Archive for September, 2009


cloudy with a chance of meatballs, my childhood fantasy

This was my favorite childhood book for a pretty obvious reason: it was about a town where it rained food.

Specifically, foods that were rarely found in my house. My Mom cooked Chinese all the time, not the hamburgers and hot dogs my brother and I craved. Once when we begged for McDonald’s, my mom made hamburgers with scallions and shiitakes–something I’d appreciate today, but back then, I was just miffed that they didn’t taste like Big Macs. 

Plus, we rarely had sweets in the house. My Dad’s a diabetic who sleepeats. Desserts would mysteriously disappear. (“Huh? I don’t remember eating that half gallon of Breyer’s.”) So when I imagined a place where it precipitated giant donuts and syrupy pancakes, I was smitten.


I haven’t seen the movie yet, but let’s hope it does the book justice.


ramen + chocolate. Komforte’s take on comfort food


Last weekend, I made a cabbage-ramen noodle salad for the first time. They key is to put the ramen noodles in at the last minute–right before you toss with dressing– to keep them crunchy.

In Asia, you can buy packets of savory ramen-like snacks. I’ve also seen something similar at Indian grocery stores.

But I’d never thought of ramen in the context of sweets. Bet they add a nice crunch to these new chocolate bars. The other ingenious flavors are Tortilla, Lime + Salt, and French Toast. And they’re $3 each, which is modest compared to other gourmet chocolate bars.

Order here:

More info:


japanese candy combinations

Why does this green tea (matcha) Kit Kat seem appealing…


while these strawberry-covered Cheetos seem disgusting?


Update, March 5, 2010: The latest on wacky Japanese Kit Kat flavors:


a babycakes feature from the most reviled celeb blog in history


Today’s GOOP newsletter (what, you don’t subscribe? Then how are you nourishing the inner aspect?) from Gwyneth Paltrow features an interview with Erin McKenna, whose Babycakes bakery in NY–and soon LA–is all vegan. I haven’t tried their stuff, but they have a decent reputation. Anyone who’s trying to raise the bar on vegan treats is doing a good thing, because that bar is often too low to even limbo under. Plus, vegans can’t live on sorbet and cupcakes with grainy icing alone.

BTW, I thought it was interesting that McKenna looked at Julia Childs’ cookbooks for inspiration.

P.S.: Gwyneth, it doesn’t help win people over when you refer to your friend Billy Joel as William. Come back down to earth.


advertising vs. reality: a reminder that reality is harsh


The Germans behind Pundo 3000 have just published a book comparing packaging shots to what the products really look like. Check out their “Advertising Against Reality” video. As you’ll see, even the company that brings us Kinder Eggs is lying! Lying to children!


another reason cake beats pie

Bruno (who unsuccessfully tried to get Eminem to teabag him at the MTV Movie Awards) argued that a mutual love of hummous might be the answer to peace in the Middle East.

Turns out cupcakes are a likelier contender.

Read this piece about the Sugar Daddy’s Bakery chain in the Middle East. (BTW the Pink Velvet, made with pomegranate juice, sounds amazing.)

A teaser:  “As a young student at the multinational Aramaco school in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Fadi Jaber, a son of Palestinian refugees, always preferred his American classmates’ cupcakes, brownies and chocolate chip cookies to his mother’s pastries: knafah, qatayef and baklawah. But when he tasted a vanilla-frosted vanilla cupcake from the Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village in 2004, it changed his life.”

(Notice there was no reference to Jaber coveting his American classmates’ pie slices.)


As the Sugar Daddy's site ingeniously points out, "stressed" is "desserts" spelled backwards.

As the Sugar Daddy's site ingeniously points out, "stressed" is "desserts" spelled backwards.


cakes that look like pizzas

Last night, Food Network’s “Unwrapped” featured a Cincinnati company that specializes in one thing: pizza cakes. Everything you see is sweet cake goodness. They even have a brownie version.

