Saturday, August 28, 2010

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

I'll admit it. We're total cake mix snobs around here. If it comes from a box and has "Duncan Hines" plastered on the front, we're not into it. This is not a resent thing, either. None of our pets were poisoned by boxes or anything.  Mr. C was lucky to be blessed with homemade cookies and cakes throughout his life (This may be because there's no Betty Crocker in rural Nepal or Pakistan, but who knows). My family did have the occasional packaged good from Mr. Christie (goddamn, you make a fine Oreo, Christie), but we always relished the stuff that came out of Mom's oven. I still use her banana chocolate chip recipe as a constant stand-by in our house.

Recently, I've started to notice cake mix popping up everywhere. There are more and more recipes I come across that feature "Yellow Cake Mix" as a main ingredient. There are even books out there telling you how to doctor-up your boxed mix.This astounds me. What is cake mix, anyways? Flour? Leavening? Sugar? A half of dozen chemicals and weird things you can't pronounce? Why can't you just mix it all together yourself (except for the whole chemical thing)? Does it really save that much time?

After all this shouting and rage (pretend I was shouting), I'm going to do an about face and become a hypocrite for a sec. Because, you see, I will always make an exception to my cake mix embargo. But this stuff is different. It's light. It's sweet. And it has sprinkles.

funfetti (15)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oatmeal & Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

I'm a baker who's always looking for the next great flavour adventure. At home, I rarely make recipes more than once - why make a batch of cookies we've tasted when there's billions of different cookies that haven't made the journey to my mouth yet? Participating in online challenges - such as Cupcake Hero and Mystery Box - really gives me a chance to stretch my flavour profile muscles and come up with something new and exciting. If I had to bake the same cupcakes or ice the same cakes over and over again, I wouldn't be in this business.

Friends and family sometimes throw a wrench into my baking stride. When a birthday or celebration comes up, I always eagerly volunteer to bake the sweet things. I throw some ideas their way and, usually, I get the "whatever you think is best" answer. Yes. I like that answer. That means I can play Frankenstein in the test kitchen until I create something completely unique. There is the odd time, however, that I get someone who knows exactly what they want. And it is boring. Just vanilla would be okay, they insist. Vanilla? Like Vanilla bean with espresso and homemade dulce de leche? Oh, no. Just vanilla. 

Vanilla people, you are crazy.

My Dad's birthday went very much like this. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, please. Yep, not anything with layers or fondant. Just oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. He's a simple man to please. Luckily, he's a chocolate type of guy, so he gave me a lot more to work with than just vanilla.

oatmealicecream (2)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Snowy Mocha: Espresso Cupcakes with White Chocolate Whipped Cream

Since I tend to share my baking with large groups, I've come across a lot of people who have really violent biases against certain foods. If I present them with a tasty morsel that just happens to have a flavour that they dislike, they automatically turn their nose up at it. Oh, they say, your cupcake has cinnamon/maple/coffee in it? No thanks. Come on, people. It's a cupcake, for gods sake. Didn't you mom ever teach you to at least try it before you completely scratch the idea? Some people just get downright crazy when they come across something they don't like. I've heard stories of people picking onions out of burgers because they don't like the texture of said onions. Yes. You heard me. They pulled apart their burger to tweeze out tiny little pieces of onion. This boggles my mind. Eat the goddamn onion.

Everyone has something they don't particularly like to eat, but that doesn't give you licence to hold a grudge your entire life. How many of us snubbed green vegetables when we were kids, only to demolish broccoli by the bushel later on in life? Hell, after years of snubbing sushi, I've recently begun to find myself drawn towards it. I believe that, for every ingredient you don't like, there's a recipe out there that will make you turn your head and try it again. This brings us to our newest cupcake creation:

snowymocha (13)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

$60 CSN Giveaway Winner!

Okay. Let's do this.

It's time to bring out the nerd dice. 

After thirty-two entries, a dozen charts/graphs, and debating whether I should run to the nearest comic book shop for some prettier dice (I really want sparkley ones), we've finally made a decision.

