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Craftsy Writer
Sunday
Mar082015

CakeSpy's Recent Craftsy Posts

Photo via Craftsy blogHow to create beautiful stippled (millions of dots!) drawings

Think you know a lot about buttercream? Prove it by taking the buttercream quiz.

A primer on chicken flatbread sandwiches. Delicious!

Make eating easier: how to cut meat against the grain.

How to paint skin tones.

Roasted avocado slices. Best. Snack. Ever. 

Gluten-free hummingbird cake. So. Good.

Create a beautiful batik-style painting on paper. 

How to pack watercolors for travel. Good because I travel a lot!

Beautiful and inspiring beaded wedding cakes. (pictured top)

Sunday
Mar082015

Last Meal-Worthy: Snickers Cheesecake Recipe

Snickers cheesecake

"If I could only eat one pie for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. It’s so incredibly good!" - so says Roy Fares in the headnote for this recipe, featured in the new book United States of Cakes: Tasty Traditional American Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Baked Goods. I am pretty into this book so far. For one thing, it's beautiful eye candy: I could look at the pictures of cakes and places all day--it speaks to my sweet tooth and wanderlust tendencies.

Now, the title might be a bit misleading - while you might be picturing sweets from sea to shining sea, the book is mostly set in Southern California. The author, Roy Fares, is an international pastry chef celebrity, and on his travels, the Los Angeles area intrigued him quite a bit--so he settled there to bake through some American favorites. It's a beautiful book, but don't expect a book like United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State. DO expect some delicious and decadent desserts, like the one featured below. 

Snickers Cheesecake

Makes 12 pieces

Pie Shell

  • 15 (200 g) graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (100 g) butter
  • 1⁄4 cup (40 g) sugar
  • 11⁄2 tbsp (10 g) cocoa powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp (3 g) salt
  • Cheesecake Filling
  • 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1⁄2 cups (600 g) cream cheese
  • 3⁄4 cup (180 g) sugar
  • 2 tbsp (20 g) all­ purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup (59 mL (50 g)) whipping cream
  • 2 (30 g) egg yolks
  • 2 (110 g) eggs
  • 1 1⁄2 (80 g) Snickers bars
  • 1⁄2 cup (60 g) salted peanuts

Frosting

  • 1 1⁄4 cups (300 g) cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp (15 g) cocoa powder
  • 3⁄4 cups (120 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp (11⁄2 g) vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 cup (50 g) whipping cream

Garnish

  • Pieces of Snickers
  • Salted peanuts
  • Optional, cocoa powder for Dusting

Make the Pie Shell

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius), convection function. Run the cookies in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Melt the butter and add it. Add a little more butter if you think that the mixture is too dry to work with. Line a springform, 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter, with the crumbs, create an edge of about 11⁄2 inches (4 cm) high. Flatten the surface a little with the back of a tablespoon. Bake in the center of the oven for 7 minutes. Allow to cool.

Make the Cheesecake Filling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius), convection function. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and flour in a bowl until fluffy. Whisk in the cream. Fold in the egg yolks one egg at a time with a spatula. Cut the Snickers into pieces and spread them over the bottom of the pie shell along with the peanuts. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the middle of oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (105 degrees Celsius) and bake for 35 minutes (do not open oven door). Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake stand in the heat for another 25 minutes (which reduces the risk of cracking). Remove and let cool completely. Let the cheesecake stand in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, so that it hardens properly. Run a thin knife around the form’s edge before it is removed. Rinse the knife with hot water a few times during that process.

Make the Frosting, and finish up

Mix all the ingredients except the cream in a bowl and whisk until the mixture feels fluffy. Whip in the cream in batches until it becomes a smooth frosting. Pipe or spread the frosting over the cheesecake. Garnish with Snickers chunks and peanuts and, if you like, dust with cocoa powder.

What dessert would you choose if you knew it would be your last meal?

Saturday
Mar072015

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cake

Got eggs, peanut butter and sugar? You could be enjoying this cake in less than an hour. Really. 

It's only three ingredients, but it tastes way fancier. Trust me: try this one. 

Intrigued? Recipe here. 

