Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

Cuppied Golden Girls!
I "met" Jessie (aka CakeSpy) four years ago on Etsy. I loved her whimsical drawings and her reasonable prices. In fact, I commissioned an AMAZING Cuppie drawing from her for my Golden Girls loving best friend a few years ago, which you can see at right. Jessie does not miss a detail. Look at Blanche's wrapper...

Over the years she has shared amazing recipes, introduced me to sinfully decadant cakes, forged the friendship of Scoopalicious and Spice Dish (which in turn made way for Spice Dish Saturdays), and kept us utterly inspired along the way.

When my copy of CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life arrived in the mail, I was thrilled. The book is beautiful. It's 100% CakeSpy. And having now followed the CakeSpy chronicles from very early on, I feel lucky to be one of those who can say "I knew her when..." Haha! Seriously though, having watched Jessie develop into this success in so many ways has been such a joy, but it was the publication of a book -- a book! -- that really took the cake (yes, of course pun intended!). We at Scoopalicious are so proud of you Jessie -- so well deserved.

There are so many treats I wanted to try (oh if the time allowed for them all!) but I was especially tickled by all the ice cream recipes included. Pudding using ice cream instead of milk?! Oh. My. God. Wow. Sounds heavenly. And. It. Was.

Ice Cream Pudding Pie as attempted by Scoopalicious
I brought the pie ("Ice Cream Pudding Pie," as it is so aptly named) to a dinner I was attending. It was super easy to make and ended up being a hit. The rich chocolate filling (ice cream pudding) was offset by the airiness of the Cool Whip. With the Oreo crust, it kind of reminded me of the chocolate mousse pie they served in the Tufts Dining Hall that I have been trying in vain to either buy or make my own version. Not exactly the same, but it might be good enough to fill the void. My pie isn't as beautiful as the one photographed in Jessie's book, but 1. She had a professional photographer. I had an iPhone. 2. She probably didn't drop the pie on the floor before she brought it to dinner guests. I did. (It just became messier looking. The cover was on so the five-second rule didn't even come up.)

As I was basking in the goodness of the book, something even more magical happened. Jessie's publisher got in touch with me and asked if we wanted to be part of CakeSpy's Virtual Tour de Sweet. I immediately agreed, and decided our leg of the tour would be part interview, part giveaway, part review and total awesomeness!

The best part is, this Virtual Tour de Sweet is eleven days long. You can visit these other fabulous blogs for more reviews and goodies tied in with CakeSpy's new book. Not only are we honored to be on CakeSpy's tour, but to be headlining with these bloggers is the cherry on top.

October 10—Cupcake Project
October 11—Bake It in a Cake!
October 13—Dessert First
October 14—Cookie Madness
October 15—Bake and Destroy
October 16—Piece of Cake
October 17—Not Martha
October 18—Scoopalicious
October 20—Blondie and Brownie

Additionally, you can meet CakeSpy at her live Tour de Sweet book tour. Check out the link for the dates she'll be in a city near you.

Now without further delay, here's our fabulous interview with Jessie "CakeSpy" Oleseon.

Getting Started

You went to art school. I went to art school. Let's talk art. Where did you go to school and what specifically did you study?

CakeSpy: I went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, where Law & Order was constantly being filmed on campus. I began as a Graphic Design major, but a course instructor urged me to switch to illustration very early on. It was a good idea.

Scoopalicious: Did you leave school with a life plan of world famous sweet blog, sweet store, sweet book, sweet life? How did you get where you are today? 

CakeSpy: Nope. I left school early--I believe the technical term would be "dropout". My goal was simply to get a job that didn't suck, but what is an art school dropout qualified to do, exactly? Well. I started out working at a rubber stamp store, then graduated to working at a textile company, then was a sort of artistic personal assistant for a while, then I finally landed at a greeting card company, and stuck with the gift and greeting card industry until I started my own business. 

The Blog

How and when did the blog start? 

CakeSpy: It started in the summer of 2007, as a way to unite my three greatest loves: writing, illustration, and baked goods.

Scoopalicious: Why did you start writing a blog? 

