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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Eat Cake for a Cause

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© Courtesy of the Cake Committee

Multitalented London ceramicist Peter Ting is also one of the most obsessive bakers I know. Looking for an excuse to indulge his baking passion and give back, he started a group in London called the Cake Committee, which hosts what I like to think of as grown-up bake sales. Members bring their best homemade sweets, mostly cakes, and select a charity to donate the profits to. The cake sales have been such a success that Ting has helped set up committee chapters (he calls them “slices”) in Singapore, Maine and now New York City. The first meeting of the NYC chapter is tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Maccarone Gallery. The $20 entrance fee will be donated to the Friends of the French Culinary Institute and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. RSVP to epaul@vlany.org to eat cake for a cause.

News

Food as Art in L.A.

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Scott Hove's cakes bite back.

© Scott Hove
Scott Hove's cakes bite back.

As a kid, I always loved to play with my food. But none of my creations ever came close to the wild food art that’s part of “Palate,” a new exhibition opening May 22 at L.A.’s Scion Gallery. The title is a play on the artist’s palette and the tasting palate. It includes Jeff Vespa’s huge Polaroids of fast-food burgers and a series of photographs from James Reynolds documenting death-row inmates’ last-meal requests. Wacky food artist Clare Crespo has crocheted a seafood smorgasbord of oysters and shrimp po’boys, and Tamara Kostianovsky uses clothing to create sculptures that resemble slabs of meat. I love the sweet and scary Cakeland collection from Oakland-based artist Scott Hove. His cakes, sculptures and installations are meant to juxtapose the sense of desire and fear with elements like teeth and horns adorning pretty pink cakes.

Baking

Reviving Freezer-Burned Ice Cream

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ice cream maker

© Michelle Shih

A few weeks ago, my house lost power for two days. My coffin freezer was pretty packed, so most things made it through okay, but the ice cream developed a granular texture. It was still good for milkshakes, but I wanted to eat regular ice cream. And I had about 10 pints of Ben & Jerry's and Häagen Dazs, so I didn't want to throw them all away (I'd bought them on sale; what can I say, I love a good deal). The Harold McGee in me thought, what if I melted the ice cream, then refroze it in an ice cream maker? Success! The zombie Cherry Garcia (pictured) was slightly denser than the original, but still delicious. Grace Parisi in the F&W test kitchen had another great suggestion: using melted ice cream in bread pudding instead of milk or heavy cream. Recipes after the jump:

[More]

Baking

New Gluten-Free Baking

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Gluten-Free Brownies

© Photo Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

A close friend of mine has celiac disease, which means he shouldn't eat gluten—so usually no pizza, no pasta, no crackers, no beer. He's long been my (very willing) guinea pig for every gluten-free product that floats through our office. Most of these have left me very thankful for my own gluten-tolerance, but a few, like Mary's Gone Crackers seed crackers, have made it into my own pantry. The latest batch of baking mixes to get rave reviews from him is from an unexpected source: King Arthur Flour, the 200-year-old flour company, which has started to roll out its gluten-free line nationwide. According to my guinea pig, the brownies (pictured) rose up to twice the height of the batter and remained gooey and sweet even after cooling down. Most tellingly, his friends came back for seconds. For the cookie mix, he found that he got the elusive chewy texture he craved by freezing the dough into balls before baking. The only caveat: You have to buy your own chocolate chips.

From our recipe archives, here are seven great ideas for gluten-free dinners to accompany these desserts.

Baking

Colossal New Cupcake

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© 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
 

Baking

Terrific Passover Desserts

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© Quentin Bacon

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 (pictured).

Travel

Park City's Sugar Buzz

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© 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.

Baking

Chocolate Frito Pie Experiment

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Chocolate Frito Pie

© 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.

Baking

Whoopies for Valentine’s Day

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Mail-order whoopie pies for Valentine's Day

© 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.

Chefs

London's New Princi Bakery

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Princi

© Princi
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.

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