Friday
Mar062015

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Watercolor batik

Melt or temper? Here's a guide to when to do what. (Baking 911)

Our history is jotted on recipe cards. A sweet essay. (Charlotte News Observer)

Gluten-free hummingbird cake. (Craftsy)

Virtuous no-bake lemon bars. They look delicious, virtue or no! (Sun Diego Eats)

A new book explores the history of nutritional supplements. Interesting! (NY Times)

Opening a young coconut. (Faye's Fork)

Fruity pebble cereal baked doughnuts. (American Heritage Cooking

Cinnamon roll cheesecake? I'm into it. (Life, Love, and Sugar)

Bananas foster bread pudding. YES! (Grandbaby Cakes)

It's a good day to make Nanaimo bars, I think. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Brownies with coconut and matcha swirl. I'd give 'em a whirl. (Mainly Baking)

Awesome, inspiring beaded wedding cakes. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

I am very into these saucepan brownies. (The Cooking of Joy)

Book of the week: Raising Unicorns: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Running a Successful - and Magical! - Unicorn Farm No, not technically a cookbook, but magical enough to bear mention on this site. The description really does it for me: "In this book, author Jessica S. Marquis provides everything you need to know to make a good living as a unicorn farmer. From choosing the right breed (Purebred; Twinkletoe; Karmic; Gigglerump; Horse with Horn) to picking the unicorn farm dream team (an alchemist; stable hands; groomers; The On-Call Virgin (OCV); lawyers), you are guaranteed to have a magical journey."

Wednesday
Mar042015

Giveaway: CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled Life

UPDATE: THE WINNERS!

I have chosen and contacted all of the winners who were chosen at random from the comments on this post and on Facebook - Congratulations!

Winners:

  • Katrina, who chose Biscoff Pop-Tarts 
  • Donna, who chose (good idea) 
  • Mary, who had thoughts of strawberry rhubarb or cafe au lait Pop-Tarts. 

All tasty! Cgongratulations again!

 

--------

Original post:

Hi friends! Happy Wednesday, sugary wishes, etc. Let me get straight to the point: I feel like giving away a few copies of my awesome first book, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

Why? Because if you are what you eat, then we should all eat more awesome and sweet desserts. It will likely make us all better people.

So what do you have to do to enter one of the three copies I am giving away? All you have to do is think about Pop-Tarts. Namely, Pop-Tarts that *should* exist. Like these: 

All you have to do is comment on this post, or on my Facebook page, with an answer to the following important question:

What flavor of Pop-Tart do you think should exist, that doesn't quite yet?

It can be one of the ones that I've drawn on the above illustration, or perhaps a flavor that you've invented in your imagination. 

I'll let you weigh in on this important subject for the next few days, and I'll choose three winners at random on Wednesday, March 11, at 5pm MST. Because shipping overseas is prohibitively expensive, this time the contest is only open to entrants with US shipping addresses. 

Good luck! 

Wednesday
Mar042015

Panettone Monte Cristo Sandwiches

I made something savory. Deal with it.

Monte Cristo sandwich

Well, as savories go, this Monte Cristo-inspired sandwich is sort of a crossover. The traditional sandwich features meat and cheese on bread, which is battered French toast style, toasted, and often served with confectioners' sugar and jam. So it's got one foot in the dessert world, even if technically, it's a savory food. 

Honestly, I don't know why Monte Cristo sandwiches served on panettone aren't a thing. Monte Cristo sandwich The lightly sweet, spongey bread is the absolute perfect carbohydrate for this sandwich: absorbent enough to get crispy and flavorful once toasted with the egg mixture, and with little fruits and bits and bobs which make the whole sandwich more interesting.

If you still think it's totally inappropriate that CakeSpy made something savory, well, I have this to say: you have to warm up for dessert somehow. 

As hybrid foods that span sweet and savory go, this is an indulgent and delicious one. Here's how you make it. 

Monte Cristo sandwich

Panettone Monte Cristo

Makes one large sandwich (suitable for sharing; or, double or triple the recipe)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or water
  • 2 thick slices of panettone (I used Bauli Pandoro Panettone di Milano, and cut "coins" off of the circular loaf)
  • a few slices of ham
  • a few slices of cheese
  • mayonnaise and mustard to taste
  • jam on the side, if desired 

 Procedure 

  1. Mix together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. 
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt a knob of butter in the pan. 
  3. Brush the first slice of pannettone with the egg mixture on both sides, and place it in the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium low. Toast each side until lightly browned, and remove from the pan to a plate on the side. Repeat with the second slice of pannettone. Turn off the heat for the moment.
  4. Monte Cristo sandwich
  5. Once all of the sides of the pannettone are lightly toasted, spread mayonnaise or mustard on one side of each slice. Place whatever fillings you'd like inside, and sandwich the slices together. 
  6. Put the heat back on to medium-low, and melt more butter in the pan if necessary. Place the sandwich in the pan, and toast on either side until nice and toasty, with the cheese melty in the middle.Monte Cristo sandwich 
  7. Remove, and serve in warm wedges. Serve with jam if desired. 

Have you ever tried a Monte Cristo sandwich?