CakeSpy: I wanted a project that would unite the aforementioned loves, but I didn't know what. I figured I'd start a blog while I figured it out. I never thought the blog would be the project, but it has been!

Scoopalicious: How did it happen that your blog wasn't just another blog getting lost in the blogosphere? Do you think your readers come for the art? The recipes? The reviews? The interviews? Or a combo of all of the above? 

CakeSpy: I think it's very much a combo. I am not fishing for compliments when I say that quite honestly, there are probably people who can respectively write, illustrate, or bake much better than me. But there are few people who can do all three, and for me, it seems to be what sets me apart. That is to say -- I'm a triple threat!

Your Art Mom

Your (also incredibly talented) mom has a great interview about the technical part of your art, so I am not going to be redundant and I'll have our readers read that interview there. So, I guess this section should be renamed "Your Mom" since now my only art question is about your mom. Your mom is an illustrator and also quite the baker, I've heard. Would you say she has been the greatest inspiration in your career? 

CakeSpy: I think that she's been the greatest catalyst for my career, in that she raised me to love baked goods and with both parents being artistic I was not necessarily urged to do artwork, but it was more just a part of growing up--I never knew a household without paints and crayons at my disposal. However, the writing part I will credit to my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Hillman (who is my friend on Facebook, btw), who really encouraged me to develop my writing and who introduced me to some of my favorite storytellers like Roald Dahl.

Cuppie and Friends

Let's talk Cuppie. When was he born? 

CakeSpy: Cuppie was born as the result of the tiniest bit of leftover cake batter being baked into one single cupcake. He (yes, it is a he, though I realize there are inconsistencies in my artwork) has always had a chip on his shoulder about not being his own complete cake--I think that's where the snarkiness comes from.

Scoopalicious: The first time you drew Cuppie, did you imagine his future in fame and stardom? 

CakeSpy: I believe the first time I drew this cupcake was probably in the second grade or so...so at the time, I was probably more focused on wanting cake than on wanting fame and fortune.

Scoopalicious: What is your favorite Cuppie drawing? 

CakeSpy: I love the image called "the talk" which is on a card and for sale on my website as a print, which is a three panel cartoon about a cupcake realizing where it came from.

"The Talk"
Scoopalicious: O.M.G. "The Talk" is awesome. So creative. Are you surrounded by (and when I say surrounded by, I mean, eating) cupcakes and other sweets while doing your artwork? 

CakeSpy: All too often, yes. This is a good and a bad thing. It's good because, well, cake rules. It's bad because buttery hands make for smudges and fingerprints on artwork. It's my constant struggle.

The Book

You. Published. A. Book. How exciting! Tell us a little bit about the process of this book coming together. 

CakeSpy: Really, it's the realization of many years' work on the blog, adapting many of my favorite recipes into a curated collection, surrounded by my clever illustrations, color-saturated photos, and of course my witty repartee.

Scoopalicious: The book filled with recipes akin to the adventures of a kid in a candy shop. How do you come up with these magical recipes? 

CakeSpy: I love puns and word play, so a lot of them come to me in that way. Many of them will also be inspired by treats I love simply taken to the next level--like, "how can I make this even more fun?"

Scoopalicious: How did you decide which recipes from the blog belonged in the book? 

Author's Pick:
Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict
CakeSpy: I had a huge list of all of the ones I thought should be in the book, and my very helpful editor Susan Roxborough helped me weed the list to a manageable amount.

Scoopalicious: What's your favorite recipe in the book? 

CakeSpy: Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict.

Ice Cream

We love ice cream. Duh. What's your favorite ice cream flavor? Ice cream brand? 

CakeSpy: My favorite ice cream is the chocolate-vanilla soft serve swirl that I grew up eating by the Jersey shore (boardwalk food!). When it comes to visiting an ice cream shop or buying a pint or gallon, I generally go with vanilla--I love adding toppings to it. However, I once had the most lovely ice cream experience at a place in Connecticut called Salem Valley Ice Cream. I believe it was an apple spice ice cream, special for the fall, and it still makes me smile to think of this ice cream.