Congrats anitsirK! You won $60 from CSN Stores! Drop me an email as soon as you can so we can get you out shopping right away. You deserve it for all that hard work. 

god, my handwriting is horrible.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Vegan RasMataz: Raspberry-Mocha Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

veganraspmocha (7)

I always feel bad for people with dietary restrictions. It must be the bleeding heart vegetarian in me. If you have allergies, finding out your favourite food has crab/peanuts/eggs/wheat in it can be devastating. When I found out that shrimp paste (my gastric arch-enemy) appears in the majority of Thai cuisine, I grieved for months. I'm still sitting in the first stage of denial: I'm not really allergic to shellfish. I'm sure this pad thai will go down just fine. A couple minutes later bending over the toilet tells me otherwise. Denial sucks.

Vegans and vegetarians have it worse. When you ask for a corn on the cob without butter or for a soup without beef broth, sometimes you get a funny look. Sometimes you get a snide remark. It depends where you live and where you're eating (try getting a vegan salad in a Calgary steak house). Luckily, the Pacific Northwest is pretty friendly to the meatless. There are veggie-friendly shops and restaurants popping up all over. Bakeries are also picking up the slack. Gluten-free/lactose-free/vegan/vegetarian/organic cakes and cookies are the new hot item around the city. It really gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Super Duper CSN Giveaway!

You can never have too many kitchen gadgets. Seriously. No matter what your husband/wife/significant other tells you, you seriously need that donut pan. How else are you going to make donuts? Oh, and you need that frosting gun. And that plate that looks like fish that you use to serve fish on (it's ingenious!). Sometimes I like to daydream about what doohickies I would buy if I: A) had unlimited funds and B) a personal kitchen that's more then three square feet. My list includes more little tart/cake pans (we can always use more of those), a new KitchenAid (the home hand-mixer just doesn't do it for me sometimes), and more colourful - and sturdy -  cookware. Man, do I ever want a sweet dutch oven - the blue one totally matches our car:

Separated at birth, I tell ya.

I'm making you think now, aren't I? Now you've gotta get some new stuff. Well, C&C and CSN are here to help. We're giving away a $60 online gift certificate for anything that CSN Stores has to offer. This includes, my personal favourite, Here's how it works:

1) In order to win, you must live in the US or Canada. I'm sorry rest of the world : (

2) Follow our blog (just push that little Follow button on the side over there) and leave a reply letting us know a) that you follow us and b) what you would use the $60 to splurge on.

3) Get an extra entry by tweeting "Check out the super duper CSN giveway from @CCCakery!" (Let us know if you do this by replying)

4) On Wednesday the 18th (barring sickness or the world ending), I will pick the winner. Whether we'll be using, picking a name out of a hat, rolling a d20, or putting all the entries on the balcony and see which one the pigeons poop on first remains to be seen. We'll announce the winner here - and make sure you blog about your new CSN gift! We want to see your epic loot!

Good luck!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Triple Berry Sorbet

tripleberry (5)

Have you ever come home from a vacation, plop right down on your own bed, and declare you need another vacation? Happens to us all the time. No matter how lovely or relaxing our vacations are intended to be, they always turn out a bit more than what we've asked for. Take our latest excursion as an example: Mr. C and I had planning a week long camping trip which took us along HWY 101 and ended up with an extreme heart-to-heart with Mt. St. Helens. Sounds amazing? Oh, it was. The weather held up beautifully (or as well as it can hold up on the Oregon Coast). We biked along the board walk, went dune buggying, and enjoyed time off the beaten path.

By the end of the week, however, things began to get a bit hairy. We're in to the pretty primitive form of camping (you RVers sicken me), but going without a shower for that long a stretch was pretty horrifying. Hiking between St. Helen's dome and Spirit Lake seemed like a good idea at the time, but, 12 miles and five hours later, we were dehydrated and sunburned messes. The drive home was a calm blessing. Except when I discovered a mouse had  made our tiny blue car it's new home (Note: I discovered this while speeding along HWY 7. Pretty dangerous, little mousey). It was not too happy when I tried to put it in a tupperware container, so it decided to punish us by running up into the front dashboard. Mr. C thought it would be best if we ran the heater vents and try to blow out little Fifle from it's fortress. Well, it worked out - if by "blow out" we really mean "chopped up into bits". Ew.
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