Categories
Features Sweets

Your Favorite Childhood Snacks Just Grew Up At This Whimsical Bakehouse

Sometimes, all we need to bring us back to our youth is for a nostalgic flavor to unlock the memories of our childhoods.

That’s what Hollywood’s Cake Monkey is all about. The bakery is home to desserts that tug on your sentimental heartstrings with its menu of high-end desserts inspired by childhood snacks and miniature layer cakes.

Essentially, it’s all of your favorite retro snacks grown up.

We spoke to head baker and co-owner Elizabeth Belkind to learn more about her pastry-driven journey and what led her to Cake Monkey.

“I was born in Mexico City, and my family was originally from Russia and Poland.” she said. “We moved to the U.S. in 1982.”

At the University of Michigan, Belkind got a masters in Russian studies.

“I got to travel to Russia and was fascinated with the country and the culture, it was so different from what we know here. I got hooked, and for a while, I was obsessed with it. It was a huge journey of self-discovery, but also discovering a world that’s completely different from ours.”

This eventually led to her work helping re-settle immigrants and Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the U.S.

“It was different from what I’m doing now for sure,” she told FOODBEAST.

While a noble career path, it just wasn’t for her and Belkind left Michigan immediately after she graduated.

“I loved my work, but did not like being at a desk in an office,” she explained. “I decided to move to California and start anew in a career that was much more dynamic, and where my days would be spent creatively.”

That career, it turns out, was in food.

“I liked being on my feet and the rush of working in a kitchen,” she laughed.

Belkind went to culinary school and began working as a line cook at Campanile — her first job in food. There, she met Roxanna Jullapat (now of Friends and Family) who inspired her to take up pastries.

“Her station was right next to mine, and I would watch her every night.” said Belkind.

Watching Chef Julepat work awakened something in her and Belkind asked herself:

“Why in the world am I doing what I’m doing, grinding lobster shells and veal bones and stinking, and she’s doing something so different, fun, and luscious?”

Belkind requested to change stations soon after and trained under Kim Boyce, the then pastry chef at Campanile.

Cue the passage of time.

After leaving her first restaurant, Belkind spent the next few years honing her pastry skills, working as the pastry chef at Grace restaurant.

“We started a Wednesday night donut shop at Grace, where we would change the dessert menu to just donuts,” she said.

“It was a humongous hit,” she told us. “It really helped put my name out there. It kind of became my trademark all of a sudden —  I was making donuts and kind of like American nostalgic desserts.”

When she left Grace, Belkind came across an ad on Craigslist that said:

Wanted: Chef who must love cake.

Already looking to start her own businesses and having saved up some money, Belkind answered the ad where she met her future partner Lisa Olin.

Six months after meeting, the two started Cake Monkey.

The idea behind Cake Monkey was thanks to Olin, who wanted to highlight refined pastries inspired by childhood snacks. Belkind, who was known for her creativity and elegance in pastry work, was tasked with bringing those snacks to life — a task which she pretty much nailed.

Popular items include: Pop Pies (a take on Pop-Tarts), Big O’s (Oreos), Miniature Cakes, El Rollos (Ho-Hos) and Inside Out S’mores.

It’s been quite a journey for Belkind since beginning her first job on the line. With her own team at Cake Monkey, Belkind told us her absolute favorite thing about coming into work.

“I love when I see my team excelling at what they’re doing and nailing the product,” she says. “It’s such a struggle to communicate your idea to someone else and have someone execute it perfectly and when it happens, it’s the best thing ever.”

Cake Monkey is currently based out of Los Angeles, with a production facility located in North Hollywood. Belkind says a second storefront is soon to open in Westlake Village. If you’re ever looking to rekindle the wistful tastes of your adolescence, you need to check Cake Monkey out.

Categories
Opinion Packaged Food Tastemade/Snapchat

A Fond Look Back At Lunchables, A Childhood Obsession

Lunchables — the American Bento box

#Lunch be so bad at #work, I bought a #lunchable

A photo posted by @lisha_candace85 on

Every culture has its version of the boxed lunch, the thing millions of school children are sent off with every day, 180 days out of the year.   In Japan it’s a bento box made of rice, meat and veggies.  In America it is the Lunchable, a deconstructed sandwich in a perfectly packaged plastic container. It’s fun for kids and easy for adults. Everyone wins when you don’t have to think about what to make for lunch every day, day after day.

 

If you share a slice of cheese….

Think about it, what makes a Lunchable special?  It’s literally just ham, cheese and Ritz crackers in a box.  

