© Kate Heddings
Colossal red velvet cupcake from Crumbs.
I don't think anything makes me as happy as baked sweets—give me a brownie, blondie or cupcake and I'll be your new best friend. So I don't know what could possibly make my day more than the new Colossal Crumb—a gigantic sugar-lover's dream cupcake from Crumbs . It's four pounds, six-and-half inches tall and six-and-a-half inches wide. It comes in a variety of Crumbs' awesome flavors, like Peanut Butter Cup, Devil's Food, Vanilla Coconut, Red Velvet, and my personal favorite: Squiggle (a.k.a the Hostess cupcake). At $35 per, er, cake, it's not cheap, but it's supposed to feed up to eight people. Until you go out and splurge on this insane treat, try some of my all-time favorite F&W cupcakes:
Devil's Food Cupcakes with Espresso Meringue
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling
Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling
I've always viewed Passover desserts as a bit like magic tricks, since no flour or leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda are allowed. But there are still plenty of fantastic desserts, from chocolate cakes to macaroons (one of the secrets to amazing unleavened desserts is in the wrist action involved in making snowy whipped egg whites). Here, five desserts
for the five nights of Passover still left, like strawberry-red-wine sorbet with crushed meringue
, flourless chocolate almond cakes
and Mexican chocolate pots de crème
© Courtesy of Sugar Buzz
Park City's Sugar Buzz
Last month, I spent a long weekend in Park City, Utah, hitting the slopes and checking out the emerging food scene we highlighted in our February travel story
. One of my favorite finds was the adorable retro-chic candy shop Sugar Buzz
, which opened about a year ago, just off of Main Street. The walls are lined with a dizzying assortment of glass candy jars, showcasing everything from licorice to lollipops to dark chocolates to caramels. I loaded up a paper sack with my nostalgic favorite, German raspberries, but also couldn't resist the red velvet cookies, topped with cream-cheese frosting, that were at the bakery by the register. I skipped the Illy espresso this time around but will surely pick one up the next time I am in town.
© Kristin Donnelly
Chocolate Frito Pie
In this era of salty sweets, I’ve always thought Frito Pie was a dessert. I later found out that the delightfully trashy Southern specialty is more of a chili-cheese casserole with Fritos on the bottom. But I couldn’t get away from the idea of making a Frito crust for a sweet filling, and the Super Bowl this weekend was the perfect excuse to test it out. Using F&W’s Melissa Rubel Jacobson’s fantastic Chocolate Cream Pie recipe as a guide, I subbed in Fritos for the cookies in the crust. Sweet/salty nirvana? Almost. My Frito crumbs, crushed by a wine bottle since I don’t own a food processor, were a bit too big and became a little soggy in the fridge. As soon as my kitchen is stocked with a food processor, I'm trying this pie again.
© Magenta Livengood
Whoopie pies from B. Hall Baker
For anyone looking for a sweet worth mail-ordering for Valentine’s Day, or any day, B.Hall Baker
’s new mini whoopie pies are now available online. Washington, DC-based Beryl Hall, a former Hill staffer, keeps the calories low by keeping the pies small (she bakes them in madeleine
molds). She gives her red velvet pies a rich tang (and a vibrant red color) with raspberry juice, raspberry extract and powdered raspberries from France. “Whoopie pies are a Yankee thing, but I’m trying to make them Southern,” the San Antonio native says, so this spring she’ll release coconut-cake and bananas Foster versions.
Princi bakery and cafe in London.
I’m a compulsive researcher when I travel, so about two weeks before I flew to London I e-mailed my plugged-in chef, design and wine friends there to find out where I absolutely had to eat. Princi was at the top of everyone’s list. This chic Milanese bakery chain from prolific restaurateur Alan Yau and baker Rocco Princi (often called the Armani of bread) recently opened its first international branch on Wardour Street. Princi is like the Italian version of Belgium's Le Pain Quotidien, with a minimalist-chic interior designed by Claudio Silvestrin (the creative mind behind the design of Georgio Armani stores and the Museum of contemporary art in Turin). Like LPQ, the focus in on insanely delicious baked goods, like buttery brioches and slightly chewy, olive-studded breadsticks. Thick squares of focaccia-style pizzas, such as zucchini with parmesan and egg, get warmed up in the wood-fired oven. There's also a full bar. I'm a firm believer that a city can never have too many fantastic bakeries, so I'm hoping Princi starts to pop up around the world, just like LPQ has.
F&W's testing kitchen assistant, Brian Malik, spent last week baking cakes for a January story. Here, he reports:
For an upcoming story on bakeware, F&W's awesome food intern Molly and I worked our ovens overtime making yellow cakes, 14 in all, to test different baking pans. It’s amazing how different the cakes turned out in each pan, even though we used the same recipe every time. Some were light and spongy, others were dark and crisp, and in one, the cake overflowed, covering the oven floor with a sticky burned mess. The full results will be in a future article, but until then, use your favorite cake pan for these amazing recipes:
Yellow Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Marble Cake with Chocolate-Buttercream Frosting
In the prime upper-right-hand quadrant of New York
magazine's always awesome Approval Matrix
this week: A super-adorable do-it-yourself lunch bag from Design*Sponge
. Full details of the project, including a template and easy-to-follow instructions, can be found here
. Here, F&W provides 10 great ideas on how to fill it
, including Indian pulled-chicken sandwiches
, meat loaf club sandwiches
and nutty apple pie bars
Last week, I was up in Boston to help host a party with rock-star chef Barbara Lynch and the founders of Fresh beauty, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg. The occasion: To celebrate an article in F& W’s September issue, in which Lynch helped her friends add more flavor to their favorite healthy recipes.
After the party, we headed over to Sportello, one of Barbara's newest restaurants, and the dinner conversation veered to keeping fit. Barbara is on a serious health kick. To keep up her energy (she just finished a new cookbook, Stir, out next month), she’s been obsessively juicing every fruit, vegetable and herb she can get her hands and storing batches in her fridge. Lynch also told me about her new favorite energy bar, Green Vibrance. (Cameron Diaz has been in Boston, filming Wichita with Tom Cruise, and her personal assistant introduced Barbara to the dark-chocolate-covered, vitamin-loaded veggie bar.)
In addition to trail-running with the Sportello staff, Barbara has also taken up boxing. And I don’t mean the cardio-punch classes they offer at fancy fitness centers. Lynch works out at Golden Gloves champion Peter Welch’s super-old-school gym in Southie. After a few drinks, Lev (he actually does the cardio-punch gym classes) and I had agreed to join her in the ring the next day. Lev was a no-show (I think he got scared), but Barbara’s publicist, Sarah Hearn, joined me for an intense hour-long session with a group that looked straight out of Rocky. After throwing uppercuts, jabs and hooks and doing what seemed like endless push-ups, I have a new respect for Barbara Lynch, way beyond her extraordinary skills in the kitchen.