Andrew Sessa, senior editor at F&W's sister magazine Departures, is adamant that the mini Bundt cake is going to steal the cupcake's role as the darling of the dessert world. "People like cupcakes because they're cute, and individual sized, and, maybe most importantly, vaguely nostalgic," says Sessa. "They're a throwback to mom's kitchen, and mid-century Donna Reed Americana. Mini bundts hit all the same notes, and I think, are even cuter and certainly have an even stronger sense of that nostalgia."T he recreational baker adores the adorable round cakes so much that he has started his own company— Bundt, a Bakery — which debuted last weekend at Brooklyn’s new Greenpoint Food Market. Sessa will be selling a rotating selection of seasonally inspired mini Bundt cakes, like Guinness Ginger Spice and Oatmeal Cranberry Crunch, for $4 each. The best-seller over the weekend was the zingy Caipirinha Sling. I couldn’t get enough of the supermoist Carrot Cake Bundt, which can be ordered with an extra shot of white chocolate–cream cheese buttercream frosting for $1 more.
© Peter Picasa
Mini Bundts baked by Andrew Sessa.
© Eric Biermann
Tariq Hanna and his blue cake
As one of the few people in the world not caught up in the saga of Jon & Kate Plus 8
, I don’t usually watch TLC on Monday nights. Tonight, though, and for the rest of the season, I’ll tune in to TLC—and that’s because the network is airing a sneak peek of an addictive new show, the Ultimate Cake-Off
. As addictive as Jon & Kate
, which is on right before it? Definitely, if you’re obsessed with wedding cakes that look like a replica of the gazebo where he proposed. Contestants, who run the gamut from housewives to professionals, have nine hours, a bunch of power tools, and every food coloring in the rainbow at their disposal to make a cake that’s a minimum of five feet tall. At the end of each episode, a client picks the winning cake, with input from a panel of star judges. My friend, the extraordinary cake designer Margaret Braun
, is one of those star judges, and she says the show is amazing. “You see cakes that run the gamut from really scary to great,” she says. So far, all I’ve seen is the bright turquoise blue cake from Tariq Hanna
and I can’t wait to see which category—scary or great—it falls into.
My good friend Andrew Sessa, senior editor at F&W's sister magazine Departures
, has a sweet tooth that rivals my own. A brilliant baker, he recently decided to make a cake for a colleague’s birthday: a s’mores cake
combining chocolate cake
, a graham cracker crust and crumble and a marshmallow frosting
he planned to char with a mini blowtorch. But when he discovered his colleague’s favorite childhood cereal was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, he channeled cereal-obsessed pastry chef Christina Tosi
of NYC's Momofuku Milk Bar and used Cinnamon Toast Crunch instead of graham crackers. Definitely Milk Bar
The New York Times
has just reported that a 20-year study of rhesus monkeys suggests a restricted-calorie diet may ward off the usual diseases of old age—primarily diabetes, cancer, heart disease and brain disease. Here's some great advice from the pros on how to limit calories without sacrificing any taste:Tim Cushman:
“Really spicy salsas give me a ‘chile buzz,’ almost an endorphin rush, so I tend to eat less,” says Cushman
, an F&W Best New Chef 2008
at O Ya
. His tangy tomatillo-cumin salsa
can be either mild or fiery—leave the jalapeño seeds in if you prefer extra heat. Marisa Churchill:
The Top Chef
Season Two contestant offers innovative tricks to cut fat and sugar
out of her recipes—for instance, she uses thick and creamy fat-free Greek-style yogurt in her honey-topped panna cottas
“Diets are like Band-Aids—just a quick fix,” says the cookbook author. Instead, Anderson relies on smart techniques
like using low-fat evaporated milk to gives sauces and desserts creaminess, as in her brown-sugar custard with orange zest
The best part about researching F&W’s August ice cream roundup was tasting stellar ice creams and sorbets from shops across the country. Here, four of our favorite regional producers:
Carmela Ice Cream: Los Angeles–based Carmela makes bright, fresh-flavored Lavender Honey ice cream and Lemon Basil sorbet with fruit and herbs from Silver Lake Farms, a local organic farm. A three-ounce “taster” is the perfect summer pick-me-up.