Monday
Mar022015

Italian in Your Mouth: Torta Caprese

Have you ever heard of Torta Caprese? 

Torta Caprese

My sweetheart was enchanted by this recipe in Brooks Headley's book Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts: The Recipes of Del Posto’s James Beard Award–Winning Pastry Chef. So...well, he made it. And we ate it. And I want to tell you that it is worth your time. 

According to the book, Torta Caprese is an Italian sweet, named for the island of Capri. This is a traditional version that gets its structure from "walnuts and the superpowers of egg whites". 

It's a very thin brownie, so we decided it was better to serve them in little short stacks, like the one pictured (five brownies at once? How American!). Since they're so thin, it's really like making a DIY layer cake. 

Torta Caprese

Every flavor shines in this recipe, so it's a good time to bring out quality ingredients: basically, your brownies will taste as good as the chocolate you use. 

It's also naturally gluten free, "making it perfect for passover, or for that friend who is not eating gluten, for whatever very real or totally imagined reason."

Torta Caprese

Torta Caprese

Only slightly adapted from Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts: The Recipes of Del Posto’s James Beard Award–Winning Pastry Chef.

Yield: 1 baking sheet of brownies

  • Bittersweet chocolate, very best quality, chopped, 1 1/2 cups (200 grams)
  • Walnuts, chopped, 1 3/4 cups (200 grams)
  • Sugar, 3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup (150 grams plus 50 grams) 
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon * (4 grams) - note, original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons
  • Unsalted butter, 2/3 cup (or, 1 1/3 sticks) (155 grams), melted
  • Eggs, 4, separated

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the chocolate, walnuts, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt, until you have chunks of chocolate and walnut that are not huge but not totally obliterated either. You don't want a paste. Avoid that.
  3. Torta caprese
  4. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix well with a rubber spatula. Add the egg yolks, and stir to combine. Set the chocolate mixture to the side. 
  5. Torta caprese
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed, slowly adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beating continuously until the whites have a meringue-like texture. Do not overbeat.
  7. Torta caprese
  8. Fold the egg whites gently into the chocolate mixture, and pour the batter on to the prepared baking sheet. 
  9. Torta Caprese
  10. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  11. Torta Caprese
  12. Let the cake cool in the pan, and cut into chunks. This also freezes beautifully, and will last up to 2 months. Just thaw and serve.
  13. Torta Caprese

How many slices would you stack for dessert?

Sunday
Mar012015

Gluten-Free Hummingbird Cake Recipe

I have to tell you, guys and dolls: I am proud of this one. I made a gluten-free hummingbird cake!

You'll never miss the gluten in this one: it's rich, banana-y and best of all, coated in delicious cream cheese frosting. 

Check it: recipe here. 

Saturday
Feb282015

Greek Yogurt Cake Frosting

Buttercream is amazing stuff. I mean, no part of the word is wrong: it's composed of equal parts "butter" and "cream". And the actual substance is great, too: butter, confectioners' sugar, a little cream, and sometimes even pink coloring. 

Yes, I love buttercream. But today I've got to tell you that it's not the only frosting.

Greek yogurt cake frosting deserves your love, too. I would consider this more like a cream cheese frosting in that it has a tang, but the greek yogurt version has a unique texture, which is almost like a soft fondant, that makes it a fascinating food experience. I say you give it a try.

Get the recipe for greek yogurt cake frosting.

Friday
Feb272015

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Look at this thing I ate in New Jersey. Read about it (and more). (CakeSpy)

Art related: what is gouache and how do you use it? (Craftsy)

Cherry-chocolate bombe dessert. You must see this! (Cherry Tea Cakes)

Snickers Poke Cake. Yes, Yes, Yes. (Crazy For Crust)

Gooey filled brownies. OMG. (Handle the Heat)

Chocolate Italian Love Cake. (Chew Nibble Nosh)

Purple sweet potato bao. Adorable! (Everybody Eats Well)

Stippling. What is it? How can you use it to draw cake? Find out here. (Craftsy)

A fun guide to tempering chocolate. (The Guardian)

Expert bakers share their secrets (Good Food AU)

Will the Oscars give Pump Street Bakery (mentioned in an acceptance speech) a sales boost? (Wall Street Journal)

Buckeye brownie cookies. Yes. (Tastes of Lizzy)

Neapolitan seven layer bars. #winning (The Domestic Rebel)

Homemade Vanilla Kreme Donuts a la Dunkin'!. (CakeSpy)

Book of the week: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. Not only is the book beautiful, but the cookie recipes are all 100% solid, and there are some great general baking tips in the book so that you can become a more skilled baker overall. 

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