However, back in the early ‘90s, it was also a status symbol.   My family wasn’t poor, but my mom definitely didn’t believe in name brand anything. As an adult I respect that she took the time to make me a sandwich every day, but as a kid, the Lunchables just seemed, cooler, and I wanted one.

My school lunches were turkey sandwiches wrapped in a plastic grocery bag, but Lunchables were food toys you could eat.  Therefore, I was always begging some friend for some ham; it always looked and tasted better in a thickly sliced circle and the cheese, which was savory to the max, when you had to ration one piece.  

And I’d never just sit down and eat a Ritz cracker by itself, but with that ham and cheese, it just seemed to have a completely different personality, not dry, like its usual lonesome form.  

Likewise, there was always dessert, a little Twix or Crunch Bar, or even a decadent Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  Cool looking and convenient, I always approached it with the care I assumed an astronaut lifted his dessert from whatever floating space tray he ate from.

 

Kids these Days

The website for Lunchables has a tab for both kids and parents.  If you click the kids tab, it takes you immediately to a commercial about Lunchables where a satyr eats a playing card.  “Mix your food up,” is the new theme.

I also clicked on the “parents” tab, which I’ll just interpret to mean all adults.  The site is way less fun, but I did learn about all the new Lunchable options.  For example you can get your Lunchable with or without a drink, you can even “upload” to a deep dish pizza, or a turkey sub.  Wow! They’ve come a long way from a few slices of cheese, ham and crackers.  

Having recently worked at an elementary school, I hadn’t seen a fruit rollup or a pack of Gushers in years. But once a week some kid will come to school with a Lunchable and with a hint of shame, I would ask them for a slice of cheese. Here I go again. Mooching off some kid.  What am I doing!? I can buy my own Lunchables, or even better, create my own DIY Lunchable with gouda, pretzel chips and smoked Boar’s head ham, because I am an adult now and I deserve the best versions of my childhood.

Categories
Opinion Sweets Tastemade/Snapchat

The Timeless Treaty of Jolly Ranchers

A photo posted by Jo Earle (@joanna_earle1) on


I recall loving Jolly Ranchers as a kid, but never buying them with my allowance or making it my one-candy choice when my parents took us tiny doofuses to the movies. Jolly Ranchers were sort of like this gift from adults. They always seemed to have them on hand.

My grandparents had them when they felt too wild for caramels, usually in the summertime. My principal had them in her office, though I only got to eat them when I was there for a good reason. And it was more or less a universal strategy by my teachers, doctors, and babysitters to shut me up, since snacking on those treats felt like an exhausting several-hour endeavor for my little motormouth.

But Jolly Ranchers weren’t flashy, a surprise move for a multi-colored snack. There wasn’t some loud, psychedelic talking animal wearing a sports jersey trying to kickflip his way into my tiny heart, pressuring me to buy his damn candies (which, I assure you, I loved at the time).

Maybe I only noticed that because it seemed like Jolly Ranchers were the one candy that everyone of any age could agree upon. My young love of Raven’s Revenge was way too much for my grandparents, and their darling black licorice wasn’t even close to enough for me (I still find it infuriating, actually).

“… so maybe these harlequin handfuls that older ladies and gents used to give me were their way of keeping nostalgia shining bright with their passing of the torch.”

That universal approachability of a snackable color spectrum likely had to do with the classic candy’s creators, a warm, friendly married couple.

The Jolly Rancher Company, founded by Coloradans Bill and Dorothy Harmsen, made ice cream and chocolates in addition to candy. All of their products were originally sold at local Ranch Maid Ice Cream stores and killed it in the summer, but struggled in the winter.

The company came into existence in 1949, when the United States was settling into backyard parties and Sunday drives, so maybe these harlequin handfuls that older ladies and gents used to give me were their way of keeping nostalgia shining bright with their passing of the torch.

Even the name Jolly Ranchers itself — a tender evocation of western hospitality — was a sign of that attitude: cherished offerings from a mom-and-pop operation that started out by making treats in their farm’s barn.

From there, the company grew and evolved, later purchased by Hershey in 1996, ultimately branching out into a whole score of jazzy hybrids, like jelly beans, lollipops, and popsicles.

But I remember those candies for what they were in my youth, a treaty for the ages — the right amount of sugar most adults trusted me with, the minimum buzz I was willing to take. It was the slow nod of give and take, the beautiful product of a bygone era.

Categories
Fast Food

Oversized McDonald’s in Peru Lets You Relive Your Fondest Childhood Memories

mcdonalds

Remember the good old days, when we were too small to talk or buy anything so instead we’d point and sooner or later, those things would just magically appear in our hands?