Mail order it at



white-chocolate whoopie pies from scratch

Are whoopie pies technically pies or cake? I feel like they’re basically a cupcake sandwich. This recipe’s from the Sunday magazine of The Washington Post from a local pastry chef, Karen Urie of the Town House restaurant in Chilhowie, VA. (

I figured since the recipe’s from a pastry chef, it’s gotta be good. And it is. I’ve had many a baking failure lately, so I was relieved that these turned out. Don’t be intimidated by the recipe. You probably have all the ingredients (except the buttermilk and white chocolate chips) in your fridge/pantry already. One thing to note was that it was a bit difficult to get the cookies to be perfectly round. An ice cream scoop might help.

Also, I took liberties with the filling, nearly tripling the amount of white chocolate so it would be less buttercreamy, more chocolatey. The second time I made this recipe, I also cut down the butter in the filling to 2.5 sticks. Note that the original recipe is below without my modifications.

I used white chocolate chips from the Whole Foods 365 brand ($3+/bag) and melted them down in the microwave for 45 seconds. They’re decent quality and inexpensive. I waited till the melted chocolate was room temperature before adding to the butter mixture. You don’t need to buy a candy thermometer.

These pies make a great party favor, plus you can make them ahead. They last 4 days in the fridge; 1 month in the freezer.


Karen’s Whoopie Pies

MAKE AHEAD: When individually wrapped and stored in an airtight container, the whoopie pies may be frozen for 1 month.

Makes thirty-three 2 1/2-inch cookie sandwiches


For the cookies

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

For the filling

  • 16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces good-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled to about 93 degrees (best to use some from Biagio Fine Chocolate, with at least 30 percent butterfat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the cookies: Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt on a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.

Combine the buttermilk, water and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (preferably using a paddle attachment) or an electric hand-held mixer. Beat on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low; add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating until incorporated between each addition, then alternate additions of the flour and buttermilk mixtures until well combined.

Portion the cookie dough in 2-tablespoon amounts on the prepared baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Make about 66 mounds of equal size. Bake 2 sheets at a time (on the upper and lower oven racks) for about 6 minutes, then rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back; bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cookies are set, but springy to the touch. Ttransfer to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, make the filling: Combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, salt and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer (preferably with a paddle attachment) or an electric hand-held mixer. Beat on low, then medium-high speed until creamy and smooth. Stop to add the melted, slightly cooled chocolate; beat on low speed until just combined.

To assemble, place a tablespoon or two of the filling on the flat sides of half of the cooled cookies. Press the flat sides of the remaining cookies on top of the filling to make the cookie sandwiches.

Wrap each whoopie pie individually in plastic wrap, then transfer to an airtight container.


vosges’ bacon caramel toffee beats their mo’s bacon bar

Apparently the American public can’t get enough of bacon treats, or we’re just developing a taste for salty-sweet confections. Ann went to Chicago last week and got me the latest from Vosges, who presciently brought us Mo’s Bacon Bar a few years back. I guess it’s a hit, because they’re now offering this milk-chocolate toffee with bacon bits. I prefer it way more than the Bacon Bar, where the bacon was chewier (and you’d occasionally wind up burping it up for the rest of the afternoon. It’s not as good the second time around.)


Here the crispy smokiness of the bacon really works well with the buttery cruch of the toffee. Beware, though. At $12, it’s pricey considering there were only about 6 squares in our box. Then again, I think they have the market cornered on this one. At least for now.


NYC sweets trucks

I would love to fine people who go around talking about how great NY is compared to DC. Don’t even get me started, carpetbaggers.

Having said that, I do get jealous of New Yorkers’ culinary options, especially in the food trucks department. New York magazine compiled a list of these, and I’ve noted the ones that serve sweets. If there’s any reason for me to take up running, it would be to chase after these.

1) Cupcake Stop: Cupcakes galore. (

2) Treats Truck: Cookies, brownies and more. (

3) Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream: Ice cream flavors that are off the beaten path. (


4) Wafels and Dinges: Just waffles. (

5) Big Gay Ice Cream Truck: This wins my award for best name and best toppings (caramelized bacon!). (

6) Street Sweets: Brownies, scones and such. (