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Friday
Feb282014

How to Make Rock Candy at Home

Homemade rock candy

It's easy, and extremely fun. Learn how to do it here!

Thursday
Feb272014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Cuppie and Pig Unicorn

Pistachio cinnamon buns with passionfruit glaze. Yum!

Portuguese passionfruit pudding. Yum, again.

No matter how you slice it, it's tasty: pistachio pudding cake.

These dinners are actually dessert.

How to make cream puff swans.

Something to love: coffee cakes. Yes.

I still adore Not Martha's magical rainbow cake.

Yumsies: homemade creme eggs. I love Easter candy season.

WOW: white chocolate brownie frozen torte. I want this thing!

Very cool: DIY Cookie cutters!

Ever tried Pavlova? Ever made it?

Raw brownies. I could go there.

Still amazing: cookie cake pie.

Tuesday
Feb252014

DIY Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk

Did you know that you can make your own sweetened condensed milk?

It's true. Provided you have milk, butter, sugar, and a little time, you can make sweetened condensed milk at home. It will not only give you a super sense of accomplishment and a serious something to brag about to your friends, but it also tastes amazing. That means that this homemade sweetened condensed milk will make all manner of recipes sing, from flan to Vietnamese coffee to magic cookie bars. Or, just use it as a particularly decadent dessert topping. Go ahead, you deserve it.

Sweetened Condensed and Evaporated Milk

Homemade sweetened condensed milk also means you have control over your ingredients. Not to show off, BUT, I made mine with home-ground confectioners' sugar, homemade butter, and a great local dairy brand. Trust me, it made a difference. We couldn't stop eating this stuff. 

Yes, the recipe requires quite a bit of time. But it's relatively passive time--you can keep the burner on low, and be working on something else nearby. As long as you can check and stir occasionally, you're good to go. It's a great project for while you're playing Scrabble (you can check the milk when it's not your turn!) or while reading a book on a rainy day.

Sweetened condensed milk

How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk 

  • 2 cups milk (whole will yield the richest and best flavor, in my opinion)
  • 2/3 cup homemade confectioners' sugar (the store bought kind may have cornstarch, which might not incorporate properly) or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Step 1: Place the sugar and milk in a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan. Whisk to combine. Apply medium heat, and stir frequently until the sugar has completely combined and the mixture comes to a low boil.

Step 2: Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting on your stovetop. Add the butter; it should melt fairly rapidly.

Step 3: Now comes the waiting game. Let the mixture hover over this very low heat until it has reduced to a sweetened condensed milk type of syrupy thickness. Check it out every 10 minutes or so to monitor things. Listen--this can take up to 4 hours. 

Sweetened condensed milk

You may find that the amount of the finished liquid is comparable to that in a can of sweetened condensed milk, but be sure to weigh it before using in a recipe--a can holds 14 ounces. Homemade sweetened condensed milk 

Either way, you've got yourself an impressive finished product on your hands. You made sweetened condensed milk! You officially win. 

Sweetened condensed milk

What's your favorite recipe with sweetened condensed milk?

Sunday
Feb232014

Sweet Find: Alchemy, Penestanan, Bali

Photo via Alchemy Bali

I have a confession to make: in Bali, I've been eating...

health food.

You heard me right, but I want to assure you that everything is OK. I haven't abandoned you. Because as it turns out, even health food can be naughty every now and again.

I'm talking raw desserts. They have no leavening, so they're usually nice and dense, often luxuriant with coconut oil as a key ingredient.

And--I know, you wouldn't expect this from me--fresh fruit is amazing here. Stay with me.

The establishment which has inspired my healthy kick is none other than Alchemy, a raw and vegan cafe in Penestanan, a neighboring area to the more famous Ubud. Seriously, everything here is so good.

Alchemy, bali

We'll start with their breakfast parfait bar, OK? You start by picking a type of yogurt or milk, and then get to add on five toppings (you can get more for an up-charge). Alchemy, bali

Choosing is difficult with a rainbow of fruits fresher than I've ever tasted, nuts, muesli, dried fruits, and--my favorite--the raw coconut whipped cream. I don't know how they make that stuff, but I don't care if it's vegan or gluten free or raw: I could eat it by the bucket. 

Alchemy, bali

So here's what you might get after you choose.

Alchemy, bali

Afternoons, they have a full menu and juice bar. Everything is made to order, and incredibly fresh - like, you can taste the trees the fruit came from, and the sweet air of Bali. 

Alchemy, bali

But most importantly, they have a generous case of raw desserts. They are all delightfully dense. This makes me happy, especially when the dessert in question is a smoothly luxuriant chocolate mousse cake or a cacao truffle or even a spirulina slice which looks surprisingly like a Nanaimo bar. 

Here are just a few (photos from their website). All of these desserts are raw.

It's all good, too. The only problem is that they don't do espresso here and gosh that would be nice with these sweet treats. Guess we'll have to leave that to Kué up the street--more on that later. 

And--how cute is this--if you get something small to go, they will wrap it in a banana leaf. It's a good reminder: OMG! You're in Bali! Awesome!

Alchemy, bali

If you don't think you'll be making it to Bali anytime soon, they do have a number of recipes on their site!

Alchemy, Penestanan, Bali. Online here.

