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Entries in cakespy mischief (123)

Thursday
May052011

Saltwater Sweetness: Saltwater Taffy Cream Pie Recipe

Now, you may not know this, but I hail from a magical land called New Jersey. And in that magical land, there is a magical snack that gives residents along the shore their secret, magical New Jersey powers. That snack is called Saltwater Taffy (and at this point, no, you are not invited to ask any follow up questions).

Now, the name may be misleading. This taffy doesn't actually contain saltwater, but instead is called such because it was popularized by the shore in Atlantic city in the late 1800s-early 1900s, and has been associated to a close proximity to the sea ever since. Dig?

But what is true is that it is a singular sensation of a confection: mellower and creamier than hard candies, with a texture that begs you to slowly savor rather than suck and bite. 

I don't know about you, but that's all I needed to decide it would make a great addition to a cream pie.

So here it is for you, friends: a modern marvel that I'm calling Saltwater Taffy Cream Pie. YES!

Saltwater Taffy Cream Pie

  • 1 9-inch pie crust (unbaked) - I tried out the Grand Central U-bake Crust, which I recently received a sample of, and it worked great!
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
  • 30 or so taffy candies (about 15 for the filling and as many as you'd like to garnish)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Bake the pie crust 8-12 minutes (using pie weights), or until lightly brown. Set to the side to cool.
  2. In a medium saucepan, mix 1/2 cup sugar and the flour. Add the milk and stir until dissolved. Add the egg yolks and mix very well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened--this was about 15 minutes in total for me. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 15 or so of your taffy candies (um, unwrapped please). They may make bright swirls in the filling, which is...not necessarily pretty or appetizing. Power through it. Cool the mixture, and pour into the prepared pie crust.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer, til stiff but not yet glossy. Sprinkle the cream of tartar and salt on top, and beat lightly. Slowly add the remaining sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla, beating constantly until the meringue forms soft peaks and a nice glossy sheen, kind of like the consistency of shaving cream. Spread over the pie. Reduce oven heat to 325. Bake 8-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. I found that to brown evenly, it helped to shift the plate halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once cool, dot the top with extra taffy, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Monday
Apr042011

Sweet Fusion: Easter Candy Choco Taco Plate Recipe for Serious Eats

It's true, I am a genius.What happens when you combine Easter Candy with a Choco Taco?

Nothing good, that's what. Instead, you have something great. This Easter-themed "taco plate" is fusion at its best, with sweet "tacos" filled with ice cream and all manner of pastel sweets, topped with green-tinted shredded coconut which simultaneously mimics Easter basket grass and shredded lettuce. Bonus points if you serve it up with a side of "rice and beans"—rice pudding studded with jelly beans, of course.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Mar292011

Peanut Buttery Goodness: Chocolate Pasta with Peanut Butter Sauce Recipe for Peanut Butter and Co

Oh, I’m sorry. Are you still eating regular pasta, like a jerk?

Time to get with the program: I’m talking chocolate pasta. It’s readily available online, and it’s well worth the investment.

But even an inherently perfect product like this can stand to become slightly awesomer, and so I propose Chocolate Pasta served with peanut butter cookie “meatballs” and a rich, crunchy peanut butter buttercream sauce. It may not be pretty, but it tastes like heaven on a plate. In fact, the only thing that might make it better is a thick slice of buttered pound cake on the side.

Lastly, this makes a swell April Fools’ dessert for someone or some people you love to have fun with

For the full entry and recipe, visit Peanut Butter and Co.!

Thursday
Mar172011

Taking it to the Sweet: A Parisian Adventure in Seattle

As it was once said in that classic of American cinema known as Singles, "I like to live my life like a French movie, Steve".

Well, I didn't have a Steve on hand, but I did have a willing buddy (Lisa, who is so fashionable), and recently, inspired by a sense of mischief and a desire to have a moment of escape from the Seattle rain, we decided to go to Paris.

Of course, time and money didn't allow us to actually hop a plane, so instead we decided to channel our inner French girls and see if we could find a piece of Paris in Seattle.

On the appointed day, we both wore black and white striped shirts (Lisa wore a beret, for extra points). Lisa arrived at CakeSpy Shop around closing time, and she had red balloons.

We walked through downtown, past Boulangerie Nantaise to the Space Needle, and pretended it was the Eiffel Tower, tossing out our limited repertoire of French phrases, like "C'est Bon!", "C'est Magnifique!", "Sacre bleu!", and, of course, as a shout-out to that Muzzy commercial, "Je suis la jeune fille!".

Next, inspired by the 80's hit "Riding on the Metro", we decided to take the metro--or, you know, the Monorail.

We arrived to Westlake Center, or Les Halles as we preferred to think of it, and then walked past a grand Marche to get some vin rouge and soupe a l'oignon at Le Pichet. (by the way, the waiter did say, "so what's up with the balloons?" to which I was very happy to say, "We're pretending we're in Paris." He then said something in French to me. It sounded lovely, whatever it was he said).

