Happy Halloween! (It's Candy Day!!)

Who says Halloween has to be scary?
This past weekend I went to a fantastic and fabulous Pumpkin Carving Contest...I mean, Party...and instead of carving some ghoulish face into my pumpkin I wanted to do something a little different and little bit sweeter. It's a Cup-kin! Happy Halloween! I hope you all have a weekend filled with tricks and treats!


The Marshmallow Test! Are you up for the challenge?

Thank you Simpatico for sharing this "sweet" video! It's sugary happiness at its best!

What would you do? Eat one or wait for two?


One "sweet" Needle

I like to consider myself one of Seattle's biggest fans. I can't get enough of this city. I love the grit. I love the music. I love the food. I love the mountains, the ocean, the urban and wild. All of it. My favorite? The cheesy, tourist-trap, random fixture of..."the needle."
The Space Needle never gets old to me - in fact, each day when I drive to work and make the turn onto Denny, the Needle pops into view and I smile and say to myself, "Hi Needly!" I consider it friend. I say "Good morning" to "him" and "good night" when I head home. It makes me happy. 

As you know, baking also makes me happy. So why not combine my two best friends? 
When my sister and father were last visiting we took the $35 elevator ride to the top of the needle to see the sights of Seattle. Of course, on our way down, it shot us right out into a gift shop. Space Needle t-shirts, stickers, shot glasses, pasta, LEGO projects (yeah, I bought that) and even cookie cutters crowded the shop. I was so excited to find one of my favorite cooking tool in the shape of one of my favorite things. 

Another favorite part of Seattle? Seattle Works! Seattle Works connects people in their 20s and 30s with volunteer opportunities throughout the city. When I first moved to Seattle, I joined Seattle Works to meet people. What I found was a way to meet the city. We volunteered in every pocket of the city - cleaning and clearing greenspaces, readying summer camps, organizing food banks and assembling science kits. 

Over the past two years I've become quite involved with Seattle Works, serving as an Auction Committee Member twice. This year, I decided to donate a dessert item for their famed "Dessert Dash." What to do? Well...it had to be something that was quintessential Seattle and quintessential Katie! Ah-ha! Space Needle Sugar Cookies!

Over the past few days I've worked on these little gems. Making the dough, chilling it, rolling, cutting, baking, cooling, icing, decorating, wrapping...giving. 

I love to bake. I love to gift my baking. And the Seattle Works Auction was the perfect place to share it with a great group. I had great response to the cookies and felt good about what I put into them. 

I hope the lucky tables enjoyed them and I thank them for their Dessert Dash donation and for supporting Seattle Works.

Sugar? Butter? Seattle? Perfect. 


"Really? There's root beer in here?"

Over the weekend I cracked open the pages of the newest member of my cookbook family (yes, we're that close) and tried my hand at the "Root Beer Bundt Cake." 
Baked Authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito "weren't looking for just a hint of root beer" but rather an "avalanche of flavor." 
Hmmmm....did I use the wrong brand? Should I have spiked it with some liquor? Did I duck and miss the avalanche completely? Hmmm....
Let's back up a moment. I made the cake on Sunday to bring into the office on Monday. (Perfect I thought. It'll rest overnight and the flavor will intensify. Just like my new friends Matt and Renato suggest!) The cake was fairly simple and the frosting was amazing. Thick and flavorful. I kept tasting the batter along the way, searching for hints of root beer. I think I tasted them only because I was looking for it. I was aware of the flavor so I tasted it. However, I never got that avalanche effect. From the batter at least. Perhaps after it baked!
Out of the oven it looked delish. It took a little bit longer to bake than the recipe recommended but surely that's because my oven is ancient and usually on the fritz. I never tasted the cake (as not to ruin the first impression from my co-workers) so I just made it look pretty and hoped for the best!
Monday arrived and throughout the day I received..."Who made that awesome chocolate cake?" Awesome, yes. Chocolate, not necessarily. I responded with "It's actually a root beer bundt cake." Their response, "Hmmm...I guess there could have been a hint of that. But...it's chocolate right?" This conversation continued with every slice. And while all of the reviews were raves, they were never about the root beer. 
I will most definitely make this cake again - it looked great, tasted great, and had a great texture - but next time I'm going to try some new things. Maybe A&W or MUG instead of Barq's. Maybe I'll hit the hard stuff and find a nice extract or liquor. Either way, I'm aiming for that flavor. I'm going to the mountain and I'm hoping for that avalanche. Come and get me!!


Let's get "Baked."

I just discovered a "new frontier." While I was perusing the kitchen gadgets at Crate and Barrel last weekend (cake testers, orange paring knives - love it!) I was completely taken by their display for the cookbook: Baked - New Frontiers in Baking. Propped right next to the autumn cupcake liners and kitchen torches the book practically called to me. The photography is gorgeous, the recipes unique and the overall theming is rustic yet completely polished. (What can I say, I have a thing for the antler motif?!) 

Some standout recipes include: Rootbeer Bundt Cake, Homemade Marshmallows and the Sweet and Salty Cake. This weekend I think I'll try my hand at the Rootbeer Bundt Cake. I can honestly say that I've never had a sweet treat using that flavor and I'm intrigued by it. Next up...homemade marshmallows - with the hope that I can perfect them just in time for hot cocoa season!

Happy Baking!


Just another reason to love fall!

It's October 1st and one of my nearest, dearest, most favorite-est cupcake shops, Cupcake Royale, has just released their Autumn Harvest line! Pumpkin Maple...Caramel Apple...Carrot Cake. 
I'm definitely going to have to "grab me a bushel" this weekend! You should too!