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Sunday
Oct052014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Grizzly Bear Claws

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events).
 

Gerald Martinez of Westminster, Colorado deserves an award: for the cutest pastry name in the running at this year's Bake-Off! Not that it's that different from "bear claw", but somehow the "grizzly" referring to a flaky coating of coconut makes me coo. That's cute! Plus, the pastries are a fine way to start the morning, made from biscuit dough reconfigured and filled with a date-nut mixture. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Grizzly Bear Claws

  • Prep Time: 25 Min Total
  • Time: 50 Min
  • Makes: 5 bear claws

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 large orange (1 tablespoon grated peel and 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons juice)
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3
  • cup finely chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup Jif® Creamy Almond Butter 1can Pillsbury Grands Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (5 biscuits)

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line large cookie sheet with Reynolds® Parchment Paper. In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the orange juice with whisk until smooth; set aside. In another small bowl, mix coconut and almonds; set aside. 
  2. In medium bowl, mix dates and 1 tablespoon of the orange juice. Stir in almond butter, orange peel and remaining 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Set aside. 
  3. Separate dough into 5 biscuits; press each biscuit to form 7x3 1/2-inch oval. Spoon about 2 tablespoons date filling on one half of each biscuit oval. Spread filling to center, 1 inch from short end and 1/4 inch from sides. Fold dough in half over filling; bringing top edge of dough even with bottom edge. Press edges firmly to seal. 
  4. Place biscuits 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Using sharp knife or kitchen scissors, make four 1-inch cuts, 1 inch apart on sealed end of biscuit. Gently stretch each section between cuts to form claw shape. Brush tops of biscuits with reserved orange glaze; sprinkle evenly with reserved coconut mixture. 
  5. Bake 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and coconut is toasted. Cool 2 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
Saturday
Oct042014

How to Keep Your Cakes From Falling in the Center

There aren't many bigger bummers than baking a perfect, beautiful cake and then having it fall in the center. I wrote a great article for Craftsy about some of the causes, and how to keep it from happening. Read the full article here!

Saturday
Oct042014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Easy Double-Chocolate Brownies

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

The list of things in the world that are better than home-baked brownies...well, it isn't a very long list.

Make them easy to create using just seven ingredients, and make them gluten-free to boot, and you've got a treat that will please many palates. Thank you for the recipe, Michelle Matoba of Fair Oaks, California...and good luck at the Bake-Off!

Easy Double-Chocolate Brownies

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 20 Min
  • Makes: 24 brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 13x9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add remaining ingredients; beat with electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes or until well blended. Spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 22 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 30 minutes. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.
Saturday
Oct042014

Coconut Pistachio Gateau with Marzipan Filling

Photo via The Everyday Art of Gluten-FreeI'm not anti-gluten; I'm pro-delicious. This cake happens to be gluten-free, but that doesn't stop me, because just look at the thing. It is a guest post featuring a recipe from The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends. It is inspired by a recipe from Austin pastry chef Sandy Reinlie, a "genius" when it comes to combining flavors. 

Coconut Pistachio Gateau with Marzipan Filling

For the cake

  • 2 1/2 cups "cake and muffin" blend (link here)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • scant 1 cup finely ground roasted salted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pure olive oil
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the icing

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the marzipan filling

  •  1 pound gluten-free almond paste
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • green food coloring (optional)
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Garnish

 

  • 2 cups salted pistachios, chopped
  • toasted coconut

Procedure

  1. Start by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour blend, sugar, pistachios, cornstarch, and baking powder. Beat briefly to combine. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg yolks, sour cream, and extracts until very smooth. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients in a slow, steady stream. Beat the batter on high for one minute, or until thick and smooth. Add the shredded coconut and mix until just combined.
  4. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they attain stiff peaks. Using a wooden spoon, fold this mixture into the batter until there are no more white clumps remaining.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top cracks slightly and the edges have pulled away from the sides.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least an hour.
  7. Make the icing now. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over medium high heat. Bring the syrup to a boil, whisking to make sure the sugar dissolves, and cook until the temperature registers 239 F (115 C, soft ball stage) on the thermometer. This will take several minutes. 
  8. Meanwhile, in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until opaque and frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high until the whites are thick and foamy.
  9. With the mixer on high speed, pour the hot sugar syrup into the whipping egg whites in a slow, steady stream being careful to keep the hot syrup between the bowl and whisk to prevent sprays of sugar on your skin or beautiful face. Beat the meringue for 7 minutes, or until the egg whites are very shiny and hold deep folds. The mixer should be cool to the touch on the bottom. Beat in the vanilla just til combined. 
  10. Make the filling. In a food processor fitted with the "s" blade, combine the almond paste with the corn syrup and one to two drops of the food coloring, if using. Mix them until the paste is very smooth. If the almond paste is crumbly, add a bit more corn syrup, a teaspoon at a time, until it folds in on itself. 
  11. Lightly dust your work surface with confectioners' sugar. Turn out the marzipan mixture and roll it into a circle 1/4 inch thick and 11 inches in diameter.
  12. Assemble the thing. Invert the cooled cake onto a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper. Wrap a thread or piece of unflavored dental floss around the circumference of the cake, halfway from top to bottom, and draw the floss tight, using it to cut the cake in two layers (or do it the normal way with a serrated knife).
  13. Set one layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Place the marzipan disk on top. Dollop 2/3 cup of the icing on to the marzipan and spread it twoard the edges. Top with the second cake layer. Ice the cake with the remaining icing. Press the pistachios on the sides of the cake, and sprinkle the top with toasted coconut. Keep the cake under a cake dome for a few days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

 

Saturday
Oct042014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Salted Caramel-Cashew Cookie Tarts

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

In the recipe headnote, these little morsels are described as "A little bit of sugar cookie. A little bit of cashew butter. A little bit of caramel. A little bit of chocolate. AND a little bit of sea salt in one awesome bite! What's not to love?"

