Pastries on the Rue de L'U: One of our more memorable experiences was a trip to the Rue de L'Universite, which to any hardcore foodie is not merely a street, but The Street Where Julia Child Lived. As a tribute to the dearly departed Julia, we picked up an Opera cake and ate it (daintily, with a fork) while strolling down the Rue De "Loo" as she called it--we think Julia would have liked the idea of Cake Gumshoes making a pilgrimage to her old 'hood, especially with chocolate and gold leaf smeared on our faces.
5. Markets, Markets, Markets: From the ginormous Le Bon Marche to the enchanting street markets (check out a list here), markets are part of the romance of Paris, and in our opinion they live up to the reputation and then some. Who wouldn't love to be walking down the street with a fresh baguette, tearing off the top for the first bite, like a native? Le sigh.

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Jul032008

Happy and Sweet: Have the Best 4th of July Ever, From Cakespy

4th of July trompe-l'œil

It's time for a Cakespy Confession: we don't like holidays
The traffic's bad. The crowds are obnoxious. And all of our favorite bakeries are closed for the day. 
Cupcake Burger
However, what we do love is sweet stuff, and causing mischief--and so, in an effort to make the 4th of July more fun, we've concocted some trompe-l'œil treats to make this 4th of July the sweetest one yet! 
Here's what we suggest this Fourth of July:

For the main course, why not try a sweetburger? Ours were made by slicing an unfrosted cupcake in half, and inserting a round of "patty" of chocolatey goodness cut from a brownie, and instead of healthy lettuce, a healthy dollop of vanilla buttercream with a drop of green food dye. We garnished the top of the cupcake "bun" with some chocolate sprinkles, adhered with sugar water. 
Twinkie Hot Dog
If you're not a burger person, perhaps you'd go for a Twinkie "Hot Dog"? (Cakespy Note: Anyone who's seen UHF will appreciate this one, we hope.) We made ours by first slicing a twinkie lengthwise (but leaving it connected at the bottom, so it would resemble a hot dog bun), then inserting sugar cookie halves so that the slightly browned edges showed outward (though we think a log of cookie dough would do as well!). We then covered up the "gap" between cookie halves with a pipe of yellow frosting. So bad, but so good. 


And as for side dishes? Ours are tooth-numbingly sweet, comprising 
4th of July trompe-l'œil
of a Faux-tato Potato Salad--a melange of coconut flakes and white chocolate chips held together with a thick dollop of vanilla buttercream--and, of course, no 4th of July would be complete without some baked beans--Boston Baked Beans, that is, straight from the package. 
Of course, if all else fails, just pour a package or ten of Pop Rocks into a batch of cupcakes and their frosting--just like fireworks in your mouth!
Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

 

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