Monday, March 28, 2011

the beginnings of a Taz groom's cake...

Despite the heartbreaking loss suffered by my beloved KU Jayhawks this weekend, I was successful in getting things rolling with a groom's cake for Friday. 

2 of my good friends are getting married, and my gift to them is a cake in honor of 2 things:  the fact that the groom is a drummer and that he has an awful first tattoo on his arm of Taz ripping out of his skin with drumsticks in hand.  It's really something you have to see in person to truly appreciate.  The cake version will feature Taz ripping out of the top of his snare drum.  I was able to knock out the Taz part yesterday, and the rest will come together this week.

armless Taz

Before I began my work, I rescued some dafodills from the incoming spring snow storm and enjoyed them while I worked in the kitchen with the cats locked safely upstairs. 

Typically, I'm not allowed to have flowers in the house, as Charlotte (aka "The Scurge" or "Harlot") will try to eat them.  I've tried putting them at the top of Mike's 6 foot tall record/book cases, but this only encourages her to try to scale the tower of vinyl records. *sigh*

Here's some other random sweetness to get you through Monday:

a sampling of the flavored cane sugars I found at the Whole Foods in Dallas
- i couldn't decide on just 1 so i left empty handed-
they had everything form ancho chili to blueberry

Gus's standard sleeping pose :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SweetsXSW - Pt. 2

The second stop I made on my Austin sweet-tooth journey was to a place right down the street from the South Austin Trailer Park:  Sugar Mama's Bakeshop.  I chose to visit based on 2 things I always look for: cool graphic style and the promise of vegan goodies.

This place was super-cute and totally what I could see Donut Girl looking like if/when I have a brick-and-mortar "store"...

exterior - i couldn't get a straight-on shot w/o standing in traffic - apparently I'm not a very committed blogger

interior - LOVE the old soda fountain tables and chairs

I showed up around 3pm on a Saturday, and they were all out of vegan cupcakes.  I'm sure that had a LOT to do with the SXSW hipster masses, but I was more than happy to purchase some traditional cakes. 

Clockwise from top left:
Strawberry Love, French Toast, The Hemingway, and James Brown

I was a big fan of the Hemingway with its key lime cream cheese frosting.  I will definitely be trying to turn that into a DG flavor.  I didn't try the French Toast because of the bacon bits on top, but my carnivore friend said it needed more bacon cause all he was getting was the chewy texture and no flavor.  Overall, the cakes were good but I wouldn't make a special trip back.

Finally, on Sunday, fatigue was setting in and despite wanting nothing more than to go back to the hotel after a harrowing trek to Ikea, I decided to poke my head in Quack's Bakery.  That's how dedicated I am to provided YOU with awesome blog stuffs! ....It also happened to be right across the street from where we stopped for some post-Ikea dinner.

exterior - at sundown

The cupcakes in this place were the size of my head!  But having satisfied my cupcake requirements at Sugar Mama's, I decided to diversify into cookies at Quack's.  I was so impressed with the aesthetics of their iced sugar cookies;  I still can't figure out what technique they used.  There were no drips down the sides to indicate they were dipped, but the icing was also very thin around the edges, so I don't think they piped it on.  I'm so confused!!  I'll be tossing and turning at night for a while trying to figure this one out.

Despite being so impressed with how the cookies looked, the taste was not nearly as good, but that tends to be the case with sugar cookies that maintain their cookie-cutter shape after baking.  This is usually a result of a shortbread-like dough as opposed to a true sugar cookie - at least in my experiences thus far.  This is an issue I'm still working to remedy in my kitchen.

Anyway, that is the end of my Austin sugar journey.  I look forward to reporting on more sweet spots in other locations whenever I have the chance.

On tap for this weekend - the beginnings of a "Taz" groom's cake :D

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SweetsXSW - Pt. 1

Last night I returned home at 1am from a long-awaited return to SXSW in Austin, TX.  Maybe it was the sunny 80 degree weather, or maybe it was the unlimited awesome food and shopping choices, but everything about the trip had me wanting to move there.

First off - I LOVE KC, but we need to get on the food cart/trailer trend NOW! 

I will admit that I was skeptical of all the Food Network-induced hype over food carts, but the way it was done in Austin was really cool and made me a believer.  My favorite part of the whole trip was the discovery of the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery.   It was a totally unexpected representative of what I think the trend should be about:  a designated spot for 3-4 trailers to park and sell their respective foods in an outdoor food court type of setting.  It is perfect for a group of friends that can't come to a concensus on where to eat!

There were picnic tables available in the shade of a giant tree lit with Christmas lights at night, and there was even a newly-converted warehouse structure with more "traditional" seating, TV's, beer sales, shuffle boad, and foosball!  What more do you need on a warm summer night?  I really wish I had got some photos at night.  my bad.
the picnic tables -daytime
Within the trailer park were 3 food options.  I chose Torchy's Tacos for lunch AND dinner on Saturday and The Holy Cacao for dessert. 

Holy Cacao's specialty is the trendy "cake ball".  This is also a fad of which I have been skeptical because I am NOT a fan of the texture you often get when DIPPING desserts in "chocolate" that needs to harden.  I often find it to be waxy and AWFUL.  I'm not sure if Holy Cacao just uses higher quality ingredients or what, but the result was REALLY yummy and un-waxy.  I chose the "Wedding Ball" and the "Diablo Ball" - see menu here

I also love the Ganesh/cow mascot.  really cute.