A McDonald’s in Peru remembers. In an effort to help adults see the world through a child’s eyes, the Lima-based location hired local advertising agency Fahrenheit DDB to install too-tall ordering counters, forcing guests to look up and point out their orders. Workers also handed out colored balloons to giggling customers, who, sadly, still had to pay for their food like grown-ups.

Now if only they could make an adult-sized Play Place . . .

Picthx Design Taxi

Categories
Recipes

Make PB&J Cupcakes Rolled in Potato Chip ‘Sprinkles’

PB and J

Remember the days of brown bagging it in elementary school? Wondering what Mom decided to pack you for the day and being utterly disappointed when you were the only kid without a lunchable? Well here’s to the PB&J lovers who are long past their school days but still want to indulge in a childhood classic.

Think your favorite lunch combo as a kid, re-imagined as a cupcake, chips and all. Vanilla strawberry cake stuffed with strawberry pie filling, topped with some whipped peanut butter frosting, and rolled in crushed up potato chips, this cupcake has nomworthy written all over it.

Serve it up with a frosty glass of chocolate milk, or with an apple juice box. It’s your childhood, enjoy it as you please.

close up cupcake

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PB&J Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 box Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1/2-3/4 cup powdered freeze dried strawberries
  • 1 can strawberry pie filling
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Prepare cake mix as directed. Add powdered strawberries to batter and mix until combined.
  3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes for 15-18 minutes.
  4. Once cupcakes are done flip them out of the pan and onto a cooling rack immediately.
  5. After cupcakes are completely cool, use a knife or cupcake corer to create a cavity in the cupcake. Set cut portion aside.
  6. Fill empty cavity with 1-2 spoonfuls of strawberry pie filling, being careful not to overfill the cupcake. Take the top you removed and replace it back into the cupcake to cover up the hole.
  7. To make the frosting, combine peanut butter and butter in a stand mixer on medium until completely creamed together. Reduce speed to low and gradually add sugar to mixture, it will eventually thicken. Add one tablespoon of milk at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.
  8. Whip frosting on medium-high for 2-3 minutes to incorporate air into the frosting and to get that “whipped” consistency.
  9. Using a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip, frost cupcakes as desired.
  10. Take crushed potato chips and put them in a bowl. Roll the side of your frosted cupcake into the chip bits, rotating the cupcake so every side is coated. You can also sprinkle the potato chips on top like sprinkles instead.

Recipe and Photography by Chronicles of a Foodie

Categories
Features

14 Ice Cream Truck Treats from Your Childhood Summers

The other day I was sifting through junk mail on my porch (I have a riveting life, I know), when I heard the faint jingle of an ice cream truck. The sound was coming from around the street corner, and I was overcome by the sudden urge to chase after it. Instead, I stared in awe as a familiar white truck covered in photos of frozen treats rolled by.

My first thought: Ice cream trucks. They still exist.

So, here’s to you, ladies and gents who still remember running after that ever elusive gold mine as a kid in the hot summer sun.

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Firecrackers were good but . . .

firecrackers

If the ice cream truck was really legit, they’d have these bad boys too: Turbo Rockets

Turbo-Rocket-Popsicle

PicThx World of Wynne, Chicago Now

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TMNT Popsicle. Just don’t make the rookie mistake of eating the gumball eyes first

ninja_turtle_ice_cream_bar

PicThx Dedleg

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“What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” I think the correct question here is, “What wouldn’t you do?”

klondike bar

PicThx FunnyJunk

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Crunch Bar

crunch-ice-cream

PicThx Drumstick

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Snickers Ice Cream Bar. One is never, ever enough

snickersicecreambarPicThx StoryandAudience

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Flintstone Push-Up . . . because Fred and Wilma are OGs

flinstones-push up

PicThx Flickr

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Whoever invented Choco Tacos needs a library, park, city, country, etc. named after them

 

choco_taco

 

PicThx Gunaxin

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Chocolate Chip Cookie + Ice Cream = Amazeballs

tollhouse-cookie

PicThx 3595

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Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry-cake

PicThx Ingestion Digests

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Creamsicle. Hint: These taste delicious when melted in a cold glass of hefeweizen

Creamsicle

PicThx Winoista

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Giant Neopolitan Ice Cream Sandwich

giant-neopolitan-ice-cream

PicThx Norms Ice Cream

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Nailed it

sonic-popsicle
PicThx DeviantArt

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Fudgsicles. A surefire classic

fudgsicle

PicThx The Metal Misfit

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Try having a bad day after eating one of these. We dare you

drumstick-ice-cream

PicThx AwesomeHQ

Categories
Features

16 Things That Taste Just Like My Asian American Childhood

acleader (1)

Nabisco? Hostess? Please, it’s all about Lotte, Glico and Calbee.