On our way out of the cafe, one of our balloons spied some American Pie.

We then headed back up the hill, where we poetically and tragically let our balloons go, near a church that we deemed the Notre Dame.

By this point it had started to rain and get windy, to which we commented "It's a good thing we're in Paris because in Seattle, this weather would totally suck."

And so ended an evening that was, if not literally, then very much figuratively, totally sweet.

Just a little reminder to allow yourself some sweetness in everyday life! CakeSpy gives you permission to be delighted.

Thursday
Mar102011

Taking It To the Sweet: Have A Sunny Side Up Day, Love CakeSpy

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself with several cutouts of breakfast foods, and one of a robot with a stereo ("leftovers" from the photo shoot for my book, coming out this fall from Sasquatch Books). Now, as you know, having a little handful of cute things like this always inspires me to cause some sweet mischief.

And for no particular reason other than I felt like taking a long walk, was procrastinating, and thought it would be a sweet gesture, I decided to leave them around town in hopes that they might give other people's day a sunny-side-up sort of feeling.

Of course, I let them know who was responsible for their nice day.

This little egg was left on the sidewalk;

This little coffee cup (inspired by the classic NY deli design) declared its love for High 5 Pie on this sticker spied by the retail pie shop;

This one hopes all the news is good news;

This piece of bacon was perched on a piece of street art embedded in the sidewalk near the Pike Street Fish Fry;

This little egg made Good Housekeeping slightly more delicious;

...and this little Lloyd Dobler-inspired robot (not breakfast food, but still cute) decided it was Enough.

Here's to hoping you have a sunny-side-up day!

Saturday
Mar052011

K is for King Cake: A Coloring Book Page Activity for Cake Lovers of All Ages

Have fun with Fat Tuesday with this sweet coloring book / activity page! Not only might you learn something about a traditional Mardi Gras treat, but you can color in your own King Cake and add your own baby! Click on the image below to be directed to a page where you can download the art in a variety of sizes!
Download it for free!
K is for King Cake
The New Orleans descendant of the French Galette des Rois, this yeast-risen cake is characiterized by its rich (usually cream cheese, praline, or both) filling and thick glaze (glaze rather than frosting is ok in this case, because of said rich filling). It crops up in bakeries after the Epiphany, and remains a stock item until Fat Tuesday (a final last hurrah before the restraint of Lent). Oh, and it also has a prize--a feve--usually a little naked baby inside. But approach prize-seeking carefully, ‘cos while whoever finds the prize is declared King, that person is assigned to buy the cake next time.

 

Tuesday
Mar012011

Shake it: Girl Scout Cookie Milkshake Challenge

Today, we're going to talk about a very important subject: which Girl Scout Cookie tastes best when mashed up in milkshake form?

Seriously, this is no lightweight subject. The thing is, we all have our Girl Scout Cookie preferences. But ice cream adds in a whole new texture and taste sensation. How would your favorite react to smooth, dreamy ice cream? Would the flavor hold up? Be improved? Or would it be dulled by the rich, dreamy, creamy stuff?

Only one way to find out. Break out the mixer, baby.

That's right: it's time for a Girl Scout Cookie Milkshake Challenge. Armed with most (but not all) of the cookie flavors, I set out to see which treat would make for the sweetest shake:

To keep the playing field level, I made each shake in the same way: two large scoops of vanilla ice cream, four Girl Scout Cookies, and cream to thin. 

After the batch was prepared, each was sipped and judged on texture, taste, and was assigned some overall thoughts. Here goes:

Lemon Chalet Milkshake:

Taste: Cool and creamy, and very refreshing. Lightly lemony, but more sweet than tart.

Texture: The cookies broke up fairly smoothly into this shake, and the cream filling was reduced to tiny sugarbombs of flavor. These little bombs of sugar were quite pleasant.

Overall thoughts: This cookie was definitely improved by being served in milkshake form. 

Samoas Milkshake:

Taste: The shake took on a nice, chocolatey-caramel flavor from the cookies; the coconut didn't break up very well, though, so the coconut flavor wasn't very well diffused in the shake. All the same, this did not stop it from being gulped right up.

Texture: Alas, the texture was ever so slightly distracting on this shake. The coconut didn't break up very well at all, and was sort of clumpy in the shake.

Overall Thoughts: Good--solidly good. But the texture kept it from being great.

 

Tagalongs Milkshake:

Taste: The chocolate added a great flavor to this shake, and the peanut butter added not a shriek but a whisper of flavor, adding a nice, rich, rounded-out flavor to the creamy vanilla ice cream. It didn't have a chocolate peanut butter cup flavor per se, but came across more like a chocolate shake with a certain je ne sais quoi.