I really think they might have just started the business so they could get away with talking about "balls" all the time.  *giggle*

Right now I will get back to daydreaming about starting a trailer park in KC with the Record Bar, Eden Alley, and Fresher Than Fresh Snow Cones. 

Tomorrow - cupcakes and cookies, Austin style.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Almond "Piggies"

There's one good thing that can be said for being strapped for cash:  it REALLY forces you to get creative with some things!

Mike and I bypassed our usual Saturday night date at our favorite veg restaurant in KC, Eden Alley, and I made some super-cheap spaghetti and "meat" sauce instead.  For dessert I was fortunate enough to have the ingredients for a recipe I've been wanting to test:  Pignoli Almond Cookies.  I started calling them "piggies", cause all my friends who were over that evening kept joking that they must have pig in them.  I'm sure the Italian immigrants who brought this recipe to America will be none too happy with me, but I'm keeping the PIGGY name!  It's cute.

bad-lazy-use-of-cell-phone-camera photo -sorry

The cookies were awesome!  Nice and chewey with HUGE almond flavor, of which I am a big fan.  I may add them to online store, but the use of almond paste and pine nuts may not make them very cost effective.  We'll see!

Speaking of the online store....  I have set a launch date:  March 28!  In just 10 short days you may begin to order Snicker-Angels, Snicker-Devils, Rockin' Roads, Peanut Butter, and the newest additions to the Donut Girl art gallery:

Oh, and a happy (snowy) Monday to you!  Wtf??  I thought we were done with this weather??  

Looking forward to the 85 degree weater in Austin, TX.......

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ginger Molasses Cookies .....

... an exercise in futility.

This weekend my friends who moved into the house next door had their official house warming party, so, of course, my first thought was, "what am I gonna bake??"  I was super excited to have an opportunity to break away from the past few weeks of recipe testing in preparation for the Etsy store launch and bake something DIFFERENT!  Don't get me wrong, I love my cookies, but I am growing tired of the routine that has limited me to "shippable" cookies.

I figured it was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe I blogged about last month, Ginger Molasses Sandwich Cookies.  They looked so cute and bite-sized (perfect for an hors d'oeuvres table), and the combination of spice and cream cheese filling sounded just right before spring kicks in and such a combo would be too "wintery".

All started out well....i took a nice before shot:

then came the problems.....

Now, let me preface this with how beautiful I think this cookbook is.  The photographs are stunning; the recipes are creative, but this recipe was MESSED UP.  Here is a link to their blog with the exact same recipe posted.   

I knew ahead of time from reading her blog that the flour amount needed adjustment.  Ok.  No biggie.  Good to be in the know.  But, there appears to be several other typos/omissions in the recipe.  2 items in the ingredient list NEVER appear in the instructions, so I had to guess.  AND, the worst part was that I was on a schedule to get to the party on time, and the recipe was GROSSLY misleading as to how long you needed to chill the dough before working with it.  In fairness, however, I was using 2 spoons to drop the dough, not the recommended "1 tablespoon ice cream scoop".  That probably would have helped.

Long story short-ish... I basically ended up having to use super gooey, not-chilled-nearly-enough dough, and I ended up with cookies the size of whoopie pies as a consequence...not exactly bite size.  Anyway, it was super-frustrating, took WAAAAY longer than it should have, but everyone at the party loved them, so can I really complain?  Well, obviously I just did.

I was so over it that I took no "after" photo.  sorry.  Here's a shot of the host with a now-illegal can of 4 LOKO.  We keep it classy in KC, right?


Friday, March 4, 2011

more cookie art!

I finished up 2 more cookie designs last night:

the most METAL cookie of them ALL!
If you are surprised that the Peanut Butter cookie is the first of the series that is NOT a vegan cookie (and it won't be the last), let me take this opportunity to talk about how exactly Donut Girl rolls..... 

Reason #1- 
While I label myself an "animal-friendly" bakery, I do NOT bake exclusively vegan products.  I understand that many vegans out there may then take issue with labeling myself as animal-friendly, BUT that's what I consider myself and my bakery to be: animal-friendly vegetarian. What I feel sets me and my business apart from those who are simply "vegetarian" is that I take reasonable measures to ensure that the animal products I DO use (butter, eggs, cream, etc.) are sourced from farms that I feel make life as nice as possible for the animal "employees". 

Also, while I support and understand those who choose the vegan lifestyle, I feel it is very important to support those farms that ARE making the effort to provide humanely-farmed animal products.  Without our support, we will be left with nothing but factory farmed grossness to choose from.

Anyway...speech over!  Please send hate mail to donutgirlkc at geemail dot com.  Thank you.

Moving on to Reason #2- 
I tested a vegan PB cookie recipe, and you know what??  It sucked.  Ok, well it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't that good either.  Donut Girl has a hard and fast rule on what vegan cookies it considers suitable for nomming:  It must taste AS GOOD AS OR BETTER than its traditional counterpart! 

The vegan PB cookie simply didn't make the cut.  But the traditional one pictured above in all its copyright-pushing glory is just what a PB cookie should be:  chewy, crunchy, and CLASSIC!  (just like "Dr." Peanut, right?)

And here's today token kitty photo.  Tigger is available for adoption at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, MO, and as you can tell, she is a real awesome snuggler.  He got so comfortable in my lap he started looking a little stoned!  I love a good lap kitty.

Happy Friday to all!