Sunday
Feb232014

How to Make Colored and Flavored Sugar

Win at life when you make colored and flavored sugar tailored to your own unique preferences. Here's how to do it.

Friday
Feb212014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

This t-shirt makes me happy. (via Etsy, spied via RecipeGirl)

I'm featured in this article about the Pillsbury Bake-Off in Philadelphia Magazine!

You knew I went to the Bake-Off, right?

Commercial cookie mix hacks: interesting.

Whitman's versus Russel Stover: relevant, even after Valentine's Day.

Buttermilk red velvet doughnuts.

Ice cream sandwiches! Made with crackers! My mind is blown.

How to make flavored and colored sugar.

Just look at this hot chocolate.

It's always the right time for brownie pops.

Five things not to put in a bacon bowl.

Remember that time I went to Paris and visited a patisserie in each arondissement?

Yumsies: mango sticky rice, a Thai sweet.

Wednesday
Feb192014

CakeSpy is in Bali!

Will the sweets be more like this?

Dear, sweet readers,

Not to get all Eat, Pray, Love on you, but by the time you read this, I will be in Bali! I have decided to do a month-long volunteer project with a group called IVHQ wherein I will be acting as a kindergarten teaching assistant. I think I'll do OK--I mean, kids everywhere love art, sweets, and writing, right? 

I decided to stay a few weeks beyond the volunteering to explore, do yoga, and immerse myself in the culinary culture of Indonesia.

How this affects you.

I'll have Wifi though, so while my posting may not be as regular, it will happen.

So that's where you come in, sweeties. Have you ever been to Bali? Do you have any regional specialty food suggestions for me? Cool cooking class suggestions? Or perhaps bakeries or sweet shops which can't be missed? 

Or, maybe you could weigh in by telling me the stuff you're curious about in Bali. Do you want me to write about the unique fruits I find? What the experience of ordering in a bakery is in Bali? Et cetera? 

Let me know, sweeties, because you're coming with me and I want to share the adventure with you.

Love, CakeSpy

Monday
Feb172014

How to Make Doughnuts from Cookie Dough Mix

DSC06332

I have done something so, so naughty. And I'd like to tell you how to do it, too.

The subject of our conversation today, dear ones, is this: how to doctor up cookie dough mix so that you can fry it like doughnuts. And then eat it in all its gooey, rich glory. 

How I got this brilliant idea

I first had this idea shortly after making doughnuts from biscuits in a tube. I thought of how you can make cake mix into pancakes, too, and I was all like, "why can't I do something like this with cookie mix?".  

So I grabbed some cookie dough mix. I used this pumpkin kind, but you could probably try it with any Betty Crocker type.

How I made it happen

So I started out with some cookie mix, and basically followed the instructions (mix with some melted butter and a pasteurized egg--this was important, as the resulting doughnuts were pretty gooey and it was nice to know that I'd killed harmful bacteria)

and then shaped the dough into little rounds and tried to fry 'em in oil. Mission: failure. They melted!

Doughnut cookie

But then, I decided to see what would happen if I froze the dough. So I put the doughnut shaped cookie dough mounds in the freezer for like 2 days. Then I was brave enough to try again.

I heated oil in a frying pan, and then added the freezing cookie doughnut rounds, a few at a time, keeping the rest in their chill.

Cookie Doughnuts

And guess what...this time, it worked. They held their shape long enough to become crisp all over, but with a gooey, oozy interior.

Cookie Doughnuts

Ooey gooey aside, though, they were rather ugly.

Cookie Doughnuts

Don't worry, there's a solution: add glaze and sprinkles! I made a simple confectioners' sugar glaze and added rainbow sprinkles. 

Cookie Doughnut

OK. So here's what you do if you want to give it a try.

Cookie Dough Doughnuts

  • Betty Crocker cookie dough mix, mixed per the package instructions (use a pasteurized egg for safest results)
  • A pan
  • enough vegetable oil to fill the pan about an inch full
  • A spatula
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk, to thin the sugar for a glaze
  • food coloring, if desired
  • sprinkles

Step 1: Mix the cookie dough as specified on the package instructions. Shape the cookie dough into little doughnut shapes. Now, place them on a plate or parchment-lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer for several hours or overnight. 

Step 2: Keep the dough in the freezer, but start fryin' some oil. Place it in the pan and heat it until it hovers between 350 and 375 degrees F. 

Step 3: Add the dough, a few rounds at a time, keeping the rest in the freezer. Fry until it is browned and crispy, then flip the doughnut rounds. It's ok if they slightly melt around the edges, as long as they mostly stay together. Be very gentle when flipping, as they are delicate. 

Step 4: Fry side two, and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot excess oil. Don't put them on a cooling rack because they will melt through (they will be fragile until they set). 

Step 5: Grab more rounds from the freezer and continue frying. Repeat til you've fried 'em all. Let cool.

Step 6: Once set and cool, mix up the confectioners' sugar, enough milk so that it is pourable, and food coloring, if desired. Drizzle over the cookie doughnuts, and immediately garnish with sprinkles (they stick best when the glaze is freshly applied). 

Step 7: Enjoy. Die(t) another day.

Have you ever fried something unexpected for dessert? 

Friday
Feb142014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Thursday
Feb132014

Lovin' in the Oven: Aphrodisiac Foods for Valentine's Day

Make love, not war, in the kitchen Here are some tasty ideas.

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