Morelli’s Ice Cream: Some of Donald Sargent’s best ideas have come from his customers at this Atlanta shop, including a spiced East Indian Mango Kulfi. His motto: “If it’s a cake or pie, we’ll throw it into ice cream.” Don’t miss Sargent’s Sweet Potato pie ice cream, made with his mother’s top-secret pie recipe.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream: Molly Moon Neitzel recently opened Seattle’s second Molly Moon’s, where her ice creams—made with locally sourced milk and beet sugar—await a mess of house-made toppings: double-fudge chocolate sauce, balsamic reduction and seasonal fruit compotes like rhubarb-grapefruit.
Cool Moon Ice Cream: Memories of family gatherings around a hand-crank White Mountain ice cream maker inspired Eva Bernhard to open her Portland, Oregon, shop. Flavors like Buttermilk Marionberry Swirl, made with local blackberries, and Willamette Valley Hazelnut celebrate iconic Oregon ingredients.
In my home state of New Jersey, the strawberry season is short—from the last week in May through early June. With this in mind, I decided that the only berries worthy of Mark Bittman’s almond crème anglaise
in the New York Times
last week were those that I could pick myself. My sister and I drove to Terhune Orchards
, a 200-acre pick-your-own farm in Princeton that I’d found on LocalHarvest
, a website with nationwide directories for small farms and farmer's markets. A week of rain had left the plants a bit droopy, but there was fruit galore and scrambling children competing to see who found the biggest strawberry. I chose only the darkest, most petite berries, which tended to be the ripest, while my sister preferred anything big and bright as a fire truck. I know my berries will be fabulous in a Melon-and-Strawberry Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Syrup
or in a Warm Strawberry Crumb Cake
from one of my favorite chefs, Gerard Craft of Niche
in St. Louis. Or I might go the super-simple route and just top the berries with barely-whipped cream.
It’s raining today in New York City, but that doesn't matter because it’s National Doughnut Day! This morning I stood in line with 30 other people to get a free chocolate-glazed doughnut at my local Dunkin' Donuts
is giving them away all day, too), and I might buy a mid-afternoon crème brûlée version from Doughnut Plant
(last Friday, I saw three New York City police officers on horseback outside the store—wish I’d taken a picture).
I might even keep the celebration going this weekend by making the Doughnut Holes with Raspberry Jam
(pictured) from F&W’s July issue and bringing them to a friend’s potluck on Saturday night.
to find more amazing recipes, like Doughnuts in Cardamom Syrup
, Spiced Cake Doughnuts
and Fluffy Yeast Doughnuts
I love cupcakes, and I love that they continue to be so popular—I was worried the trend would die out, but it's still going strong. This weekend, I attended an event called Taste of the Upper West Side and had what could be my favorite new NYC cupcake, from Joanne Gregory, the new pastry chef at Citarella. Joanne served mini versions of four cupcakes: coconut, red velvet, chocolate with fresh strawberry frosting and chocolate with chocolate frosting. Each cake was moist and light (the style I prefer) and capped with a thick, fluffy swirl of excellent, not-too-sweet frosting. For the sake of research, I will have to go to Citarella and buy some full-size cupcakes. If they're as good as the ones I had this weekend, they may be right up there with the incomparable cupcakes from awesome pastry chef Jennifer Giblin at Blue Smoke as Manhattan's best.
© Dove Chocolate Discoveries
Dove Chocolate Discoveries Party
Dove has come up with a new way to sell their delicious confections:the Dove Chocolate Discoveries
party. It's similar to a Tupperware party, except you can
actually have too much Tupperware. And unlike an Avon or Mary Kay party, you don’t have to lie to your friends and tell them they can’t live without that blue eye shadow that somehow makes their muddy brown eyes just pop! Anyone who decides to have a party can either be the host (and receive free treats) or take on the role of Chocolatier
. The Chocolatier earns commissions on everything sold at a party, like the addictive chocolate-covered almonds and pretzels and baking mixes (which make things like chewy chocolate chip gingerbread cookies or chocolate cupcakes). Maybe they’ll even add a chocolate-brown car as incentive, which I would drive over an eye-roll-inducing pink Cadillac any day.