Growing up Asian-American, it was always hard not to feel just a little bit different from your peers, especially at lunchtime. While your classmates were knocking back Capri Suns and Dunkaroos, you’d be stuck drinking probiotic Yakult and eating Hello Panda crackers. But that’s okay, because trips to the Asian grocery store with your parents usually meant stopping by the toy counters out front and picking up the newest holographic Pokemon cards, which were always loads cooler than anything you’d find in a Cracker Jack box.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the top 16 Things That Taste Just Like Your Asian American Childhood. Mmm, just like mom used to pack.

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1. Pocky, Yan Yan, Hello Panda

ac1

Never underestimate the simple joy of crunchy bread dipped in chocolate cream. Also available in Strawberry.

Picthx Asian Food Grocer

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2. Lychee Jelly

ac2

These always came in giant buckets, but for some reason there were never enough. WHY WERE THERE NEVER ENOUGH?

Picthx Viet Wah

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3. Shrimp-Flavored Chips

ac3

The Asian equivalent of gum (i.e., once you opened a pack, you could pretty much say goodbye to it forever).

(Notable mention: Snow Pea Crisps)

Picthx Amazon

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4. Calpico, Ramune

ac4

For some reason, Japanese sodas were never content just being one color or flavor, and for some reason, the Strawberry one was always the best.

Picthx Asian Food Grocer, Sand Village Farm

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5. Yakult

ac5

You had the inkling feeling this was supposed to be like liquid yogurt, but decided it was probably best not to ask too many questions.

Picthx Fechando O Ziper

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6. Dry Ramen Packets

ac6

When you have built in crunchy noodles and built in seasoning, who needs chips? (Serving suggestion: crushed and shaken up in a zip-lock bag.)

Picthx Newgrounds

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7. Haw Flakes

ac7

Admittedly these ones tasted kinda funny and you only ate them because your dad gave them to you, but at least tearing open the packs was always fun. Plus they kinda looked like fireworks.

Picthx Nummy Nims

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8. Dry Seaweed

ac8

Perfect with or without rice.

Picthx Nourishing Meals

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9. Tamarind and Coffee-Flavored Candies

ac9

Also available at most Asian restaurants (with the check, of course).

Picthx World of Snacks

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10. White Rabbit

ac10

Two words: Edible. Paper.

Picthx Cafe Zupas

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11. Boba

ac11

Admit it, you felt kinda cool when all your American friends started asking you to take them to get “bubble tea.”

Picthx Tasting Tampa

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12. Rice-Seaweed Crackers, Wasabi Peas, Nagaraya Crackers

ac12

Picthx Hibiki, Nut Stop, Food Recap

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13. Hi-Chew

ac13

Just like harder, chewier Starburst, except they also came in Melon and Mango, aka possibly the best Asian-inspired flavors ever.

Picthx David Wong

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14. Asian Ice Pops

ac14

Hands down, 1 million times better than Otter Pops, just because they were a million times easier to open. Oh, snap.

Picthx Asian Food Grocer, Please Let It Be Friday

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15. Orion Choco Pie

ac15

Picthx Old Delhi Mart

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16. Pork Sung

ac16

Lastly, pork sung, which, despite all appearances, is really not hair. Really.

Picthx E Food Depot

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Leader Image: Jordan Plenzich, Flickr

Categories
Sweets

Your 90’s Heart Will Melt: Reptar Bars with Proper Packaging

reptar bars

Back in January we featured a Reptar Bar recipe so 90’s kids could make these nostalgic treats at home. But I got to thinking, besides taking a chomp into the chocolate, how would you KNOW it was a Reptar Bar?

I made these throwback candy bars over the weekend and decided to be an over achiever and designed a wrapper for these candy bar supremes. Because let’s be real, any 90’s kid worth their weight in pogs would seriously nerd out if they saw a real life Reptar Bar.

Thanks to the powers of Google I was able to get a screenshot of these ancient candies from an episode of Rugrats. After two hours of photoshopping, this 90’s fictional cartoon candy bar was born into the reality of the 21st Century.

I made my Reptar Bars with green caramel and nuts instead of green marshmallow fluff, to ensure ultimate green mouth-age.

I’d say I successfully made some childhood dreams come true this weekend.