Archive for September, 2007


birthday desserts

earlier this week, we celebrated four birthdays in my baking-friendly office, and some people made treats especially for me.

(apologies in advance for the crappy nature of these cell phone photos)

first of all, there is nothing like seeing one’s name in mini cupcakes:
my name in cupcakes

which is even more amazing when you look at the entire cupcake tray:
holy tray of cupcakes!
(my favorite one is the cupcake in the upper left hand corner with no letter on it at all…)

and let me note that minicupcakes with little sugar letters on them are damn near close to perfection as a dessert concept, except for the fact that i can’t stop at eating just ONE of them.

another dessert that i appreciated as part of this birthday spread was this fakeout of a foodstuff:
is it pie? is it cake?
i thought that someone had baked pie, and was all excited.
and then i realized that the cook had actually baked a cake in a pie plate. PSYCH!
it was a deliciously moist apple spice cake, and i had to forgive the chef for the switcheroo. if only all fakeouts could be this tasty.


no, this brownie recipe is not a joke

today, i was talking with a friend who is looking for some new vegan dessert recipes, so i decided to pass along this gem from the angry vegan chef:

1. go to the supermarket and buy a box of brownie mix. make sure it’s vegan. the easy way to do that is to look at the ingredient list and make sure it doesn’t say in bold letters CONTAINS MILK OR EGG PRODUCTS. (By the way, thank the U.S. Congress for passing a food labeling law that simplifies the process of finding vegan food. It’s not foolproof, but it also means not having to remember all the strange milk/egg derivatives with long, long names.)

2. while you’re at the supermarket, buy a 16-oz can of unsalted, unflavored black beans.

3. go home, open the can of beans, toss it in the blender, and liquefy it.

4. throw the brownie mix in a bowl. pour in the beans, and mix well.

5. put in a square pan and follow directions for baking on brownie mix box.

6. remove from oven and enjoy your high-protein, high-fiber dessert.

skeptical? yeah. so was i until i ate it. DELICIOUS.


What’s in a $14 cupcake mix?

Sprinkles is a famous cupcake chain currently in LA, Dallas and Phoenix. I’ve never actually tried their cupcakes, but I’ve read enough about them to get the salivary glands going.

As a cupcake enthusiant, and after my amazing red velvet cake in Ithaca (see the 8/29/07 post), I had to try their red velvet cupcake mix. Williams-Sonoma sells it for $14 a tin (makes 12 cupcakes). At that price, you hope for culinary rapture. Did we achieve it? Sort of.

The tin includes the dry batter, the signature Sprinkles “dots” decoration (which I didn’t use), and instructions on making the cupcakes and icing. You need to add plenty of your own eggs and butter to the mix. I was working with a $9 hand mixer, which made it hard to blend the ingredients because the batter starts off so thick. The recipe actually calls for using the flat beater attachment on your mixer. I don’t even know what a flat beater is. No wonder I almost burned out my motor.

The verdict: well, the cake part of the cupcake turned out fluffy, moist and surprisingly un-sweet. Ah, that’s probably why the cream cheese icing recipe asks for nearly 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar. It made my fillings ache just thinking about it. So I used only about 1/4 of the sugar the recipe called for. It turned out pretty good, but probably could have used a bit more sugar–and this is coming from someone who complains about desserts being too sweet.

Would I buy it again? Maybe for a special occasion. It was a lot of work, a red mess, and turned my once-white mixer pink (permanently). But damn if it wasn’t tasty. Besides, Cakelove doesn’t do red velvet.

Stay tuned for a photo of Amit with his red tongue.


Whole Foods’ “Blandarella” Key Lime Cheesecake

As you know, we were underwhelmed with the Whole Foods desserts we tried last time. This time, I picked up an individually sized key lime cheesecake, hoping Whole Foods might redeem itself. You only see half of it here because I forgot to get a photo beforehand.

So, this cheesecake has no crust. That’s always disappointing, since a soggy graham-cracker crust can be really good. It’s like the ice cream cone–sometimes it’s the best part. Anyway, back to the cake, which was neither here nor there. Not too sweet, not too tangy. Above-average natural key lime flavor.  But where’s the oomph? Cheesecake is nothing to be ambivalent about, but after this, I was.

Incidentally, I also tried the version of the plain cheesecake with forest berries on top. It was even more blah than the key lime one. And it was also sans crust.


new test kitchen

posts should be happening again soon. i moved to a new test kitchen that’s bigger and better, and i’m eager to start figuring out the quirks of my oven.
so stay tuned for some delicious recipes soon…


philadelphia dos and don’ts

DO eat a delicious apple dumpling from the old dutch eating place in reading terminal market. I prefer the heavy cream to the whipped cream, but both will work.

DON’T get vegan cake from Gianna’s Grille. They put steroids or something in it, and it’s incredibly dense. I took three bites and had to stop.

DO enjoy any of the lovely foodstuffs from Vegan Treats bakery, which delivers to several locations in the Philadelphia area, even though the bakery is based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Let me just say that the brownies are deliciously sinful, and rich enough for two.

DON’T expect to eat any dessert following a meal at Horizons Restaurant. Yes, the Peanut Butter Bomb cake may look lustrous, but after eating mushroom fritters and portobello carpaccio and a delicious cucumber-avacado soup, I was plumb stuffed.