Well, I don't have much to offer in terms of argument there. What is not to love? And to boot, it all comes together to form those little tartlets in just 30 minutes (cooling time is longer, but you can wait, I know you can!). This clever recipe comes from Natalie Morales of Oakley, California. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Salted Caramel-Cashew Cookie Tarts 

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 35 Min
  • Makes: 24 tarts

Ingredients

  • 1 package Pillsbury Ready to Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped salted cashews
  • 1 bag (11 oz) caramel bits
  • 1/2 cup creamy cashew butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In small bowl, place cashews. Coat each cookie dough round with cashews, pressing cashews lightly into dough. Place 1 cookie dough round in each muffin cup; press slightly.
  3. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately press handle of wooden spoon in center of each cookie to make 1-inch wide indentation. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Loosen with tip of knife; gently remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  4. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave caramel bits, cashew butter and 3 tablespoons water uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring once, until mixture can be stirred smooth. Spoon about 1 tablespoon caramel mixture into each cookie cup (cups will be full). Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until caramel mixture is set.
  5. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth. Spoon and spread 1 teaspoon melted chocolate over top of each cookie cup; sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until chocolate is set. Store covered.
Saturday
Oct042014

Pumpkin Pie Croissants

Pumpkin pie croissant, anyone? For an (easy!) recipe and full tutorial, click here.

Friday
Oct032014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Candy corn Boston cream pie!Being thin doesn't feel as good as dessert tastes, and other wisdom.

No idea what the blog post says, but look at this cake. JUST LOOK AT IT.

Dominique Ansel (AKA Cronut Creator) to open a bakery in Tokyo.

Gastropod: an awesome new podcast! The first episode focuses on the history of the fork.

Baby Ruth Vs. Babe Ruth: what's the connection?

HOORAY! Microwave lemon fudge.

Muffins 101. My kind of education.

Using colors to convey motion in your artwork. A wonderful essay by me.

Canning just got easier. Really.

Pumpkin cupcakes with maple frosting. Not that there's anything wrong with cream cheese frosting, but I like this different option.

Keep your cakes from falling in the center! A valuable article.

I was really honored that the James Beard Foundation featured my writeup on "what is pumpkin pie spice?".

"Baking With My Homies" hip-hop inspired cookie cutters.

Book of the week: 175 Best Mini Pie Recipes: Sweet to Savory by Julie Hession. Because seriously, how many moments in life aren't made better with mini pies??

Friday
Oct032014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Bacon Tartlets

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

I must have been tired when I read the description of this recipe by Lenore Klass of Koloa, Hawaii, which goes like this: "Bacon lovers! Serve it up with pastry, chocolate and peanut butter for wild raves."

Why? Because my big takeaways were these: 1. Omigod, she lives in a town called Koala!! I want to live in Koala! and, 2. People still go to raves?

I had visions of Koalas with glo-necklaces, raving out and eating these tarts. Now, as it turns out, I was wrong. Nonetheless, I've made my decision, and just having that vision in my head makes an already magical on its own recipe...even more magical. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Bacon Tartlets

  • Prep Time: 25 Min
  • Total Time: 50 Min
  • Makes: 12 tartlets

Ingredients

  • 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
  • 4 slices packaged precooked bacon (from 2.52-oz package)
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup chocolate fudge creamy ready-to-spread frosting

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Unroll pie crust on work surface. Using 2 1/2-inch fluted round cookie cutter, cut 12 rounds from pie crust. Press 1 round in bottom and 1/4 inch up side of each muffin cup. Prick bottom of each cup 3 times with fork. Bake 8 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cups from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
  3. Place bacon on cookie sheet. Bake 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Cool 5 minutes; finely chop.
  4. In small bowl, beat peanut butter, sugar, butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. Spoon 1 tablespoon chocolate frosting into each cup; spread over bottom and up side of each cup. Spoon or pipe, using 1/2-inch open star tip, about 1 tablespoon peanut butter mixture into each cup; sprinkle with bacon. Store covered in refrigerator.
Friday
Oct032014

Art Skills: Digitally Removing Paper Backgrounds from Your Art

Ever tried removing the paper background from an image in Photoshop, so that you could make a colored background? It can be tricky, but it's not difficult. Here are some tips and tricks for how to do it. Check out the full tutorial on Craftsy!

Friday
Oct032014

Using Watercolor Dyes: A Mini-Guide

Have you ever heard of concentrated watercolors or watercolor dyes? They're vibrant, lovely watercolor inks which can add beautiful color to your artwork. I use them to make the frosting on my (painted) cupcakes bright and colorful. If you love watercolor, they're worth checking out; here's a guide for how to use them in your art

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