Texture: This cookie worked very nicely in shake form; it broke up evenly, with some little lumps remaining, but they were consistent in texture and were quite nice to chew on as they became saturated with ice cream.

Overall Thoughts: Definitely a top contender, and one that I'd make again.

Thank You Berry Munch Milkshake:

Taste: This one was so-so. The fruit flavor didn't translate very well, tasting less like fruit and more like Froot Loops left to steep in milk. Not a terrible thing, but it definitely tasted artificial.

Texture: Good texture. This cookie is one of the crisper varieties, so it gave the shake small crunchy bits.

Overall Thoughts: Very sweet, but not a very intriguing flavor. 

Thin Mint Milkshake:

Taste: Very pleasant--like mint chocolate chip ice cream. The mint worked nicely with the vanilla; it was the more dominant taste, with the chocolate ably backing it up. The ice cream did tone down the flavor of the cookie a bit, but it was just a tone adjustment, not like hitting mute.

Texture: Small crunchy bits and little pockets of chocolate made this a supremely pleasant shake to enjoy; it was nice to spoon these bits to further the pleasure.

Overall Thoughts: A strong shake indeed, one that changed the flavor of the cookie, but in a nice way.

---------

But before a winner could be declared, I simply had to know what would happen if I put all of the cookies into one super-shake. How was that, you wonder?

 

What, are you surprised that the flavors of a lemon-shortbread-peanut butter-chocolate-coconut-berry cookie shake didn't exactly work harmoniously? I know, me too!

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

The winner: All things considered, I'm going to assign top honors to the Tagalongs shake. Now, interestingly, the Tagalong is not my favorite Girl Scout Cookie, although it's definitely in my top three (Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs, if you must know. Just like the National average!). But in shake form, it definitely worked well--the texture and flavor worked nicely, and each flavor was heightened by the ice cream.

Runner-up: The Lemon Chalet! This is a cookie which I usually don't care for that much, but it became far more interesting in shake form, and the lemon-cream flavor was creamy, well-rounded, and delicious. This one surprised me!

Tuesday
Feb222011

Sweet Kisses: Fun and Puns with Hershey's Kisses

Let's kiss.

Hershey's Kiss, that is. These little morsels are not only sweet, but so much pun--I mean, fun. Want proof? OK. 

Here's a batch of mischief I baked up with this fistful of kisses:

Kiss the Sky

Long Kiss Goodnight

Sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g

Kiss and Tell

Forbidden Kiss

Sealed With a Kiss

Hugs and Kisses

Kiss of Death

Rude Kiss

French Kiss

Henry Kiss-inger

Kiss-off

Friday
Feb112011

Just Say No: Sriracha Brownies are Not Delicious

I'd like to present two separate facts:

  1. Brownies can be delicious with chili powder.
  2. Sriracha makes just about everything better.

Unfortunately, I'm sad to say that these two separate facts do not add up to awesome when combined.

That's right. I went there. And I'm not sad that I did, but as a public service, I'd like to announce that I don't recommend you do it.

Don't worry too much: I didn't ruin an entire batch. I just happened to have some extra batter after filling my pie shell for the Brownie S'more Pie I made a few days ago, so I filled a couple of cupcake liners with it, and on a whim, added a healthy dose of sriracha on top of each.

The taste, while not completely offensive, was off mark--the spiciness of the sriracha didn't contrast the dark, rich brownie, but rather conflicted with the flavor. They were simply not harmonious.

The brownie pie, however, was extremely delicious. Here's a link to that baby.

Of course, if you're intrigued by Sriracha cookery, you might want to check out The Sriracha Cookbook (though I haven't tried any of the recipes, there IS a dessert chapter!).

Tuesday
Jan182011

Mix it Up: Funfetti Cakelets in the Toaster Oven

Picture this: you've just filled up a cake tin's worth of cupcakes, and you have a dollop of batter left. What to do?

Now, you may think that the possibilities stop at A) Swipe it with your finger (or a spatula) and eat it...or B) Put it in a cupcake liner and bake it all by its lonesome.

Now, these are respectable options, for sure. But I'd like to present another option: bake it in the toaster oven.

I did this recently, and while I wouldn't call it an amazing success, it was thoroughly eatable, and a great sweet fix in a pinch (or late at night, when these things seem like a great idea). And it sure was fun to do.

Here's how I did it.

Toaster Oven Cakelets

 Ingredients

  • 1 dollop leftover Funfetti batter, prepared per box instructions
  • a piece of aluminum foil to bundle it in

Procedure

  1. Place your dollop of cake batter on the center of the aluminum foil. Bunch the sides up around it, to form walls so that the batter won't seep through.
  2. Place the wad in the toaster oven and toast (you heard me, toast) it on medium heat (350 if you have such settings) until it is browned on top, about 15 minutes. Lightly peel away the foil from the side to see if it is baked through. If so, remove from toaster oven, cool, and top with frosting, a dab of ice cream, etc, and enjoy.

 

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