Scoopalicious: What's your favorite ice cream recipe in the book? 

CakeSpy: Red Velvet Cake Shake.

Scoopalicious: That's next on my list to try. Stay tuned for that upcoming post...Anyway, I want to make a CakeSpy inspired ice cream. What would be an ice cream flavor only CakeSpy herself would dream up? 

CakeSpy: Whenever I go to Momofuku Milk Bar I think they've already done the types of ice cream flavors I would come up with. Cereal milk infused ice cream? Red vine soft serve? Be still my beating heart. Some ideas that have occurred to me: Hummingbird Cake ice cream, Pop-tart ice cream, Pain Au Chocolat ice cream, Coconut Cream Pie ice cream...

Scoopalicious: Noted and filed. Keep a look out in the future.

Advice for Our Readers

Sometimes -- er, um, always -- I think of you as Superwoman. The baking and testing, the blog, the art, the shop, the book...and you still manage to be great at replying to each and every email. How do you do it? Do you sleep? Do you ever see your husband? 

CakeSpy: I won't lie: although this is the funnest job I've ever had, it's also the most demanding--and time consuming, because it's not just a job, it's more like a lifestyle. It's almost like I made myself into a sort of superhero alter ego. On my days off, I eat brussels sprouts.

Scoopalicious: Any advice on coming up with new and creative recipes? 

CakeSpy: Start with a recipe or elements of recipes that you trust, so that you have good building blocks. That is to say--learn the rules before you break them.

Scoopalicious: Anything else to add? 

CakeSpy: Don't be scared to eat cake. So many people swear off of dessert--I think it's a dangerous idea. Much better to let yourself have a joy-filled dessert experience than to deny yourself and then stuff your face later because you're feeling deprived. I feel like people do that way too often.

Scoopalicious: Thank you to our favorite Spy! We you and your fabulously decadent treats and your adorable drawings!

Dear readers, I encourage you to buy the book for your sweet-loving self and all your sweet-loving friends and family. You won't be disappointed and even if you never make a recipe from the book, you can drool over the pictures and be magically transported to a land of cupcakes and unicorns. You can buy the book at Amazon, or spend a few extra bucks and get a signed copy of the book on CakeSpy's site. (Or visit this link for more resellers.)

And you can win. We are giving away a copy of the book as well. To enter, simply tell us your ideal Cuppie scene. Is it Cuppie starring in a favorite TV show? Maybe Cuppie visiting your favorite city? Perhaps it's Cuppie in a more daring role -- engaging in battle with a hated food? Leave us a comment by Friday, October 21, 2011 at 11:59 PM PST for a chance to be a winner. Winner will be chosen at random. You MUST include your email address. You can either leave it in your comment or email us at scoopaliciousblog@gmail.com. Unfortunately, we have learned from past experience that even though Blogger asks for your email address in the form, there is no way for me to access it. If we do not have your address, we unfortunately cannot award you the prize.

All images © Jessie Oleson and may not be used without her permission.


EBSanders said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EB of SpiceDish said...

So. Much. Awesomeness!!! I am so happy for Jessie and of course can't thank her enough for 'introducing' us! Pure sugary delight you guys are.

a Big Mouthful said...

My ultimate cuppie scene would be set in Tacoma with all of our landmarks, and overrun with daschunds because I love them. How's that for random?

a Big Mouthful said...

P.S. my email is abigmouthful at gmail

SeitzMom said...

I REALLY REALLY REALLY can't wait to get this cookbook! My mouth is watering just looking at the picture in this interview. Yum! Yum! Yum! Can't wait to try the recipes!!! I'd love to win it!!!!

Charlene said...

I think it would be awesome to see Cuppie trying on different "outfits" a la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I imagine Cuppie trying on all kinds of cute cupcake liners, and fancy frosting hats with sprinkles and candies :) (Email is cjp4114@hotmail.com)

JJW said...

My Cuppie scene is Cuppie showing an athletic and creative side, it's Cuppie and friends doing synchronized swimming in a pool of buttercream.

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